Archive for the ‘List’ Category

Cozy with a Cocktail

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Not many stand-alone bars can match the swank and sophistication or just the sheer comfort of a hotel bar. From the décor to the signature selection of drinks, don’t forget to check out the coolest hotel bars on your next trip out of town.

colorful cocktails with olive and cherryNew York City: Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel
Rose Bar is an intimate hideway inside the trendy Gramercy Park Hotel. This is likely the reason that it’s also a celebrity favorite with visitors such as Janet Jackson, Sting and Chace Crawford. Complete with wood-beams, a walnut bar and a big limestone fireplace, this bar is a hotspot for the city’s most fashionable events.

New York: Soda Bar at NYLO Southside
On a warm night, the rooftop Soda Bar is a fun spot to hang with friends. Park yourself in a cabana next to the pool and take in the sweeping city skyline.

Aspen, CO: 39 Degrees Lounge at the Sky Hotel
A famous après-ski spot, Aspen’s best burger and wicked cocktails from Denis Cote make 39 Degrees a lively local favorite. Hang out by the pool, refuel after a day shopping or on the slopes and discover for yourself why 39 Degrees is a Celebrity Spotting hideaway.

Boston: Simple Truth Lobby Lounge at the Hotel Veritas
Located near the hallowed halls of Harvard Yard, the Hotel Veritas wreaks of higher education. And yet inside its lobby is the simply stated Simple Truth Lounge that is a welcome distraction or perhaps think tank for nearby academia types.

Snowmass, CO: The Lobby Bar at the Viceroy Snowmass
Well it is ski season… this uber chic bar keeps you feeling cool even when the lobby fireplace is roaring hot.

Los Angeles: Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont
If you want to see people having conversations that make things happen then spend an afternoon or evening at Bar Marmont. The dim lighting and exclusive feel make it a haven for celebs meeting up for networking or a little fun.

New Orleans: Carousel Bar & Lounge, The Hotel Monteleone
The drinks aren’t all that will make your head spin at this revolving bar inside on of New Orleans most historic and famous hotels.

Dallas: Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa
Dragonfly oozes sophistication and sexiness. It feels offensive to merely call this a bar. Signature drinks and the occasional star sighting makes this “bar” located in the trend Hotel ZaZa the place to see and be seen.

Atlanta: Rooftop 866 at Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel
Rooftop 866 offers the best rooftop views in Atlanta with a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. While the bar can get crowded on the weekends, the great mix of cocktails and small plates make it worth waiting to find a spot. My favorite? The double dog dare!

 
 

 

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4 Financial Safety Tips When Traveling

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Scott Turner is an avid traveler and writer who shares tips about money management, frugal living, and life hacks. 

When you’re traveling, it’s easy to let your guard down regarding financial safety – you’re out and about, sightseeing, and enjoying your family – it’s understandable that such concerns would slip your mind. Unfortunately, travelers are frequently targeted for financial scams and thefts. Here are four safety tips to keep you and your money safe while traveling.

Traveling Basics1. Limit the Cash You Travel with
There’s no need to bring a ton of cash with you while traveling. Use travelers checks or your debit card instead. If you know you’ll need cash from time to time, locate the nearest ATM affiliated with your bank to avoid hefty fees when making withdrawals. This way you’re only carrying the cash you need, instead of cash for your whole trip.

2. Protect Your Identity
Be aware of your surroundings whenever entering your debit card PIN while on vacation. At the very least, stick your other hand over the machine so no one can watch you enter your information in. Sign up for alerts from your bank to receive text messages or emails whenever a transaction occurs above a preset limit.

Before you leave for your trip, remove any personal documents from your wallet or purse that contain financial information, such as insurance cards with your social security number on them. If you think you’ll need these cards, take photo copies and cross out your personal information, then carry the photo copies rather than the official documents. These tips are essential to protect yourself and prevent identity theft.

3. Alert Credit Card Providers
Contact your credit card companies before you travel. Many have heightened security protocols in place for unusual purchases, and if your card gets flagged because of an overseas or out-of-town expense, you might end up with a temporary hold on your account. Spending a day trying to get your credit freed up again could take some of the fun out of your trip.

4. Carry a Money Clip
Store the cash you carry in your front pocket inside a money clip or mini wallet. This makes it more difficult for thieves to gain access to your goods. You can pick up a cheap money clip on eBay or Amazon.

