5 Steps to Booking a Hotel Deal Anytime
We love asking "Where will you go next?" and then showing you how to seal the deal, pack your bags, and go. Our Book a Hotel tool (see the button on the top right of this page) literally puts the world at your fingertips, helping you to research and book hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other lodging anywhere in the world through our partners at Booking.com. Here are five easy steps to nabbing a good deal anywhere, anytime.
1. Choose a destination and your travel dates
On the upper left of our book-a-hotel page, you'll find a box where you can enter the name of the destination you’re thinking of visiting and your check-in and check-out dates. You may enjoy trying to stump the database, but you'll soon find that it can find you lodging just about anywhere, from Mali to Maui, from Bali for Birmingham.
2. Review lodging options
Hit "Search" and a list of available lodgings will appear (in rare cases, a destination such as a small town or remote park will offer only one or two nearby lodgings, but typically you'll get quite a list to choose from). You can choose to view lodgings by price, or view the database's top picks, which represent properties that are frequently booked and have been well-reviewed by customers. (Top picks may be especially desirable if you're visiting an area that's new to you or where you'll be unfamiliar with the language or customs.)
3. Get a little picky
We encourage you to push the database to suit your needs, employing the menu on the lower left of the hotel listings. You can filter for common factors such as price range, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, kitchen, swimming pool, and more.
4. Read reviews and the fine print
The listing of lodgings gives preference to frequently booked and well-reviewed properties, so you may not need to go deep into user reviews. But reviews are ample if you choose to take a peek. You'll also want to review a property's "fine print" and policies regarding children, smoking, pets, and other important details.
5. Reserve your room
You may especially love how quickly you can select and reserve your room, and you will not be asked for banking or credit card information, simply your name and email address. Yup, our booking tool is that easy, and we hope it makes it a little easier to answer that question we started with: "Where will you go next?"
Flight Delayed? Here Are 7 Things You Should Do Immediately
Finding out your flight has been delayed can feel like the travel gods have conspired against you, and all the sudden you’re stuck feeling helpless. Well, don’t panic! There are some steps you can take to minimize the pain if you act quickly. Here’s how to get your travel plans back on track the next time you encounter a delayed flight. Find out why the flight is delayed Flights get delayed for a variety of reasons. So start by contacting your airline (by talking to a representative at the check-in desk, or by phone if you haven’t arrived at the airport yet) to find out why you won’t be departing on time. By federal law, major US airlines must report the causes of flight delays. According to the US Department of Transportation, there are five types of flight delays: Air Carrier. The delay was due to circumstances within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, aircraft cleaning, baggage loading, or fueling. Extreme Weather. Tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, or other inclement weather can cause flight delays if the airline deems it’s unsafe to fly. National Aviation System (NAS). These delays, which are issued by the national aviation system, include non-extreme weather conditions, airport operations, heavy traffic volume, and air traffic control. Late-arriving aircraft. A previous flight with the same aircraft is running behind. Security. Such delays are a result of evacuation of a terminal or concourse, re-boarding of an aircraft because of security breach, inoperative screening equipment, and long lines in excess of 29 minutes at screening areas. Although there are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed, knowing what the cause is can help you act accordingly. For example, if your flight is running behind because the plane is being refueled, you can probably expect a short delay – but if there’s a tornado in the forecast you may be in for a longer wait or even a canceled flight. Tap your smartphone Download your airline’s mobile app if you haven’t done so already. You can use it to check departure statuses, and some apps let you change itineraries without having to speak to an agent in person or by phone, which can save you a lot of time. Also download AirHelp – it’s an app that allows you to check if you’re eligible to receive compensation for a delay or cancellation. Check your connecting flight’s status This one might be obvious, but it’s still a crucial step. If you’re trying to catch a connecting flight, you’ll want to find out what that flight’s status is. In some cases, your airline may have to put you on a different route in order to get you to reach your final destination. See if your credit card provides trip interruption insurance If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay at a hotel, your credit card company may reimburse you for expenses, such as meals and lodging, if the airline doesn’t cover the costs. