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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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Q+A Series from PhoCusWright 2013: Cheryl Rosner of Stayful.com

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At this year’s PhoCusWright Conference—an annual gathering of the world’s most influential travel innovators—all eyes were on the Innovation Summit and the presenting entrepreneurs. But not all of the talent in attendance was on stage. In a short Q+A series we will introduce you to three new companies that are also poised to change the way we travel.

First up, is Cheryl Rosner, the visionary behind Stayful.com, a website whose proprietary bidding system allows travelers to suggest their own rates at amazing independent and boutique hotels in six (soon to be 10) U.S. cities. As the former Hotels.com president and president of Expedia Corporate Travel, Rosner is a discerning traveler who prides herself on seeking out unique properties with great design and enduring character—but who also likes a bargain.

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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.

 


iStockphoto

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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