Higher hotel prices, airline capacity cuts and rising travel demand mean travelers will have to work harder to find a good deal in 2012. But online tools can help keep your vacation expenses in check. Here are several go-to websites to help you save money this year.
Looking for sales on a specific route, or just want to go somewhere cheap? AirfareWatchdog.com hunts down deals computers tend to miss, like promo codes that airlines include in e-mail newsletters. It also finds sales from Allegiant and Southwest, which typically aren’t listed on major airfare search engines. You can sign up for specific fare alerts or a list of all the cheap round-trip fares from your local airport.
Where can you go for $500 or less? Kayak.com/explore will show you where you can vacation for a particular price and display the results on a map. You can narrow your search by month, region, flight length, weather or activity. Clicking on a price reveals dates the fare is available.
If you know where you want to go, use Itasoftware.com to find the cheapest dates to fly. Click on “airfare search” on the home page, then enter your departure date and destination and select “see calendar of lowest fares.” To purchase, you must go to the airline’s website or online agencies like Travelocity.
To figure out whether to buy that plane ticket now or wait, go to Bing.com/travel. Its Price Predictor can determine how likely a fare is to rise or fall during the next seven days from more than 250 U.S. cities to top domestic destinations and major hubs in Europe. The site says that its predictions are about 75 percent accurate and save customers more than $50 on average for a round trip.
After you’ve booked your tickets at an airline site, enter your flight information at Yapta.com to track the price so you don’t miss out on savings if the price drops. If the difference in price exceeds the rebooking fee (typically $75 to $150), Yapta will send you an e-mail or tweet so you can call the airline to claim the credit.
To get the best deal on Priceline.com, where travelers name their own price and pay before learning the hotel’s name, sites such as Biddingfortravel.com and Betterbidding.com have long offered strategic advice on how to game the system. Now a new site, Biddingtraveler.com, goes a step further. Enter the city, dates, neighborhood and star ratings for the hotel you want. Then, after reviewing the site’s recommendations, enter a “lowball” bid and “final offer.” The Bidding Traveler then calculates and helps you execute the optimal bidding strategy on Priceline.
Not willing to gamble? Hotels.com offers nearly 145,000 properties in more than 60 countries from national chain hotels and all-inclusive resorts to bed-and-breakfasts. You can find particularly good last-minute deals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And the site has a loyalty program.
For hotel fanciers, Luxurylink.com, offers discounts on high-end hotels and villas through online auctions and deals.
Tired of sifting through daily-deal sites for local bargains? YipIt.com collects those deals from 787 services in 118 North American cities. Travelers who sign up with an e-mail can filter results by checking categories like wine tasting, museum, golf or other activities. A recent search for restaurant and spa deals in New York turned up a $60 three-course dinner for two with wine (worth $136) at Tenpenny, the Gotham Hotel’s restaurant, and a $199 Moroccan Spa treatment at the Trump SoHo, worth $339. Pay close attention to expiration dates.
Autoslash.com searches the Web for discount coupons on car rentals and applies them after you book. It then continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date and automatically applies any discounts it finds.
Cayole.com lets you search cruises by price, destination, room type or cruise line, then offers price predictions to give cruisers an idea of whether they should buy now or wait for a possible price drop. For example, by clicking “get more details” for a five-night Western Mediterranean cruise in September, the site recommended that travelers booking balcony cabins buy “as soon as possible, because prices are likely to increase.” For interior ocean-view rooms or suites it suggested waiting.
If you’re willing to swap places with a stranger, list your home and find travelers willing to trade on Homeexchange.com, which facilitates about 60,000 swaps a year. Recent listings included a two-bedroom apartment on Lake Como in Italy and a six-bedroom oceanfront lodge in Cape Town with a resident game ranger. Members pay $119.40 to list their home for a year, or $47.85 for three months.
Article source: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/136770068.html
Destin Dinner Cruise
The link is located on the top of all their web pages and customers may check back frequently for new offers.
Destin, FL (PRWEB) January 07, 2012
Travel website TripShock.com launched a new feature that allows visitors to view up-to-date deals and promotions on the Gulf Coast. The link is located on the top of all their web pages and customers may check back frequently for new offers. The direct link to the deal page is http://www.tripshock.com/deals.html.
Some of the latest deals that TripShock.com is offering includes 20% off restaurant gift certificates in Destin and Pensacola and $60 off private sailing charters in Destin. Each week new promotions are added to encourage visitors to buy online early.
TripShock!® is the one and only travel agency that enables travelers to book accommodations, tours, and activities online directly for the Northern Gulf Coast. TripShock! offers trusted reviews from real travelers, photos, videos and other planning tools to help create the perfect Gulf Coast vacation. TripShock! attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually and partners with over 100 activity and lodging providers from Florida to Louisiana.
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MANHATTAN, Kan. – A new exhibit at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art in Manhattan showcases the Kansas prairie from the vantage point of the animals that live there.
