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fort young hotel Here’s the answer to last week’s “How Much Is This Hotel?” quiz. Play along with future hotel quizzes by subscribing to our blog.

We have a winner! The correct answer to last week’s How Much Is This Hotel? contest is $200 a night. Cathy Kleinschmidt, the first person to give us the correct answer, has won an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt.

The room pictured was an oceanfront room at Fort Young Hotel, a property located in Roseau, Dominica. The hotel is built around the ruins of a historic 18th-century fort and is just a five-minute walk from the center of Roseau. The Fort Young Hotel, which offers several affordable dive packages, is an excellent choice for travelers looking to explore Dominica’s pristine marine reserves. Read more about the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica Essentials.

Check back this Friday for another shot at winning a prize.

– written by Caroline Costello

Every Friday, we’ll feature a photo of an unidentified hotel here, on our blog, and we want you to guess how much it costs to stay there. Leave your guess in the comments below and you could win a prize. Get the answer in your inbox by subscribing to our blog.

What’s the price of a view of paradise? Enter your guess in the comments, and be sure to include a valid e-mail address (so we can contact you in case you win). The first person to guess closest to the price of the room without going over wins an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt. Here’s the room:



Below are three hints to help you win:

-This room, which sleeps two, has a king-size bed and a balcony that overlooks the Caribbean Sea.

-This beachfront property was built around the remains of an 18th-century fort.

-This hotel is located on “the Nature Island.”

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price for two people as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Sunday night, September 11, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Monday.

– written by Caroline Costello

A decade after 9/11, the travel industry has undergone immeasurable changes, from an airport security system overhaul to airline bankruptcies to soaring gas prices. To put it all in perspective, our friends at TravelPod (our sister site) created this infographic, which charts major changes in travel that have taken place since that tragic September day. Click on the image below to see a larger graphic, and read more about the state of travel after 9/11 in 10 Years Later: The Lessons and Promises of 9/11.

How have your travel experiences changed since 9/11? Share your stories in the comments.

Osama vs Travel



– written by Caroline Costello

There’s a store in Alabama that’s as big as a city block. It’s called the Unclaimed Baggage Center, and it sells the forsaken contents of lost luggage. Most bags lost by the airlines are eventually returned to their owners. But the missing suitcases that end up on the shelves of the Unclaimed Baggage Center likely lacked sufficient identification.

That piece of paper you grabbed from the airline check-in counter on which you scribbled your address might not be good enough. First, if your bag is lost while you’re on your way to your vacation destination, you’ll want it shipped to your hotel — not to the guy bringing in your mail at your empty house. Additionally, many travel experts advise against revealing your address on your luggage, as this could make your home a target for robbery while you’re on the road.

The solution is to use a smart luggage tag that does more than just display an address and phone number. Below are three high-tech luggage tags that have the power to transform your trip if your luggage gets lost.

What to Do When Your Luggage Is Lost

ReboundTAGReboundTAG
ReboundTAG Microchip Bag Tags are printed with a barcode that airline personnel can scan in order to identify your luggage and view your itinerary. (The barcode technology isn’t available at all airports.) If a person who doesn’t have access to scanning technology finds your lost luggage, he or she can enter your tag number on the ReboundTAG Web site, and the system will notify you by text message or e-mail. A Microchip Bag Tag costs 34.99 British pounds (about $55.80 as of this posting) and comes with one year’s membership to the ReboundTAG system. Buy it at www.reboundtag.com.

SuperSmartTagSuperSmartTag
Like the ReboundTAG Microchip Bag Tags, SuperSmartTags feature a code that anyone can use to report your bag online. Once the code for your bag is submitted, you’ll receive a text message, e-mail or phone call explaining that your luggage has been found. Enter your itinerary on the SuperSmartTag site and airport staff will be able to view your travel plans and forward your luggage to your next destination. SuperSmartTag retails for $14.99 AUD (about $15.95 as of this posting) and comes with a three-year membership to the SuperSmartTag system. Buy it at www.supersmarttag.com. (Or win a free one. See below.)

Retriever TagsMagellan’s Retriever Tags
These tags aren’t outfitted with special codes or microchips. But they’re simple enough to work. The vinyl tag encapsulates instructions written in eight languages (English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, French and German) that tell baggage agents to check the itinerary inside your bag and send your luggage to your next destination, as opposed to shipping it back to your home address while you’re en route to Tahiti. Buy it at www.magellans.com for $8.95.

– written by Caroline Costello

baggage claim airport woman suitcaseEvery Wednesday, we’ll feature one practical travel tip here, on our blog. Get our clever weekly tips and other travel resources in your inbox by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our newsletter.

In a recent poll, IndependentTraveler.com readers rated airline baggage fees as the biggest rip-off in the travel industry, beating out Wi-Fi charges at hotels, car rental fees and even timeshares.

I’m with you guys — I loathe those fees. And while my personal strategy for avoiding them is to cram everything into a carry-on no matter how far or how long I’m traveling, that’s not the only way to outsmart the airlines. Writes Caroline Costello:

“Virtually all major airlines offer some kind of frequent flier program that includes baggage fee discounts or waivers for ‘elite’ or ‘preferred’ members. … If racking up 25,000 miles a year doesn’t seem attainable, consider applying for an airline credit card. Several major airlines waive checked bag fees for cardholders. For example, Delta SkyMiles cardholders can check one bag for free on Delta flights, and Continental Airlines Presidential Plus cardholders can check two bags for free.”

Of course, you’ll want to read the fine print before adding yet another piece of plastic to your wallet. The annual fee on the Delta SkyMiles credit card is $95 — so getting that free checked bag won’t pay off until you fly at least two round trips. (A single checked bag on Delta usually costs $25 each way.) Alternatively, if you travel with a buddy, you can cancel out that annual fee even sooner; the card grants a free checked bag not only to you but also to your travel companions — up to eight of them.

