Airline Award Ticket Fees – Chart

Saving up your miles for a free ticket? Those award tickets are no longer free. Expect to pay taxes, passenger facility charges, the September 11 security fee and other government imposed surcharges. Airlines are constantly adding new fees to issue tickets including phone reservation fees, fees to make changes or cancel your award flight and booking award tickets on short notice. Here is a link to a chart by showing many airline award ticket fees.

Posted in airline award fees, Frequent Flyer Miles, Reward Travel, Travel | Tagged , ,

Getting Started – Hotels

For many travelers staying in hotels represents a large portion of their vacation costs. If you want to save on your vacations, I suggest you start by joining at least two hotel loyalty programs. Some of you prefer to use Priceline or other similar programs for your hotel stays, but if you like to know exactly where you are staying there are many wonderful benefits being a member of hotel loyalty programs.

There are many different hotel loyalty programs. The main ones that I am familiar with are Club Carlson, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Each of these programs has a number of different hotel brands that are part of their program. More hotel brands give you more choices when deciding where you want to stay and where to use the points you earn. An example is Club Carlson which includes Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, and Hotel Missoni. Last week while we were in Raleigh, we stayed at a Country Inns and Suites review and with the help of a great promotion we were able to use the points we earned from our one night stay to book a free night at the Radisson Aruba review for our trip in January.

Deciding which program is best for you is a decision to make after you think about where you want to travel to Goals and the benefits you want in a hotel loyalty program. I find that being a member of more than one program gives me more flexibility in both earning and using my hotel points.

Here is a list of the hotel programs I mentioned in this post with links to each of their hotel brands.
Club Carlson link
Hilton HHonors link
Hyatt Gold Passport link
Marriott Rewards link
Priority Club Rewards link
Starwood Preferred Guest link

Each hotel loyalty program is somewhat different in the number of points you earn and how many points you need when you want to stay for free or at a reduced cost. The partners for each program are another important difference because partners of a program help you earn, and many times use the points you have earned. Most hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer the points you earn into some of their partners programs for your rewards. Hotel points will expire if you do not have any activity in your account. Most programs permit you to purchase points to keep your account active and to help you reach an award you are close to earning.

Below are the links to join each of these hotel frequent guest programs. Sign up bonuses may be available at different times. Keep a record of your membership number and password to help you enjoy the benefits of being a member.
Club Carlson join
Hilton HHonors join
Hyatt Gold Passport link
Marriott Rewards join
Priority Club Rewards join
Starwood Preferred Guest join

Most hotel loyalty programs have credit cards to go along with their programs. These credit cards provide extra perks such as elite status, bonus points, special discounts on hotel rates and discounts on the number of hotel points needed for free hotel nights. Earning hotel points by using a hotel credit card also helps to keep most hotel frequent guest accounts active and this avoids losing hard earned points from inactivity. The initial sign up bonus for many of these credit card provide you with enough points for a number of free nights worldwide. Of course you need to have good credit. You must pay off the full balance of your hotel credit card on time each and every month because the interest and monthly fees on most of these credit cards are very high.

One of the best ways to earn hotel points is from hotel promotions. Marriott Rewards was the first hotel loyalty I joined. In 2001 they offered a promotion that is still offered regularly today. Make two stays in a designated time period and earn one free night in their category 1-4 hotels wordwide. As I mentioned in my previous post two of my travel goals were to ski out west and get free nights in NYC, Baltimore and/or D.C.

Back in the 2001 my family went skiing in Utah. We stayed at a Residence Inn in Salt Lake City in a two bedroom, two bath unit with a kitchen for $89 per night. This rate included breakfast and groceries shopping delivery service. All I need to do was make a list in the morning, give it to the clerk at the front desk and pay for our food. All of the items on my list were delivered to our hotel room when we got back hungry from the ski slopes. Free evening snacks were also served in the lobby during the week.

Both my husband and I have Marriott Rewards accounts. Each morning we would check into and out of the same room. We stayed a total of 8 nights, four stays each and we each earned two free nights. In the spring we used those four free nights for two weekend road trips. We spent one weekend in NYC at a hotel outside the city with a bus across the street to take us into NYC each day. Another weekend we enjoyed our free nights near Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Where do you want to use the free hotel nights you earn?

Posted in Aruba, Club Carlson, Country Inns and Suites, Credit Cards, Free Hotel Nights, Getting Started, Gold Passport, Hilton HHonors, Hotels, Hyatt, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Radisson, RDU Country Inns & Suites, Reward Travel, Starwood Preferred guest program, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Getting Started – Saving on Travel

This weekend I talked to several people interested in learning how to save money on travel and they want help getting started. If you are just getting started or think this may be a good time to expand your horizons, I hope this post will be helpful.