When you return home, log in to your credit card and bank accounts to make sure there were no unauthorized purchases. Keep your receipts from your vacation for reference and carefully check restaurant bills. If you notice inaccuracies, contact the business or your account provider immediately. Taking steps to avoid theft is important, but it’s equally important to address any potential account compromises as soon as they arise.

How do you protect yourself financially while traveling?

 
 

 

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10 Travel Hacks for a Hitch-Free Vacation

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Travel Hacks are the tips and tricks you need to know in order to save time and money during a trip.  The following travel hacks are some of my favorite, and most proven ways, to make traveling go more smoothly.

0_120-CIOL4J-JJ1. Keep copies of your important documents on your smartphone.  Scan your driver’s license, passport, even your credit card and then email them to yourself. This provides an extra copy of each in the event of loss or theft. As an iPhone user, you can open them and then save them onto iBooks that can be accessed regardless of Internet connection.

2. Use ATMs to get local currency. When traveling abroad, stay clear of money converters in the airport that tack on their own fees and high exchange rates. ATMs always dispense local currency, and are usually located within the airports and train stations, so use your debit or credit card and get your money there.

3. Use a dryer sheet to keep your clothes fresh in your suitcase.

4. When you pack necklaces, run them through a plastic straw so they don’t get tangled. Put earrings and other small jewelry pieces in a pill box or other separated storage box.

5. Use plastic bags…for just about anything. Whether you are the only one traveling or you have the kids in tow, use plastic bags to separate undergarments, socks and even complete outfits. Once you put the folded clothes inside, push down on the bags to let out the air before sealing them.  You will save lots of space and keep organized.  Extra bags are great for anything that might leak, wet clothing (bathing suits) and stinky shoes. And for the return trip, the plastic bags are great for keeping track of dirty laundry.

6. Use the doorstop as a security device. Little rubber doorstops hide out behind hotel-room doors. Instead of simply using it to prop open your doors, you can also use them to keep your door shut. Trust me, I’ve been in a room where a stranger was mistakenly given the key to my occupied room. It’s an alarming feeling. So if you want an added level of security when you turn in for the night, wedge the doorstop under the bolted door.

7. Make a facial scrub for a long-haul flight. When I fly to Europe from the US, I like to feel fresh and not look as if I traveled all night (even though I did).  Here’s something that can help.

  • Ask the flight attendant for some lemon slices and a packet of sugar. Take these and head to the bathroom.
  • Mix the sugar and lemon juice together and use a scrub on your face. This works on your lips as well.
  • Rinse off and you’ll feel instantly refreshed!

8. Travel with an empty water bottle. Staying hydrated is important. Take an empty bottle (plastic or metal) and fill it up for free at a tap or drinking fountain when you get through the gates. Flight attendants will fill it up for you on a flight.

9.  Secret Storage at the Beach. Clean out an old bottle of sunscreen and use it to store keys, money, even your phone.  You may need to be creative and cut a secret door on the back to fit your items inside.

10. Refill hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles with your favorite hair care products. The bottles are just the right size for your carry-on and you’ll feel better about how your hair looks during your travel.

 

Have a favorite travel hack? Share it here with us on Travel Smart Blog!

 
 

 

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10 Ways to Leave A Vacation Destination Better Than You Found it

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

We all want to have fun on our vacations, relaxing by soaking up sun and sipping cocktails on a tropical beach. However, traveling to a foreign country for vacation should be much more – a chance to learn the culture and connect with the amazing people who live there, and somehow leaving the place better off because of your presence. Here are 10 suggestions to do just that:

0_1139286641. Pick up litter.
I carry a few plastic bags in my backpack when I go sightseeing, visit natural attractions, or walk on the beach so I can pick up trash and carry it out. The locals usually look at me like I’m crazy, but that quickly turns to big smiles when they realize what I’m doing. Remember – it’s not just about cleaning up after yourself, but for those who aren’t so thoughtful, and setting a good example in the process.

2. Talk to the locals.
Don’t be afraid to say “hi” to the local people. Start out with a smile, ask their name, about their family, and joke around a bit. You’ll be amazed how warm and endearing people become once they see you show genuine interest in their lives. Some of the coolest people I’ve ever met around the world have humble jobs in tourism, but once we made a simple human connection we became lifelong friends.

3. Leave good reviews.
The tourism industry, like so many others there days, is dominated by online content from sites like Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, LoneyPlanet, Yelp, etc. Reviews can make or break a business so when you’re having a good experience at a hotel, restaurant, or bar, take the time to snap a few photos and leave a nice review on these sites. Be sure to let the management know so they can give good feedback to their employees, but if you don’t like a place for some reason, also tell the management before you leave a bad review, giving them a fair chance to fix it.

4. Make a donation locally.
Before your vacation is over and you get back on a plane, leave a donation with a local charity or community organization. It doesn’t matter how much you give because the simple, gracious act of wanting to help people goes a long way. Donating to a big organization online is great, but next time actually go meet face to face with someone at the church, community center, or town hall and learn about the people you’ll be helping.

5. Tip.
Tipping isn’t required in most countries outside the United States, but it still can make a big difference in someone’s life. In many tourist destinations the locals work 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week for only a couple hundred dollars a month. Leaving a dollar or two may be insignificant to you, but it could mean the world to them and be the difference of a good meal. If a waiter, bellboy, taxi driver, or tour guide was friendly and made your stay better somehow, remember to tip them. I give a big tip to the hotel when I leave to spread evenly among the whole staff, so the more backstage, humble workers like maids and maintenance men get rewarded too.

6. Respect the people who live there.0_BBK67D
Remember that you are in someone else’s home, so think of yourself as a special guest and act accordingly. Of course you want to have a few drinks and have fun, but you can loosen up and still be conscious of the local people around you who make a living in tourism and treat them like gold.

7. Learn to say “Please” and “Thank you,” in the native tongue.
Just by learning a few basic words in the language you’ll open the door to new friendships and opportunities. The locals will love it that you’re showing appreciation and respect for their culture.

8. Patronize locally-owned businesses.
Too often, tourists frequent the bigger chain hotels, restaurants, and attractions, owned by corporations or foreign investors. So make an effort to seek out some smaller local establishments, too – you’ll be directly supporting someone’s family and probably get a better meal or room at a lower price, as well as a taste of the authentic culture.

9. Keep in touch.
Exchange email addresses and add people you meet on Facebook. It’s fun to keep in touch and build lifelong friendships with some of the great people who live there. Who knows – you might come back, or they might come visit you in the U.S. one day so you’ll get the chance to return the hospitality!

10. Practice a random act of kindness.
Before you leave, do something nice for a local person or family you’ve met. Leave a big tip for the cleaning ladies, take a local family out for dinner, or fund a class field trip at the local elementary school. Get creative and have fun with it – the good karma you create will remain long after you’ve gone home.

This is a guest post contributed by Norm Schriever. Norm is an Amazon.com best selling author, pro blogger, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone who hopes to leave this planet a little better than how he found it. 

 
 

 

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Do you believe in New Year’s Superstitions?

Monday, December 30th, 2013

In the U.S. and all over the world, many different superstitions exist around New Year’s and what will bring good luck for the coming year and chase bad will away. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10:

In the United States:

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  1. Open all the doors and walk around banging on pots and pans moving towards the doors to scare anyghosts or lingering spirits away.
  2. Eat black-eyed peas and rice for good luck in the new year. Alsoeat cabbage or greens for financial prosperity and ham for health.
  3. Wear all new clothing (shoes, socks, pants, shirts, underwear) on New Year’s Eve. The idea here is by beginning the year with new and good things,  you will continue to receive them for the remainder of the year.
  4. Don’t wash any clothes on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day as you may “wash” out people you love from your life.
  5. The direction of wind during sunrise on New Year’s morning tells us about the coming year. Wind from south foretells fine weather and prosperous times ahead. Wind from north foretells bad weather. Wind from the east brings natural calamities. Wind from the west says plenty of food for all, but death of a person of great importance. No wind means joy and prosperity throughout the year.

Around the world:

  • Colombia: Tape a high denomination bill ($100) on top of the doorframe so wealth and prosperity will enter the house.
  • Russia: The tone of New Year’s Eve will set the tone for the rest of the year. A quiet evening may bring a quiet, uneventful year, while an exciting, happening New Year’s party will bring an exhilarating year full of new activities.
  • Uruguay: Have your cupboards and refrigerator stocked with food and your wallets filled with cash on January 1, to ensure a prosperous year ahead.
  • Vietnam: Pay off all your debts before New Year, or else you’ll be poor for the entire year.
  • Philippines: Turn on all the lights inside the house for a bright year ahead.

Do you have any to add? What are you superstitious about?