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card covers you and your family for up to $500 per ticket of certain non-reimbursed expenses, including meals, lodging, and toiletries, as long as your flight is not delayed in your city of residence. (Of course, you must have paid for your plane ticket with the credit card.) Lodge a complaint on social media If your flight isn’t the only one that’s been delayed – which often happens when there are extreme weather conditions – your airline’s phone line and airport staff can get overwhelmed. The upshot: you may be able to get a faster response if you file a complaint on Facebook or Twitter. To increase your exposure – and, in turn, improve your chances of getting a response quickly – weave appropriate hashtags into your post, and see what’s trending: If a lot of other flyers are tweeting #JetBlueFail, for instance, follow their lead. Stay calm and collected Taking a friendly, composed approach can go a long way when you speak to any customer service agent, but it’s especially important when dealing with airline representatives. If you throw a tantrum, the agent will be less inclined to offer you a hotel or meal voucher. Also, remember: it’s not the person’s fault your flight has been delayed. So take an even tone, avoid using foul language, and refrain from making personal attacks. (“Why are you so bad at your job?”) Find fun ways to kill time Sure, no one likes being stuck at an airport, but you don’t need to sit around and wallow in your self-pity. Many airports, both in the US and abroad, offer a wide array of activities and exceptional food. For example, Chicago O'Hare International Airport offers an interactive play area for kids that features child-sized model airplanes and a control tower. Meanwhile, art lovers can enjoy the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport's permanent exhibit, “Zimbabwe Sculpture: a Tradition in Stone,” which features 20 stone sculptures from the South African country. Facing a long delay? Go out and do some sightseeing. Just make sure you’re back at the airport with ample time to go through security; after all, the last thing you want to do is miss your flight and then have to wait even longer to get to wherever it is you’re going.
10 Ways to Avoid Baggage Fees
Baggage fees are never welcomed and most of the time unexpected. Airline fees like these can quickly add up and derail the work you put in to find the most cost-conscious flight. Here are some tips and tricks for avoiding pesky fees, because most airlines charge for checked luggage. In fact, Southwest is the only major airline in the United States to not charge fees to check up to two bags per passenger. Pack Light This should be obvious; alas packing less is not as easy as it sounds. We want to feel secure when we’re traveling and be prepared for any situation. So, unless you’re going to the tundra, opt for light clothes. Consider cotton and other lightweight options instead of denim. Look for brands that cater to traveler – Arc’teryx is one apparel brand for men and women designed for travelers and is super lightweight. Enroll in an Airline Credit Card One great airline credit card perk is they waive baggage fees if you book your flight with that card. Bonus: if you book your companion’s travel, the airline will usually waive that luggage fee as well. But look into that before booking, since all credit cards have different restrictions in the fine print. There are many airline credit cards available and they all have perks, so it’s important to do your research to find what makes sense for your travel agenda (free bags or more miles?). Get a Lightweight Suitcase Your suitcase is added into the final weight of your luggage, something easy to forget. If you’re allowed 50 pounds weight in a checked bag and the bag is already 10 pounds, (no this isn’t a math problem) you will only have 40 pounds left. That’s 20 percent of your luggage allotment already gone! So do your research if you’re in the market to buy a new suitcase. Osprey and Rimowa are two brands boasting lightweight travel baggage. Multi-Use Items Why not bring a dress that turns into a beach cover up, that turns into a nightgown? It can be done. Bring a simple black shift dress (or other solid neutral color) or a button-down shirt you can dress up or down – they will appear to be several different outfits but will only take up a small amount of space. There are also many reversible shorts, pants and shirts on the market for travelers. Get creative! Do Laundry Doing laundry is a simple solution to having to pack seven of everything for a weeklong trip. While fees for laundry service at a hotel can be high, you can always make a trip to the local laundromat. Hey, you may even meet a local doing their laundry and get some travel tips for the area, like where to get the best tacos. The other option is to stay in a rental or hostel offering washing machines and dryers for guests. Carry-On Ideas You may have to pay for your luggage carry-on item on some flights these days, but you still can fly with a backpack, messenger bag or carryall bag at no extra cost. There are restrictions to sizing on some planes and it does have to fit under the seat in front of you. But you’d be surprised at what you can fit into a bag, especially when you’re at the baggage check counter and you need to deduct five pounds from your suitcase. Think about your big-ticket items, like a book, toiletries kit (as long as everything is under 3.4 ounces), or footwear. Wear Your Heaviest Items on the Plane When you’re flying from