Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fast Five Travel Tips: Black Friday Strategies

Are you getting twitchy thinking of the deals on the horizon? Will you shop in the malls, or buy on-line? And while you are planning your holiday purchases, you may wish to take a moment and consider your upcoming travel needs as well.

In the past, there have been deals on select flights or select hotels, rather than blanket discounts. You can expect deals to be available this weekend, as well as additional deals on "cyber monday."

Here are my tips to maximize your success buying travel and getting that deal this weekend.

1. Identify your needs. Make a list of the hotels and destinations you need to go to in the next 6 months. (Think hockey/volleyball/school/family obligations.)

2. Wish List. Make a list of your possible travel dates for "wish list" travel.  As in, if there was a remarkable deal to Arizona, WHEN would it be possible for you to go? If those dates and deals line up, you might just hit the jackpot.

3. Get in the loop! If you're not a member/social media follower of the hotels/airlines/travel companies you wish to buy from, add them now. Sign up for their e-mails, follow them on Twitter. You want to be among the first to know of the deals.

4. Grab your money. Will you be using a credit card? Pay Pal? Know your limits which card(s) offer additional benefits for travel purchases. (For example, travel insurance included, rental car benefits, etc.)

5. Know the norm. (Know the current and average prices of what you're after) Scout the websites and travel blogs now. Know the current prices so you are not fooled by misleading advertising or big bold statements. Just because it "looks" like a big deal, doesn't mean it is.

Lastly, when the deal comes, be prepared to act. Just like the shopper grabbing that last coveted Christmas toy from the shelf, someone can just as easily grab the last seat on a flight or hotel room that you were hoping for.

Companies that typically offer deals (or have in the past) on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Fast Five: Reasons I've been quiet lately

My apologies for not writing in the last 2 weeks. That's a big gap for me. But I have a good reason, well, maybe even 5 good reasons.

1. I took a trip

2. It was lousy

3. I'm disenchanted with Canada's social-media darling, Westjet, not just because they ruined my birthday, but because they could care less about what I have to say here, or on any customer service hotline, survey or otherwise. (As evidenced by 2 weeks without a response. Oh yeah and this sarcastic tweet.....)

4. I have no upcoming travel to look forward to.

5. I've blown my travel budget and have taken up knitting instead.

But, stay tuned. I'll gather some energy and tell you the whole story. Soon. If Stella got her groove back, I can find mine too!

Brandon is included in Air Miles sale

The weekly Air Miles discounts are up. Brandon is included in the 40% off for Onyx collectors. This is great news if your plans include these US destinations in the next 8 weeks. 

If you need to get some more Air Miles, visit www.airmilesshops.ca right now for some big time earning bonuses.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fast Five: Free or nearly free activities

It doesn't have to cost a fortune to be exactly what you need. I often get the most out of FREE or nearly free activities on vacation.

1. Hammock time.

2. Time at the hotel pool or a stroll along the beach.

3. Hiking or even city walking tours. (Don't forget your camera!)

4. City or hotel sponsored activities. The City might be hosting music in the park or a family fun fest just check local event listings. (Google before you go!)  Hotels and especially resorts are constantly offering activities to "add value" to your vacation. Hula lessons at 2PM? Guided yoga at 8AM? Kids club crafts at 4PM? Free movies by the pool?  Yes please!

5. Shopping shuttle? Sounds good! Hop aboard and take the free ride to the outlet malls.

Travel tips to get some REST!

My vacation checklist always includes REST.  Literally, but also as an acronym.

Recharge: Have a nap. Get some fresh air. Locate the nearest hammock! Relax. You deserve a break.

Explore: Time to put on those walking shoes and see the sights.

Savour: Eat local food. Try the house specialty. Ask the locals for recommendations and try something new.

Treat: Splurge on a better brand of wine. Have dessert or treat yourself to a cognac. Get the suite instead of just a room. Indulge just a little. Whatever it is that makes you feel special and the vacation affordably more memorable.

Fast Five Travel Tips: Travel More!

I think we can all agree, vacation feels good. And, in my opinion, the more vacations the better. For me, a vacation does not have to be a 5 star resort on the beach, it can be a weekend in the city, three days in the desert, two nights on a friends' couch in Calgary or even a night in a hotel in your own city. The thing that makes it a holiday from life, is the absence of dishes, chores, and the burdens of your own work routine.

So here they are, my tips for getting more of that vacation feeling in your life.

1. Don't wait for an occasion.  It doesn't have to be your anniversary to have a couples' getaway.

2. Don't wait for the whole gang to get their act together. You'd love to have a girls' getaway but two of your friends have a hard time committing or finding the money. Don't stress or start resenting them. If the timing isn't right for them, that's OKAY. Don't let it spoil your fun. Plan and go!

3. Let the budget pick the destination.  Rather than feeling blue that you don't have $5000 for your dream vacation, rejoice in the fact you have $800 and see where that will take you.  ($800 will take a couple to Vegas on Allegiant Air and still leave you with a little money for dinner and fun.) Actually, I could think of a dozen trips for $800 and I often list the bargains here on this site.

4. Use your points. You hear me say it all the time.... collect points. Something. Anything! Use Avion, Aeroplan, Air Miles, etc to subsidize your travel.

5. Travel solo. Or if going alone scares you, declare your interest in travelling and let your friends, co-workers and family members know you are up for travel with them should a business trip or other opportunity come up. You will be surprised how many invitations come your way when your social circle knows you are interested in travelling and can pay your own way or share expenses.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Big Air Miles flight deals now into 2015!

This IS indeed something to get excited about! As of November 3rd, Air Miles opened up their booking deals from now thru to February 11th 2015.  It seems to me, by the fine print, that it would INCLUDE holiday flights, should any actually remain. (This is a long shot, BUT if you are an ONYX collector, they do promise more available flights to you, so you might get something.)

40% off flights to Los Angeles and Phoenix. So this should bring them down to about 2200 Air Miles for the Onyx collector. 30% off for Gold level collectors.  There's a Jets' game in Los Angeles on January 10th. You might score a bargain flight there if you act quickly.

Domestically, many destinations are included in the sale from Winnipeg. This includes Calgary, Edmonton, Abbotsford, Thunder Bay and Yellowknife. There is only one sale destination from Brandon and it's Fort McMurray.  With 20-30% off, you should be able to pick up a flight for around 1200 Air Miles, plus the $100 or so in taxes. That's awesome!

The fine print suggests you have until November 23rd to book flights at these discounts. That means if you don't have quite enough Air Miles, you could dash to Safeway tomorrow (20x points day) and grab a bunch just by buying your regular groceries. The points will (hopefully) be added to your account in time to use them for this promotion.

Otherwise, you may wish to pick up a few points by doing your Christmas shopping on-line at airmilesshops.ca  I have always found those points to be added quickly. AND, if you needed more incentive, they have a scratch and win contest you can enter daily at the airmilesshops.ca home page.

Ok. Got it? I'm all typed out for the day. You're welcome!