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Saturday, June 27, 2015

7 Ways to Save on Your Accommodations

There are plenty of things to consider when finding a place to stow your belongings and close your eyes at night. Price may be the biggest factor for you, but that doesn't mean the less you pay the worse your stay. There are plenty of budget and moderate hotels that offer wonderful service and surroundings if you know where and how to look. It's important to weigh all your options when deciding on where to sleep. Does it have a restaurant? Is it close to fun activities? Is it convenient to public transportation? Does it offer free breakfast? Free Wi-Fi? Is it on a busy street? Do the rooms offer kitchenettes? All these questions are important and if the answer is yes, you could save big. The more inclusive extras you can get on a vacation, the further your money goes.

Track Hotel Rates
Use Yapta to track hotel rates. Find a great deal? Search for the hotel(s) you are interested in and then track those specific ones. Even if you have reservations with them already, keep them on your list and keep waiting for prices to drop. Yapta will alert you to any prices that are lower than what you’ve already booked. If the price goes down, get on the phone with the establishment and see if you can change your reservation to reflect the lower rate.

Get Rewarded for your Loyalty
Sign up for Hotels.com’s Welcome Rewards and get free hotel nights. For every 10 nights you book through Hotels.com, you get one free night. You don't need to stay 10 nights in a row, in the same hotel or even in the same year. Your credits just accumulate until you've reached 10 nights and then you are eligible to receive your free night. The price will be based on the average of the price per night you stayed for each of your 10 paid nights. If you wish to stay at a hotel that costs more than that, you will just pay the difference. If you frequent the same hotel or hotel chain, get on their loyalty program and start racking up points with each stay. You can trade these in for free nights and upgrades when you need them.

Avoid the Weekend
Hotel rates are almost always cheaper on Sunday through Thursday nights. Most people travel on the weekend. They know this, just like the airlines, so they make prices for Friday and Saturday stays more expensive. In some cases, they can be twice as much as on weeknights.

Stay in Business-Minded Hotels on the Weekend
Unlike most hotels, those that cater to business travelers don’t get much action on the weekend, so rates drop to encourage visitors to stay. These hotels are also ones to book over holidays, because they can be fairly empty and prices plummet.

Stay in Brand New Hotels
Hotels that have been newly built or totally remodeled often have an introductory period right when they open that offers rock-bottom rates. HotelChatter is a website that not only shows reviews of hotels, but they also list the opening dates of new hotels and update them if they change. The list shows hotels worldwide, so you can search before you book your room.

Go All-Inclusive
I know you’re paying to stay at these places to be entertained and well-fed; most of them also offer free activities in the form of non-motorized watersports and even have nightly entertainment. That’s a freebie in my opinion, though you may feel differently. I suggest pricing out what you would expect to spend on your trip if you didn’t go all-inclusive and see if the savings are significant enough to go one way or the other.

Stay in a Vacation Rental
If you have a large family, this may be your perfect solution. Rentals are booked per night, not by guest counts, so whether you have three people or eight people in your travel party you pay the same price. The other plusses to a rental are: having more space to stretch out, having a kitchen to cook your own meals in (or at least store some snacks and leftovers), there aren’t 20 potential neighbors waking you up at all hours and many rentals have a washing machine.

Every little bit helps when you have to pinch your pennies, so get planning and find all the ways you can lower your bottom line. You might be surprised at how all those little discounts can turn into one big one. Stay tuned for part two on Wednesday.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Preview of Travelon Items For Summer Travel

Happy Friday! Summer is out in full force here in Portland. It's supposed to hit triple digits this weekend, which we are not prepared for. We're heading to the beach instead, where the temps will be much cooler. I know many of you are still planning a trip to ether escape the heat or get more of it, which means you might be looking for some products to help your travels go smoother. Well, as always, Travelon has anticipated this and come out with some new stuff that I'll be reviewing on my trip to Vegas next month, but in case you need something before then, I wanted to give you a little preview.

Whether you want to look cute when you're out to dinner, take only the necessities on your weekend getaway or keep your unmentionables away from prying eyes and from getting crushed, the new products run the gamut. 

Multi-Purpose Packing Cube

I know you all love a good packing cube. They can really keep all the goodness in your bag organized and allow you to just pull out what you need and leave the rest in your bag or in the dresser drawer. I have one totally devoted to swimsuits that holds a travel towel and waterproof pouch for my phone. Once we reach our destination, I toss a bottle of sunscreen in there and we have everything we need for a jaunt to the beach. This new cube from Travelon can keep all your undies, bras and other undergarments in one place, plus, it has a side that can be made rigid, so your fancy and expensive bras keep their shape. If you want to use it for other stuff, you can collapse that side and use it like a normal packing cube. It has a snap out zipper pocket and three mesh pockets on the inside top for keeping underwear or socks. I think this has now become my new favorite cube, since it has so many possibilities. I love that it comes in black, but three other bright colors for standing out in a black bag. With all it's configurations, $25 is a bargain.

Compact Hanging Toiletry Kit

Everyone loves a good toiletry kit. I have four or five in my arsenal, because different trips have different needs. I don't need to take as much on a weekend getaway as I do on a two-week international trip. I'll be in Vegas for a week, but it's going to be hot, hot, hot and I don't need my whole beauty regime, so I'm going to get my necessities in this lightweight little bag that won't take up much room in my bag and can hang right up in the bathroom for easy access. As you can see, it has room for three travel-size bottles and all the little extras you take to make you look pretty and put together. This is an especially great toiletry kit for the men out there. It comes in 5 eye-popping colors and is just $20.

Signature Embroidered Phone Clutch Wallet

I love a day bag, but when I'm going out to dinner or to see a show, I don't want to carry all my stuff with me. It's also nice to have a cute little wallet to throw in your travel bag, so you can keep all your important stuff in one place. Not only is this little clutch adorable, but it has RFID-blocking technology, so you know your credit card info is safe. There's room for change, because somehow on vacation you end up with a ton of coins, paper money, several cards and you can get your phone in there (even the big smartphones) with a lipstick and even a flat comb. If you are traveling with your passport, this is just big enough to hold it, too. All you need for getting out of the hotel room for a bit fits in here, plus you can clip the wrist loop to the little d-ring attached to the bag and keep the zipper securely closed (because thieves). It comes in three classic colors and runs just $25.

Stay tuned next month for my full-length reviews of these great items. In the meantime, good luck with your summer travel planning. 

Disclaimer: As always, I was provided with these Travelon products for the purposes of their reviews, but all opinions are 100% my own.
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