a cold or warm destination to the opposite climate, wear your heaviest items on the plane. You won’t be weighed, so you’ve got that going for you. This means your heaviest shoes (hiking boots and chunky wedges come to mind), parkas or huge winter coats, heavy jewelry and so on. Also, layering your outfit is a good idea – wear your thickest sweater under your jacket, a scarf, you get the idea. Planes are usually cold anyway, so you’ll be warm. Just stuff your coats and layers in the overhead bin. Buy After You Fly This is one of my travel commandments for stressing about forgetting something when I’m traveling. Just buy it when you arrive at your destination. But it also makes sense as a way to avoid baggage fees. I’m not saying you should buy your winter coat when you arrive or anything hard to purchase. Things like liquids are one of the heaviest items in luggage and most of the time they’re the easiest things you can find to buy. Take Time to Pack Don’t pack at the last minute because you won’t have time to plan your outfits. Give yourself time to pack. Make a packing list you can use every time you travel. Or open your suitcase a week before your flight date and begin throwing things in when you think of them. Dinner, dancing, hiking and swimming? Plan, plan, plan! If you do, there’s no way you can over-pack and get hit with those sneaky baggage fees. Also, consider getting a home luggage scale if you’re a constant over-packer. Ship It If you have a few heavy bags, shipping your luggage pre-travel may be a good option for saving money on extra baggage fees. Delivery services like DHL, FedEx and UPS are all options when shipping luggage or larger items. This decision may take a little more effort but in the end, it may be the most economical choice when traveling with a lot of gear or a large family.
A Practical Guide to Traveling Sustainably on a Budget
In the wake of climate change and overtourism, travelers are more concerned than ever about their footprint when they hit the road (or sky). Traveling sustainably has become a buzz phrase, but it can be a nebulous concept; how do you reduce your impact on a destination, and how can you do it without spending big on luxury ecolodges or expensive gear? Minimize waste while traveling Perhaps the most obvious way to begin shifting your travel habits is to invest in travel gear that reduces the amount of trash you produce. These purchases don’t have to break the bank, and they can be used on multiple trips. Drinking clean If you’re traveling where water isn’t potable, avoid plastic bottle waste by investing in a personal water filter; Lifestraw makes products for varying budgets, and all keep your water bacteria- and chemical-free. Bye-bye airline minis If you’re committed to that carry-on-only life and regularly buy tiny airplane toiletry bottles, replace them with solid soaps and shampoos that last multiple washes and are easily stored in tins. The same goes for toothpaste – opt for toothpaste tablets instead of tubes for clean teeth on the go. Concerned about price? Airplane minis are generally more expensive per ounce than full size options anyway, so going sustainable will save you money in the long run. Companies like Lush and GoodFill are good places to start looking for eco-friendly travel toiletries. Plastic forks no more Eating on the go also produces its own fair share of waste, particularly when you’re looking for something quick and portable. Replace ubiquitous plastic cutlery with the bamboo version, which generally will only set you back the price of a fancy cocktail. Shop smart When buying travel gear, cheap items on Amazon are often tempting, but quality can range wildly. Instead, buy from brands offering lifelong warranties or free or low-cost repair on their items; these products may seem more expensive at first, but they are ultimately budget-friendly, since you won’t have to replace them every few trips (and hooray for less waste!). Brands like Osprey, Patagonia and Cotopaxi all have great warranty and repair policies. Be conscious about voluntourism While “travelling sustainably” often evokes conversations about the environment, it also has a cultural element to it – traveling sustainably means minimizing our negative impacts on people’s daily lives in the destinations we are visiting and refraining from playing into exploitative situations that wear the guise of charitable causes. Some main pointers: Only volunteer for positions for which you are uniquely qualified; teaching English when one is not certified to do so, for example, is probably not the best way to make a positive impact. Avoid short-term volunteering with children, as it has been proven to be harmful to their development, and some “orphanages” are run to attract tourists and turn a profit at the children’s expense. Instead, opt for participating in a local beach clean-up or tree-planting initiative to help keep your destination looking (and feeling) its best. Travel during off season Want to avoid contributing to overtourism and save some cash? Research visiting destinations outside of their peak seasons for a less-crowded, more affordable vacation. While some low seasons are low for a reason (looking at you, rainforest rainy seasons), even booking during shoulder season will benefit the destination and travelers alike; prices on airfare and lodging generally drop significantly, and you’ll be bringing in travel dollars during a time when it is needed. Be thoughtful about transport Planes, trains and automobiles As we start to be more mindful of our environmental impacts, the biggest question has to do with our methods of travel. Which is worst? How can we still travel and keep the world’s climate intact? