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Travel Advice

20 Top Tips for Planning a Dirt Cheap Vacation

June 30, 2015 • By


Helpful Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

 Plan ahead!

* The sooner that you decide where you want to go on vacation, the more likely you are to realize your best deals. Visit travel oriented websites like Frommers, Fodors, Virtual Tourist, Lonely Planet and Rick Steves among others to get solid ideas of where you would like to travel. Once that has been established, start looking for airfare and hotel deals to the destination.

* Consider the possibility of getting a package deal which consists of air, hotel and some taxes and junk fees. It’s a kind of one stop shopping where you often realize discounts by purchasing them together.  Also, if you are going with a partner, you may find that this is the most economical way to travel because single travelers are often hit with a supplemental fee to offset the lost revenue that a couple would bring.


You may find that it is cheaper to book a package deal where you pay for a visit to two or more cities, round trip air, hotel, attraction tickets and train fare b/t cities for one low (or at least reasonable) price. There are several reputable online travel agencies that have exceptional vacation package deals like Go Today, Gate 1 Travel and Nordique Tours, among others.

* The further out you plan your itinerary, the more lead-time you will have to locate deals, especially during your destination’s “off-season”. While there are last minute deals to be had via sites like Travelocity, it’s prudent to take a proactive approach and plan early. Once, I missed a great fare deal to Paris because I took to long to decide if I really wanted to go; when I finally decided the fare was long gone, which meant that I had missed an opportunity to save a lot of money because I was not decisive.

* Be flexible about your travel dates for your vacation, fare amounts can be extremely volatile and change radically from one week to even one day to the next. If you can save hundreds by postponing your trip by a week, isn’t it worth it?READ MORE

Budget Tips, Reviews, Travel Advice

The Best Search Engine For Finding Lower Fares, Hotel and Car Rentals?

November 24, 2010 • By

Search Engine

While attending the Travel Bloggers’ Exchange convention in New York this past June, I was invited to a presentation for a revolutionary, but relatively new flight search aggregator called Momondo.  I was vaguely familiar with the company because innovations in the travel world are usually spread like wildfire through the social media realm.  We (my daughter and I) were running a little late because we were caught in the moment while viewing the phenomenal skyline from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center.

Luckily, we weren’t very far from our destination at 1290 Avenue of the Americas.  The company hosting the event, Kintetsu International (the Japan specialist travel agency), was kind enough to provide saki libations and crudites, fresh fruit slices, sushi and sushimi for all of the invited travel industry professionals to snack on.  It was interesting to find out that the particular brand of saki that we were served was available in 50%, 60% and 70% proof.  Knowing my low tolerance for alcohol, I decided to sample the 50%, god help me if I had tried the 70.

Search Engines

Sherry Ott from and Stephanie Butler from Fodor’s share ideas with their colleagues.

Not long after, we were called into the conference room where we were introduced to one of the partners of Momondo, Martin Lumbye, who explained the company’s mission was and still is to create the most trustworthy price comparison search engine in the world.

Martin Lumbye discusses what his vision is for his company.

Momondo, which means “My World” in old Spanish, began in 2006 as a small flight aggregator in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Their interface allows them to compare prices from more than 800 suppliers because they do not limit their searches to major carriers, they include discounters too.    Aggregators like Kayak, only have 300-400 suppliers because they have narrowed their focus to the major airlines.  Kayak steers away from discounters like Airtran, RyanAir or Priceline, so their searches are limited to major carriers.

Momondo wanted to create a search engine that could be easily used by any customer.

According to Mr. Lumbye, “Momondo’s promise to customers is powerfully simple: to provide them with the fastest and most comprehensive plane ticket search available on the Internet.  Momondo makes this possible through leveraging its comprehensive network of travel industry relationships and the most cutting-edge search technologies available.  As a result, Momondo combines searches across hundreds of websites with hundreds of different interfaces to return relevant flight options to the consumer or business traveler whether they use low-cost airlines, the well-known national airlines, online travel agencies or ticket databases.”  This means that Momondo’s searches include data from the airlines’ own websites and online travel companies, as well.