 
 

 

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America’s Newest Holiday: Thankshopping Day!

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The appeal of Black Friday is at a five year high, with 55% of shoppers saying they’re likely to shop the holiday kickoff event. And 38% told consulting firm Accenture that they plan to shop on Thanksgiving this year, and that of those, 41% said they’ll be out between 6 p.m. on the holiday and 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Perhaps we should just rename the whole event “Thankshopping Day.”

0_117085750I’ll admit it! I’ve gotten into Black Friday shopping and perhaps not for the reason you think. Sure, it started out as a quest for a few great deals but it has become something more. Actually, I like that I can leave my house at 3AM (yes, I know I am missing a ton of deals this year and I may reconsider) and spend a few fun hours alone or perhaps with a friend without feeling guilty about missing out on family time because my kids and husband are sleeping.

If crowds aren’t your thing, a new report from analytics firm ShopperTrak pegs Wednesday, Dec. 4, as the best day to shop with the least amount of store traffic during this year’s holiday season. Not to alarm you but you have one less weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year, which will mean more crowds and fewer shopping days. Online sneak-peak ads for Black Friday are already out. Here are a few tips to help you score big during the new holiday tradition of Thankshopping: holiday shopping steals!

  • Use the Internet to compare prices, not just the Black Friday ads but also retailers’ regular websites. Doing this ahead of time will help you know if the prices are just inflated to make it look like you are getting a deal or to know if it really is a steal.
  • Take the ad with you so that you can find the exact item at the price advertised. In fact, you may want to check the items out at the store ahead of time just to be sure it is something that you actually want to buy and don’t just get caught up in the frenzy.
  • Follow your favorite travel companies on Facebook and Twitter to get access to Black Friday codes that unlock deals and discounts. Monitor tweets tagged #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday. And, sign up for email alerts that could get your coupons for the nation’s shopping holiday.

Top 3 Black Friday Shopping Cities

  1. 1.     New York City
  2. 2.     Houston, TX
  3. 3.     Minneapolis, MN

How many hotel rooms could you book for the cost of an item from Hotels.com’s Christmas Shopping Basket? Keep checking back on Hotels.com for special holiday promotions.

Will you be taking part in Thankshopping this year? If so, what’s your plan for shopping success?

 
 

 

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Are You Ready? Holiday Travel Do’s and Don’ts

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Halloween may be over but there’s another scary scene upon us, the holiday travel season! Shriek! Yes, traveling over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years to visit with family and friends is often a blessing and a curse. Staying on par with the resurgence of travel confidence demonstrated this year; the 2013 holiday travel season is forecasted to be the busiest and most expensive in five years. So, here are a few things you need to know if you are planning to travel for the holidays.

0_219004The Flying Frenzy: The Truth About Airlines at the Holidays

The best time to buy lower fare tickets has long since passed (for holiday travel specifically). In fact, the leading airfare booking sites are already reporting that prices are up significantly over last year’s holiday fares, as much as 17% into popular destinations such as New York City, San Francisco and Orlando. And, airports are expecting record traffic this Thanksgiving.

So, here are my big holiday flying tips:

  1. If you see a flight that you want, don’t wait for a deal, book it! Last minute deals between now and New Years will be just like your Halloween candy…gone. And soon all the seats will be, too.
  2. Travel on actual holiday days is always more affordable than the one or two days before. The most expensive days to fly: the Sundays before Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
  3. Watch your connections! Weather this time of year can wreak havoc for travelers trying to get to grandmother’s house for some pumpkin pie. The best time to avoid weather delays and missed connections is traveling in the morning before flights get backed up or cancelled. Give yourself enough time between connections to avoid missing your flights, especially if you are flying in and out of airports in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York.

Is Your Family Sitting Together?

Airlines are increasingly charging extra to pick a seat when travelers buy their tickets. But you don’t have to pay extra for that. Just make sure you check in online as soon as you can to try to secure seats together. Airlines do and will separate families, even with small children. During this busy time when planes are full, switching seats will be a challenge. Check now so you know what effort you may need to make. You can even try to call the airline to see if there is any “seat shifting” that they may be able to help you with once you’ve booked your ticket. Otherwise, arrive to the gate early and make your request to the Gate Agent, and don’t be afraid to ask another passenger to trade with you so that you can sit with your children. When I have been in this situation, I have purchased a drink for the passenger who was willing to switch with my family member. Just let the flight attendant know and they can tell the helpful traveler of your thankful gesture.