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer – environmental impact is measured by a number of factors including distance, length of stay and a vehicle’s fuel type and carrying capacity. The overall score can be affected by how many people you have in your car and which seat you have in a plane. For example, business class seats have a higher emission footprint than coach seats, as they take up more space on a plane, and a sparsely populated flight has more of a negative environmental impact than a full one. Similarly, driving long distances in a car alone (especially in traffic) has a much more significant carbon footprint than if you were to make the trip along with three friends or if you were going a short distance. Luckily for the budget conscious, flying coach and carpooling is also better for your wallet – all the more incentive to take part. In most studies, trains come out on top as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport per passenger; in areas with good train infrastructure, this can also be a solid budget option. To cruise or not to cruise? Cruising is an immensely popular mode of travel around the world, with cruise lines building bigger and bigger vessels every year. However, these megaships are notorious for their pollution output, and many big-name brands have faced criminal charges for dumping fuel waste, sewage and other pollutants into the water. From a socially sustainable standpoint, cruises can exacerbate problems with overtourism at port cities, with tourist dollars largely going to the cruise companies rather than local businesses. Sustainable-minded folks should probably avoid large cruise ships with long itineraries in favor of small, regional boats. These do not create (or expel) as much waste and, they support local businesses at their ports of call. Check out these scores before booking your cruise vacation. Stay close The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to explore areas nearby; instead of traveling across the country to that big national park, check out your nearby state parks. Try your hand at cycling routes or multi-day hikes instead of expansive road trips. Traveling slow and local can also reduce the bills flying out of your pocket thanks to reduced fuel and lodging costs. Resist the call of the all-inclusive All-inclusive hotels are popular, valued for making vacation planning easier and presumably being a more budget-friendly way to travel. While package deals undoubtedly can offer appealing prices, the negative social impact of these large resorts can be significant. Some questions to ask before booking: is this hotel locally owned? Do they pay their employees a fair wage? Are there nearby local communities I could be supporting with my business instead? Opt for smaller, locally owned hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or hostels – where there might be an increase in room rate, compensate by self-catering from farmers markets, trying budget-friendly restaurants and/or sampling street food options.
Everything You'll Need for a Comfortable, First-time Camping Trip
Insert linkCamping will open up your world to a new side of adventure travel. Forget your worries, pitch a tent and enjoy nature. Here’s a guide to the gear you’ll need for your first camping trip and a few camping hot spots around the country. You may have to alter this packing list depending on whether you’re camping at a campsite, “glamping” or going totally off the grid in the middle of the woods. Campsite & Sleeping Preparing your campsite and sleeping arrangements is the most important part of planning for your camping trip. It’s how you’ll be protected from the elements, mosquitos and any other wildlife. This Dagger Tent is a good option for novice campers; it dries quickly, has two doors, and can fit up to three people. You’ll also want to think about what kind of sleeping bag you’ll need for the temperature you’re camping in (Alaska vs. Florida have drastic differences in temperature). You can find this information on the label when you’re shopping. Sleeping pads that go under your sleeping bag will keep you comfortable and ensure a good night’s sleep. Pillows and blankets are also optional items. Or maybe just a poncho that doubles as a blanket, like this one? Consider bringing a camping chair since you’ll be on your feet all day. Find a chair made out of a lightweight material for quick drying. Also, bring a simple tarp and rope are a great way to create an enclosure for cooking in case it rains. You can buy a tarp that keeps the sun, rain and bugs away too. SHOP CARD HERE Gear & Gadgets When you’re camping you can run into basically any scenario. That’s why the boy scout motto is about always being prepared. The gear you bring on your first camping trip is what’s going to make your trip go smoothly. While you don’t have to pack the kitchen sink, here are some basics you’re going to want to pack on your first camping trip. The Osprey backpack is lightweight and has a compartment for all of your gear. For lighting, using a headlamp can be convenient or the myCharge Power Lumens is a portable charger that doubles as a bright LED light. They also have a solar charger for when you need to recharge, but are nowhere