Weekly travel rail, with tips on saving on hotel costs, a look at the Big Blue Big and more.

Travel Tip

How does your family plan to save money on summer vacation this year?  Driving rather than flying?  Maybe carrying all the items you need instead of renting once arriving at your destination? But how do you cut back on one of the biggest yet necessary costs of travel - accommodations? Here are a few helpful hints for families and business people traveling this summer:

- Stick with a suite deal: If you're traveling with more than three people in your party, there's a lot to be said for staying in a suite, from both a cost and comfort standpoint. Suites offer room for larger parties and one suite in a quality hotel can be more cost-effective than booking multiple rooms in a budget property.

- Timing is everything: If you're traveling on business, you may not have much flexibility on timing. Still, it's wise to avoid traveling to a destination during a well-attended festival or event - unless, of course, your business is connected to the event. For leisure travelers, a wiser course might be to choose your destination based on attractions and proximity to home, and then book travel during times when demand is likely to be lower.

- You've earned your rewards: Sign up for travel rewards programs. Look for programs that allow you to move points between accounts. For example, some airlines and hotel chains have programs that award you extra points for traveling with their partners or allow you to apply their points toward travel with their partners. Your points accumulate value faster with these types of programs.

- Shop smart: Comparison shopping is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. Numerous Web sites allow you to quickly find great deals, check out nearby attractions and even create a full travel itinerary. Once you've found a great online deal, don't hesitate to pick up the phone, call the hotel and ask someone there if they can do better than the advertised online rate. If they can't lower the rate, they may be able to throw in some extra incentives like discount coupons to nearby attractions or even a complimentary meal in the hotel's restaurant.

-- ARA

Roadside Attractions

What: Big Blue Bug, aka Nibbles Woodaway

Where: Providence, R.I.

What’s there: The “world’s largest bug” sits atop New England Pest Control on Interstate 95 in Providence. The termite, which originally was purple, has been seen in “Dumb and Dumber” and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “The Daily Show,” among others.

More info: www.newenglandpestcontrol.com; www.providenceri.com

Number to Know

6.7: Percent drop in airline passengers this summer, according to a study from the Air Transport Association, which blames the drop on the economy.

Good to Know

Were you hoping to visit “Love Land” in Chongqing, China? Tough luck. The sex theme park – which recently became an Internet sensation after pictures of the park were posted – was torn down by government officials. They gave no reason for the demolition, but many speculate the Chinese government was embarrassed by it.

Site to See

http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com

National Geographic Traveler’s Web site has lots of information for tourists, and this month it’s featuring 50 Tours of a Lifetime. Thanks to the economy, many of these dream tours can be had for relatively cheap.

GateHouse News Service