Monthly Archives: June 2017

Scoring Last Minute Travel Deals

Growing older means greater flexibility in planning getaways. If you’re retired, you don’t have to work around school schedules or job demands, and can travel more inexpensively by snagging flights with unsold seats and booking hotels when rates are low.

Get ready to pack your bags on the spur of the moment using these strategies:

1. Eyeball airfare charts to pinpoint when to go. Fares vary day to day, depending on demand. Websites of carriers — including Delta, Southwest and United — show the cheapest days to fly if your dates are flexible. (It’s often best to go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, when most business and leisure travelers don’t.) To cast your net wide, punch in departure and arrival cities and a time frame on websites such as Skyscanner or Google Flights. They survey multiple airlines to show the most economical days to travel.

2. Set up fare alerts. If you want to visit grandchildren or friends and don’t have firm dates, sign up for a price alert. You can do that on websites such as AirfareWatchdog to be informed when seats cost less. When you search for flights on Kayak, it will advise whether it’s a good time to buy or if fares are expected to go down. You may also sign up for email notification of discounts on many travel websites. One of the best newsletters for current offers comes from TravelZoo, a clearinghouse for discounted flights, hotels, and air and lodging packages.

3. Use frequent-flier airline miles to take off. If flights aren’t filled, carriers may offer more award seats close to departure. Carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue have eliminated blackout dates in loyalty programs, meaning if a seat is available, you can grab it using points. An impromptu round-trip ticket booked in July from Baltimore to Albany, N.Y., costs 15,000 miles on Southwest, plus $11 tax. The cash price would have been $400. It pays to periodically review your miles and expiration dates so that you don’t lose travel that’s nearly free.

4. Call on a “virtual travel assistant” to do the searching for you. The Hipmunk site is a great source for travel steals. Its new “Hello Hipmunk” feature, which uses artificial intelligence, lets you email what you want (a quick getaway to Vegas, for instance). Within seconds, you’ll be given options for flights and hotels, with sassy commentary from a cartoon chipmunk in aviator goggles hauling a roll-aboard suitcase. “Vegas, Baby! … stress no more,” the Hipmunk replied when asked for flights from Washington, D.C., and hotels in early August. The lodging (Stratosphere hotel, $76 a night) and cheapest round trip ($268.38 on Spirit) were cheaper than on hotel and airline sites. Hipmunk then sends users to sites including JustFly and CheapoAir to book. It also ferrets out Airbnb rentals in your chosen destination.

5. Pay less for rental digs. Owners don’t want properties to sit vacant, so it’s possible to score lower last-minute rates via sites such as Airbnb, FlipKey, VRBO and HomeAway.com, where you deal directly with homeowners or property managers. Sometimes you needn’t negotiate: Sale rates for certain rentals are shown.

6. Bed down cheaply on an impromptu road trip. Have points in hotel loyalty programs? Book a free stay along the way. Or bid for low rates at Priceline.com to score a deal, though you won’t know the name of the property until you book. Priceline’s “Express Deals” don’t reveal the hotel, but also don’t require bidding. If extreme last-minute planning suits you, HotelTonight  has access to unsold rooms and can put you into one cheaply the day you wish to stay. You can book up to a week before through its website or app.

7. Scope out a last-minute cruise. When ships don’t sell cabins, prices sink. Unfortunately, now that cruising is so popular, rock-bottom prices are scarcer. This summer, Alaska sailings sold out fast, says Travel Weekly. A reservationist at the CruiseDeals site said sailings everywhere now fill faster, so booking early is a smart move. She did find a seven-day Mediterranean cruise from Savona, Italy, in October on the Costa Pacifica for $392.60 a person, double occupancy, including taxes and fees. “Last Minute Cruise Deals” on the website are worth checking out.

8. Go one-stop shopping at Last Minute Travel. Whether seeking a vacation destination, flight, cruise, air and hotel package, or rental car, you’ll find it at the Last Minute Travel site. The website offers “Undercover Hotels” at rates below the norm (you won’t know the lodging name until you book). Join the Last Minute Travel Club for $50 a year to nab even lower prices; if you don’t save what you paid to join, you’ll get a promo code for discounts to make up the difference.

Holly Winter At Tasmanian

Winter is an amazing time of year to visit Tasmania with heaps to see and do all around the state. From June to September you will always find plenty of things to delight the senses on a winter break.

1. Winter Festivals

Tasmania is home to some of Australia’s best winter festivals with delights for all your senses. Whether it’s music and art or the best food around you will find it all in Tasmania over the winter months.

Dark Mofo

Dark Mofo runs from the 8th to the 21st of June and features a huge range of performances from top international and Australian talent including Mogwai, A.B. Original, Ulver and plenty more. Keep an eye out around the water front for massive art installations including Dark Park and eat until your stuffed at the Winter Feast.

