MySeatFinder Fetches You a Better Seat Automatically
Reserving a seat assignment on for a flight will never rate as one of life's most memorable moments. But with MySeatFinder, it's no longer one of the most boring.
This polished site asks for your confirmation number for a flight on one of the major domestic airlines—namely, American, Delta, Southwest, United, or US Airways. Then it monitors any seat changes on your flight prior to departure. If it finds a seat that more closely matches your preferences (such as window or aisle), it promises to book it for you on your behalf. As frequent fliers know, seat availability changes up until the last-minute of the typical flight.
Your first four round-trips seat assignments via MySeatFinder are free. Use the service more than that and you'll have to cough up a $29 fee each year.
Whether the service is worth using depends on how much you dread being assigned the middle seat—or how much you covet an exit row, with its roomy legroom.
SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL
Viator's New Website Offers Cheaper Shore Excursions Than Cruise Lines Offer
Cruise lovers who hate being stuck with the expensive shore excursions offered by their cruise line can now find better value alternatives, thanks to a website launching today: Viator Shore Excursions. The site, run by activity booking engine Viator, pledges discounts of up to 60 percent off the price of more than 500 comparable ship-arranged excursions. Until now, cruise lines have had a near monopoly on the sale of shore excursions, which make up about 25 percent of a typical cruise line's profits. Viator's service amps up the price competition. There are other sources for deals out there worth trying, too, especially ShoreTrips.com and ShoreExcursionsGroup.com. Searching for a shore excursion is straightforward. Enter your cruise ship name and sailing dates, and check the types of activities you prefer, such as jungle safari, privately led shopping tour, or a photography masterclass. The site then shows you tours that sync up with your ship's itinerary. It works at more than 80 ports for all of the major cruise lines, such as Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Princess, and Royal Caribbean. For instance, the site is touting a Hilo, Hawaii, shore excursion to Volcanoes National Park to see active volcanoes Mauna Loa and Kilauea as well as the gorgeous Rainbow Falls, from $59 a person. The comparable tour on (NCL) is currently $89 a person. Viator's new site guarantees an on-time return to your ship or else it will pay the full costs of transporting you to the next port in time to catch up with your ship. In another perk, the company pledges that if you find a lower price for the tour elsewhere, it will refund the difference. Tours are typically available to book up to a day in advance of arrival in port. In many cases there are no penalties if an excursion is cancelled days ahead, though travelers should read the fine print on any offer before booking. In comparison, most cruise-arranged excursions can be canceled for a refund up to 36 hours in advance. Through April 30, 2012, bookings on Viator Shore Excursions that use the code SHOREX10 receive a 10 percent discount. We hope the launch of the new site leads to a price war on shore excursions, which would be good news for anyone who likes to cruise affordably. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Secrets to the 10 Most Popular Cruise Ports 12 Top Tips from the World's Best Cruisers Some Cruise Lines Take the "All" Out of "All-inclusive"
Paris: Time Out Launches English Listings Website
Last week, Time Out launched its Paris website, Timeout.fr/paris/en. Long overdue but very welcome, the English-language site provides listings for the city's most buzzed about restaurants, concerts, stores, and other attractions. Time Out Paris is staffed by five full-time journalists, and is especially strong for ideas on how to enjoy Paris's nightlife and shopping on a budget. The site's most useful articles at the moment are Paris for Visitors: 101 Things to Do and Paris's Top Five Markets. Here's some of what's hot in Paris this spring: Get your fashion inspiration on a budget Who doesn't think of glamourous female fashion when thinking of Paris? Fans of haute couture should high-step it over to Paris's Grand Palais, which is hosting the first retrospective dedicated to fashion photographer Helmut Newton. From now until June 17. Femmes-fatales decked out in runway-ready fashion, often set against black-and-white Paris at its majestic best, can be seen in these 200 of his photos. Book tickets ahead to avoid a long line. from €8, or about $11. grandpalais.fr A popular new restaurant that has *both* style and substance The problem with many recommendations for restaurants is that young people like them more as scenes for seeing beautiful people and ordering complicated drinks rather than as spots for a distinctive atmosphere and good value gourmet food. A refreshing exception is L'Ave Maria, a spot recommended by Time Out Paris— and that we can vouch for, too. Expect Brazilian-inspired meals served in a restaurant with chinoiserie parasols hanging from the ceiling, funky, soulful music playing quietly in the background, and Parisians rubbing shoulders at communal benches. 1 rue Jacquard, the 11th arrondissement, website. Check out art that's so contemporary it's made in front of your eyes 104 is a "space for artistic creation" in a 19th-century building on the rue d'Aubervilliers section of Montmartre in the 19th arrondissement. See artists work as they create it in their workshops. free; exhibitions €5, or about 8; website SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL London & Paris, Air, Rail, 6 Nights, From $1,479 Best Value Hotels in Paris: Budget Travel's Picks How to Book Your Own Grand European Tour