My first suggestion is to think about where you want to go and to set some goals. It could be a drive to a city less than two hours from your home, a trip to Hawaii, Asia, Europe, Disney or anywhere else in the world.
Decide the type of trip you prefer. Are you looking for adventure, relaxing beach getaway, family vacation with young children, learning retreat, romantic escape or some other type of vacation.
Make a list of your top 3-5 destinations.
Do some research about each of these locations. Go online, take a few books out from your local library or go to the bookstore and look through the travel section and find out more about the places you want to visit.
What is the best way to get to your destination? Whether you fly, take a train, a boat, drive or a combination you need to think about your transportation options when planning your next trip.
Where will you stay when you travel? Are you timeshare owner, staying with friends or relatives, camping or need a hotel?
Will you need a rental car, use taxis or public transportation? Once you reach your destination, how will you get around? Depending on the time of year and destinations renting a car can cost more than you may have thought. It is important to look into this part of your trip when you start to make your travel plans.
What type of traveler are you? First class or nothing, budget or somewhere in the middle, decide what type of travelers you are to make your vacation enjoyable for you and your traveling partner(s).
Plan ahead even if you book at the last minute. Travel planning saves you money!
How flexible are your travel plans? Being more flexible in your travel plans may help you save money on your next trip. Whether it is the time of year you travel, day of departure you select, time of day you fly, the airport you select or your accommodations, flexibility in your travel plans is a great saving tool.

When I started setting my goals to save on travel in 2000, I had five travel goals.
1-Free hotels or low cost stays in or near New York City, Baltimore and/or Washington, D.C.
2-Family ski trip out west during Christmas break from school
3-Week in Hawaii with my family
4-Trip to Disney/Universal Studios
5-Trip for two to London or Paris

We had some flexibility, but my sons were in school and my husband was a teacher so the school calendar limited our travel to winter break and summers. When we travel we stay in hotels and middle of the road chain hotels were fine with us while traveling with our children.  The thought of eating out every meal seemed to difficult and costly for us, so I looked for reasonable priced clean hotels with free breakfast, a refrigerator and as a bonus a kitchen.

Since I did not have much flexibility in our dates of travel, I considered options other than the international airport closes to our home.  Southwest Airlines had not yet come to Philadelphia, but if we drove an an extra hour to Baltimore I learned I was able to earn award tickets for all of us to fly free to Utah for a ski trip in December.

All of my goals were achieved much quicker than I had ever imagined, so I set more goals and achieved them too. Now my husband and I have new travel goals and I will share them with you in another post.  Let me help you achieve your travel goals.

My next post in this Getting Started series will be about hotel frequent guest programs and how to use them to help you save on accommodation for your trip.

Posted in Budget Travel, Car Rentals, Free Flights, Free Hotel Nights, Frequent Flyer Miles, Getting Started, Reward Travel, Saving on Travel, Southwest, Travel | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Father’s Day Started With A Bang!

Happy Father’s Day! I hope you are all enjoying time with your family today.

Our Father’s Day started out with a series of loud bangs at 4 a.m. My husband and I are staying at the Atlantic City Sheraton hotel. We were both sleeping peacefully in the comfortable king bed when a series of very loud bangs began while it was pitch black. We were both awakened and startled. As soon as we turned on the light we saw that a large framed picture had fallen off the wall, hit the lamp and the trash can and then landed on the floor.

Luckily we were not hurt, but unable to go back to sleep. What type of compensation would you ask for?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Park Inn Harrisburg West, PA Good Rates for Promotion

Looking to get a stay in for the Park Inn Stay One Get One Promotion? The Park Inn Harrisburg West, PA has some good rates.

The rate for June 17 & 24 using promotion code LMD25OFF is $86.25 w/tax $94.02. All reservations for this rate must be booked by today June 15th at 11:59pm EST. Book your stay at using promotion code LMD25OFF. To enter this promotion code click the “More Search Options” link.

More good rates at this hotel for July 3.
Prepaid $91.96 w/tax $100.24
Senior $97.71 w/tax $106.50
AAA $103.46 w/tax $112.77

Don't forget to book through and get 10% back.

Posted in Club Carlson, Park Inn, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Great News About My Mom!

I took my mom back to see her surgeon today and he believes she is making an excellent recovery from her surgery. Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Busy Booking Trips

This year I seemed to be booking our trips somewhat backwards. We still have only the Jersey shore booked for weekends in June and July and then I started with January and worked my way back instead of forward with our trip planning. I am still trying to decide where else to go in July. Any suggestions? Here is what I have booked now.
August – New York City
My husband has a tax conference, so I get to spend three wonderful days enjoying the city while he is at the conference and our nights we will enjoy together.
September – Virginia Beach
It has been many years since we have enjoyed visiting Virginia Beach. With the current Southwest Sale and flights only $49 each from Baltimore to Norfolk we decided to enjoy a long weekend in Virginia Beach.
October – Chicago
I will be spending my birthday weekend in Chicago with many friends sharing the love of travel. To sign up and get more information about the Chicago Seminar Do 2012 here is the link.
November – Hawaii
My sons will be meeting us in Maui and we will spend a couple more days together in Honolulu before all flying home together.
December – San Antonio and South Florida
We have been looking forward to going to San Antonio and I have been told that December is a wonderful time to visit. Then we will head to south Florida to spend time with family and friends.
January – Aruba
Ten days in Aruba before tax season begins again sounds like a wonderful relaxing vacation from the cold days in Philadelphia.

We are starting to look into Australia for the last quarter of 2013. Any suggestions for tour guides? Since it is our first trip to Australia, I believe a guided tour may be the best choice for us.

Posted in Guided Tours, Southwest, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment