Travel Website Round-Up


expedia viewfinder blog[trip style = any]

Remember View-Master toys? {Those little, plastic, click-through portals featuring a cardboard disk with built-in photo negatives.} Fast forward to 2013; there's a new breed of viewfinder in a colorful portal of international proportions. Specifically, Expedia has just launched a blog called the Expedia Viewfinder, and I'm BEYOND excited to be one of 10 regular writers!

All of the bloggers type travel tales and tips from a different point of view, highlighting popular travel destinations---think LA, Bangkok, Toronto, Vegas, Barcelona, etc. Some of the perspectives shared are those of dads, moms, solo wanderers, LGBT, adventurers, philosophers, couples, road trippers and moi! Our MO is simple: research, travel, test and tell.

I'm pumped to continue trip styling on TS along with my trusty flight crew {Heather, Lauren, Nicole, Leah and Keryn}. You can also find my stories through my viewfinder author page.

trip styler + expedia viewfinder

Why Expedia I get pitches to work with companies semi-regularly, but I only work with the brands I trust. I started partnering with Expedia last year, co-moderating their regular Twitter Travel Chats, and working on a few curated projects. The one I was most impacted by is a video which they shot of me in Mexico returning to the place that changed the course of my life. They didn't alter my story for their purposes, nor glorify it to look better. The blog is in the same vein.

[photos via expedia viewfinder blog]

Tech Tuesday :: Tingo

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"You just can't lose" is the unique selling feature of new hotel booking site, built to refund customers after they book if the price of their hotel drops before their stay. With no online forms to fill out, the refund is done automatically.

In case you're worried that a site offering automatic hotel stay refunds is sketchy, Tingo's legit. Its sister company is Trip Advisor.

How It Works Tingo functions like any other travel booking site. Enter your destination and dates, and this hotel booking engine will render a series of matching results gathered from Expedia. In a recent search for hotels in LA, 75% of the results were eligible for money back, while 25% were just typical hotel rates---no bells or whistles {see below}. For example, if you book a "money back" hotel one month in advance of your arrival date, and the price lowers one to three times, you'll get a refund every time. And no, you don't get charged extra if the price goes up.

What do you think of this hotel booking/refund concept? Will you use Tingo?

PS - did you know that a service like this exists for flights too? It's called yapta, except the onus is on you as the consumer to ask for the refund once yapta tracks the price of your flight.

More Tech Tuesday Instagram For Android A Nanny In The Clouds How To Make Animated Travel Photos Phoneography Google Traveler Tricks

[Images via]

A Hotel Back-Up Plan

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WARNING: today's topic is going to sound a lot like a one-on-one travel therapy session. Relax. It won't be that bad. In fact, it might free you from the travel fears that bind you...

Planning a trip takes time {late nights}, research {multiple browser windows} and savoir-faire {knowing the best travel sites to book for your trip style and destination}.

A huge cog in the pre-trip planning wheel is securing a hotel. Fear sets in. If you're only partially through your research and don't know a city's up from down or left from right, what to do? To commit or not to commit at the "right" property, in the "right" area, with the "right" trip style. Just breathe.

One tried and true Trip Styler Tip for avoiding booking trepidation is to arm yourself with a trusty back-up plan that works 100% of the time and results in a more serene booking process. For example, if I'm waffling over what hotel to book {always}, I secure a cancellable "B" booking---a solid hotel choice that gets my foot in the door of a destination, but doesn't require the all-in {financial and otherwise} commitment.

How To Book A Back-Up Hotel 1/ Do a little research and book a back-up hotel with a cancellable rate for your top hotel choice. 2/ The best resources for this are: and hotel websites {ie -} 3/ Once you're more confident about your destination, confirm or deny your initial choice. 4/ If it's solid, maintain the booking {and consider scouring the web for an even better deal}; if it isn't up to snuff, book elsewhere and cancel the initial rate.

Trip Styler Tip :: When searching for a hotel with the option to cancel on, scan each page for "free cancellation" or click control f {command f on a mac} to find options quickly. At present, you can't filter results by free cancellation.

Related Google Traveler Tricks Book A Hotel Online With Expert Recommendations STOP, Are You Using A Promo Code? Trading Airline Points The Six-Week Rule For Buying Airline Tix

[photo of The Back-up Plan movie found online and updated for today's purposes]

Tech Tuesday :: Unravel Group Travel

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################## {Editor's Note: Announcing our biggest giveaway yet! Enter to win two nights at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and two Scandinave Spa Whistler bath passes. Takes less than one minute to enter. Contest closes Oct. 26.} ##################

Traveling with friends is a blast, but organizing-smorganizing a 10 - 20-person bachelorette, mancation or family trip can turn into a full-time job!

Fear not, like most travel conundrums, the internet has an answer. Tech Tuesday for the win!

Travelstormer Travelstormer likens amateur group travel planning to herding cats, so it helps group travelers get their ducks in a row from idea to itinerary!" I WISH this existed when my girlfriends went on a 14-person triple-bachelorette to Vegas. Sure, we made 'do' with email and phone planning {via hours of conference calls and gazillions of emails}, but this website would have made the process so much more organized and streamlined! Next time...

How It Works Sign up for an account and add friends. Every detail is coordinated from a central and simple dashboard {pictured above}. Brainstorm and discuss with the group or via private message, then enter your dates and destination, build an itinerary and track expenses. Genius.

I'm going to use Travelstormer for another girls trip in the works for 2012. I've already set up an account. For now, we don't know our dates or destination, but we'll input those details as the process takes shape. Time to brainstorm and discuss!

Happy planning.

More Tech Tuesday Virtual Shopping Get A Callback Google Flight Search Hotel Tonight Getting There Direct

[images via travelstormer]

Tech Tuesday :: Getting Direct

search direct flights from any airport[trip style = any]

{Editor’s Note: Enter to win one of FIVE DuWop Flight Sticks. With light, hydrating coverage, these mini skin-enhancers are packed with antioxidants and a touch of caffeine to spruce up tired skin. Up, up and away!}

Non-stop flights are the holy grail of air travel. The faster the arrival, the fewer the airports and the greater the time at your destination, the better.

Recently, Kayak has come out with a new tool aspiring jetsetters will love: direct flight listings from most major airports worldwide. Search by airport and month to determine which airline is going where, organized in a list by distance/time.

The Value Proposition
  • Find out what airlines fly non-stop where before you start your vacation flight search online.
  • If you're strapped for time or hate flying, decide where you want to go based on direct flight routes.
  • See how many airlines compete for each direct route. For example, out of Vancouver in January, 2012: 9 airlines will fly to Toronto, 7 to San Francisco, 5 to Honolulu and 1 to Kauai.
  • Say you're about to leave for a 3-month sabbatical in South East Asia, but only have your flight there and back booked. It's helpful to know what direct flights exist from each major city you're visiting to maximize your time at each destination.
  • If you want to geek-out, see mileage for shortest and longest flight out of your preferred airport.
  • Think of the application to the Amazing Race teams...

PS - Have you heard of Kayak Fly Now? Say it's 5 o'clock somewhere and you decide on a very last-minute trip. Search your home airport and destination, and Kayak will show the next available flights. Even if it's a pipe dream to think we can just pick up and leave on a whim, it's nice to know there'a a travel tool to make that happen. Just in case...

[image by @tripstyler]