Travel Tips: Making Your Dollars Go Farther
Travel Tips: Making Your Dollars Go Farther
Surveys show that the average American worker generally takes a shorter vacation than his or her counterpart in other parts of the world. But, when we finally get around to taking a vacation, we want to make the most of it. Here are some resources that will help stretch your travel dollars:
Where to Go
Frequently, the most challenging problem we face with traveling is deciding where exactly we would like to go. Here are some useful Web sites for travel destinations:
Most travel publishers have web presences. Here are a few of the most familiar names: Fodor’s Travel Guides, Frommer’s Travel Guides, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Let’s Go Travel Guides, and for European travel, Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.
Looking for ways to save money on your next vacation? Try Budget Travel and discover great deals, sign up for the Web site’s E-newsletter, and join its online community.
If you’re 55 or older, Road Scholar offers a unique opportunity to broaden your horizons and add to your experiences while taking advantage of its in-depth excursions into other cultures and experiences.
Gusto! provides travel enthusiasts with a forum for sharing information and photographs of travel destinations and hotels. Create your own profile, blog, post reviews, and share photographs with family and fellow travelers.
IgoUgo offers recommendations, reviews, and photographs from everyday travelers covering more than 4,100 destinations worldwide.
With thousands of photographs and an easy to use interface, PlanetWare is one of the best places to look for information on any travel destination throughout the world. Its Activities Explorer allows you to find places that will suit your interests and hobbies.
Need help selecting a travel destination? Why not check out the large assortment of travel blogs at RealTravel? Besides planning your trip, you can even sign up for your own travel blog.
Maybe your preference is for something other than Disney World, Busch Gardens, or Las Vegas. If your tastes run to the odd and the offbeat, try Roadside America for some unusual travel sites.
DiscoverAmerica represents the U.S. travel and tourism industry and offers more than 10,000 links to accommodations, airlines, travel attractions, convention and visitor bureaus, and more.
SmarterTravel offers advice, photographs, and money-saving travel deals. Among its best features are its Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees and Ultimate Guide to Frequent Flyer Fees.
If you really want to spend more than a week or two abroad, you might want to consider the possibility of studying, working, or volunteering abroad. Transitions Abroad makes it easy to explore these options.
With recommendations and opinions from fellow travelers on vacation destinations, hotels, motels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, TripAdvisor is one of the most useful resources in planning your trip.
Wikitravel provides travelers with a convenient medium for sharing travel information. At present, the site features more than 19,000 travel destination guides.
Have I Got a Deal for You! – Cheap Airline Tickets and Discount Hotels
Now that we have a pretty good idea where we want to go, how are we going to get there? Doing your travel homework should enable you to save some serious money. Here is a selection of web resources offering discount fares and accommodations:
You can sign up for free fare alerts at Airfarewatchdog or you can search for low airfare on all airlines including Southwest.
BookingBuddy gives you easy access to a variety of discount travel sites including Expedia, Farecast, Kayak, Mobissimo, Orbitz, and Travelocity.
Expedia.com gives travelers a convenient way of saving travel dollars by providing direct access to a large selection of vacation packages, airline tickets, rental cars, hotel reservations, and cruises.
Want to know whether you should buy your airline tickets now or later? Farecast will provide current recommendations and will also inform you whether or not you’re really getting a deal on that hotel room.
In addition to offering an easy-to-use search engine for finding cheap airfare, Farecompare.com offers expert travel advice and useful air travel planning tools. Check out their handy Airline Carry-On Chart.
Hotwire offers deep discounts on flights and hotels. Among the most useful features is its Planning Tools section where you can find top picks for places to go, determine the best time of year to visit, and arrange to receive price updates so that you receive the best value for your dollar.
The award-winning Kayak works like a metasearch engine, allowing vacationers to search more than 140 travel Web sites through one interface. You can then compare results from all sites and easily determine the perfect flight, hotel, rental car, or cruise.
Mobissimo also offers a metasearch approach to travel information but claims the largest supplier base of any travel search engine on the web. Use this resource to quickly and easily locate great travel deals, flights, and accommodations.
Orbitz, a familiar Web travel resource, gives travelers an easy way to check for good deals on vacation packages, flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars.
