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Mystery Travel Auctions: Let the Bidding Begin!

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One weekend during the semester I studied abroad in Prague, my friends and I wanted to go on an adventure. Instead of debating over where to go, we went to the train station with our bags and bought tickets for the next train out of town, wherever it went. That’s how I ended up spending one of the best weekends of my semester in Dresden, Germany.

If you’re feeling equally spontaneous, Priceline.com, Hotwire.com, and LuxuryLink.com, as well as its sister site FamilyGetaway.com, have added an element of mystery to their popular flash sales and auctions recently by having travelers bid on undisclosed resorts in unknown locations for very low prices (or by helping them score deeply discounted rates on unnamed hotels in cities of their choice, in the case of Priceline.com and Hotwire.com).

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Preventing (and Coping With) Lost Luggage Blues

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Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you're standing by the carousel at the airport, watching suitcase after suitcase pass by—none of them yours—until finally, the carousel, now empty, turns off? It's a wretched feeling, especially at the start of a vacation.

One way to avoid this situation altogether is to ship your belongings ahead of time. The UPS Store just announced its new Luggage Boxes—and the cost is pretty reasonable. Shipping between NYC and L.A. costs about $66 for the small box or about $92 for the large. Just be sure to ship far enough in advance, and give your hotel the heads up! For a price comparison, here are the checked bag fees from five major domestic airlines:

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Vacationist: Dominican Republic, NYC, Vermont, Mexico

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Fourth of July weekend is just about here! If you waited too long to make plans—or just didn't want to deal with the high volume of travelers trekking to and fro—then head on over to Vacationist.com and book a relaxing post-holiday vaca. The four newest properties on sale are:

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
All your needs will be tended to at this all-inclusive Oceanfront beach resort, where check-in and -out times are non-existent. Spend your time taking up one of the many hotel activities—snorkeling, anyone?—or grab a beach towel and cocktail and lounge by the pool.

Topnotch Resort and Spa, Stowe, VT
Vermont is not just a winter destination, and Topnotch will help you take advantage of all the area has to offer. Get a tour of the lush maple and pine trees on horseback or head into town to sample tasty Vermont cheeses.

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Party Like Eloise at the Plaza

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Last year, my kids invited one friend each over for a slumber party.  I walked them to Economy Candy with exactly $7.50 to spend on “refreshments” for the evening, ordered a pizza, and let them stay up late for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.   By all accounts, the party was a wild success.  One kid got sick from washing down Sour Patch candies with milk (Who would have guessed there was anything as natural as citrus powder in candy?) and one kid fell off the sofa laughing, both of which events have provided fodder for a million jokes.  I share this party-planning success story not because I see myself as the next Colin Cowie, but to illustrate that it doesn’t take a lot to excite most kids.

That said, the Plaza Hotel has a Live Like Eloise slumber party package for up to six children that costs upwards of $3,700.

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Vacationist: London, Amalfi Coast, and Lake Tahoe

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Do you start to panic about summer vacation days not taken when July 4 rolls around?  Join Vacationist.com, and calm those waves of anxiety by perusing our currently featured offerings:

Resort at Squaw Creek, Tahoe, California
Fly-fishing?  Skiing?  Dog-sledding?  Careening down the 120-foot waterslide? A stay at this timber lodge in the Sierra Nevadas offers as much seasonal adventure as you can handle, or as much time lounging in front of a fireplace or a expansive view of the Alpine lake as you’d like.

The Landmark, London
A stay in this aptly named grande dame in Marylebone will transport you to a romantic era of travel, where the journey ends in a hushed, cool lobby of marble columns and stately palms.  Stroll over to the High Street to find boutiques featuring next year’s designers, tony wine shops, local cheesemongers, and restaurants that have the city buzzing.

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Vacationist: Caribbean, SoCal, and New England!

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Think it's too late to book your summer vacation? Think again. There are some amazing deals this week on vacationist. Don't miss reduced-priced stays at:

CARIBBEAN
Laluna in Morne Rouge, Grenada
Looking to make your summer getaway a summer hideaway? Run away to this tropical cove in Grenada that is all about privacy—private beach, private cottage, private plunge pools. . . the list goes on.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in La Jolla, California
La Jolla is peaceful, but also close enough to San Diego's beaches and SeaWorld for an entertaining vacation for the whole family.

NEW ENGLAND
The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort & Spa in Essex, Vermont
Sharpen your knife skills or backyard grilling technique at the resort's culinary academy located near the Green Mountains.

There are only four days left to take advantage of specials. Head over to vacationist.com now and book your summer getaway.

Photo credit: iStock

Vacationist: Southwest and Amalfi Coast!

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There's nothing sweeter than nabbing a good travel deal—especially in summer, when getting away for a much-needed break is not optional, it's a must! And right now is a smart time to start your search. Why? Because vacationist has some terrific offerings this week!

Currently on sale:

SOUTHWEST
Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa in Lajitas, Texas — 30% off
Southwestern swagger meets the rugged life (no roughing-it necessary) where Pancho Villa once led raids along the Rio Grande.

AMALFI COAST
Furore Inn Resort in Furore, Italy — 38% off
One of the most gorgeous places on the planet. Really.

There are just six days left to take advantage of these great values, so what are you waiting for? Head to vacationist.com and book your next trip!

Photo courtesy of Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

Vacationist: Costa Rica, Morocco, Antigua!

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Summer is officially here, so if you haven’t started planning a vacation yet, we ask, what are you waiting for? This week, hotel offers from Vacationist, a venture between Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com, include a little something for everyone—island, jungle, and far-flung.

Spotlight sales this week:

St. James’s Club & Villas in St. Paul Antigua and Barbuda: From $244/night – 55% off
Riad Fes in Fes, Morocco: From $149/night – 34% off
Rancho Pacifico in Uvita, Costa Rica: From $178/night – 30% off

Our advice? Act now—there are only 6 days left to take advantage of these great prices. And in case you want to keep things closer to home, vacationist is offering rooms at the Gansevoort Miami Beach for just $141/night at (over 40% off standard rates!) until June 7.

Photo courtesy of Rancho Pacifico

Vacationist: Nevis and Stowe, VT

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Looking to save a few dollars on your next vacation? (Really though, who isn't?) As we announced in this blog last week, Travel + Leisure has teamed up with Luxury Link to create the exclusive, by-invite-only vacationist. The site offers members tremendous value on top hotels from around the world.

Today, two new sales started:

Montpelier Plantation in St. John's Parish, Nevis: From $160/night (50% off)
Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont: From $149/night (35% off)

These two sales—which are available for about seven more days—are accompanied by Las Brisas Ixtapa in Mexico. Available for about four more days, rates for this hotel start at a whopping $88/night (23% off).

As these sales end, more will be coming in, so if you haven't already, be sure to request an invitation to become a vacationist, and keep checking back for the trip that best suits you!

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image courtesy of vacationist.

Are You a Vacationist?



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Unless you live in a box (or worse, don’t have an Internet connection), you already know that private sale websites are the hottest thing du jour.

In case you hadn’t heard, Travel + Leisure has joined the party and teamed up with Luxury Link to form vacationist, a new by-invitation site offering great values on stays at some of the world’s most stylish and luxurious hotels.

Since its official launch last month, flash sales have included such fabulous properties as The Mark in New York City and Mauna Kua Beach Hotel in Hawaii.

vacationist-logo_medgifHere’s just a sampling of what’s available right now:

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