Discounted Holiday Events Make For Rich Seasonal Travel

holiday events

As we make plans for travel through the first of the year, holiday events are often included. At home or on the road – traditional, old fashioned or new – different holiday events are in place for us to enjoy. Some are free to see, others have a ticket or admission price, but all aim to be a part of our holiday travel plans. Here are a few of the more noteworthy holiday events to consider.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular“- New York City
Norwegian Cruise Line has been designated the official cruise line of the Rockettes and is offering a 25% savings on tickets to the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” through December 30, 2012 (use promotional code “Cruise”).

Norwegian also launched a sweepstakes that gives “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” attendees a chance to win a cruise for a family of four on Norwegian Breakaway, which will be the largest ship to homeport year-round from New York City beginning in May.

Holiday Ballet “The Nutcracker” from Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre
– Atlanta
To many of us, nothing says “holidays” like a good performance of “The Nutcracker” and Atlanta’s Georgia Metro Dance Theater has one of the best.

In its 11th year of creating holiday magic, they invite you to come and watch the timeless tale unfold as a young girl’s gift of a nutcracker comes to life and a handsome prince whisks her away through the land of snow.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing LightsOrlando
Walt Disney World in Orlando has a seasonal display featuring millions of glittering lights
at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Synchronized to holiday music, buildings are blanketed in sheets of multi-colored lights with thousands more forming twirling carousels and heavenly angels in a show that cycles every ten minutes.

Included with standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, Santa and his reindeer will be on hand through January 6, 2013.


CHILL: A Dazzling Ice Kingdom in a Giant Igloo at the Queen Mary
– Long Beach
Retired ocean liner the Queen Mary has been transformed into an amazing winter wonderland for the whole family called CHILL through January 6, 2013. A giant igloo, home to The Ice Kingdom, features a one-of-a-kind exhibit with larger-than-life ice creations.

Ice Tubing, an Ice Skating rink, a Holiday Village, complete with Christmas trees, “Candy Lane,” gingerbread decorating, carolers and Santa Claus will be on hand too as we see in this video:



Looking for discount tickets to these and other holiday attractions? Suddenly Frugal, an online source has all of these and more listed as well as a list of the 11 Best Freebies When You Travel.

[Photo credit- Flickr user ZakVTA ]

Would You Let A Website Choose Your Travel Destination?

beach Set to launch November 1, GetGoing is a new website that takes the hassle out of trip planning and budgeting while giving sizable discounts.

Travelers simply input their travel dates and what kind of trip they want, and the site searches hundreds of destinations, including ones they may not have thought of that could be a great fit. Users can input information about the region, like Europe or Asia, or interest, like history, beach or culture. From the generated list of 10 possible trips, users then choose their top two choices, as well as times, stopovers and prices. GetGoing will then choose one the trips and handle the booking.

So, why would one use this service? Along with less thinking on your part, GetGoing promises airfare discounts of up to 40% when you use their services.

Still sound crazy? Not to co-founder and CEO Alek Vernitsky, who explained to NBC News, “Giving somebody the option of selecting two destinations instead of one fits with how people think about vacations. People naturally think in terms of options – do I want to go here or there?”

Using the flip-a-coin philosophy, the company is able to leverage the fact their clients aren’t married to certain dates or destinations, allowing them to get great deals on remaining seats. For now, GetGoing will offer flights from 12 U.S. airports and trips to about 2,000 destinations. Future goals include adding similar offerings for accommodations and local getaways.

Would you use GetGoing’s new travel service?

[Image via Shutterstock]

MasterCard PriceAssure offers travelers new airfare-tracking service

Buying an airline ticket is easily one of the most confusing and costly purchases a traveler can make. There are many questions: Is the price found online the best price? Could the price go down? What does it cost to re-book the ticket if things change?

MasterCard cardholders now have a new airfare tracking tool, called PriceAssure, that may provide some assistance. What is it and should you give it a try? We investigate below.

Eligibility
Anyone with a MasterCard and a existing flight registration on any of big domestic carriers (American, Delta, United, US Airways and JetBlue were all listed when we checked) are all eligible to use the service. At this point, PriceAssure doesn’t cover international airfares.

How it Works
To start, new users need to enroll in the program by providing their basic MasterCard card details, name and an account login. After login, users have a couple options: The first is to input an existing flight itinerary and the price paid for the ticket. Gadling Labs tried out an upcoming flight that we’re taking on American Airlines from LaGuardia to O’Hare.