“Tallgrass TV: Sam Easterson’s Tribute to the Konza Prairie” features video footage of animals native to Konza and other similar prairie environments.
The exhibit runs from Jan. 17 to June 10 in the Beach Museum of Art’s Vanier Gallery.
As part of the exhibition, Easterson will speak March 29 at the Beach Museum.
The museum features still photos and video footage from camera trap surveys, animal borne imaging studies and other wildlife surveillance projects.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Civil War flags and other artifacts from New York’s military past are on display in a newly opened exhibit at the state Capitol.
The exhibit, “A Call Not Unheeded: The Empire State in Times of Conflict,” features artifacts and information from the American Revolution to the present-day war on terror.
The curators at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs helped organize the exhibit, which is located on the first floor of the Capitol, longtime home to display cases holding hundreds of Civil War battle flags. Additional Civil War banners that have been preserved at the museum are included in the exhibit.
The New York military history exhibit is among the newly opened display of state artifacts arrayed inside the Capitol and the neighboring Empire State Plaza.
Courtesy of Angsana Hotels and Resorts
Set on the north-west coast of Mauritius, Turtle Bay is the picturesque site of the brand new Angsana Balaclava, which is offering “exotic escapades” introductory packages for two and three nights. The resort features ocean views, infinity-edged pools, a conservation centre and a well-stocked library. Plaisance International Airport is about an hour’s drive and Port Louis, the capital, a short 15-minute drive.
The two-night package, with accommodation in a garden suite, costs from €978 (Dh4,650) and includes breakfast and dinner for two and €100 worth of hotel credits per stay. The three-night package costs from €1,467 (Dh6,975) and includes all of the above, plus a 90-minute spa session for two. All prices include taxes (complimentary inclusions are nonrefundable and nonexchangeable). The offer is valid for sale until March 30 for stays until March 31. Visit www.angsana.com or call 00 230 2041888.
Marco Polo once described Sri Lanka as “the finest island in the world”, and with good reason: shaped like a teardrop and measuring only 436km from north to south, the island nation boasts all kinds of terrain, from palm-fringed beaches to mountain peaks. Wild Frontiers’ 16-day “Odyssey” tour, combining culture and adventure, offers the best of Sri Lanka. Highlights include game drives in Yala National Park, visits to the temples of Kandy and the Dambulla Caves, and rafting on Kelani River.
The trip costs from £2,310 (Dh13,153), including accommodation, most meals, the services of an English-speaking guide, local transport, entrance fees to sites and taxes. International airfare is not included. Departure on February 12. To book, visit www.wildfrontiers.co.uk or call 00 44 2077 363 968.
Enjoy a diving holiday in the Cayman Islands with this week-long trip. With the Cobalt Coast Dive Resort as your base, you’ll go on daily diving expeditions in the Caribbean Sea with trained instructors. The trip costs from US$1,500 (Dh5,510) per person, including accommodation, some meals, a check-in dive on arrival, unlimited shore diving, airport transfers, Wi-Fi and taxes. International airfare is not included. To book, visit www.responsibletravel.com or call 00 44 1273 600 030.
Grand Millennium Dubai has a Dubai Shopping Festival package for Dh1,660 (including taxes) that features two nights in a deluxe room and free shuttle services to the main shopping malls (Mall of the Emirates and Dubai, Ibn Battuta and Wafi malls). Guests are also offered discounts on options such as 30 per cent off dinner for two at Atrium or Dante, the hotel’s restaurants, or 20 per cent off a relaxing aroma massage or the other treatments at the hotel’s signature Jasmine Spa. For details visit www.millenniumhotels.com or call 04 429 9999.
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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is highlighting the ebullient nature of Filipinos in a campaign to draw more visitors to Asia’s tourism laggard.
The country says: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez says, “What differentiates the Philippines from other offerings is the Filipino.”
The campaign introduced through social media and other outlets Friday aims to draw 4.2 million tourists this year and 10 million by 2016 from only 3.7 million last year.
The Philippines boasts of beautiful beaches and diving, English-speaking people and cheap shopping. But it lacks infrastructure. Visitors are also deterred by communist and Muslim insurgencies and bombings and kidnappings by al-Qaida-linked extremists in the south.
A U.S. travel warning Thursday cites the risk of terrorist activity.
FARGO, N.D. – When a powerful blizzard ripped through North Dakota last winter, hundreds of drivers were stranded as white-out conditions shuttered interstates spanning the state. Snow whipped up by wind marred the lines between pavement and grassy drop-offs, leaving some scared motorists unsure what to do.
Two local software developers figured they could help.
Bob Bertsch, an employee with the North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Jake Joraanstad, an NDSU computer engineering major, had just finished developing an app to help residents during floods when the blizzard hit in March, convincing them to shift their attention to winter disasters.
Winter Survival Kit was born. The free program, available for iPhones and Android smartphones, is both a primer to help motorists prepare for winter driving and a beacon when things go badly.
