Travel Column


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Will You Be Surprised By Hidden Hotel Fees?

Hotel FeesIt seems straightforward. You book your hotel, and you see the cost per-night. You might even see that you will pay taxes, including state and local taxes, and possibly a room tax. What you might not see, though, are “resort fees” or other sneaky charges that some hotels are starting to add to their bills after you arrive. So you book, and when you arrive you see fees added to the bill. Most travelers are too tired to be bothered with looking elsewhere for accommodations once they get to this point, so they accept the charges.

Even though the FTC recently sent letters to some hotels, insisting that they begin revealing the total cost at booking, you still might not get the whole story when you reserve your hotel online. And, even though hotels might disclose their resort fees on their web sites, you might not see these fees if you are looking for a deal by using a third-party booking site like Orbitz or Travelocity.

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Travel Gratuity: Who To Tip and How Much

Most of us know who to tip in our everyday lives, but when we travel, we run into a new set of people who help us such as valets, housekeepers, taxi drivers, to just name a few. Who do we tip and how much do we give them? The answers, frustratingly, vary, and also depend on a country’s culture.

Let’s start with travel within the U.S. first. You should tip the following people:

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What Insurance Do You Need When You Travel?

GlobeIt’s been awhile since I’ve traveled outside the country, but I do like to take frequent trips in the United States. Whenever you travel, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are protected. This means that you need to have adequate insurance coverage.

There are different types of insurance coverage available for travelers, and you need to carefully consider your needs before deciding what will be required for your trip.

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5 Helpful Tips for a Successful Home Swap

Jeda Villa BaliOne of the growing trends in travel is the use of the home swap. If you are interested in staying in a location for a month or more, you might be able to save on your travel expenses by cutting out the cost of lodging. With a home exchange, you stay in someone else’s home, while they come and stay in yours.

Instead of paying for a hotel or for an apartment, you pay a monthly fee to the home exchange site you belong to, and receive access to thousands of listings. For between $100 and $500 a year (depending on the site, and the level of membership), it’s possible to find people willing to exchange with you. On the cheapest options, your yearly membership fee basically pays for itself after you’ve spent one night in someone else’s home. This option is even cheaper than vacation home rentals.

It’s important to be careful, though. Remember that you aren’t just staying in someone else’s home; someone is coming to stay in your home as well. Here are 5 tips that increase your chances of success:
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VRBO.com Review

Jeda Villa BaliOne of the growing trends in travel is finding a vacation rental on your own. A home, or some other unit, might be rented out by an owner who is only there part of the time, or by an owner who has the property exclusively for rental purposes. The owner tries to make a few bucks on a home that would otherwise sit empty, and a vacationer can receive a good deal on a rental, often saving money when compared with getting a hotel room for the duration of a longer trip.

For trips of a week or more, a vacation rental can often be just the thing. Web sites like VRBO.com can provide you with access to vacation rentals all over the world. But, as with almost anything you arrange online, you need to be aware of some of the risks.

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Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

You’ve been planning your dream vacation to some far-away secluded place for years and it’s finally close to becoming a reality. You’re going to hop on a plane, fly half way around the world and take a jeep to some place where the elephants roam free and people run around in only a loin cloth. It’s been your dream for a long time but the reason it’s only been a dream is because of the cost.

There are five figures of expense involved in this trip and if something happens that either cancels or cuts your trip short, you don’t want to lose that money. Travel insurance has been around for longer than you might think but it has taken more of a front seat in the high dollar world of insurance sales but like all insurance, it’s not as cut and dry as you think. Travel insurance doesn’t protect against loss without any complication. Oh, certainly not! We need to dive in to this and see what we need to know.

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Here’s How to Save on Last Minute Travel

Inside an AirplaneIf it hasn’t happened already, it eventually will. At some point you’re going to have to jump on a plane with only a few hours of notice and often, the reason isn’t good. Somebody was injured, passed away, or something else that desperately needs your attention. The unexpected positive news rarely requires a trip and when it does it’s often planned well in advance.

The days of receiving a special bereavement rate from the airlines are gone. The profit margin for a seat on an aircraft along with the personnel expenses that come with verifying the passing of your loved one make this perk no longer cost effective.

Although you probably aren’t going to come out with a discount to brag about, there are ways to keep from spending more of a fortune than you should have.

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Best Travel Deal Websites – Which Ones Work For You?

My husband and I travel every summer.  He is a public school librarian, so we fit all of our longer vacations into the months that he has off.  If our trip requires getting plane tickets, I start searching for the best prices up to 6 months in advance.  I always hit a bunch of sites, but my favorites have been Airfare Watchdog, Travelocity, Expedia, and Southwest Vacations.

Airfare Watchdog

Airfare Watchdog is an awesome way to monitor the prices of flights in your area.  I have bought a ticket through their site once, but I have also simply used the information it throws my way to pick the best times to patrol all of the other sites to get the best deal.  I love the fact that it is easy to use.

If you’d like to keep an eye out for the best prices on plane tickets to or from a certain place, simply sign up for email notifications.  Airfare Watchdog will then email you when specials occur for the trip you set it up to monitor.  For example, I was looking for a cheap ticket to Chicago to go to the Financial Blogger Conference at the end of September.   I signed up for email notifications in March for any good deals from Houston to Chicago and jumped on a $215 ticket that they notified me about a few weeks later.

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