$11.99 for a Lift Ticket? To Ski in Colorado? Yes, and Yes
It may feel like summer in much of the country. But the time is ripe for spring skiing (and springtime deals) at North American resorts. The exceptionally mild, snow-free winter has been a pleasure for residents of northern cities accustomed to months of shoveling driveways and piling up layers of fleece before venturing outside. For many ski resorts, though, the past winter was a disaster. Snow was hard to come by, especially in New England. As a result resorts had to make more artificial snow (which often quickly melted away), and many skiers decided to stay home anyway, perhaps to go golfing instead of hitting the slopes. All of this has hit the ski resort industry hard. Now, mountains are desperately trying to attract skiers and boarders to the before time officially runs out on the season. The simplest way to bring in crowds is via major deals on lift tickets. The thinking goes: Skiers will come out for cheap skiing, and hopefully they'll spend a bit of money on lodging and restaurants while they're at it. The discount lift ticket site Liftopia recently rounded up some of the best spring lift pass deals, with prices starting as low as $5.99 per day. Yes, a day of skiing (at Hoodoo, in Oregon) can cost less than a fast food value meal. Arguably just as good of a value is $11.99 for a one-day pass to Monarch Mountain, in Colorado, where a lift ticket normally runs $57. Among the best deals around the country: $5.99 for a one-day pass at Hoodoo in Oregon, a whopping savings of 87 percent $29 for a one-day pass at Mt. Rose, in the Lake Tahoe area, a 44 percent savings $33.99 for a one-day pass at Vermont's Mount Snow, a 55 percent savings $49.99 for a one-day pass at Colorado's Copper Mountain, a 50 percent savings $55.99 for a two-day pass at Vermont's Smuggler's Notch, a 52 percent savings For all of these special prices, tickets must be purchased in advance through Liftopia, and the best prices tend to be available during the middle of the week. Availability is limited. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 4 Easy Ways to Save on Ski Trips ">Ask Trip Coach: Ski Vacations The 7 Most Dangerous Travel Jobs
Best New Travel Apps for Kindle Fire and the Nook
Apple products receive lots of free publicity, but other tablet devices are popular, too—especially among budget-minded travelers. Since September, Amazon has shipped more than 4.7 million Kindle Fires, the tablet devices that costs half the price ($199) of the cheapest iPad. Rival bookstore Barnes & Noble also sold a record number of its Nook Tablets, according to a study by market research firm IDC. What are the best travel apps that have debuted since September on the Kindle Fire and the Nook? Here are some picks: KINDLE FIRE Kayak Mobile Debuting last week, Kayak’s app-version of its metasearch website for flights, hotels, and car rentals is powerful, fast, and easy-to-understand. In a nice perk, the app includes airport maps that identify key features, such as ATMs and restaurants. free; Amazon TripIt No more need for a folder stuffed with printouts of hotel reservations, flight boarding passes, and other itinerary information. Now you can store all your info on this app, which relies on the booking receipts you forward to it via e-mail. free, ad-free version recently on sale for $2; Amazon UpNext HD Maps A nice alternative to Google Maps, this tool takes advantage of the interactive touch surface of the Kindle Fire to let you click and see details on a street map of your location, revealing major shops and nightlife spots. Maps appear beautifully on the Kindle Tablet’s seven-inch screen. free; Amazon NOOK TABLET AND NOOK COLOR Priceline Negotiator Hands down the best app for booking hotels on a Nook. It lets you use Priceline’s blind-bidding service or its standard retail rate booking engine, where you know exactly what you're getting.. The app’s especially good for making last minute hotel bookings, with reservations possible until 11 p.m. ET on the night of your stay. free; Barnes & Noble Flight Tracker Track your flight with this app, which will keep an eye on essential info, like delays and gate changes. The app also can help a traveler find an alternate flight in the event you face a cancellation or delay. $0.99; Barnes & Noble The Emergency App Be prepared for any snafu that might pop up by keeping all of your relevant emergency numbers and medication information listed in a single spot. Comes with advice on how to prepare a first-aid kit for various situations. recently on sale for $1, normally $3; Barnes & Noble SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL The Ultimate Guide to Travel Apps Are Airlines Cracking Down on "Airplane Mode"? (37 comments) New Apps Let You Create Animated Photos