Archive for the Category »Travel Websites «

Nov
29th
  Protect Yourself This Cyber Mon & Black Fri While You Save $ On These Deals!

Today is Black Friday – sounds like an unlucky day right?  It could be if you aren’t careful with your online purchases!

The good news is…if you follow the protective steps below, you can get some good travel deals safely.

OK, so the fun stuff first:  Here are just a few of the enticing Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals!!!!

In need of some sun?

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Deal #1:  The rather large but fun for families Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is offering room rates as low as $99 a night. Think water slides and lots of kids  -  sort of Vegas of the Caribbean but kids love it. There are some black out dates, but book this deal from Black Friday through Cyber Monday at www.Atlantis.com 

push-home-middleDeal #2: One of the best resorts in Sunny So Cal – L’Auberge Del Mar  near San Diego is offering 40% off room rates that are booked between today and Monday.www.laubergedelmar.com

Want some snow?

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Deal #3: Vail Resorts is offering up to 50% off  – Participating properties include Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge to name a few.

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Deal #4: Lastly, a boutique hotel I’ve written about before in New York City – the newly renovated and swank Benjamin Hotel in the heart of Manhattan is offering rooms starting at $199. Book online at  www.thebenjamin.com using promo codes CYBERN or CYBER1.

There are many places these days to make online purchases – But be smart about it. In the last year alone, officials have shut down 1500 fake websites that can steal private information from consumers , according to the Better Business Bureau.

Security experts say most of the big sites tend to be safe – Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, etc. But the travel industry faces the same security challenges as other retailers – There is potential to turn over information, as well as info about where you live and when you will be on vacation!

Security expert Julian Waits of  Threat Track Security in FL says be wary of clicking on any links in unsolicited emails that could lead to phony travel websites. If it seems too good to be true – don’t click on it.

He also says there ARE ways to tell if a site is secure  – Find the URL, and there should be a lock symbol to the right or left. An additional step would be to make sure the website displays a SSL certificate.

Now… be careful, but go get those good deals!

 

 
Jan
11th
  Tuesday Travel Tip: Has a winter storm ever interrupted your travel? Here’s technology to help.

We’ve seen a few winter storms crippling regions this season – the latest moving from the south to the northwest today. Weather can easily disrupt travel plans – remember all the stranded passengers over Christmas trying to get in and out of Europe? So what can you do?

Here are some great websites and apps to help:

1)Next Flight app, available in the App store.

A friend of mine was supposed to go to London for Christmas break, but was delayed, and almost had to cancel, because she had problems rebooking her trip. One time her cell phone buzzed at 1 AM – yes AM – it was her airline canceling yet another flight due to weather. She immediately tried to rebook, but was on hold until 3AM, and finally gave up. Crazy, right?

This app can help you beat others to book the next flight: It brings you all available flights from all carriers and airports worldwide.

Once you provide your origin, destination & departure date, the application lists all the available flights for the selected day from all airline carriers including their departure and arrival timings.
It also shows you terminal & gate info so you need not hunt for information monitors at the airport.

2) Wunderground.com – a great tool for any upcoming ski trips. Click on “The Road Trip Planner,” enter your departure city, the route you are driving, and the estimated times you will be arriving at each stop. I tested this and typed in that I want to leave from Los Angeles and drive to Lake Tahoe. A map with driving directions appeared, with informative notations on the weather to help me plan. For example, when I hit the I5 freeway, there was “a chance of rain”. In other areas it warned me “drop below freezing” “chance of snow” or “snow”.

Another helpful tool on this site is the “Trip Planner”. (Different from the “Road Trip Planner.”) You enter the start and end dates of your trip, and the site accesses its database of historical weather conditions in your desired destinations. That’ll help with the packing!

3) Flight Track Pro – Tracks your flight in real time. Like Next Flight, it will help you find alternate flights. It has terminal maps for departing and entering. And my favroite feature, it will alert you for flight delays. I can’t tell you how many times I am alerted by the airlines of a five hour delay when I am half-way to the airport. $9.99 at App store.

4) If you are delayed, here are some educational apps to keep the kids entertained and enriched.

–Bookworkm: A bunch of word games… the app also keeps track of your kids’ history, their longest words, etc. $4.99 at APP store.

–NASA APP HD – This app provides thousands of images from NASA IOTD, APOD and NASAImages.org, on demand NASA Videos from around the agency,
Current NASA Mission Information, and other informative content. Free at the APP store.

–Wurdle – If you love the word game boggle, you will like Wurdle. It is a version of Boggle that you can download on your iphone. It is $1.99 at App store.

