Travel 
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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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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Favorite Frugal Weekend Idea?

Sunset at Outer Banks, NCA while back I ran a short little series outlining a few fun frugal weekend ideas and with Labor Day around the corner, I thought it’d be fun if we all shared some fun ideas we had planned for the weekend. It doesn’t have to be a frugal weekend idea but it does have to be fun!

For us, we’ll be taking our annual trip down to North Carolina to the Outer Banks for a week. We rent one of those enormous vacation homes with a dozen of our friends (actually closer to twenty than ten) at a steal because it’s now past the peak season. These homes go for more than five grand in the peak seasons and drop a long way once the weather gets a little cooler. We each pick a night to cook dinner for the group, we play games, have a few adult beverages, and basically have a great end of the summer vacation where we get to rest and relax. We look forward to this trip each year and this time a bunch of us will be packing in a few rounds of golf… which pretty much throws frugal out the window. :)

What are you favorite frugal weekend ideas?

(Photo: savannahgrandfather)


 Personal Finance 
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comments

Dunhill Vacations Travel Deals Newsletter

As you might remember from a few days ago, my money vice is vacations. So I’m always on the lookout for things that will make our travel cheaper, which included signing up for the Travelzoo Top 20 deals email newsletter.

I’ve been getting the weekly emails, plus some unscheduled last-minute offers or promotions, for the last few months and the deals have been pretty astounding. I think it has to do with the recession and the last minute nature of many of the offers. If you’re flexible, you can get some amazing rates on cruises, flights, hotels, and shows.

Dunhill Vacations is another company like Travelzoo. They’re not a travel agency but a deal collector and publisher. Their main website lists a bunch of offers and while they don’t have a “top 20″ list, they do have plenty offers listed. There isn’t much more to say other than that I signed up for their free newsletter and you can to if you’re interested. I haven’t received one yet but I think it’ll probably be a lot like Travelzoo’s emails. (and like Travelzoo, they don’t sell your information, which is very important)

If you’re already a subscriber, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I figure that it’s free and I can unsubscribe whenever I want so I might as well. You never know, you might save a few bucks or find some insane last minute deal that makes it all worth it. :)


 Your Take 
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Your Take: What is Your Money Vice?

Martha and Jim on Macallan BarrelsWe all have one. We all have that hobby we know we spend too much money on. Maybe you drop a paycheck or two every time you walk into Williams Sonoma because of some gadget you have to have. Or your spending goes unchecked on vacation, picking up trinkets and souvenirs from your getaways. Perhaps you’re a gadget hound and are the first on your block to get the latest electronic gizmo.

Whatever it is… you know you have one and I want to know what it is. :)

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 Your Take 
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comments

Your Take: Your Favorite Vacation?

Kauai Marriott Weather StationsWe’ve all shared our dream vacations, but what is your favorite vacation? What’s a place you absolutely love going to?

For me, my favorite vacation has to be to Hawaii (one of the reasons I’m a huge fan of my friend Sheila’s GoVisitHawaii.com blog, it’s an almost daily reminder of how beautiful and awesome the 50th state is). My wife and I went there for our honeymoon a year and a half ago. We spent a week on Kauai, half a week on the Big Island, and half a week on Oahu, and sometimes I feel as though our hearts never left. :)

If you’ve never been, Hawaii is gorgeous. Kauai is the least developed and least touristy of the main islands and we were big fans of that. We went whale watching and snorkeling near Poipu with Captain Tara (Kauai Sea Riders), who was a friend of a family friend, we went ATV riding, took a helicopter ride around the island, and did all sorts of hiking. On the Big Island, we stayed a couple days in Hilo (the verdant and more rainy side) and then a couple in Kona (the drier side); enjoying the beach, snorkeling, and such. Finally on Oahu, we visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial, where you could easily spend an entire day seeing the memorial, Bowfin submarine, and the Battleship Missouri.

What’s your favorite vacation?


 Taxes 
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comments

How to Enjoy a Tax Free Vacation

Web 2.0 Summit ConferenceOne of the reasons I am called the “Wandering” Tax Pro is because once the tax filing season ends I enjoy travel via all methods – car, bus, plane, ship and train (not necessarily in that order). In the days before my uncle went to his final audit, I would pack my bags and we would embark on a transatlantic crossing, often on the QE2. We would also visit the Caribbean or take a train trip in the fall. Unfortunately, none of these trips were tax deductible for a tax accountant or a retiree.

However, my annual travel itinerary would also include two totally tax-deductible domestic vacations. I would attend the National Conference of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) and the Annual Convention of the National Society of Tax Professionals (NSTP), held each year in a different US city. I have visited Anaheim, Atlanta, Arlington, Alexandria, Boston, Corpus Christi, Minneapolis, Orlando, Sans Antonio, Diego and Francisco, Washington DC, and other locations as a registrant of these two annual events, and deducted every penny of my hotel, meal and travel expenses.

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 Travel 
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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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