near an electrical outlet. A simple knife is always handy or you can go all out and bring a Leatherman tool that encompasses a firestarter, hammer, one-handed blade and an emergency whistle. Shoes & Apparel Your clothing and shoes should go along with the idea of being prepared for anything. Blundstone has hiking boots that will last you for years, taking you up mountains and through creeks. While Keen and Bogs also have awesome footwear for camping, like work boots and water shoes that you can wear in rocky waters or beaches. United by Blue is an apparel brand that was specifically made for camping with clothing to keep you warm in the winter with flannels and cool in the summer with lightweight garb. For every product purchased, the brand removes one pound of trash, making it a brand you want to support. Another tip is to take care of your feet and bring extra socks; Smartwool has socks that are made for hiking in all seasons. Cooking, Eating, and Hygiene On your first camping trip, you’ll want to bring a lightweight stove to cook a hot meal. Unless you plan on cooking a classic hot dog dinner followed by s’mores over the campfire. In that case you’ll need to bring matches and a hand ax or saw to gather firewood. But if not, pick a stove that can accommodate what you’re cooking and the type of fuel you prefer (coal or fuel). Or try out this camp stove that turns fire into electricity. It can cook your meals and charge your gear, all at the same time. Pretty amazing, huh? Depending on what you’re cooking up you’ll need a cooler for perishables, cookware, a coffee pot (a warm cup of joe in the morning is worth carrying the extra weight) and a water bottle. This kit can be used as a food container, bowl and vessel to heat food up in. If your campsite has water you don’t need to worry about bringing a water jug or purifier, but if you’re camping more “Naked and Afraid” style, than think about where you’ll be getting your water supply. Also, if you’re going to bear country you should confirm if your campsite has a lockbox for food items or bring a secure container to keep the bears away! They are a lot of prepared food for campers, so if you want to keep it simple, this may be a good choice for you. Good To Go offers meal options cooked up by a chef. Kale and white bean stew anyone? While Taos Bakes and OHi Bar have energy bars when you need an emergency snack. Hey, camping can be exhausting. Most campsites have showers and bathrooms, but definitely check this out first. Then you plan for what you’ll need to bring. Some basics to bring either way include a quick drying camp towel, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and a first aid kit, . Destinations Now that you have a list of equipment, here comes the fun part. Planning where you’re going to camp! While you can’t go wrong with any of the National Parks across the US, consider these lesser known campsites for your first journey. Hither Hills State Park; Montauk New York Hither Hills State Park has 1,700 acres set in the hills of the Hamptons, offering visitors breath-taking views of the beach from the campground (sounds chic?). Allowing campers to go fishing (saltwater and freshwater), swimming and you can even try your hand at surfing at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk. While hiking the "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor on the eastern boundary of the park is another popular activity in the area. Be careful to stay on the trails because the ticks thrive in this area. The campsite offers space for 168 tents and trailers and has showers, a store, playground and horseshoes. The fee starts at $35 a night per tent and $70 if you’re not a New York resident. Castle Rock State Park; Almo Idaho The challenging landscape of Castle Rocks State Park attracts rock climbers from around the world. There is also excellent hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding against a dramatic backdrop that dates back 2.5 million years. Enjoy a stay at the park’s campgrounds, yurts or the century-old ranch house. Camping is year round and a standard campsite costs about $20-$27. The weather gets up to the low-90s in summer; cooling to the 50s at night and high-30s in the winter and teens at night, so prepare your sleeping bag arrangements accordingly! Garner State Park; Concan, Texas There are few places as beautiful as Garner State Park AKA the Texas Hill Country River Region for a family looking to go on their first camping trip. The park is open year round and offers just about every outdoor activity you can imagine from hiking and biking to boating and fishing. At night, campers can sleep under the stars in one of the only places in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way! Overnight visitors can stay in screened shelters, cabins or campsites for $15-$35 per night. Among the basic amenities, you can expect to find concessions, a seasonal grocery store, hot showers and restrooms. Camping Deals: For great camping deals be sure to check out our partner Campspot. Campspot is the only online booking platform that lets you research, discover, and instantly reserve the best camping stays at the lowest prices from premiere campgrounds across North America. They give campers more control of their trips by offering more options to choose from and an easier way to book. They are experts in the outdoor industry, so they know what campers and campgrounds care about and use technology to better serve them both.