A Push for the Energy Industry, A Step Back for the Environment

Global warming is one of the most important issues plaguing the world today. Whether or not people believe it to be a real phenomenon, there is no denying that our environment has been changing. This change has been a growing sign for many that mankind has been abusing Mother Nature so much so that she is now fighting back. In fact, several strange weather phenomena have occurred in the past 5 years alone. There’s been snow in Guadalajara, Mexico, record-high temperatures reaching 51 degrees Celsius in Southeast Asia, and a sea dust vortex over the Arabian Sea. If there’s anything Mother Nature has been telling us, it’s that the environment badly needs our help.

Image result for A Push for the Energy Industry, A Step Back for the Environment

As the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world, former President Obama became an important proponent in the world’s fight against climate change. Apart from his contributions to the UN’s environmental platforms, Obama also pushed for the development of renewable energy and restoration of polluted areas. His administration spearheaded several policies that aimed to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, protect environmental sites, and promote responsibility for the environment. The former President’s positive influence for Mother Nature was indeed one of the most important legacies that his administration left behind. This is one of the reasons why many are on edge when it comes to President Trump’s policies on the environment and the energy industry.

Of the many contrasts between the Obama and Trump administration policies, it is safe to say that the environment is not an exception. With a President that says global warming is “an expensive hoax”, media coverage of Trump administration news is bound to be filled with controversy. In fact, many have already predicted that Trump’s refusal to accept climate change will help boost the energy sector, particularly the oil and gas industries.

Part of the Obama administration’s platforms was the Clean Power Plan which limited the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants in 47 states. This aimed to reduce the country’s emissions by 32% by 2030. However, President Trump has since slashed the platform to pave the way for fossil fuel companies. According to him, less environmental regulation means reduced company costs and more opportunities for coal industries to emerge.

Another Obama platform, The Stream Protection Rule, was also put to a stop by the Trump administration. This rule would have enforced coal mining companies to be more responsible in their activities as to not contaminate local streams. This would have imposed additional costs for mining companies to conduct studies of local streams and water supply and to restore the streams to their original states. Mining companies did not take a liking to this rule which is why Trump’s win was also a win for them.

Moreover, Trump’s go signal for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipeline made headlines as this controversial project was halted by former President Obama in 2016. Several protests have been made in order to block the construction of this pipeline due to its impact on the environment and a local tribal community near the area.

One policy that both Obama and Trump seem to have in common is their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. This policy favors the development of ethanol and biofuels. Last February, Trump gave his reassurance that his administration would continue to support this industry.

It is clear that Trump’s plans for the energy industry will have a significant impact on the environment. For many, the growth of the energy industry in the country will eventually lead to our independence from foreign energy supply and a better economy. However, we must also think about how the destruction of our environment will affect future generations. At what cost are we willing to achieve economic growth?

HGH Reviews, Testimonials & Consumer Reports

HGH supplements are a way to enhance HGH in your body either through pills, powder form of HGH, oral spray or synthetic forms of HGH. With synthetic forms of HGH, you see instant results as it is directly injected into your body. There is HGH available in powder form which is made of natural ingredients which also helps in increasing muscle. Injection form of HGH is generally prescribed to children and adults with health concerns and growth problems. With the many affects that HGH on human body, it is mostly used by body builders to increase their muscle. So, before we get to the reviews, lets know how does it work and its effect on your body.

Image result for HGH Reviews, Testimonials & Consumer Reports

What is HGH and how does it work?

HGH is a natural hormone secreted by Somatropic cells in the pituitary glands. It is a hormone responsible for the overall well-being of the human body including the proper growth, muscle, concentration, aging factor, sex drive etc.

But due to the many benefits of fat burn, muscle building, etc., it has been widely used by body builders as a body building supplement. Read the positive testimonials here.

Reviews of HGH injection:

When you check online or in any body building forum, you will come across many people who say that using HGH has helped them. Remember that using it in proper doses is essential.

It is usually taken deep inside the muscle and at different places every time you inject. HGH injections were designed for medical use and were not designed for body building or anti-aging factors. Hence, it is not approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The benefits of using HGH include:

·         Boosts energy

·         Maintains healthy cholesterol levels

·         Rejuvenates your skin/hair

·         Maintains blood pressure

·         Boosts immunity

 

Using HGH injections increases muscle mass but there will be no affect seen on the strength.

There are some side effects also included with it. Common side effects can include headache, joint pains, muscle pains and swelling in hands and feet.

 

As HGH works on cell regeneration, people with problems like cancers, tumors, diabetes and breathing issues should never take HGH.

