Travel Column


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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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Summer Travel: What’s the Cheapest Way to Go?

AirplaneNot too long ago, my son and I were trying to figure out how to take a trip to see my grandfather in southern Arizona. I was trying to decide whether to fly or drive. I don’t live in a major metro area; it take an hour and a half to get to the airport in Salt Lake City, UT. And Grandpa lives three hours from Phoenix, AZ. However, discount plane tickets from Salt Lake and Phoenix are often quite cheap.

After running the numbers, I found that if I were traveling alone, it would be cheaper to fly to Phoenix and rent a car than it would be to drive to my grandfather’s house, staying a night on the road each way. However, add in my son’s plane ticket, and it became a little cheaper to drive. Hooray! I love a good road trip.

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How to Save Money on Road Trips

I’m a big fan of the road trip. Whether we’re just going up to my parents’ for a couple of days, or planning something more substantial, I just like being on the road. It’s fun to see new things, and visit interesting places. However, with rising gas prices, hotel costs and the expenses associated with eating out while on the road, the cost of a road trip can quickly add up. And that doesn’t include admissions to some of the attractions you might want to visit along the way.

Of course, like so many other things in life, you can save a little money if you do some planning. If you have a general idea of your route, and what you would like to do, you can create a plan that will cost a little less than you might think. Here are some general ideas for saving money on your next road trip:

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3 Cheap Ideas for Spring Break

Spring break is coming up. Whether you are a college student getting ready to head out for a little party fun, or a family trying to figure out what you can do while the kids are out of school, there are plenty of possibilities for spring break.

Unfortunately, some spring break ideas tend to be rather expensive. Do you really want to spend $1,000 on your spring break? Plus, air travel is expensive during spring break season, and sometimes hotels charge more, too. If you take a few minutes to find your creativity and your inner frugality, though, you might find that spring break doesn’t have to be that expensive after all.

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How to Protect Your Money While Traveling

When I was 18, I traveled to Europe as an exchange student. I really didn’t know how to protect my money while traveling, and kept all most all of it in pocketbook, in a single form. I was lucky: The only danger my money faced was being spent. If I had been robbed, I would have been hard-pressed to get my money back (although, as part of a student exchange, I would have had help dealing with the aftermath).

True, I was at a disadvantage: I didn’t have a credit card, and I didn’t have a debit card. (This was a looong time ago.) Traveler’s cheques were the way to go when traveling overseas. However, some of the basics of protecting your money never change. It is especially important to be careful of your money if you know you will be traveling to a place in upheaval. Plus, you never know if the country you are in might suddenly become unpredictable, as what happened in Egypt recently.

Before you head out of the country, consider these tips for protecting your money:
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7 Reasons to Skip Hotels & Rent Vacation Homes

Vacation homes rock!Bankrate had an article recently in which they recommended renting a home or condo to trim vacation costs. While I very much value the opinion of the fine folks at Bankrate, that’s good advice that’s about decades overdue.

At the very least, it’s five years overdue, because my friends and I have been doing this for at least that long. In fact, it was the topic of discussion one day at Meals on Wheels and when one of the other volunteers remarked that they had been renting vacation homes for decades.

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Six Reasons Why Disney Resorts Rock

Port Orleans Riverside - Water WheelMy wife and I always have a great time whenever we go to Disney, partly because we’re both kids at heart and partly because Disney makes the whole experience very enjoyable. On our recent trip, we stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort, a moderate Disney resort, for the second time and loved it. Disney is very good at “keeping you in Disney” if you let them, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and when we went, we were on Disney property (not counting roads) 24/7 for our entire stay in Florida. From getting off the plane and hopping on the Disney Magical Express Transportation until the same bus took us back five days later, they had us. But when they had us, they treated us very well and we didn’t have a single complaint!

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Our Disney Dining Plan Experience

Winnie the Pooh joins Family for LunchLast week my wife and I went to Disney World in Orlando Florida to celebrate our one year anniversary and, for the first time, opted for the Disney Dining Plan. You can only include the Disney Dining Plan if you are booking a vacation package with Disney, in our case I booked a five-day Magic Your Way Package, with lodging at the Port Orleans Riverside resort, and included the standard Dining package.

Overall, we were pleased with the Dining Plan and felt that it was a great deal. There was only one downside, it was too much food!

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