There are lots of myths about the best time to buy an airline ticket at the best price. Recently, CheapAir.com crunched the numbers on 560 million ticket purchases to separate fact from fiction.
Let me cut to the chase: Generally speaking, the best time to buy a domestic ticket is 49 days in advance. But since ticket prices go up as seats get sold, there are plenty of exceptions, according to CheapAir CEO Jeff Klee. Sometimes the cheapest time is 331 days before a flight, when seats go on sale, and sometimes it’s the day before the flight if there are lots of unsold seats.
But generally you’ll pay the most if you’re looking for a ticket within 14 days of travel. The sweet spot seems to between 21 and 109 days out—Klee said CheapAir found only a $17 swing in prices during that period.
Conventional wisdom that Tuesday is the best day to buy a ticket isn’t true, adds Klee. It’s the day you fly, not the day you buy that determines savings. Cheapest days to fly are Tuesday or Wednesday, and the most expensive days to fly are Friday and Sunday.
Oh, and when it comes to the most popular travel time of the year, Thanksgiving, you’ll pay the least if you book 14 weeks in advance.
Hirschhorn’s idea was to create a website that would link dog owners with other dog lovers who wouldn’t mind taking in another dog as a guest while his or her owners hit the road.
The site is called Dogvacay.com and here’s how it works. You search your neighborhood or city for someone who has let DogVacay know they’re up for hosting a dog. Most of those folks, by the way, have a dog of their own. The host family makes a little money, DogVacay takes a small fee, and you head out of town knowing your dog is in a home where dogs are celebrated.
Some dog sitters will even send you pictures of your dog while you’re on vacation—how many kennels do that? And some hosts also offer grooming and dog training services. All hosts must complete an extensive on-line application, carry a pet-sitter’s insurance policy, undergo interviews, and have references that check out.
Heck, Fido may not even miss you.
Ever wanted to have a goldfish keep you company in a hotel room? In Asia, watching fish swim lazily is believed to lower your blood pressure, so maybe New York City’s Soho Grand hotel has a good idea. That’s just one of the more unusual freebies hotels are providing to guests these days according to Oyster.com, the website that reviews hotels.
All Kimpton hotels offer an early evening happy hour with free wine and beer, but the Kimpton hotel called the Monaco Hotel in Seattle will also set you up with easels, paint brushes, and paint.
At the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, some rooms are equipped with record turntables and old-fashioned, vinyl records.
A number of Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons resorts in warm climes will spritz you with cool water as you sunbathe, but at the Four Seasons at Manele Bay in Hawaii, attendants deliver fruit on skewers, chilled towels, and the staff will even clean your sunglasses if they’re smudged.
The Hotel San Jose in Austin will loan you a Polaroid camera or Remington typewriter. And the Post Ranch Inn on Big Sur, CA, offers walking sticks to all hikers.
Good ideas, every one of them.
The answer is a website called TripIt. It’s a free site that can track all your airline, hotel, and rental car reservations and sends them to your mobile phone.
But for $60 a year, it might be worth upgrading to TripIt Pro because it will also track the gyrations in price on your ticket. So if you paid $400 for a flight and a few days later the price drops significantly, you may be eligible or that cheaper fare. And since you can’t spend 24/7 monitoring an airline’s web site, TripIt Pro can come in handy.
To be eligible for a refund, the new, lower price must be in the same fare category as the ticket you purchased. And some airlines charge change fees, as well.
But the tech expert on my weekend show, Jason Haris of TechCraver.com, says he saved $170 on a ticket he’d already bought from the Pacific Northwest to San Francisco thanks to TripItPro.com.
That was enough to convince me to sign up.
New York Times travel columnist Joe Sharkey was surprised when he found two bills that he’d received when he exchanged his dollars for pesos at the Mexico City airport were refused by a taxi driver.
“This is no good,” said the cabbie. “Counterfeit.”
Which led Joe to look into the issue of counterfeit money abroad. And he was surprised to learn that countries often visited by Americans—Mexico and England, for example—are having problems with fake currency. And tourists who aren’t familiar with the look and feel of the local money are prime targets when it comes to passing those bills.
What’s worse, there’s not a lot you can do if you find you’re holding fake bills. In Mexico, Joe’s hotel general manager suggested he not call the police because, after all, it was HE who now possessed counterfeit money.
The best way to avoid getting stuck with fake money is to look at bills you receive carefully and note the feel of the paper. Even a fake bill in a foreign currency can be surprisingly easy to spot IF you’re looking for it.