–Spell Bound – This $2.99 app really makes you think by challenging you with word/spelling problems. For example it will give you a variety of goals like:
• Spell 8 words of 6 or more letters.
• Use these letters in 4+ letter words: ABCDEFGHIJKLM.
• Spell 5 words of 3 or more letters starting with “BL”.

Race against the clock or play a casual, untimed game. Available at the App store.

–Pop Math – PopMath is a fun game for kids of all ages to practice basic math.

Pairs of bubbles float on the screen and your goal is to pop each pair. For example, one bubble says “7″ and another says “3+4″. Simply touch one bubble and then the other to pop them both.

At any time, you can choose different operators: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Once you’ve popped all pairs on a level, you see your time for that level and can move on to the next level, or keep practicing that level.

.99 at the App store.

Happy and safe, no-delayed travels to you.

 
Jul
06th
  Travel Tip Tuesday: Don’t get caught in Harlem

Did I really just publish that photo?

One of the greatest times of my life was traveling through Europe for three months with three of my best friends. As you perhaps can tell by the dated photo, this was our post-college graduation backpacking trip. We were psyched.

We had been planning the trip for months..leaving some room for spontaneity, but definitely hitting certain spots and hostels/cheap hotels.

That experience was brought back to life to me while I was in New York recently. I shared a car from JFK with two young girls from Holland who were traveling across America for the summer. White knuckled in the back seat as the driver weaved in and out of the rush hour traffic, they told me their plans. They were so bright eyed and excited, it pained me to tell them the hostel they booked to spend a week in The Big Apple was in dead center…Harlem.

I realized this easily could happen to anyone, especially young foreign people who just want to find a cheap room. We relied on guide books to plan our trip, but there were still things the guidebooks left out that we tended to learn from locals. Parents – if your kids are old enough to plan a trip abroad, definitely go over their itinerary with them.

Thanks to the internet it is much easier to find any information you need about a location, and you don’t only have to take it from the professionals. There are travel blogs (ahem), and travel websites where locals or other other travelers can chime in about a hotel or location.

One that I find useful is www.virtualtourist.com. In most every city I researched on the website, there is an area to find specifics on “warnings and dangers” of various neighborhoods of your desired vacation spot. Most travel websites tell you where you should go, so it was helpful to find one that tells you where NOT to go.

But what makes this site special is that it gets really specific. For instance, it told me streets to avoid, and boundaries to stay within when walking in a neighborhood. Very useful – you can’t rely on a hotel reservationist to always give you the nitty gritty. Be prepared.

Obviously, on a macro level, www.travel.state.gov gives official U.S. travel warnings…

Things can change while you are on your trip too…. which is where flexibility comes in. Back on our trip, we were headed for Greece… but we influenced by warnings we heard so at  the last minute we instead went to Ibiza. I am grateful actually…I don’t think I would have ever gone there had we not changed….

Ibiza, Spain

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain.

Travel safely.

 
Jun
17th
  Stay in a presidential suite for the price of a budget hotel…

I recently was in New York for a television shoot. We stayed at the Palace in New York on Madison Ave. and spent much time in its exclusive penthouse suite…which felt more like an apartment. It had a piano…a penthouse balcony….a dining room…and wonderful high ceilings and windows with a view of the Apple. I’ve seen a lot of exclusive suites in my line of work, but this suite had its own elevator to the two other levels and a private concierge.

Here I am in the living room. (Notice the view.)

Here are CBS’s Peter Greenberg and I in the upstairs office…

Nice right? But when I heard the price, my first thought was – what a waste of money.

$27,000 a night.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being there, but I thought of all the good things that money could do instead of the over-indulgence.

The vistors who stay here obviously don’t dent their checkbooks by reserving a room. An oil magnate family from the Middle East stayed here recently to give you an idea of its former occupants.

BUT  - now the traveler who likes first class travel in four and five star hotels has a chance to stay in a room big enough to house a football team…for a three star price.

Offandaway.com  auctions off available suites at top notch hotels at a fraction of the normal rate.

The website advertises “a presidential suite for the price of a budget hotel room” – which I think might be a stretch…

For example, list price for two nights at the presidential suite in the NY’s Pierre Hotel: $40,ooo. Winning bidder price: $938.25.  (Not exactly budget hotel prices, but a great savings nonetheless…)

The website is a little confusing..needs to explain better…but the idea is this:

1) But a package of bids…… A small investment up front will deter non serious bidders they think.

2) Start bidding on what you want – the auction starts at “0″ and can be increased by 25 cents.

3) The highest bidder at auction closing time wins!

An example of a suite coming up for bid:

2 nights at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, in the King View suite.

An example of a recent winning bid:

3 nights in a junior suite at Casa Dorada in Los Cabos normally prices at $1637 went for $87.

Check it out – and let me know if you get a great deal :)  www.offandaway.com