Dialing for dollars...

When it comes to spending money, I'm somewhere in the middle.  I'm not necessarily a big spender, but I have been known to say "heck, it's only money...I'll make more". It does bum me out, however, to spend more than is necessary.  

Take hotels for instance.  I've used travel discount sites like expedia.com to save a few bucks but it always makes me a bit jittery. Your reservation is flagged from the moment you check in and chances are you're not going to get the best room, or the nice view, or the free upgrade or anything else that might be extra special.  If you're not expecting much, than go for it - save the money and take your chances.

But, there are better ways to save some money and still guarantee that you're going to get the room you want.  Look for hotels with the "best rate guarantee" listed on their web site.  Read the rules and work it!  I recently booked a room at the Hotel Palomar in Chicago.  I checked back about a week later and the nightly rate on my room had dropped $20.  I made a phone call and they immediately adjusted my rate.  Days later, I checked expedia.com.  Their rate was another $20 less than my new rate.  Hotel Palomar's Best Rate Guarantee stated that they'd match the rate on a third party site.  I called and a kind gentleman at Palomar happily adjusted my rate and whoo hooo!  My suite for $349 is now $309 and all I had to do was pick up the phone.

Yay!  Now we have some extra bucks for a fancy-schmancy dinner, some additional shopping or maybe, just maybe....some salsa lessons at Rumba 351.  Wait, the salsa lessons are free - but, I'm sure the mojitos aren't...more on this to follow... 

Update:  Well, now we're 8 days away from departure and I glanced at the hotel's website again.  The rate dropped slightly.  I called. They found an even better deal for me at $262 per night!  More mojitos, please...


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I didn’t dip my toe in an ocean until I turned 25 and my friend Sandy and I traveled to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. After that week, I was hooked. I loved being somewhere new; smelling the smells, tasting new food, seeing how other people lived. It energized me. As luck would have it, I landed a job that allowed me to travel all over the US and often to Canada. Being a sports event television producer, I was on the road all the time. That's when my love affair with travel began. Now, its 20 years later and still no one gets more “geeked up” about planning a vacation than I do. All I need is a destination and some travel companions and my fire is lit! I start delving into my favorite hotel sites, sifting through photos and reviews, comparing, contrasting -it’s like an addiction. The travel shows with tips and trends? I study them like a playbook. I LOVE doing the things most people hate doing before they go on vacation. Whether it be searching for a food tasting tour with a local or discovering a romantic B&B in the middle of New York - I’ve found it and I’ll share it with you. So....where should we go?