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Woodside InnHere’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 $269 per night. Dale, who gave the first correct answer, has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug.

The room pictured was Room 5 at Woodside Inn in Park City, Utah. This property is the closest B&B to Park City Mountain Resort, a Rocky Mountain ski haven that offers 114 trails and more than 3,000 acres of powdery terrain. Travelers hitting the slopes can take advantage of complimentary boot dryers and ski lockers at the B&B, as well as easy access to the free Park City bus system. To learn more about Park City, read 7 Reasons to Fall for Utah’s Snow Scene.

– 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 night near the slopes in Utah? 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 travel mug. Here’s the room:



And here are three little hints to help you win:

-This property is the closest B&B to a major ski resort in Utah.

-This room has a queen-size bed and a bathroom with a jetted tub.

-Free Wi-Fi and daily hot breakfast are included in the rates.

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price based on double occupancy as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Monday, January 2, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Tuesday.

– written by Caroline Costello

See the world through the eyes of a suitcase. The “eyes,” in this instance, are six cameras that Delta Airlines attached to a piece of checked luggage. Delta recorded the bag’s journey from check-in counter to baggage claim area and posted the footage on YouTube. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sway to a spacey New Age soundtrack as you watch the bag hitch a ride on a flight from Atlanta to New York. (I predict a big-budget Hollywood remake to follow.)



Note the teaser at the end: “Now you can track your bag’s journey.” Passengers aren’t permitted to attach spy cams onto their own Samsonites — at least not yet. But Delta’s making it easier to keep tabs on luggage with another kind of gadget. The airline has created a new app that allows travelers to follow the whereabouts of their checked bags on their smartphones. (Be sure that you don’t try tracking your bag during take-off or landing, lest you end up like Alec Baldwin.)

The app follows checked bags much the way postal services track packages, by providing a tracking code along with periodic status updates. In addition, fliers can use the app to get flight alerts, check in, make seat changes, rebook flights and more. Delta’s app is free, and it’s available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Download it here.

– written by Caroline Costello

Ruins in Vietnam What do flying celebrities, a speeding cruise ship and a misbehaving monk have in common? Well, other than a collective disregard for authority, they’re all featured in The Most Bizarre Travel Stories of 2011, our collection of stranger-than-fiction happenings that took place this year.

While these tales were crazy enough to make the news in 2011, there are undoubtedly untold weird and wild adventures lurking in the memory banks of most travelers. And now that the year is coming to an end, it’s time to purge. We want to hear your battiest travel tales! What happened to you during your travels that was unexpected, unexplained or unbelievable?

We’ll go first. You may have heard about the Airbnb debacle that took place earlier this year when a savage renter ransacked the San Francisco home of an Airbnb host. Well, Sarah Schlichter, Editor of IndependentTraveler.com, had her own bizarre — albeit somewhat less newsworthy — experience with Airbnb.

When visiting Vancouver, Schlichter stayed in the spare room of a West End condo along with her host and another guest. On the second night of Schlichter’s stay, an argument erupted over toilet paper — and let’s just say the stay didn’t end well for all parties involved. Read the whole wacky story here.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us about the most bizarre thing that happened to you while traveling this year and you could win a prize. Post your comment by 11:59 Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 3. We’ll pick one commenter to receive a set of packing cubes and a pair of SuperSmartTag luggage tags.

– written by Caroline Costello

Ballybunion Castle RuinsEvery 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: In just a few weeks, airlines will have to include government taxes and fees when advertising ticket prices, in accordance with new U.S. Department of Transportation regulations that kick in on January 24. Some carriers, like Lufthansa and Air France, have already begun posting full-fare ticket prices online.

Aer Lingus is the latest airline to start displaying fares in a more truthful manner. The Irish carrier just announced that it will publish prices inclusive of all taxes and fees from this point forward. It’s quite refreshing to click around on a booking rate calendar and see numbers that are actually reflective of final ticket prices — especially when combing through already-low sale fares.

Rolling out all-inclusive rates along with this competitive sale, which offers across-the-pond flights for less than $500 roundtrip, was a smart move, Aer Lingus. The sale features discounted fares to Dublin from more than 30 U.S. cities, with roundtrip tickets starting at $447.91 (which would be a pretty good price even if it didn’t include the extra fees).

The Catch: These fares are valid for travel in January, February and March, which is Ireland’s low season for tourism. In some destinations on the isle, attractions, restaurants and hotels may be closed for winter; but this doesn’t mean you can’t plan a worthy Ireland getaway. Stick to big cities like Dublin, Belfast or Galway — which will offer a wider selection of year-round attractions than small towns — and contact local tourist information offices ahead of time to make sure that the places you want to see will be open.