Reserve Your Parking Spot NOW

Reserve your airport parking spot ahead of time. You can count on airport parking lots to be full this year, too. You’d hate to miss your flight because you couldn’t find a place to park. Many companies such as Parking Spot, Wally Park and Park Ride Fly USA take reservations and even offer premium valet services in cities across the US.

Family Driving to Hockey PracticeFor the Holiday Road Warriors

Next week, AAA should give its forecast for the actual number of travelers taking to the road for Thanksgiving. What we already know is that 90% of travelers will drive to their destination over Thanksgiving with the busiest travel day being the day-before Thanksgiving. Want to avoid long lines at the pump or on the roads? Plan ahead. Fill up the tank a day or two ahead, if possible. If you can make it to Aunt Irma’s house in four hours on most days, plan for six or seven. Tack on some extra time so you aren’t late for the festivities. And know alternate routes along the way in case you run into accidents or heavy back-ups. You can save time and your sanity with a little preparation.

Save Big with Off-Airport Car Rentals

Do you have to rent a car from an airport location? No! If you rent a car from an off-airport location you will save significantly over the holidays; as much as 50% savings even on premium rentals. Some off-airport locations offer shuttle service from the airport. I recently did some checking for car rentals in Denver over Christmas and New Years and was able to save family members over $1,000 simply by finding an off-airport car rental location.

Do You Really Need to Take That?

Whether you are traveling for two days or ten, scrutinize the items going into your suitcase. Those traveling for a quick trip may be able to get away with a carry-on only. Even if you check a suitcase, be sure to pack your essentials in a small carry-on, in case of delays (or dare I say it) or your bag gets lost. A change of clothes, power cords, medicines, important numbers, should all be in your carry-on bag.

Most airlines now charge for checked baggage and some even charge for carry-ons. Southwest and JetBlue are the last two major carriers that still offer free checked bags and carry-ons. Southwest even allows a second checked bag free of charge. United, American and Delta all offer free carry-on, so try to keep clothes to a minimum.

Hotels at the Holidays

Hotels in major holiday cities are equally busy and pricey this time year. But, you can save big if you don’t mind staying just outside these cities. For example, you can save big on a trip to NYC if you are willing to stay just 15 minutes away from Manhattan in Brooklyn. Also, keep checking the Hotels.com Deals page for last minute hotel deals in cities across the US. Thanksgiving Hotel Deals are currently featured on the site.

Happy Holidays! And remember: preparation is key! Check-in for your flight online, allow lots of time to get to the airport, to go through security and to board the plane. Pack your snacks, a few good manners AND YOUR PATIENCE. Lines will be long, traffic will be heavy, but this is what holiday folklore is all about!

Safe travels!

 

 

 
 

 

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20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation – by Norm Schriever

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

522931_3571415679789_1895186066_n copyThe Travel Smart Blog was lucky enough to meet up with Norm Schriever for today’s guest post – 20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation! Norm is an Amazon.com best selling author, pro blogger, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone.

His work regularly appears on the Huffington Post, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, the University of Connecticut, and newspapers, websites, and radio shows all around the world. He sees his words as a way to illuminate the commonalities of human existence, and thereby hopes to leave this planet a little better than how he found it.  This is why he writes.

Everyone loves going on vacation, but with the average cost for a family around $4,580, it’s hard not to stress about the price tag.  However, with some frugal planning there are ways to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on your next trip, leaving you relaxed enough to fully enjoy it.

Here are 20 tips that will help you save big money on your next vacation:

1. Many tours, museums, and even restaurants offer discounts for students, teachers, AAA, military, and AARP members, so bring your identification cards and always ask!

2. Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast. Eating a good meal in the morning will get you ready for a day of sightseeing and save you money on one meal a day.  When you search with Hotels.com, you’ll be able to see which establishments offer complimentary breakfast.

3. The majority of air travelers want to fly on a Friday or Sunday, so you’ll find the best deals for flights if you fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Flights at the crack of dawn, at dinnertime, or red-eye flights are cheapest. Airlines release their new weekly fares on Mondays, so on Tuesday by 3 pm competitors have released their deals, making it the ideal time to search for tickets online. Studies show that the cheapest time to book is 49 days before your departure, or 81 days ahead of time for international flights.

4. Before you book your airline tickets find out if they charge for checked bags. Some airlines allow the first bag for free. Bring an empty carry-on that you can fill with souvenirs so you won’t get hit with an excess baggage fee on the way back.

