NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2011
Find Travel Bargains Online
By Ira Wilsker, Radio Show Host,
Columnist, College Professor and deputy sheriff
(click to email author)

http://dealnews.com/Everything-Else/Travel-Entertainment-Deals-206.html http://www.tripadvisor.com

Sometimes it seems like you cannot watch more than a few minutes of TV without seeing some form of commercial for travel bargains. William Shatner, now known as the "Priceline Negotiator", insults people trying to book hotels, intimidating them to "go lower!". The Travelocity Gnome suffers international abuse while attempting to resolve problems at hotels and resorts. The babe from the TV show NCIS explains how hotels have unsold rooms, and she can help you find a deal, only to peek into a hotel room occupied by a shocked Asian tourist wrapped in a bath towel, with the apology "My bad". While the heavily advertised travel websites, including Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz can find the traveler a substantial number of travel deals, there are some other lesser known websites that may offer better deals and bargains then the well known websites.

Better known for its electronics bargains, the website dealnews.com also has travel bargains listed; from the dealnews.com website, click on the "Travel" link on the menu bar at the top of the page, and the current travel deals will be posted. Dealnews.com constantly compiles the best deals from many different travel websites, including hotel promotions, cruise deals, rental car bargains, airline promotions, and other travel bargains. The list is dynamic, in that new travel deals are added frequently, and deals no longer available are deleted. As I type this, there are 61 current travel deals posted, including a highly rated "bed and breakfast" in the New Orleans French Quarter for $59 a night with free parking (normally $139 + $20 parking); Hawaiian all-inclusive vacations, Caribbean resort deals, condos in the mountains of Colorado, cruises, international destinations, and other daily deals. Special events, including Las Vegas and New York shows are sometimes listed on dealnews.com, typically at prices below those available at the "half price box offices" located on the streets in those cities; these are not leftover last minute tickets, but tickets that can be purchased in advance. One recent example of a show ticket deal is the 58% off of advance purchase tickets for "Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE" at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Many of these deals are only available for a limited time, as displayed in the listing, and sometimes sell out quickly. Recently, using listings from dealnews.com, I stayed in a property of one of the major hotel chains for half-off the lowest rate on the chain's website using a dealnews coupon code; stayed in a four-star Gulf coast resort property for $39 per night; and had a Dallas area hotel suite, including full breakfast and manager's reception for $42 a night. Since dealnews.com only shows a few new travel bargains a day, it is not a comprehensive travel website, but the bargains listed are often excellent, especially if they are available at a time and destination of interest to the traveler.

Another source of often spectacular travel bargains, including hotels, airfares, cruises, resorts, and entertainment deals is TravelZoo, at travelzoo.com. TravelZoo offers a free periodic email announcement, often weekly, that lists several dozen travel and entertainment bargains. One recent such bargain I found on TravelZoo was Las Vegas show tickets and other entertainment for up to 80% off. Examples of this deal include $10 for $60 tickets to comedy shows, musicals, and magic shows (mostly at off-Strip locations); $15 for $55 comedy tickets; $20 for $45 to $60 tickets to comedy, music, and hypnosis shows; $30 for $60 variety shows; and $40 for $85 to $95 Las Vegas Review and musical shows. TravelZoo also has a weekly "Top 20" (available online and included in the weekly email), where it lists the top 20 travel deals that it finds. These "Top 20" deals often include international travel including air ($899 for a trip to Ireland, including air, and nights in premium hotels including the Four Seasons, Ritz, and a castle), $45 for a suite in an Atlantic City resort (including weekends), and $1899 for 12 nights in Australia including air and a five-star hotel. Other currently listed international deals, including air and hotel, are to such diverse places as Ecuador, Hawaii, Italy (Rome, Venice, and Florence), Thailand, and Jamaica. Sometimes cruises are listed on the top 20 list, but cruise deals are listed at travelzoo.com/cruises. One interesting cruise listed was a 7 night Alaskan cruise on Celebrity (with prepaid gratuities) for $669. Other bargains listed on TravelZoo include Airfare, Hotels, Vacations, Car Rentals, and Last Minute deals. The "Last Minute Deals" (travelzoo.com/last-minute) include an assortment of short term offers that must be used in the next few days at deeply discounted prices, including theater tickets, airfares (mostly international), resorts, golf, hotels, cruises and other travel and entertainment events. As is common for many travel websites, these deals are often available for only a limited time, and have specific dates of availability.

There are many websites that offer last minute cruise deals, but my favorite is VacationsToGo at vacationstogo.com. This website includes a count-down ticker that runs for up to 90 days in advance, that shows decreasing prices as selected cruises approach their embarkation; of course, as the clock ticks down, and cabins are booked, the selection often drops along with the prices. According to a posting on the website, many of the cabins are booked within 7 days as the prices drop, sometimes as much as 75% of the original advertised price. What is also interesting about VacationsToGo is they have a comprehensive listing of cruises and cruise line that offer special additional discounts to specific groups of people including senior citizens (55 and over), EMTs, Firefighter, Military (active duty and retired), "Past-Guest Discounts", Police, Singles, and Teachers.

There are many other excellent travel websites, including many of the widely advertised mega-travel websites. The user who wants to check them all at one time, without having to manually check each one, may find Kayak (kayak.com), whose slogan is "Search one and you are done" a most useful website, as it can check, compare, and display results from over 200 travel sites with a single search, often uncovering otherwise unknown travel deals.

Travel for enjoyment is to many, one of life's greatest pleasures. With access to some of the "deal" travel websites, travel may be accomplished more economically, possibly freeing up the capital for even more leisure travel. Enjoy yourself, and have fun; we only go around once.

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