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Road Trip: Bowl Games and Budget Travel

BCS Games and More

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Gas prices have fallen to three-year lows. How about a road trip during the holidays? College football season ends with a full slate (some argue too full) of bowl games across North America. Here's a look at making an affordable trip to any of the top 15 bowls (ranked according to payouts for the teams). Check out regional savings tips, hotel recommendations and other ideas for following your favorite team to the post-season.

Tostitos BCS National Championship -- Glendale

Monday, Jan. 10, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. EST

Auburn vs. Oregon

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:

Glendale

Peoria

Phoenix

Money-Saving Tips
There are a number of fairly new hotels in Glendale, the location of University of Phoenix Stadium. Looking for other activities in the Phoenix area? White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a good place to spend a day hiking. Admission is only $6/car. Another interesting place to visit without spending a lot of money is Heard Museum in Phoenix, one of the nation's best places to see Native American artifacts. Admission for adults is $10 ($9 for seniors).

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- Phoenix

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. EST

Oklahoma vs. Connecticut

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Glendale
Peoria

Phoenix

Money-Saving Tips
There are a number of fairly new hotels in Glendale, the location of University of Phoenix Stadium. Looking for other activities in the Phoenix area? White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a good place to spend a day hiking. Admission is only $6/car. Another interesting place to visit without spending a lot of money is Heard Museum in Phoenix, one of the nation's best places to see Native American artifacts. Admission for adults is $10 ($9 for seniors).

Discover Orange Bowl -- Miami

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. EST

Virginia Tech vs. Stanford

Game Tickets

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Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Miami
Hollywood
Ft. Lauderdale

Money-Saving Tips
The Art Deco district is well worth a walking tour. But you shouldn't stop there--go to the beach! South Florida offers a variety of beaches. Some are more secluded while others are places to see and be seen. Another choice is Little Havana. Its restaurants, language and ambiance make for an international budget escape. Further afield, you'll find Everglades National Park, a unique national treasure that is well worth a visit. A $10 USD permit allows your private vehicle inside all entrances of the park for seven consecutive days.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO -- Pasadena

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at 5 p.m. EST

Texas Christian vs. Wisconsin

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Pasadena
Glendale
Los Angeles

Money-Saving Tips
It really pays to shop prior to your trip. In addition to the chains, some of America's most popular hostels are here, too: Orbit Hotel is on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. On weekends, El Segundo hotels (south of LAX) catering to business travelers during the week frequently make deals to fill rooms. Four-star for under $150: The Standard Hotel sometimes offers discount rates with its great location. Important: Weigh price and location carefully. Travel times are lengthy and a remote bargain is no bargain at all.

Allstate Sugar Bowl -- New Orleans

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. EST

Arkansas vs. Ohio State

Game Tickets

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Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Baton Rouge
Metarie
New Orleans

Money-Saving Tips
Many visitors choose to combine sightseeing with voluntourism efforts designed to aid in the region's recovery. There are plenty of agencies in the area who will give you an assignment, even if you only have a few hours available.

Capital One Bowl -- Orlando

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at 1 p.m. EST

Alabama vs. Michigan State

Game Tickets

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Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Winter Park
Kissimmee
Orlando

Money-Saving Tips
Prepare Yourself for Admission Prices. People who don't do their homework experience "sticker shock" when they find out how much admission will cost. Check Web sites and find discounts before you go.

Be skeptical of the word "discount." There is no shortage of these offers here. Sometimes the offers will save you money, but many have strings attached. Don't be duped.

Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center is unique and should not be missed. Orlando's trendy, upscale Winter Park area is a nice alternative to a day at the theme parks.

AT&T Cotton Bowl -- Dallas

Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 at 8 p.m. EST

Texas A&M vs. Louisiana State

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Arlington
Dallas
Ft. Worth

Money-Saving Tips
This is a great place to eat Mexican food, and in many places it is very affordable. Check out the 10 best tacos in Dallas. A recent search at GuideLive.com reveals addresses and even hyperlinks to more than 1400 area restaurants with entries priced under $20. For example, Who's Who Burgers in Highland Park offers Kobe steak burgers for under $10 USD in no-frills surroundings.

Outback Bowl -- Tampa

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at 1 p.m. EST

Florida vs. Penn State

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Tampa
Clearwater
St. Petersburg

Money-Saving Tips
Tampa is the leading city of a larger area known as Tampa Bay. Along with St. Petersburg and Clearwater, this urban area surrounding a bay of the same name is home to white sandy beaches and plenty of cultural and recreational activities. Close to Tampa is Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District. This Cuban settlement became known for its cigar industry, and you can still watch the masters at work, sample some Cuban cuisine and take a nice $4 walking tour.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl -- Atlanta

Friday, Dec. 31, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. EST

Florida State vs. South Carolina

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
Marietta
Atlanta
Decatur

Money-Saving Tips
Major chains such as Sheraton and Marriott offer travelers the needed amenities at multiple locations (Marriott alone has 70 properties in greater Atlanta). Check out a comprehensive list of Atlanta hotel links. Priceline can turn up some good deals. I recently paid $58/night on a Priceline bid to stay in a Midtown business-class hotel where rack rates were running nearly $200/night. Just remember that during bowl season, the Priceline opportunities might involve driving to a distant suburb.

Gator Bowl -- Jacksonville

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. EST

Michigan vs. Mississippi State

Game Tickets

Find a Cheap Airfare

Cities to search for hotel rooms:
St. Augustine
Fernandina Beach
Jacksonville

Money-Saving Tips
If you've never been to this part of the country, consider taking a short day-trip to St. Augustine, the first permanent settlement in America. That's right. St. Augustine was around prior to both Jamestown and Plymouth. The historical preservation work here is excellent. Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach are north of Jacksonville but still close enough to the game site to serve as a home base. Here you'll find excellent golf facilities, nice shopping and some budget offerings mixed in with expensive resorts.

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