Tips For Saving Time and Money
1. Check the Web
Smarterliving.com gathers deals from airlines, hotel chains, and tour operators and sends out weekly e-mails to members. Site59.com is a great option for last-minute package trips. All you need is flexibility and a high threshold for wordplay such as "Fondues and Don'ts" and "Your Palace or Mayan." Or take advantage of just-released offers, cancellations, and distressed inventory from airlines, cruise lines, and hotel brokers by logging onto Quikbook.com, Hoteldiscount.com, 11thhourvacations.com, Lastminutetravel.com, Icruise.com, or CheapCruise.com.
2. Use Nonprofit Resources
The Rails to Trails Conservancy, dedicated to converting former rail corridors to public pathways, maintains an extensive Web site (www.traillink.com) that lists places to hike, bike, and ride nationwide, most of them free. Historic Hotels of America, a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has created a series of heritage packages that include accommodations, admission fees, and a portfolio with driving directions and a story-based thematic itinerary (877/782-2045; www.historichotels.org).
3. Be Your Own Guide
Many walking and biking outfitters will customize an independent itinerary of just two or three days. ATG Oxford (44-1865/315-678; www.atg-oxford.co.uk), which arranges excursions in five European countries, will book your hotels, transport your luggage, and give you a booklet detailing routes, background information, and restaurant recommendations.