Plug in your cities of departure and arrival and your preferred travel dates.

To that end, I was sold on the product; from a budget traveler’s perspective, it is never a good idea to cherry pick options for travelers.  We need to know and have access to all booking venues, not a select (and usually more expensive) few that the aggregator limits us to.    Conversely, I would think that little known concerns would benefit as well by participating on a more level playing field.

Once your search is completed, your pricing options are displayed in ascending order.

Momondo does not buy data from the airlines.  Instead, they employ web crawlers to search the internet for the best prices.  While they do have suppliers that pay them, they decided long ago to operate from a value-added perspective instead of a revenue generating standpoint.  They reasoned that if they only focused on revenue then they would have to use larger airlines in order to realize higher revenue streams and the everyday traveler would never have access to said discounters.  They realized that they must look at the big picture and provide the traveler with as many options as possible that would give them the best price in one place.  They couldn’t do that by limiting the number of carriers.

Once your selection is made, you can specify the number of tickets needed and you will notice that the supplier’s ratings are located on the left.  Here you can gauge other customer’s perceptions before pulling the trigger.

Should you decide to continue, you will be taken directly to the vendor’s website to purchase your tickets.

To bring this concept to even greater heights, Momondo launched a fully integrated train and flight comparison component to their website.  This move comes in a time with growing awareness of the environment-friendly high-speed trains that race between many of Europe’s big cities.“By displaying trains and flights together, we provide the consumers with even greater transparency, sending a green signal at a time where climate is of highest priority”, explained Mr. Lumbye.

I don’t need to tell you how frustrating it is to find a good deal on a rail ticket.  It’s nice to know that Momondo is realizing how important the rail system has become and will continue to be to the casual and frequent traveler and is providing a unique service as a result.  Additionally, the site has a hotel and car rental search feature  which intuitively uses the parameters that were set for the flight search and applies them to their hotel and car rental search engine component.  It simplifies what can sometimes be a daunting task.

After the supplier’s website is launched in a new window, you will notice that the Momondo site will display a short survey to record your experience.  You will be allowed to rate the supplier and give honest feedback.  This is particularly helpful for buyers who may not be as familiar with some boutique suppliers because they are small and relatively unknown.  This will give them some yardstick as to what they can expect from that particular vendor.  I’m most excited about this aspect of the site because it gives the traveler a way to instantly record his/her experiences.

At this point, I believe that Momondo has a leg up on the competition.  However, it won’t be difficult for competitors to adopt the same philosophy at some point.  Therefore, it’s essential for companies like this to continue to keep the customer at the forefront of their decisions if they want to grow their business.  All, in all…..I like the fact that Momondo believes in spreading the wealth and allowing the little guy the opportunity to compete with the big boys.  I can only hope that the competition will follow their lead because that will create a win-win situation for everyone.

Here’s Momondo and welcome to it!

Please note that this review was and is uncompensated and is a report of the presentation that occurred in the offices of Kintetsu International and any conclusions drawn from it are solely mine.

Budget Tips, Travel Advice

Eight Sure-Fire Ways To Stretch Your Housing Dollars Now!

December 28, 2009 • By

Your Housing Dollars

With the US dollar growing seemingly weaker by the day, it’s important to figure out inventive ways to stretch your hard earned and sometimes hard to come by housing dollars. Whether traveling overseas or to the next town over, everyone wants to feel as though they are getting the most for their money.

When searching for affordable accommodations, consider booking housing alternatives like:

1)  Hostels where you share basic accommodations with fellow travelers, usually students.   Hostels are usually run like college dormitories,  where the sleeping area consist of bunk or twin beds for several people (usually 4-8) who share one room and a common bath.  Occasionally, some will offer private rooms/baths with double beds at a slightly higher price.  Hostels have come a long way, you will find that some (not all!) offer certain amenities, like breakfast, shuttle service, WI-FI lounges, community kitchens and cable as standard fare.  Some are specialized where only females are allowed to stay there.  Hostelworld is a great resource to research which ones rate the best.READ MORE

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