Once the flights are in the system, PriceAssure goes to work. It constantly monitors the current fare on your airline for the chosen dates. Should that price fall below the price you originally paid for your ticket, PriceAssure sends out an email, letting you know that you may be eligible for a refund. Interestingly enough, PriceAssure also incorporates any potential change fee you might have pay as part of the new re-booking price.

All of this, mind you, is based on the type of ticket that you have booked and what the rules are for changing that ticket (and the fees therein). If one is booked on a heavily discounted ticket with high change fees, for example, a $20 fare drop won’t account for the $150 in change fees so a refund is moot. But for a more flexible ticket or a larger price drop, the service is particularly handy.

Once you discover you’re eligible for a refund, MasterCard also offers to call up the airline for you to negotiate your refund for $19.95. You can make the call yourself for no additional charge (though the hold time and haggling with the customer service rep is up to you).
Our Take
With all the variables involved in booking airfare these days, any solution that claims to simplify the process is already a thumbs up in our book. That said, PriceAssure is likely to work best for certain certain types of travelers more than others.

If you’re a budget traveler, chances are you’re already buying heavily discounted airfares and the likelihood your fare will fall enough to save you more money is slim. Even if the price on your flight does fall, it’s not likely to be enough to offset the often hefty airline change fees attached to most deep discount tickets.

Business travelers, however, play a different game. Many of these passengers book more flexible, high-cost airfares, and for these itineraries, PriceAssure will prove quite useful. Take a test drive of the application over at priceassure.mastercard.com

Retail therapy: Istanbul ShoppingFest begins March 18

Istanbul shoppingfestEvery year, many people visit Istanbul to shop in the historic Grand Bazaar to haggle over carpets, Turkish tea glasses, and souvenir t-shirts. But most locals do their shopping in Istanbul’s many malls, markets, high streets like Istiklal near Taksim Square and Bağdat on the Asian side, and neighborhoods such as posh Nişantaşı and funky Çukurcuma. This year, from March 18 to April 26, travelers can take advantage of the best of all worlds with the first Istanbul ShoppingFest, also celebrating the 550th birthday of the Grand Bazaar. For 40 days, shoppers can get special discounts and win prizes, shop late into the night (with bigger discounts after 10pm), and be entertained with performances and events. Each Saturday, one mall each on the European and Asian sides will stay open until 2am, and all malls will be open until 11pm daily during the fest. In addition to sale prices, foreign travelers can get tax back on purchases at various malls around the city and enter raffles with each 40 TL (about $25 USD) spent.

Already established in India, Singapore, and Dubai in usual sale seasons, Istanbul’s promotion will hold a special draw as discounts will apply to new season merchandise and take place over several major holidays including Easter, Passover, and Iranian Nowruz. With this festival, Turkey hopes to carry over some of the momentum from last year’s European Capital of Culture designation, and become the destination of choice for travelers from nearby countries such as Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Rumania, Syria and Iraq.

Check out more details and events at www.istshopfest.com and follow their Facebook page and Twitter @istshopfest. See also the March issue of Time Out Istanbul in English for feature guides to the fest and the Grand Bazaar.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user antonystanley]

REI Adventures offers members 25% discount on select trips

REI Adventures is offering 25% discounts for members on select tripsIn 2011, REI Adventures, the travel arm of outdoor gear retailer REI, is celebrating its 25th year of offering great outdoor and active journeys to adventure travelers. To commemorate the occasion, they’re passing on a substantial discount to members of the REI Co-Op, giving them 25% off some of their most classic trips.

In all, there are seven trips that the discount is being applied to. Those trips include a classic safari in Tanzania, a trek to Everest Base Camp, cycling in the Loire Valley of France, trekking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, backpacking in Fitz Roy and Paine in Patagonia, and exploring the Alaskan wilderness on foot and kayak. Each of these trips is considered to be one of REI Adventures’ signature vacations, offering some of the most amazing and memorable experiences for any traveler.

As mentioned, to take advantage of the 25% discount, you must be an REI member. Becoming a member is simple however, and it offers more benefits than just the discount on these trips. There is a one time fee of $20 for the membership, but it entitles you to take part in special events at REI stores, increased discounts on gear items, and a yearly dividend that is based on the items you purchased. That dividend can then be spent on new gear in the store as well. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast at all, then the membership usually more than pays for itself in the first year alone.

Members always receive a discount on REI Adventures trips, but the additional 25% savings is on top of that already discounted price. For instance, the African Safari normally costs non-members $4075. Members get the same trip for $3699, but if you take advantage of the added discount, you can visit the Serengeti for just $2775. Not a bad deal at all.

Dates for the discounted trips are limited, so you’ll want to take advantage of them as soon as possible. To get more details on these adventures and the dates when they are available, click here.