Priceline.com can potentially help budget-minded travelers in two ways: by using its search engine to find the best deals or by using the site's Name Your Own Price® service. As the Web site states, “If you can fly any time of day, agree to fly on any major airline, stay in any name-brand hotel or rent from any of the top 5 U.S. rental car agencies – you can save a lot of money with Priceline!”
The creators of Travelocity are so dedicated to their customers that they have created a Customer Bill of Rights and promise that they’ll do their utmost to take care of your travel needs. Besides helping you with flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises, Travelocity features hotel ratings from AAA and destination guides using information from Frommer’s Guides.
Airlines, Airports, Packing, and Passports
With ready access to nearly 500 airlines worldwide, Airlines of the Web is dedicated to free online information and reservations for air travel.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport's site provides airline schedules, flight status, directions, ground transportation, parking, and customer services.
Dulles International Airport is located in Chantilly, Virginia, approximately 26 miles west of Washington, DC.
Another of the major airports in the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia area is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Overpacking for vacation is a common mistake. Find out how to lighten your load and travel light at One Bag.
For current information on flight status and delays, traffic jams and taxi lines, just go to OrbitzTLC Traveler Update.
Comfort is very important when you’re facing a long flight. TripAdvisor’s Seat Guru is your ultimate source for checking out airplane seating and in-flight amenities. The use of color coding makes it simple to distinguish good seats from poor ones.
Not sure what you’re allowed to bring on your flight? Go to the official Transportation Security Administration Web site to find out. You can also sign up for email updates from the TSA.
Need information on applying for a passport? Just go to the U.S. Department of State’s Travel.State.Gov web resource. The same Web site offers helpful tips for traveling abroad as well as up-to-date travel alerts and warnings.
You know your travel destination and how you’re getting there but you’re not looking forward to packing for your trip. No problem! Try the Universal Packing List and generate your own customized inventory of what to bring.
USA Airports and Airlines provides ready access to airports and airlines across the United States.
If you’re a licensed pilot and prefer to fly your own plane, click here for a handy list of Maryland airports.
Rail and Bus Tickets
With rail lines running the length and breadth of the United States, Amtrak offers a scenic (and romantic) alternative to air travel. Amtrak’s Web site offers an interactive route atlas, allowing you to customize your route.
You would really like to go to Washington, DC and take in a museum or two but you don’t want to drive there. The Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC train system might be just the ticket.
What could be more exciting than criss-crossing Europe by train? Check out all that you can do with a Eurail pass.
So you've been thinking about heading up to New York City but you're not sure which bus service has the best prices. BusJunction.com is a great resource that allows travelers to plan their visits to such cities as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. This Web site searches a dozen or so bus lines including Greyhound, Boltbus, Megabus, and Fung Wah.
Greyhound has been transporting people all over North America since 1914 and its buses currently travel to more than 2300 destinations. Its Web site offers schedules, deals, and discounts.
Although the Trailways Web site does not provide bus schedules or ticket fare information, it does offer easy access to local bus services available in various regions of the United States.
Cruise Critic is not a booking site, but it features useful reviews and a great search engine that allows you to find cruises by cruise line, destination, lifestyle, or price.
For people considering a cruise, Cruisemates.com offers advice from fellow travelers and cruise experts as well as a search interface searchable by destination or category. You can share information on the site’s message boards and chat online.
Cayole is a site that allows you to easily select a region, cruise line, price and accomodation type to find a cruise.
Maps and Directions
Find street maps for locations throughout the world at Google Maps. While you’re there, check out the satellite images and get directions. You’ll even find street level photos for select cities.
Vacationing in New York City? Use the amazing HopStop for door-to-door subway and bus directions as well as maps. This Web site provides the same resources for Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
In addition to street maps and satellite images, MSN’s Live Search Maps offers its spectacular “bird’s eye” views of city streets throughout the world.
Planning on motoring around Europe? Go to ViaMichelin and get driving directions for more than 40 European nations.
Two of the most frequently used Web sites for street maps and driving directions in the United States are MapQuest and Mapsonus. MapQuest has even added an icon for gas prices helping you find the lowest gas prices near your location.
