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Affordable Getaways for the Holiday Season

Get away this season to enjoy holiday cheer in a new place—all for under $200 a night.

Maison Fleurie, Yountville, CA

Centrally located in Yountville, this 13-room inn is within walking distance of the town’s holiday decorations, festive shops, and standout restaurants. Enjoy the inn’s complimentary wine and seasonal hors d’oeuvres each afternoon with cranberry-chocolate scones and carafes of hot cocoa. And since you’re in wine country, be sure to celebrate the holiday season by taking a tasting tour at some of the top vineyards in the country—some are in walking distance from the hotel. Doubles from $150/night.

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Cyber Monday Travel Deals

Culina

Los Angeles: If you’re planning a stay in the L.A. area, book today at the iconic Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, and get 25% of the best available rate, with free valet parking through December 29. Rates start at $172.  Book here with code CM2013. And if you’re in L.A. today, grab lunch today at Culina (pictured), the fabulous restaurant of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, for $25, including a glass of Prosecco. Or come for dinner tonight and take 30% off the bill (mention the deal when you call for a reservation at 310-860-4000). Then massage all the holiday stress away at the hotel spa. Save 20% off all treatments booked today for appointments through December 30.
 
New York City: Yes, we’re biased since we live here, but we think there’s nothing so romantic as New York in winter. So book today through December 6 and you can get discounted rates at the NY Hilton (from $199/night) and the Waldorf Astoria (from $229/night) for stays in January and February (plus a few dates in December at the NY Hilton). Check it out here.

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Best Companies for Traveling Solo

traveling solo

Q: Can you recommend any companies that are good for solo travelers? —Carolyn Hall, Chicago, Ill.

A: A couple of months ago, after my daughter had passed through the dependent stage of infancy, I started to get the itch to take a big trip. The problem, my husband and I realized, was that one of us was going to have to stay home to take care of our kids. (With two of them under the age of four, it’s not a job that’s easily outsourced.) I would be traveling solo.

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Now is the Time to Buy Ski Passes and Save Big

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It's hard to believe, but this winter's ski season is almost upon us. Not exactly known for being an affordable passtime, skiing does offer big savings to those who plan in advance.

Know when and where you want to go? Book early through Liftopia.com and access deals that can be up to 80 to 90 percent off rates you'd find at the slopes. Simply choose your region and your dates—the site partners with over 250 resorts across North America. Acting fast helps, as the disocounts for popular destinations and weekends can sell out early.

GetSkiTickets.com offers similar savings with nearly 50 resorts in U.S. and Canada, including biggies such as Park City, Squaw Valley, and Mount Sunapee. The site sells discount lift tickets, season passes, lessons and rentals.

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Trip Doctor: How to Haggle

how to haggle

Do...

Determine what you’d like to pay. Ask trusted locals what they’d spend.
Enjoy yourself. A sense of humor and patience are equally important.

Don’t...

Be afraid of lowballing. Make your starting offer at one-third of the price.
Indicate how badly you want an item. Be willing to walk away, and you’ll almost always get a better deal.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 


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TODAY Show Video: America's Top Free Attractions

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Want to sightsee across the U.S. without spending a dime? Travel + Leisure’s features director and senior correspondent, Nilou Motamed, shares her tips on America’s top free attractions.

Her picks:

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Trip Doctor: How to Get Last-Minute Hotel Deals

hotel apps

Procrastinators, rejoice! There’s a slew of new apps aimed at snagging a last-minute hotel deal. Here, our tech expert’s road-tested favorites.

HotelTonight (Android, iOS): The pioneer of same-day booking apps, HotelTonight features staff-vetted properties in more than a hundred cities around the world, with tags like Hip, Luxe, or Charming to guide your search. Expect trendy boutique hotels and even some splashy new openings—but don’t get too attached to any one spot. Deals change daily and can be reserved only from noon onward.

Our Best Score: Mexico City’s sleek Las Suites for $163 a night (37 percent off).

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United Airline’s New Frequent Flier Minimums

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Woe to frugal miles hoarders like me: United, the world’s largest airline, recently announced annual spending and mileage minimums in order to earn status on its frequent flier program. This seems to be the new reality among legacy carriers: United’s statement comes just a few months after Delta, the world’s second-largest airline, made a similar decree.

Come January 2014, United fliers will need to travel 25,000 miles within a year (or 30 qualifying flight segments) and shell out at least $2,500 total on fares—and buying tickets for other travelers don’t count—to qualify for Premier Silver, the program’s entry-level elite status. And for top-tier 1K Premier status, you need to spend a whopping $10,000. Check out the site for more details.

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Trip Doctor: New Index Ranks International Cities by Cost

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Newsflash: Oslo (pictured) is an expensive city.

Actually, according to a recent study by TripAdvisor, the Norwegian capital is the most expensive city for travelers. And while the priciest cities shouldn’t be too surprising (Oslo is followed by Zürich, Switzerland, and Stockholm, Sweden), the results are fascinating.

The website ranked 49 popular travel destinations around the world on a pricing index based on the relative costs of an evening out (cab rides, dinner, and drinks) and a one-night stay at a four-star hotel.

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Hotel Challenge: What Are You Giving Guests For Free?

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You know me: Always complaining about excessive fees aimed at travelers. I've kvetched about the worst rental car rip-offs. I've bemoaned the world's most outrageous hotel fees. I've griped, groused, growled, and grumbled about airline surcharges here and here and here. But before I have to rush back to my thesaurus again for another way to say complain, let me acknowledge that there are some travel companies that are doing it right: They're giving stuff away, free. May I just say, yay.

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