 

If you want to start with taking HGH, the best person to contact is your doctor. Once you visit the internet, there are various reviews to the use of HGH supplements. Whether you want to start supplementing in pill form of herbal form or injections, it is advisable not to follow the reviews on internet because people are paid to write on the websites of sale.

 

So, what should you out when looking for reviews?

You can read through everything on the internet for you information. But while looking for reviews, check the clinical studies and scientific reviews about a product.The review should be able to give you answers on all the basic to complicated questions about HGH that you may have. This will certainly take time, but will help you a lot in knowing the product before you start it. After all, you do not want any kind of risk. Try to look for options of taking the supplements, dosage, availability, legality and it’s side effects etc.

Booking.com Launches Accelerator Programme for Startups in Sustainable Tourism

Today Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, announced the launch of its new accelerator programme, Booking.com Booster. Designed to identify, mentor and fund enterprising startups from around the world that are seeking to have a positive impact on the global tourism industry, the 3-week programme taking place in June 2017 in Amsterdam will culminate in a chance to pitch for grants of up to €500,000 from Booking.com.

introduction-of-bookingcom-1-638

As an extension of the company’s existing Booking.com Cares programme, an internal company initiative where employees partner with local NGOs on projects that help improve destinations worldwide, the goal of the new booster programme is to support startups dedicated to sustainable tourism in the following areas: protecting the environment, preserving cultural heritage and/or promoting inclusive growth in tourism that supports and develops local economies and communities.

“At Booking.com, our mission is to empower people to experience more of the world,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “There are thousands of beautiful, unique destinations to explore in every corner of the globe, but that’s not something we should take for granted. Through Booking.com Booster, we want to help ventures in sustainable tourism accelerate their growth in order to maximise the impact they can have globally. By identifying and funding these outstanding startups, sharing our expertise and working together, we can explore and learn how best to protect the future of the destinations we love so much so that our great-great-grandchildren can continue to enjoy them for years to come.”

The 3-week booster programme has been co-designed with partner organisation Impact Hub and will consist of a series of workshops, lectures, and coaching sessions with industry experts, as well as the opportunity to pitch for grants from Booking.com’s fund. In addition, the small group of selected startups that participate will also receive several months of weekly mentoring from expert Booking.com sponsors following the accelerator programme in Amsterdam.

Suparstar Tony Hawk Carves it up on Stockton Sand Dunes

International skating superstar Tony Hawk dropped in on Stockton Sand Dunes prior to defending his Masters title at GENERAL PANTS BOWL-A-RAMA which takes place at Bondi Beach from February 18 – 19 2017.

Suparstar Tony Hawk
During Tony’s time at Stockton Sand Dunes he had the opportunity to sand board down some of the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere with local tourism operator, Sand Dune Adventures. Sand Dune Adventures is a not-for-profit enterprise owned and operated by the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council (WLALC). Tony also had the opportunity to gain insight into the richness of Aboriginal Culture and heritage, while riding a 400cc Quad Bike, and guided by an experienced Aboriginal guide.

Tony’s visit to the region is ahead of the Australian Bowl-Riding Championships and Surfest, two Newcastle events secured by the NSW Government through Destination NSW.

It’s not just Bondi that has great skate action. Dozens of skate-parks with steep bowls, ramps and rails are popping up all around NSW.

Professional vertical skateboarder, Renton Millar said, “At the moment NSW is going through an unprecedented boom period with skateparks. You’ve got timeless existing standouts like Bondi, Five Dock and Bar Beach, but getting added to the mix are amazing state of the art new ones at Mona Vale, Bateau Bay, Carnes Hill and Coffs Harbour.”

Here are just some of the places to skate in NSW:

Mona Vale Skate Park, Mona Vale
A predominantly street style park with a mini bowl and a refurbished historic vert ramp, Mona Vale Skate Park is a new addition to the Northern Beaches of Sydney skate scene and is ideal for all skill levels.

Empire Park Skate Park, Bar Beach
The ‘gold bowl’ at Empire Park Skate Park overlooks the surf breaks at Bar Beach. This brilliant world-class facility has recently been restored and is already a favourite destination of visiting pro skaters.

According to Tony Hawk, skating at Empire Park is not only a challenge, but a memorable experience. He said, “I’d never ridden that bowl prior to 2015. It’s a lot bigger than most concrete bowls I’ve ridden in the past. I’m a big fan of transitions, and I really enjoyed trying it out.”

Bateau Bay Skate Park, Bateau Bay
Known to locals as the Bato Yard Skate Park, Bateau Bay features the deepest bowl in Australia measuring four metres at its deepest point with a one-point-five metre vertical fall. Bato Yard Skate Park on the NSW Central Coast is fast gaining attention across the country as one of Australia’s top skate parks after a $2.25 million transformation.