The Competition: Lufthansa is also running a Europe winter fare sale; this one offers some nicely priced routes, as well as a wide selection of departure and destination gateways. Fares start at $507 roundtrip (that price is for a flight from New York to Dublin), including all taxes and fees.

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

– written by Caroline Costello

Sayre MansionHere’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 $325 per night. Greti, who gave the first correct answer, has won an IndependentTraveler.com neck pillow.

The room pictured was Suite 3 at the Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The mansion is the former home of famous “Christmas City” resident Robert Sayre, who was chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the 19th century. This historic B&B has 22 guest rooms — including three spacious suites in the property’s carriage house — and is a short walk from Lehigh University and downtown Bethlehem.

– 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.

Welcome to the holiday edition of our weekly hotel guessing game! What’s the price of a night in “Christmas City”? 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 travel neck pillow. Here’s a shot of the room’s spacious bathroom:



And here are three little hints to help you win:

-This suite has a king-size bed, a living room with a queen-size sofa bed, a working fireplace and a jetted tub.

-This suite is in the carriage house of a historic B&B located in “Christmas City,” Pennsylvania.

-Free Wi-Fi and daily hot breakfast are included in the rates.

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price based on double occupancy as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Monday, December 26, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Tuesday.

– written by Caroline Costello

pilotsDoes a nap a day keep a plane crash away? Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced new regulations that will allow commercial airline pilots to get more rest before hitting the runway. The FAA placed limits on the maximum number of hours a pilot can be on duty and set new requirements for rest periods between scheduled flights, reports a press release issued by the government agency.

Here’s what will change: The maximum number of consecutive hours a pilot can be on call will decrease from 16 to a span of nine to 14 hours (depending on when the pilot started and how many segments he must fly). Pilots may not fly longer than eight or nine hours at a time, and they’ll have to take breaks of 10 hours or longer between shifts. Additionally, pilots will get 25 percent more time off between work weeks — up to 30 consecutive hours of break time. Airlines must adhere to the new requirements within two years.

Overall, this is a major upgrade to the FAA’s existing regulations, which had pilots toiling for longer hours and resting less, and were not consistently applicable to all types of U.S. passenger flights. The upgraded requirements, says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, were enacted to perk up pilot performance on the job. Said LaHood, “We made a promise to the traveling public that we would do everything possible to make sure pilots are rested when they get in the cockpit. This new rule raises the safety bar to prevent fatigue.”

According to the Associated Press, safety advocates have been pressuring the FAA to update pilot work rules for years, but resistance from the airlines kept any amendments on hold. It took tragedy — the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash that killed 50 people in 2009 — to enact change. Families of those who died in the Colgan Air crash, which the National Transportation Safety Board attributed to pilot error, lobbied for new rules to fight pilot fatigue — and today, they won.

Will you feel safer flying when the FAA’s new rules come into effect? Take our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments!



– written by Caroline Costello

Harbour IslandEvery 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: Major winter storms have hit the Midwest, and the darkest day of the year just happens to be Thursday. These tidings are reason enough to drop everything — even that fancy ribbon bow you’re struggling with, which is just going to get ripped off the present anyway — and run as fast as you can to the Caribbean.

Here’s more vindication for a vacation in the sun: the Islands of the Bahamas Tourism Board is offering up to $400 cash back for winter trips to said destination. Save $400 on stays of six nights or longer or save $250 on stays of five nights at select properties in the Bahamas (there’s a long list of eligible hotels on the tourism board’s Web site). To get this deal, you must book an air-inclusive package through the Bahamas Tourism Board.

The Catch: Sorry, spring breakers and summer vacationers. This offer is valid for travel from January 1 through March 14 and April 15 through June 20 — so choice spring break and summer vacation travel dates are not covered in this sale.

The Competition: The Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board is offering discounts for travelers heading to what it calls “the real Bahamas,” the less-traveled Bahamian atolls outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama Island. Receive up to two free plane tickets with purchase of an air-inclusive package to participating local resorts on islands like Andros, Cat Island and Eleuthera. Keep in mind that the Bahamas Tourism Board deal detailed above is also valid for stays at some hotels in Out Islands, so check out both deals before booking your Bahamas trip.

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

– written by Caroline Costello

Dilly Dally HouseHere’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 $165 per night. Dorinda, who gave the first correct answer, has won an IndependentTraveler.com neck pillow.

The room pictured was the Suite at Dilly Dally House in Kauai. This B&B is set among lush tropical plants, and guests are welcome to pick fruits like papayas, mangoes and pineapples from the property’s gardens. All of the rooms at Dilly Dally House have private lanais (the Hawaiian term for patio), and some offer sweeping views of the “Sleeping Giant,” also known as Nounou Mountain. Read more about visiting Hawaii in our Hawaii Travel Guide.

– written by Caroline Costello