Looking back at my travels in 2013, I’m compelled to acknowledge something. Although my husband splurged on a long-planned gift, a 19-day repositioning cruise to Barcelona for my milestone birthday (no need to get into which milestone), we are otherwise a pair of cheapskate travelers.
Thrifty. Frugal. Penny-pinchers. We have our excuses. I work for a non-profit and he works for a newspaper. (You remember newspapers. They’re like the Internet but you can fold them.) Neither of us travels much for business, so we’re paying almost everything out of our own pockets.
The trouble is that we love to travel and our tastes always exceed our budget. The solution is the Internet — not fold-able but full of travel bargains. So after ringing in the new year, I find myself at the keyboard nostalgically recalling the deals we tracked down and the websites we used to find them in 2013. Here they are:
Here is a bold claim: I can predict airfares as well as the airfare forecasting tools on Bing Travel and Kayak.
Which is to say, not terribly well.
And here’s a prediction. That will change. I won’t get better but the computers will. Like Deep Blue over Kasparov — or maybe more like Deep Blue over the president of a high school chess club — the machines will triumph because programmers will refine and improve their forecasting models.
The travel industry website TravelMole posits that people are planning vacations based on the trips their friends post about on Facebook and other social media sites.
My friends aren’t that impressionable, but they’re plenty mean.
My friend Elissa takes vacation taunting to new lows by posting photos of beautiful beaches on Facebook and tagging an empty spot with my name. My other Facebook friends like to post resentful remarks under my vacation snapshots, often threatening bodily harm. Hawaii seems to really set them off.
My husband, already a master of Priceline bidding, has come up with another place to find travel bargains.
The website BiddingForGood hosts online auctions for nonprofit organizations. Among the items auctioned off by schools, civic organizations and other nonprofits around the country are hotel rooms and restaurant certificates.
Don’s most recent winning bid was for two nights at the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque (its lovely lobby is pictured here) for $75 a night. That was about half the lowest rack rate.
Want to try this site to save money and do good at the same time? A few tips:
The new Groupon travel site has launched at groupon.com/getaways. The initial offers include a night at the Las Vegas Palms for $89 and a four-night stay at the swanky Lotus at Diamond Head in Honolulu for $500. I’m thinking the wildly successful Groupon model could become a powerful force in the travel industry.