Monday, December 29, 2008

$29 flights, DC area to Orlando, January 2009

I do not want to turn this blog into a deal finder. There are plenty of those in the internet world. You and I can always find a travel deal. The question is whether or not it will be appropriate, useful, and convenient. Here is a great deal for readers in the Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida areas.

Allegient Air is selling flights between Hagerstown, Maryland and Orlando/Sanford airport for only $29 each way. Flights are available on Mondays and Fridays during January 2009. I just looked at Allegient Air and there are plenty of seats; a couple of the dates are more expensive.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at or
======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Save Money on Disney Cruises

Would you like $600?

Next time you book a cruise, on any cruise line, find a travel agency that is a preferred provider for that cruise line. There will be at least one travel agency specializing in making arrangements for your desired cruise line. It is important for you to find this travel agency because they provide lower rates than the cruise line or other travel agencies. If that important to you then read on.

Let's say you want to take a Disney Cruise vacation. Do your research on; find the right dates, itineraries, and rates. You can shop around. In fact, I usually do, but, I end up booking with one travel agency because they have the lowest rates AND best service.

All Seasons Travel consistently sells Disney Cruises for much less than Disney. Looking at a sample cruise (7 night cruise, departing May 2, 2009, 4 persons), every All Seasons price was over $600 less than from Disney. Percentage discounts vary between 7% to 14%, depending on the Category.

Sound good? The wonderful thing for consumers is that this process works for any cruise line. not just Disney. I am not going to list the preferred travel agency for every cruise line but I will do independent travel research for you. It should not be too difficult to figure it out. Just check out the websites where people talk about your desired cruise line.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Gift for Travellers

Are you looking for a gift for someone that loves to travel? Looking for something unique? Practical? Something guaranteed to save money?

Get them (or yourself) a gift certificate from and me, Charles McCool. I offer two services, both guaranteed to save you money. If I do not show you how to save money, you get a full refund.

My first service I call Assisted Trip Planning. This service teaches you the best sources and methods to plan future trips. It is like getting a personal lesson in building a house, cooking a gourmet meal, or another skill. It is intended for the do-it-yourself trip planner (anyone that makes their own travel arrangements). For more details, click above or here.

The second service is full trip planning. I will research and design your trip, anything you want. I charge 50% more for this service because my focus is teaching people how to save money, time, and stress on every trip. For more details, click above or here.

Both services are fully guaranteed to save you money. No questions asked. If you are not completely satisfied, I will issue you an immediate refund.

I am a small business and do not have a bunch of obstacles for clients to buy and use any service. Let me know what you want and I will see if I can help. Fori nstance, I will print and mail a gift certifcate to someone, if you wish.

This is not my last post of 2008 but I want to wish everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful rest of 2008 and all of 2009. If you are new to this blog, please read past posts. New or not, please tell others to visit Thank you.

Anything else? Comment.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Monday, December 15, 2008

Air Traveler's Holiday Wish List

This was published in December 2002. What do you think? Still true?

The following is the last verse, to be sung to the tune of the popular Christmas Carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas." Enjoy!

On the Twelfth Flight of Christmas, the airlines* should give us:

Undamaged Baggage
Pleasant Customer Service
Easier Check-in
No Overbookings
More Non-stop Flights, Please
Better Eating Choices
Convenient Parking
Increased Leg Room
More jetBlues**
Fewer Delays
and NO Lines at Se-cu-ri-ty

* Sure, the airlines are not to blame for every air travel problem. What fun is there in teasing the airports or FAA?
** Substitute "Southwest" for "jetBlue," if desired.

Happy Holidays!
Charles McCool

author, Winning the Airfare Game

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hotel Scarcity During Emergencies

I spent some time today booking hotel rooms for people (including my travelling wife) without electricity because of the ice storms in New England. The power company estimated this morning that power would be out 1 to 3 days. This afternoon the estimate was several days. It is just a WAG, anyway. Fact is that the governor declared a state of emergency to cope with the crisis. With temperatures ranging between single digits (fahrenheit) and twenties, it does not take long for a house without power to become unbearable for our 21st century bodies.

So, staying in a hotel is sometimes a necessary luxury. Here is a checklist of my recommendations for booking a hotel room during a sudden emergency:

1. Act fast. The sooner you book your room, the better. As time goes on, more and more people will be booking rooms. Rooms, therefore, will become harder to find. Act fast and get yours.

2. Book refundable rates. Many chains and properties will let you cancel a reservation before 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. on the day of arrival. Combine with step 1 and book a refundable rate as soon as you can. Shall I even suggest that other properties (with non-refundable policies) might even relax their restrictions? Ask!

3. Enlist help. OK, so trolling may not be your first priority. If you are dealing with emergency stuff, contact someone to make your booking. In 1992, I used a travel desk for a booking when hurricane Andrew was evident and I happened to be near Orlando. They found me a room 50 miles away, but they found me a room.

4. Check in early. After you have taken care of what you can, go relax. Make your calls and Facebook status updates from the hotel. Also, with peak demand at hotels, rooms may be overbooked or your reservation may suddenly get "misplaced in the reservation system." Another also is that conditions will likely worsen after the sun goes down. There may be a curfew so that emergency vehicles can travel without interference. In New England tonight, everything will re-ice again. It will be even more difficult to travel at night, with the icy conditions and dark conditions (because of no street lights). Good thing there is a giant full moon, if the skies are clear.