To end the festival write down your fears for the Ogoh-Ogoh and join the procession to the burning. If all that isn’t enough don’t forget to sign up for the nude solstice swim and join hundreds of others for a quick skinny dip in the Derwent River.

Huon Valley Mid Winter Fest

The Mid Winter Fest has become a winter highlight for many in Southern Tasmania, happening in the middle weekend of July (14th to 16th). The festival is based on ancient European traditions helping to bring in a bumper harvest when spring arrives.

The festival includes a giant burning straw man and the Wassail Away where you dance, sing, scream and make as much noise as you can in order to scare away anything nasty from the local fruit orchids. While there make sure to enjoy the amazing cider that the Huon Valley is famous for.

Festival of Voices

Festival of Voices is Australia’s premier vocal and choir festival happening from the 30th of June to the 16th of July. Expect to see some amazing performances with artists travelling from all over the world to sing and share their knowledge and experience.

A major highlight of the festival is the huge bonfire and singing event that happens in the middle of Salamanca.

2. Keep an eye out for the Aurora Australis

Winter with it’s shorter days is the perfect time of year to see the Aurora Australis. The Aurora occurs when solar winds from our sun collide with the magnetosphere and are pushed down into the upper atmosphere where they lose their energy and create stunning colours that dance across the night sky.

The best places to see the Aurora Australis are outside of populated areas in Southern Tasmania with beaches such as Clifton Beach and Eaglehawk neck often proving popular. It takes a powerful Aurora to be seen by the naked eye but you can usually see them with a camera capable of taking long exposures.

3. Lift your spirits

Tasmania is home to a booming Whisky and Sprits industry, and it feels like there is a new boutique distillery trying something different opening up each week. From Vodka made with Sheep Whey to global award winning whisky it’s not difficult to find a raging fire and something strong to warm you up.

If you need a designated driver make sure to check out Tasmanian Whisky Tours.

4. Screw the cold, let’s get muddy

If you are like us getting stuck in doors for months on end is enough to drive you bonkers, at some point it’s just worth throwing on a rain jacket and braving the cold. There are plenty of new MTB trails all around Tasmania to enjoy with plenty of new ones going in at Derby if you are looking for a challenge. If Mountain Biking isn’t your thing then head out on a walk or even jump in a kayak, you can always dry out in front of a fire with a whisky later!

5. See the sights and the snow

Winter is a great time to go sight seeing in Tasmania with all the major attractions open over the winter months including national parks and Port Arthur. Winter is traditionally a quieter time of year so it’s a great time of year if you want to spend more time somewhere without lots of people.

National Parks like Cradle Mountain and Mt Field also often get a regular dusting of snow between June and October so if you are looking to enjoy the snow then this is the perfect time of year to visit Tasmania.

Best DIY Travel Hacks

When people pack, they tend to overdo it, just in case the weather changes or, say, they get invited to a fancy party. But planning for every imaginable scenario often means you’ll overstuff your bag or check in extra luggage at the airport. Thankfully, HuffPost perused Pinterest to come up with the best DIY travel hacks possible. Here are just a few of them. If nothing else, they will help you streamline your luggage mass. And that means more room for souvenirs!

1. Downsize makeup and lotions by putting them into leftover contact lens cases.

These spill-proof tiny compartments are also good for storing mouthwash, earplugs, rings and earrings, and most anything else you normally carry in a bulky bottle. We have to admit, we may never throw another old contact case away again! This is a perfect solution for anyone going away for only a few days who doesn’t want to cart a bunch of makeup containers.

2. Fill drinking straws with travel-size amounts of skin-care products.

We admit, we’ve never tried this before, but it seems pretty simple. Just fill a straw with whatever you want and use a Q-tip to push it in. Make sure there’s a bit of straw left on both ends to seal off with a heat sealer. And don’t forget to write the name of the product on tape or on a tag so that you remember what’s inside. Beats lugging around a bunch of bottles, right?

3. Use old sunglasses cases to store cords, chargers and headphones.

Cases can also be repurposed to carry jewelry and even manicure kits. And headphones and chargers can be transported in pencil cases and Altoids tins. With their movement restricted, cords are less likely to get tangled, and you won’t have to contend with a messy bunch in the bottom of your purse.

4. Turn pot holders into heat-safe cases for your hair tools.

Pot holders and oven mitts not only protect your hands from the heat of an oven, but they also can be good for storing hair straighteners and flat irons. Adaptable for all sorts of heated products, these kitchen staples are great for keeping a hot or warm hair straightener away from the clothes and other items in your luggage.