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4 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I think I’ve finally caught up to the calendar . . . just under four weeks ’till Christmas. I can hardly believe it.

I hope I’ve been able to offer you some unique and nifty ideas for holiday gifts. You can catch them all by clicking on Gift Ideas in the right hand side column under Topics.

My dream Christmas wish list usually involves plenty of travel – a little out of character for me, because I’m really a home-body. I love spending most of my time at the log house. Still, who doesn’t like to travel?

Continental or international travel is inspiring and opens my eyes to the lives of others and often, how horses figure into those lives. If I hadn’t have travelled to Europe in April, I wouldn’t have learned about jousting in Germany. And . . . I might never have found the time to finish the Nobel-prize winning novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, which I completed on the long plane ride back!

That sort of thing.

What I’m sharing today isn’t necessarily a gift idea, but it might help you plan, and save, on your next gift – in particular if it involves airline travel, and hotel stays.

Here’s a few of my best strategies for saving time and money on travel:

1) Stop considering it junk mail and start signing up for hotel and travel e-newsletters. They can be valuable time-savers. For instance, American Airlines sends out a “Netsaver Fares” e-bulletin every Thursday, offering last minute hotel and air travel deals. We found deals as fantastic as three days in Austin, Texas, at a luxury hotel, and flights included, for $550 per person.

2) If you’re not completely particular about which hotel you stay at, and can live within a certain flexibility, bid on your hotel room at Priceline.com. You can choose the destination, star-level, and length of stay, and bid on your room. We used this to book at the 5-star Boulders Resort near Cave Creek, where rates begin at $300 a night and garnered rooms for just over $100 a night. Be sure you specify star-level, or you might end up at the Bates Motel.

3) Be prepared to act fast. Pick a week, or weekend, and be ready to travel. Many of airlines offer last minute packages designed to fill hotels or flights. Be aware of this and you can translate an upcoming week into a spontaneous luxury vacation – often at a location or hotel you’d never have been able to afford by planning ahead.

4) I use Yapta.com to track airline flights from Canada to Arizona. Because of the number of “snowbirds” flying in and out of Phoenix, these flights are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase at low rates. If I know the dates I will likely be traveling, I’ll punch the details into Yapta months ahead, and receive regular updates on price drops through this site, which tracks all major airlines.

Airfarewatchdog.com offers a similar service, with a few extras.

5) Autoslash.com cuts through the clutter of rental car coupons and e-mail alerts and searches through all the major rental car agencies for best deals, taking into account discounts and promos. Best of all, once you’ve already booked, it keeps checking your rental for you. If the price drops, you can cancel and rebook at the better rate.

6) Expedia.ca is still one of my best go-to’s for booking flights and hotel rooms, particularly together. But also for searching out lowest priced rooms and flights. For instance, I recently booked a one-way flight back from Phoenix to Canada for my son through this site. Expedia put him on a United flight to Las Vegas, where he’ll switch to Alaskan Airlines for the last leg home, a combination I wouldn’t have been able to find on my own, and for less than half of what any airline was asking for a non-stop flight on the same date of travel.

Happy traveling!

Comments

  1. Great suggestions-even for those of us in cities!

  2. Thank you for the helpful hints! We will definitely use them and hopefully safe some $$.

  3. Talkin’ about hotels, try HotelsCombined which ot featured and recommended by CNN. I just tried their service and it’s off the hook. Free hotel search and unbeatable prices. Thanks to CNN and you for writing this post, Elise Cornella