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Travel bargains abound for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

 

Are you ready? These days, Black Friday or Cyber Monday can also be about snaring a bargain on a vacation.

Planning a cruise? Cruiseone.com has a deal launching Black Friday that will give you a rebate for onboard expenses up to $200.  And in case you are wondering, there is still availability for holiday cruises—whether you want to explore holiday markets in Europe or bask in the sun in the Caribbean.  You can also cruise from a port near home—everywhere from Galveston to New York to Los Angeles.

Looking for a hotel?   Orbitz  has launched a big holiday promo tomorrow that instantly gives you 15 per cent off  at qualifying hotels if you enter the code CYBERORBITZ.  The discount is good for travel through January 15.

Want to gather the gang at a Florida beach house? Book a vacation rental home on Cyber Monday 2012 and get 20 percent off  a South Walton vacation and a bonus 20 percent off bicycle rentals too.  Call vacation planners at 866-309-0850 to get this deal on the beach in Florida’s panhandle vacation rental homes along the pristine white sandy beaches of Florida’s panhandle.  You’ve got to book Cyber Monday but you can go all next year.

uReport: Black Friday Frenzy -- send us your photos! 

Check the website for a hotel you have been wanting to visit to see if they are offering anything special. For example, The Claremont Hotel, Club & Spa’s Cyber Monday Deal allows guests to stay at the historic California  hotel for up to 40 percent off best available rates.  You’ve got to book Nov. 26 but you can stay through March 31 by using promo code CYBER on Claremont-Hotel.com. Also Wyndham Vacation Rentals has a deal with rooms at $69 per night plus discounts. Use of promo code CYBER when booking this offer

How about Orange Wednesday? Howard Johnson  has declared Nov. 28 Orange Wednesday, giving consumers the chance to save 50 percent off when they book an upcoming stay of up to three consecutive nights valid at  more than 50 participating Howard Johnson hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. Guests can plan a warm weather getaway in Florida, Texas or sunny California, or warm up to winter with a weekend away in Vancouver or Niagara Falls, among others. Visit HoJo.com to view a list of participating properties.  FYI: You can grab a deal to stay at a hotel over Christmas rather than the relative’s house. 

No worries if you miss the one-day flash sale either. You can still get a deal—even around the holidays. “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hotels, airlines and car rental companies will inundate sites like Hotwire with some of the best deals we’ll see all year,” says Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group

And if you are looking for a flight to go along with your deal, check a site like TravelZoo with its calendar that will show you the dates with the lowest fares around the holidays.

The key: Do your homework first, just like if you are buying a camera, a computer or the latest electronic toy.  Is the flash sale really a bargain? Have you got your dates set? Are you ready to book? No buyer’s remorse allowed (though you can safeguard your investment by getting travel insurance. (Check out the Gold policies from TravelGuard  that insure kids and teens free.)

Call the travel or entertainment service provider and ask for details on final pricing, including all taxes and fees and  compare that final number against other market pricing to the same destination to make sure the offer is really a deal, says TravelZoo’s senior editor Gabe Saglie who evaluates travel and entertainment deals year-round to ensure that you are getting the best value. 

You’ve got to know exactly what is included, Saglie says. Maybe your room is really cheap but there is an expensive resort fee. He adds that if  before you hand over your credit card information, make sure the web address starts with “https”, and not just “http” or anything else.  The extra “s” in https signifies a secure site for credit card purchases and personal information.

And if you’ve booked through a vacation company, confirm directly with the travel provider—the airline, hotel, cruise line—to make sure your itinerary matches theirs. Always keep a copy of the trip details including all of the confirmation numbers and the contact info for the companies you have booked with.    

The best part—besides the trip of course—is bragging rights at the holiday table about  the amazing deal you scored.

Happy shopping!

Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of TakingtheKids.com. Her new  Kids Guide to Boston is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando,  LA and Chicago. Coming  later this year: San Diego, San Francisco and Denver.