5. If your vacation destination is within a few states, consider traveling by train. It’s a great way to see the country, less expensive than flying and Amtrak has modern, comfortable sleeper cars.

6. Take a self-guided walking tour. Instead of hiring an expensive tour guide to be ushered around in a stuffy bus, bring your GPS or map, comfortable sneakers, and a guidebook and hit the pavement of your destination city.

7. Souvenirs, nick nacks, and t-shirts are all wildly overpriced in touristy areas, so take a quick photo of what you like and buy it later via the Internet.

8. Don’t double up on insurance for your rental car. Rental agencies love selling you additional insurance, but it’s usually unnecessary. Check your homeowners and auto policy ahead of time to see if they cover rental cars. Some credit cards even offer automatic insurance if you pay with their card.

9. Whenever you show up at the airport, hotel, or rental car agency, ask for a free or low cost upgrade. The worst they can say is “no,” but you might be surprised what they can offer!

10. Book a hotel room with a small refrigerator and stockpile water, fruit, and snacks. This will help you to save on impulse purchases at tourist sites, restaurants, or from the expensive minibar.

11. When vacationing outside of the U.S., always negotiate prices when buying something on the street or in a shop. Often times you can end up at 60% the first quoted price, but we often forget negotiating is an accepted and encouraged part of many cultures.

12. Everything is more expensive by the beach, so remember that the exact same quality meal or hotel can usually be found for 30-50% less a few blocks inland.

13. Exchanging money at the bank will get you the most accurate exchange rate and fewer fees than at your hotel. Never exchange money on the street!

14. If you aren’t going to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, booking a 2 or 3-star hotel will save you a lot of money. Hotels.com makes it easy to see pictures and read reviews so you can get a clean, comfortable room for less than 5-star prices!

227532_1997268727099_654291_n15. If you’re bringing the kids on vacation, consider getting a suite, bigger room with two double beds, or have the hotel bring up a foldout cot so everyone can stay together. The savings will be worth it!

16. When traveling abroad, remember to turn off the cell network on your smart phone, where international roaming charges can add up alarmingly fast. Instead, take advantage of free Wi-Fi offered at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites, using apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and GoogleVoice to make calls, text, and browse the web.

17. Before you book airfare, theme park tickets, or even restaurant meals, check the companies’ Twitter and Facebook pages because they often post otherwise-unlisted discounts on their social media pages.

18. If you have young children bring your own stroller to amusement parks, where it could cost $15 a day to rent one.

19. Only drink water at restaurants, where a few sodas or iced teas can add $10 or more to each meal.

20. Spend one day away from the expensive attractions. You’re paying for that hotel swimming pool… use it! Spend the day at the beach, zoo, or a nearby museum.

 

 
 

 

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City of the Month: Atlanta – Hotel Highlights

Friday, September 27th, 2013

TSBCotM

 

 

 

 

Hotels in Atlanta – Where to Stay When You Are There to Play

Atlanta is equally matched with a great selection of accommodations as it is with great things to do while you are visiting the Cultural Capital of the South. Hotels.com lists 487 choices for hotels around the metro Atlanta area. Narrowing it down to just a few wasn’t easy, but here are the Travel Smart Blog recommendations for hotels in Atlanta.

Best Royalty for a Weekend Hotel: St. Regis Hotel - This five-star luxury hotel has more accolades than I can list, including being #1 on US News list of Best Hotels in Atlanta and is tops on the list of Best Hotels in the US. The hotel’s décor and amenities are fit for a king. Located in the chi-chi Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Buckhead is one of the loveliest — and busiest — parts of town, offering exceptional nightlife, dining, and shopping. It’s near the Atlanta History Center and the Swan Coach House.

  • AtlantaTSB Insider Tip: Swan Coach House - This historic carriage house turned restaurant in one of my most favorite girly places in the US. If you’re in Atlanta for a girlfriend’s getaway, looking for the perfect mother-daughter lunch spot, or shower locale, experience the southern hospitality and elegant cuisine of the Swan Coach House.

Most Attentive Staff: Mandarin Oriental Atlanta is the former Mansion on Peachtree Hotel and takes the cake when it comes to guest service! This luxury residence hotel employs three staff members to every overnight guest. Where else does a private butler come with every hotel room? And don’t overlook the views! The views from this 40+ story hotel are unparalleled.

