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Saturday, September 11, 2010

We're All Winners Here 9.11.10

Getting a book published is hard :) I'm working my way through agents to find the right one who thinks my budget travel book is awesome and will sell a million copies! Wish me luck. (If you have any suggestions, please let me know.) In the meantime, you get my advice for free. Don't forget that my blog is also available on Kindle Blogs, so you can get updated instantly wherever you take your Kindle. If you don't have one, get one here: Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation

Don't forget that you can win this cool toiletry bag that packs flat from Travelon as well as another generously donated item of theirs called the Stow-Away Backpack/Tote Bag (see previous post) by becoming a fan of my Facebook page (click "like" at the top). The first 500 members will have their names put in a drawing and 2 lucky members will win one of these two great travel items! The faster we reach our goal, the faster we can have our drawing, so make sure to also suggest my page to all your Facebook friends as well. It's a win-win. As in, even if they don't win a prize, they still get killer travel tips and deals. Don't leave either, because we will continue to do more promotional giveaways when we reach higher goals. You don't want to miss out!

All the airlines are wildly competing for your business now. It's not the holidays and it's not summer, so they need all the help they can get. You can't open a travel website without seeing  a giant flashing "SALE" sign. This gives you the upper-hand in finding the best deals, because you don't have to jump on the first fare that looks doable that you see. 

Make even more use of these great rates by joining frequent-flyer programs. Eventually, after enough flights, you'll be eligible for a free one. Usually this is only at 25,000 miles. It sounds like a lot, but if you fly once or twice a year, those miles can add up quickly. Sign up your traveling companion with the same programs and you could get TWO free flights. That totally cuts the cost of your trip and gives you a bigger budget to work with for the rest of you vacation, like accommodations, food and activities.

  • Fly from $59 each way on American Airlines through January 26th if you purchase by September 16th.
  • Fly from $49 each way on Southwest Airlines September 28-December 14 if you purchase by September 13th.

Just like with airlines, you can get the equivalent of the frequent flyer membership for hotels. They are usually called loyalty clubs. It's free membership and each time you stay, you get points toward a future stay, upgrades or freebies. One of the easiest way to gain a bunch of points is by signing up for a credit card or debit card that allows you to rack up points for each purchase. Even better, you usually earn double rewards for each stay you make that you pay for on that same card. 
  • Hyatt and Chase have teamed up to finally bring Hyatt their own credit card. It has no blackout dates for redemption, plus, on top of getting 1 point for each $1 spent on the card you also get 3 points for each $1 spent at a Hyatt property. It DOES have an annual fee of $75. Most of these cards do, but you must decide if you will get a reward worth more than the fees. Right off the bat, you get 2 free hotel nights, there are no limits on the amount of points you can earn on it and if you use it out of the U.S., there is no foreign transaction fees.

Although plenty of cruise deals are to be had all over the Net, look for extra discounts, freebies and incentives. Onboard ship credits are always good incentives as is money off for booking way early and last minute. Free airfare could be a great deal, but make sure you read the fine print and that the taxes don't cost MORE than you would pay for your own airfare. I found this amazing deal on Celebrity Cruises:

  • Book before September 17th and get 50% off your companion fare on cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Europe. Many itineraries in all price ranges through February 2011. 7-night cruises from $599 per person. 

Today I learned something new, so I thought I would pass it along. When you rent a car, look at prices for rentals away from the airport. Although they may be a little less convenient, they probably won't include an airport rental fee. This is especially handy in places that have public transportation straight from the airport, like we do in Oregon. You can take the MAX from the terminal and take it into downtown or many Portland suburbs and it only sets you back $2.35 per person. That's quite a money-saver. Here are 3 more ways to save on a car rental.

You don't always have to do traditional activities when you are on vacation. Sure, Disney World and Busch Gardens are right up at the top of the list when you visit Florida, but there are so many other things to do there. This is also true of everywhere else you go. Try something different by looking up unusual activities that will take up time and are also much cheaper than ones that every tourist does. 

  • When you're in London, the biggest tourist spots are Tower Bridge, the Globe, London Eye and the Tower of London, but did you know that for a fraction of the price of any of those attractions, you can take a tour of the Thames. I'm not talking about getting on a boat and sailing up and down, but you can put on some boots and tromp along the river's edge with the Beachcombing tours. Search for medieval treasure along the banks and get to take home anything you find and the tour only costs $12 per person. Read more about this tour on Budget Travel online.

Last time I told you about WalletPop's blog entry about saving money while dining out. Again, you probably thought "duh", but when you're out and about and just want to sit and enjoy a meal in an exciting new place, it's easy to forget such logic. Here's another one of David's articles about eating out. This one is regarding the Top 5 food mark-ups where restaurants make huge profits. While this is good for the restaurants, don't you want to get the most for your money? This is the same advice I give you when cruising, flying or saying in a hotel. Make your money go farther. Eat the free bread instead of ordering an appetizer and avoid the wine. Bring your own bottle and pay the corkage fee and still save over the restaurant prices. 

Here's another great item from Travelon that I own and suggest everyone else gets. It's called the Pack-Flat Back Up Bag. As it claims, it packs flat, so it takes up almost no room in your carry-on (which it fits in perfectly). When you're at the end of your trip and realize you've acquired more than your bag can handle, pull out your Travelon, unzip it and it pops open to hold all your new possessions. It conforms to carry-on limits and fits under the airplane seat. If you don't need it, it stays flat, but if you do, it's a wonderful back-up bag. 

This week since I've posted many tips and regular deals, I am excited to use the Deals of the Week to bring you more expensive sales to exotic locales. There are many once in a lifetime deals available all the time, but I've especially noticed more lately.

  • 8-day Asia River cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia. Not only will you save 45% off the regular prices, but you'll visit amazing destinations like Ho Chi Minh City, Cai Be, Chau Doc and Phnom Penh. For $2800 per person, you will stay on a luxury cruise ship that includes all your meals and beverages, your transfers and gratuities and all your sightseeing with an English-speaking guide. Your transportation is quite intimate with only 3 decks including laundry facilities, a bakery, safe drinking water and air conditioning in all inside areas. A great variety of foods are served, even for guests who are vegetarian or have other special food needs. These rates are available for travel dates in 2011. 

  • Spend 12 days touring Thailand from $1299 per person. You'll visit the cities of Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai and Sukhothai. Your tour includes 12 days, 10 nights, round trip airfare from Los Angeles to Bangkok, all intra-Thailand flights, daily breakfast, accommodations, tour with English-speaking guides in an air-conditioned motor coach and all entry fees. More departure cities are available. Travel dates from the end of September through mid-May 2011. Book by September 22 and mention promo code: SHTH100
  • Visit Rome, Athens and Cairo for 6 nights over Thanksgiving. Included in your $1205(+) per person is your round-trip airfare from New York, flights to each destination, accommodations for 2 nights in each city, hotel taxes, daily breakfast. Make your own itinerary in each city instead of being a part of any kind of tour. You can also customize this trip for different departure cities for different rates. 

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