Meanwhile, Continental’s Presidential Plus card will set you back a whopping $395 per year. That fee gets you plenty of extra perks, such as waived foreign transaction fees and miles that never expire, but they may not be worth it if you only travel once or twice a year.

For more ideas, see Seven Smart Ways to Bypass Baggage Fees.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Boats in Perkins Cove, MaineEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Labor Day has come and gone, and right now, shoulder-season deals to destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean and Europe are easy pickin’s. But if you’d like to visit a place that shows its best colors this time of year, you don’t necessarily have to pay high-season prices. We spotted this excellent high-season deal for one of the United States’ great fall destinations: Maine.

For a limited time, Orbitz is offering $50 off Maine hotel stays in addition to up to 30 percent off accommodations and free-night stays at participating properties in the Pine Tree State. This offer is valid for three-night (or longer) stays through mid-October.

Essential Portland, Maine Travel Guide

The Catch: Since it’s currently high season for travel to Maine, rooms at the more popular properties are filling up fast — especially if they’re on sale; a quick search on Orbitz confirmed this. According to the Orbitz Web site, Acadia Inn, one of the hotels featured in this offer, only had three available rooms left for the dates I punched in (September 15 through 17). Likewise, Orbitz told me only two available rooms remained at the Majestic Regency in Wells, another cut-rate property, for the same dates. Act fast if you’re thinking about snapping up this offer.

The Competition: A smart way to visit Maine on the cheap is to grab a last-minute New England cruise deal. Right now, we list several discounted leaf-peeping sailings in our Cruise Deals, including a seven-night early-October New England and Canada cruise for $649 with prepaid gratuities, and a similar late-October sailing for just $549. Both cruises sail roundtrip from Boston, and both include stops in Maine.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Travel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

Alpacas at Chimney Hill Estate Inn Here’s the answer to last week’s “How Much Is This Hotel?” quiz. Play along with future hotel quizzes by subscribing to our blog.

We have a winner! The correct answer to last week’s How Much Is This Hotel? contest is $415 a night. Skip, the first person to give us the correct answer, has won an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt.

The room pictured was Barn Suite Four at Chimney Hill Estate Inn, a B&B in Lambertville, New Jersey. The 19th-century farmhouse is located near the Delaware River and has an on-site alpaca farm. Alpaca food is provided for guests who wish to feed the animals. When they’re not making friends with fluffy herd animals, guests can enjoy local activities like antique shopping in downtown Lambertville, hiking in local state parks and kayaking on the Delaware River. Read more about the Chimney Hill Estate Inn in New Hope Weekend Getaways.

Check back this Friday for another shot at winning a prize.

– written by Caroline Costello

Every Friday, we’ll feature a photo of an unidentified hotel here, on our blog, and we want you to guess how much it costs to stay there. Leave your guess in the comments below and you could win a prize. Get the answer in your inbox by subscribing to our blog.

What’s the cost of country charm in the Northeast? Enter your guess in the comments, and be sure to include a valid e-mail address (so we can contact you in case you win). The first person to guess closest to the price of the room without going over wins an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt. Here’s the room:



Below are three hints to help you win:

-This large room has a loft with a queen bed, a two-person Jacuzzi, a working fireplace, a pantry with a small fridge and a living room.

-This 19th-century property, which features an on-site alpaca farm, is located in a historic town on the Delaware River.

-Wi-Fi, tea and cookies, and a hot homemade breakfast are all free during your stay.

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price for two people as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Monday night, September 5, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Tuesday.

– written by Caroline Costello

Grand CanyonAugust is over; to many, this means that summer has left town and fall is pulling its car into the driveway. But if you’ve got a case of the first-day-of-September blues, perk up. Falling leaves signal falling prices in the travel space. And we’ve got proof. Feast your eyes on the following four fabulous fall packages, which offer shoulder-season savings in top destinations: the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

$100 Savings, Rental Car Steals and More in Las Vegas
Southwest Vacations is running an enticing Las Vegas sale, piling deals on top of more deals. The savings include up to $100 off packages plus up to 30 percent off your hotel stay, 20 percent off car rentals and more. The longer your trip, the more you save. (You have to stay five nights or longer to get that $100 discount.) This deal is valid for travel through the end of December.

Deep Discounts at the Grand Canyon
Two- and three-night Grand Canyon Railway packages are on sale for travel through the beginning of November. Discounted packages start at $390 per couple — a savings of $88 — and include accommodations and train travel to the Grand Canyon. Some of the pricier packages (the $575 three-night Canyon Limited package and the $772 three-night Canyon Limited Plus package) include a stay inside Grand Canyon National Park at the Maswik Lodge North, which is a short walk from the canyon rim.

Half-Off All-Inclusive Adventures in Aruba
Travelers can save up to 55 percent on all-inclusive fall stays at the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba when they travel by October 31. We found all-inclusive nightly rates as low as $315 (for two people) for a week-long stay in October. The beachfront Aruba resort’s all-inclusive rates cover unlimited meals, some alcoholic beverages and non-motorized water sports. Additionally, kids ages 12 and younger stay free.

Cut-Rate Costa Rica: Save 60% on Vacations
Fall marks the last few months of Costa Rica’s rainy season, and it’s an excellent time to find discounts on hotel stays and packages in the region. We found a great one: TravelByJen.com, a discount travel agency, is offering a seven-night Costa Rica package with roundtrip airfare, accommodations and a car rental for just $599 per person. Airfare prices are based on travel from Fort Lauderdale, but you can find quotes for travel out of your local hub on TravelByJen.com.

– written by Caroline Costello