5. Cancel those refundable bookings. Don't forget. You will be charged. Plus, other temporary refugees will need the space. In state of emergencies, assistance comes from out of the area. Those people need to be somewhere, too.
6. Share your good fortune. Do you have family, friends, or neighbors in the same situation? People are unexpectedly generous in times of crisis. Something to feel good about and be proud of (unlike misusing prepositions).

7. Be creative. If everything (services, perhaps even your work) is going to be shut down for a few days, it may be time for an unplanned vacation. During the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001, an executive at my wife's company really thought out of the box. The company jet was forced to land in a remote area of western Kansas. Instead of remaining there for an undetermined amount of time, he bought two vehicles so that the employees could drive back to the east coast. I do not know what happened to the vehicles. That may be another story.

Anything else? Comment.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at or
======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bonus Points for Holiday Shopping

A quick holiday shopping tip and a miniscule favor.

You should try to maximize incentives (cash back, travel program points, discount codes) with your online holiday shopping. Check out for a summary of promotions and incentives for pretty much every online merchant. I have no financial or other interest in this website. I find it useful for accruing extra frequent flyer points. There are many other websites, like, that list current promotions and discount codes.

Speaking of Amazon (here is my favor), if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
======> click here

By clicking on my link, I get a very small percentage from anything purchased. I have had this link for several years but just have not promoted it.

You get the same prices, discounts, promotions, deals that you get from going directly to or using any other affiliate. You can use your Prime membership, gift cards, and Wish Lists. Please be assured that I (or anyone) will have no access to your research or purchases. It is completely anonymous outside of Amazon. So, if you are buying "Dummies Guide to Divorce" or "123 Ways to Annoy Your Boss," well, it is your secret. I simply receive a report of how many clicks I referred, conversion rate (something purchased), and money spent. Over time it will add up to a loaf of bread (not a load of bread).

You can you the above processes any time throughout the year, not just at the
year-end holidays.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Creative Rental Car Uses

For our family trip last summer, I booked our outgoing flight from Baltimore (BWI). After three weeks, we were to return to Dulles. If we were to return to BWI, I would have looked into one of those stay and park deals at a hotel near BWI or just used long-term parking. Instead, I needed to find someone to give us a ride (75 minutes each way) or pay $100+ for a shuttle. On a whim, because that's the way I roll, I checked the car rental companies. Hertz and Avis were too much. National, though, charged $30 total for the one-way rental. Sweet!

I have used rental cars to move between residences, when my car was too small (or broken) or I did not have a car at the time. Of course, those were the days when I did not have much stuff. I have used rental cars to move across the country. I would rent a car (or van) for three weeks, giving me enough time to drive each way between California and Florida with some time to visit. I did this three times in a row (nine weeks total). At about $100 a week, it was less expensive and more luxurious than a moving truck. On the other hand, I have seen U-Haul dealers offering trucks for $100 or less, because they needed to get them to another location. Sort of similar to the Florida exodus car deals in the spring.

Of course, people rent cars for many purposes--to haul junk to the dump, to haul people around town, car is in the shop, whatever. If you need a car only for a short time, Zipcar is a cool concept. They rent cars by the hour.

What are your experiences with rental cars? Anything creative? Let me know.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lodging Ploys - Alternatives to Hotels

When planning trips, most people only consider hotels. I urge you to consider other types of lodging. Some will save you money, while others are just more fun or convenient.

Motels are our first stop. Motels have a unique history in America. "Motel" was first used by a property that called itself a motor hotel and shortened the name. These properties are smaller and usually more inexpensive than hotels. By the way, Motel 6 is a hotel chain or at least a very large motel.

Bed and breakfasts, commonly called B&Bs, are another alternative to hotels. B&Bs are individually owned and operated, thus each property is different. B&Bs can have varying qualities, price ranges, and amenities.

OK, you probably know about motels and B&Bs, so I just wanted to mention them. Following are some more interesting ploys.

Vacation rentals are one of my favorites. Properties offered for rent include houses, condos, apartments, villas, boats, castles, and so on. Vacation rental properties are much more fun and convenient than hotels, and, most importantly, usually cost less!

Timeshares are always available for rent, because owners cannot use their assigned week or plans change (work, emergency). Often timeshare properties are listed at the last minute and you can get incredible deals. I once rented a 2 bedroom condo in Florida for $100 (total); another property was a 3 bedroom condo in Kauai for $33 a night. The two above links are popular timeshare websites but listings can also be found on,, and many other places. Many people get discounted lodging by attending timeshare sales presentations.

Corporate apartments are sometimes available for short-term rentals. Oakwood is the largest agency but there are many others. Some require a 30 day minimum stay and others do not. One of my corporate stays was at a 3 bedroom apartment in South Florida for less than $40 a night. The beauty of corporate stays, besides saving loads of cash, is that they often do grocery shopping for you, they have nightly happy hours or bbq dinners, and the property is vacant during the day; while the business people are at work, we have the pool and facilities to ourselves. If you just love hotel chains but long-term rentals appeal to you, check out Marriott's Execustay or Extended Stay America, although any hotel/motel/etc. will offer lower rates for longer stays. Ask!

Don't forget about hostels. Most are not just for youth, either, especially during the off-peak periods. You just may find yourself staying in a castle, lighthouse, boat, or other unique property.

Of course, there are always options like camping, sleeping in airports or train stations, couch surfing, freeloading, and so on.

© 2008, Charles McCool