It can pinpoint a motorist’s location, call 911, notify friends and family, and monitor how long the gas will hold out. The app also gives potentially life-saving alerts when users tap a big red button on its simple home screen that reads, “I’m Stranded!” Among the advice: stay with your vehicle and keep the tailpipe clear of snow, since a backup can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
“It’s our sincere hope that no one ever has to use it,” said Bertsch, an NDSU Extension Service web technology specialist who led the team that developed the app. “But if one person does have to use it and it keeps them in their car or keeps them from succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning, then it is definitely worth the time and effort that was spent on the app.”
The app also helps drivers prepare for bad weather by inputting phone and policy numbers for insurance and roadside assistance, and designated emergency contacts. And it gives guidance on putting together a physical survival kit to keep in vehicles in case of emergencies.
“Any tools developed which arm people with information that will help keep them safe is of value,” North Dakota Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said.
The app does have limitations. Joraanstad said some especially rural areas of the country — particularly in the Great Plains — have shoddy cellphone coverage that could impede some features such as GPS. At that point the app would tell users that their location couldn’t be pinpointed and instruct them to call 911.
Still, the app has emergency numbers handy, allowing users to send text messages for help. Text messages often can be sent by weaker signals than are needed for clear phone calls. And the app would give emergency advice on braving the elements — even telling users how to use parts of a vehicle to keep warm.
The Midwest hasn’t seen much heavy snowfall in the last few months, so the app’s developers haven’t heard of any success — or horror — stories yet. But they’re convinced that when the time comes, their app will help.
“This app can literally save someone’s life. We take great pride in that,” said Joraanstad, the 22-year-old chief operating officer for Myriad Devices, a startup company in NDSU’s research and technology park that produced the app.
Bertsch, Joraanstad and two colleagues who teach at NDSU have become experts in disaster apps. Last year they developed a program to help residents deal with flooding that has overwhelmed North Dakota in the last few years. The H2O app provides news feeds, river levels, road closure maps and other information.
Winter Survival Kit, which works in the U.S. and Canada, joins several apps from other developers that were designed to help smartphone users in a bind, such as Help I Crashed My Car, Emergency Radio, iMapWeather Radio, iTriage, Close Call and pMonitor. As of this week, there didn’t appear to be other winter survival-specific apps in either iTunes’ or Android’s app stores.
“I think we hit a particular niche,” Bertsch said.
About 12,000 people downloaded the app in the first week it was released, and Joraanstad said that at last check, there were another 3,000 downloads. The early returns have been mostly favorable. Out of 16 user reviews on the Android website, 13 gave 5-star ratings. “Practical … yet simple,” reads one review. It had a 4-plus average rating among Apple iPhone users.
People posting lower ratings reported trouble with the app crashing. Joraanstad said those glitches are being addressed as they arise with updates.
The app is being promoted by Texas, where it can be downloaded directly from the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network website. In an unusual climate swap, Texas saw snow this winter before much of the rest of the country.
“With the amount of snow and ice during winter in the Panhandle and North Texas, plus the possibility of unusual cold weather occurrences elsewhere in the state, we felt it would be helpful to many Texans to make this app accessible,” said Joyce Cavanagh, Texas extension service spokeswoman.
“People here aren’t used to driving in that kind of weather. It gives some peace of mind while traveling,” she said.
Cavanagh also said she felt more at ease knowing that many students traveling for the holidays had downloaded the app before hitting the roads.
College student Jessica Rush said she could have used such an app in March. The 21-year-old and a friend were traveling in separate cars in North Dakota when the fast-moving storm left her so blinded that she was on the highway’s left shoulder when she thought she was driving over the warning bumps on the right. She figured she was about a half-mile from her friend’s car.
“I called my dad and told him I was going to get out and walk to her car and he said, `Do not leave your car. You don’t know where she is,’” recalled Rush, who had cellphone coverage where she was stuck.
Rush stayed in her 2000 Oldsmobile Alero for four nerve-racking hours until she was rescued by a truck driver, and she came away with a new appreciation for the dangers of winter driving.
“When your parents tell you not to go somewhere you should probably listen,” Rush said. “I guess this app is the next best thing.”
Associated Press writer Amber Hunt contributed to this report from Sioux Falls, S.D.
WARSAW, Poland – The memorial site of Auschwitz-Birkenau says it saw more than 1.4 million visitors in 2011, a record high for the former death camp.
The figure released Friday underlines how the death and labor complex that Nazi Germany built in occupied southern Poland during World War II has become one of Europe’s most visited Holocaust remembrance sites.
While the large number of visitors is seen as important for Holocaust education, mass tourism there is also adding strain to the barracks and other structures. Many are already in a state of severe dilapidation due to the passage of time, and the officials overseeing the site are struggling to preserve what they can.
The museum and memorial site said most of the visitors last year were from Poland, but other nations represented in large numbers are Britain, Italy, Israel, Germany, France and the United States.