Most Fun on a Saturday Night: Where do the locals go for fun on a Saturday night? Loews Atlanta Hotel has a fantastic lobby bar attracting locals and visitors alike. Located two blocks from Piedmont Park and a five minute walk to the Woodruff Arts Center, the Loews Atlanta is the centerpiece of 12th and Peachtree, a new, luxury, shop-eat-play area in Midtown Atlanta.

Best Hotel for Families: Residence Inn by Marriott Atlanta Buckhead -This reasonably priced all-suite hotel offers accommodations large enough for my family of five. Plus fully equipped kitchens, washers and dryers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, barbecue grills, and basketball, volleyball, and paddle tennis courts. Complimentary breakfast is served every morning. Many rooms even have fireplaces. And it’s close to Legoland Discovery Center and Lenox Square Mall.

Best for Pets: Leave no man or pet behind when you stay at the trendy Hotel Indigo - All pets are welcome — no fees, no weight limit. If you’re in town on Tuesdays, don’t miss Canine Cocktail Hour in the bar. And you are dog-walking distance to the famed World of Coke and Georgia Aquarium.

Best Aparthotel: Twelve Atlantic Station is a premier all-suite boutique hotel that offers guests the experience of staying in an upscale urban condominium, while enjoying the vast range of shopping, dining and entertainment options that are available in exciting Downtown Atlanta. Twelve Atlantic Station is within walking distance of anything you could possible want to do. Don’t miss the Museum of National Patriotism and The Whole World Theatre.

  • TSB Insider Tip: Whole World Theatre - If you enjoy Improvisational Comedy then spend a hilarious evening with the talented company of the Whole World Theatre.

 

 

 
 

 

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Five Useful Gadgets for Business Travelers

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Close up of businessman's hands touching digital tabletHeading for a sales trip, attending a conference or visiting another office across the globe?  As we all know, business trips can be very challenging, needing to stay connected and productive and having to fully recharge on the go. Business travelers are supposed to be supermen, and with the five useful gadgets we selected below, you can claim your superpowers for your next demanding business trip.

Battery Extender

Who hasn’t been in the situation where your phone runs out of juice just when you need it most?  With a battery extender, you can enjoy extra hours of conversation, internet surfing and fun. The Kensington Pocket battery can be used as a back-up battery and a charger for smartphone devices. Its USB connector allows you to charge your iPhone, Samsung or any other device and add hours to your use!

Mini Battery Pack and Charger (iPhone and iPod): $29.99

Pocket Battery for Smartphone Devices (other smartphones): $39.99

MiFi Card

Tired of looking for a crowed public hotspot? Frustrated with paying for WiFi use? Now you can choose to have your own high speed wireless connection that is both convenient and secure. Get an easy-to-use MiFi device from AT&T to keep your devices connected at blazing fast 4G internet speeds. Its powerful battery provides up to 10 hour of continuous use.

AT&T Mobile Hotspot MiFi Liberate: $49 with 2-year contract

Close up of businessman's hands using smart phoneHeadphones

Most likely, business travelers need to keep working – even on an airplane, but chatty seatmates and other external noises can make it difficult to concentrate. A pair of noise-canceling headphones helps drown out the noise so you can get your work done. Headphones like Plantronics’ Blackwire 700 Series USB Headset, are ideal for business travelers and connect to your PC via USB and Bluetooth.  Its Smart Sensor technology automatically answers a call when you put on the headset, so you can answer calls and immerse yourself in silence.

Plantronics Blackwire 700 Series: Prices starts at $129.95

GPS for your Luggage

Your trip could become a nightmare if you arrive at the airport but your luggage doesn’t. Knowing where your bags landed can calm you down. Trakdot is like Find My iPhone for your luggage. Simply putting it in your bag and track your missing items with the Trakdot app, or get its location sent to you via text message or email.

Trakdot Luggage: $49.99

Packable Travel Pillow

The ability to fall asleep anywhere is an essential quality for business travelers, needing to take advantage of every minute they can to relax and recharge. While you may find that a regular travel pillow cannot guarantee a comfortable sleep, the reinvented Travelrest ® Travel Pillow might be worth a try. This banana-shaped pillow nestles against your head and neck, reducing the likelihood of slipping while you’re sleeping on the go. It is easy to set up and fit into carry-ons.

Travelrest ® Travel Pillow: $26.95

Try these out and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 
 

 

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