Where to Stay
If you would like to compare deals on hotels and motels, try any of the Web sites listed above under the section entitled “Have I Got a Deal for You!” Here are some additional possibilities:
Covering more than 150,000 accommodations throughout the world, the Accommodation Search Engine provides the most comprehensive listing of hotels and lodgings on the Web.
All-Hotels provides access to more than 140,000 discount and luxury hotels worldwide. This site is particularly useful for finding cheap hotel deals in the United States and Europe.
Tired of staying at the same old motels or hotels? BedandBreakfast.com provides reviews and prices for more than 6,500 bed and breakfast establishments throughout the world. Check out this Web site’s B&B Hot Deals for bargains that will save you from 20 to 45% on accommodations!
If you don’t mind roughing it a bit, you may want to consider one of the more than 25,000 hostels in various cities throughout the world listed at Hostels.com. The site provides reviews, prices, and photographs allowing the prospective hosteller to make an informed choice.
So you’ve decided you want something different from the usual big brand hotels. Try Hotelbook and make reservations for a one-of-a-kind accommodation at an independent hotel.
If you’re looking for candid reviews and recommendations for hotels around the world, HotelChatter will give you what you want and then some.
TripKick.com gives you the inside scoop on hotel rooms. Its reviews enable you to find the preferred floors, best views, and recommendations from other travelers.
Where Should We Eat?
Several of the Web sites mentioned above under “Where to Go” offer ratings and reviews for restaurants. Here are some additional resources:
You’re surfing the web and can’t get to your cell phone right now but you need to make a dinner reservation. Why not do so online by using OpenTable?
One of the pleasures of traveling is dining at an eatery that is purely a local phenomenon rather than at some chain restaurant. Check out the reviews for the best of the local establishments at Roadfood.com.
If you’re looking for a decent restaurant in any of the larger cities in the United States or Canada, Urbanspoon can be very useful. Search for restaurants by neighborhood, type of food, price, or special features and make your selection after you have read reviews and browsed the menus.
As advertised on its Web site, Yelp offers real people and real reviews. The coverage here is not limited exclusively to restaurants but includes hotels, nightlife, shopping, and arts and entertainment.
BreezeNet enables travelers to reserve automobile rentals from domestic and international car rental companies. You can search by location, rental car company, or by rental car discounts.
The latest travel news and city guides are available at Business Traveller. You can also book a flight or room or use the convenient currency converter.
BusinessTravelLogue is a great resource for business travelers, providing current information on frequent flyer miles, hotel rewards, and travel requirements for various countries.
Interested in making the most of your frequent flyer miles? Share ideas and information on travel, dining, and (of course) frequent flyer miles with fellow passengers at FlyerTalk.
If you’re on the road frequently enough, you might find Hotel-blogs.com useful for finding unique hotels all around the world.
You’ll find an amazing amount of information at JoeSentMe including airport lounges, city guides, clothing and currency converters, frequent travel links, maps, directions, and registered traveler programs.
You’re going abroad to a place where you’ve never been. Is it okay to shake hands? Do I address my host by his last name or first? Start your cross-cultural training by reviewing the guides to etiquette, customs, and protocol at Kwintessential.
At WebFlyer, you’ll find accurate, current information as well as resources for managing your frequent flyer miles.
You’ve worked hard to close that deal and so you’ve earned that meal at a good restaurant. Although you’ll need a paid subscription to access the more detailed ratings and reviews, the listings at Zagat.com practically guarantee a great meal.
Looking for wi-fi availability? Try Zone Finder or Boingo to locate wi-fi hotspots throughout the world.
Help! I Need More Money – ATM Locations
Chances are that no matter how much money you’ve saved with that great travel deal, you’re going to need an infusion of money at some point in your travels. The following sites should help:
Explore the Possibilities
The Web sites listed above will help you plan your trip and, hopefully, save a little money as well. You may also want to consider checking out one or more of our travel guides. The Social Science and History Department has a large collection of travel guides from such well-known series as Eyewitness, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and Lonely Planet. These guides are available to public library patrons throughout the State of Maryland. If you would like further assistance, you can e-mail us, or contact us through mail or phone:
Social Science and History Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Central Library/State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 396-5321
Fax: (410) 396-1413