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May Vacation Deals

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Germany: 44% off at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt

Bavarian Luxury package includes:

• 2 nights in a Deluxe room at the Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt, a 135-year-old resort on the banks of the Tegernsee, near Munich
• Round-trip transportation to the Tegernsee Forest Festival, a traditional summerlong Alpine celebration with beer, bratwurst, and live music, or to the Tegernseer Bräustüber, an ancient monastery that brewed the region’s first beer
• An hour-long carriage ride through the Bavarian Alpine landscape, with beer and pretzels
• A 3-course dinner at a choice of 3 on-site restaurants, including Egerner Bucht, a specialist in Alpine cuisine

Cost: $1,080 ($540 per night)

Book now for travel between June 20 and September 7.

For more information or to book, please visit Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt

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April Vacation Deals

Topping Rose House

Napa Valley Wine tastings. A Provençal cooking class. Dinner from a celebrity chef in Mexico. This month’s exclusive deals are guaranteed to make you hungry.

Hamptons: 35% off Greek Revival manor house

Customized Culinary Experience tour includes:

• 2 nights' accommodations in a king room at Topping Rose House (pictured) in the Hamptons, a Greek Revival manor house with 4 ultramodern cottages and a Tom Colicchio restaurant
• Scour the property’s farm to create a dinner menu suited to your tastes

Cost: $1,000 ($500 per night)

Book now for travel through May 31.

For more information or to book, please visit Topping Rose House.

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Book It! How to Get the Best Hotel Rate

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

Planning a trip soon? Keep these tips handy. Travel + Leisure’s Mark Orwoll shares the best tools to get you the best deals on your next hotel stay.

March Vacation Deals

Westin Hilton Head

Want to practice your photography skills in Mexico or cruise the Mediterranean? This month’s deals have you covered.

Art & Culture

Beijing and Shanghai: 36% off insider’s tour

Springtime in China package includes:

• 6 nights' accommodations, divided between Fairmonts in Beijing and Shanghai, provided by Kensington Tours, a bespoke outfitter with global expertise
• Explore the M50 art district, Shanghai’s action-packed creative hub, with an in-the-know local
• Airport meet and greet
• Private guided tour of Beijing including stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall
• Private excursion in Shanghai, including visits to Jade Buddha and Yuyuan Garden
• Internal flights and chauffeured transfers

Cost: From $1,750 ($292 per night)

Book by April 30. Blackout dates apply: April 18–May 1.

For more information or to book, please visit Kensington Tours.

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February Vacation Deals

Lexington Hotel

Art & Culture

Chicago: 30% off historical blues package

Windy City Blues package includes:

• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district
• 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself
• Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital

Cost: $270 ($135 per night)

Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.

For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.

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How to Find Cheap Flights to Ski Resorts

Affordable Ski Vacation

When it comes to saving money on flights, booking early is key—especially since many ski areas are accessible via mountain airports that accept only a small number of flights each day. Other smart times to look for tickets: right before Thanksgiving and just after the New Year. Kayak crunched the numbers for us, and found that the average domestic airfare to Salt Lake City was at its lowest during those periods last year.

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How to Find Affordable Ski Lodging

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Ski resorts are full of vacation properties, many of which are available for rent at cut-rate prices. Another bonus: having a built-in kitchen helps save money on meals. Rent-by-owner sites VRBO and HomeAway have more than 95,000 ski properties between them, including residences that are attached to major resorts. Airbnb, which has a growing number of ski listings, is particularly good when it comes to smaller or more offbeat properties. Both HomeAway and Airbnb have helpful mapping functions that allow you to see if a place you’re considering is slopeside—or a long walk (in ski boots) from the mountain. If you really want to save, though, look for properties that are outside major resort areas, such as Frisco, Colorado, which is 30 minutes from Vail.

If you do plan on booking a room at a hotel, ask what sort of lift-ticket-and-lodging offers it has available. (Most give discounts if you bundle this way.) You’ll also find hundreds of ski-and-save packages on Ski.com, which works with top lodges in more than 100 resorts worldwide.

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

Photo courtesy of Airbnb.com

How to Find Affordable Lift Tickets

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With day-of lift passes well over the $100 mark for many resorts (they’re now as high as $130 at Colorado’s Vail and Beaver Creek), buying a ticket at the window is simply a fool’s game. The good news is that many mountains are experimenting with dynamic pricing online, enticing skiers with advance-purchase deals (to lock in an early commitment) and even last-minute sales when it looks like a slow weekend is ahead.

Begin by looking for multiday passes on a resort’s own website, which can yield up to 40 percent off window prices. To comparison-shop with specific dates in mind, try the site Liftopia, which collects and sells tens of thousands of deals from more than 250 resorts worldwide. Some things to keep in mind: Book as early as possible. Preseason sales are generally the best. And stay flexible with your dates. Lift tickets are usually lower midweek and during quieter times: before Christmas; following major holiday weekends; and before and after the Spring Break rush, which takes place the last three weeks of March. Liftopia also offers sales on traditionally slow days: Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.

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Is it Impolite Not to Tip a Bellman if I Don't Have Change?

Tipping Bellmen

A: Overseas, tipping is by and large not expected at every interaction. So if you don’t have the right change, you won’t break your bellman’s heart. That said, handing out a few American dollars is also acceptable; it’s a nice gesture of thanks and—in some parts of the world—U.S. dollars are as welcome as local currency. If you have no change and your bellman did a top-notch job, it’s worth seeking him or her out at the end of your stay to deliver a tip.

In the United States, where porters often make less than minimum wage, tips are expected to supplement salaries. So don’t be shy about asking a bellman to break a larger bill. “These people are working for cash, so they have cash on hand,” says one bellman at a New York City hotel. Otherwise, get your porter’s name and leave a tip with the concierge before you check out.

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites. 

Photo by HBSS/Corbis

Bullet Train Cuts Travel Time in Half From Paris to Barcelona

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Traveling around Europe just got faster with the new TGV train linking France and Spain. On Sunday, the inaugural journey began at 7:15 a.m. in Paris, and concluded less than six and a half hours later in Barcelona. That’s less than half the time it used to take.

The new line—which gives the world's fastest trains a run for their money—also links Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse, and was celebrated by both French president Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a milestone for international relations between the two countries.

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