Professional Skateboarder Renton Millar now calls it his ‘dream bowl’. He said, “To me Bateau Bay typifies exactly what you want in a modern park. Creative street tech, as well as some super fun small trannys. I think it’s just about the best skatepark in Australia. It’s skate dream material!”

Holborn Skate Plaza, Wollongong
Sitting on a prime waterfront location on Lake Illawarra, Holburn Skate Park was built by the community after they were invited to ‘have their say’ on construction and design ideas about the skate park facilities. Serious skaters can sharpen their skills and newbies can try their hand at carving it up in the bowl.

Port Macquarie Skate Park, Port Macquarie
Constructed on the foreshore of the Hasting River, Port Macquarie Skate Park has a clover style bowl with steel coping and a street style area with mini-half pipe, quarter pipe and grind boxes. It’s suitable for everyone from beginners to the elite.

To ensure fans don’t miss a moment of the action, this year’s GENERAL PANTS BOWL-A-RAMA Bondi will have free sideshow access to all of the activities happening in the area, and free viewing of the big screen right next to where all the bowl action is taking place. In addition, all-day single seat and special front row seats are available to purchase.

12 Tips to Keep the Holiday Season Special

lead image for 12 Tips to Keep the Holiday Season SpecialYou know her. The woman with six children who glides effortlessly through the holidays turning out handmade gifts and edibles, entertaining family and friends, and all in perfectly polished outfits without being a complete wreck inside. Yeah, that’s not me. And I bet it’s not you either. Unfortunately, it seems that stress has become synonymous with the holiday season, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Remember that the holidays are yours to own—you can and should make them just the way you want them to be. So, take a deep breath and remember the reason for the season. My favorite tips to keep the season special will help you slow down and actually enjoy this beautiful time of year.


1. Reassess

Make a list of everything you do surrounding the holiday season and take note which activities trigger stress. In each of these situations ask yourself, “Who am I doing this for?” Your children? Your mother-in-law? Your husband? Yourself? If you’re going through the motions just to meet your own expectations and no one else, why not cross it off the list?


2. Bring the outdoors inside

Keep evergreens, holly berries, poinsettias and pinecones around the house. The delicious smell and bright colors are bound to make you happier.


3. Break out of the usual routine

Go ice-skating together as a family. Make a gingerbread house. Sing Christmas carols. It might sound hokey, but trust me you and the kids will have a blast doing it.


4. Do something for yourself

Get a manicure and pedicure or a massage (or both!). Whatever the indulgence, you deserve it and should take care of yourself.


5. Take some shortcuts

Don’t feel bad about taking shortcuts in the kitchen, especially if you are hosting a get together. Use pre-made chicken stock, canned pumpkin or any other convenience food. Anything to ditch the stress so you can have more fun—that’s what the season is all about!


6. Count your blessings

Gratitude always brings joy. Life is better when you see the glass half full instead of half empty.

7. Add some sparkle

Dressing up for a holiday party? Add something glittery—a hair accessory, nail polish or shoes. Glitter can be fun and festive around the holidays. Just remember a little goes a long way.


8. Exercise

It releases endorphins, which not only make you happy, but also make you want to eat healthier and stay on track this season.


9. Set the mood

Candles are a simple way to add a little glamour and ambiance. Create a candlescape on your dining table or mantel. Wrap the candles with garland and add a few ornaments. Voila! A beautiful centerpiece.


10. Check your perfectionism at the door

Are you a working mom who is comparing her baking and tree-trimming efforts to those of a stay-at-home mom with two full-time nannies? Are you visualizing a Christmas party right out of the movies? It’s tough not to put pressure on yourself, but seriously—stop.


11. Start a new tradition

If a huge family get-together is too complicated or torturous for you, why not suggest seeing relatives separately. You could meet for several intimate dinners on different nights making everything much more manageable. Or better yet, dine out! If travel logistics are overwhelming, celebrate a month later when travel is much easier and fares are cheaper.


12. Slow down

The season seems to fly by faster and faster each year. Remember to stop once in awhile and take a deep breath of that beautiful pine tree smell, enjoy a one-on-one cocktail with your husband by the fire, and roast a marshmallow or two with the kids. When you stop to enjoy the little things, suddenly everything seems just right.

What do you do to keep your sanity during the holidays? Any special traditions you would like to share? We would love to hear. Happy holidays to you and yours!

10 Tips for a Joyous Holiday Season

crismatsThe holidays should be a joyous time of the year. They provide opportunities for activities that are out-of-the-ordinary, the celebration of traditions, promote togetherness and simply offer a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling.  However, as the parent of a special needs child, the holiday season may present a few extra challenges.

Last week we talked about your children and how to help them through the holidays. This week, it’s all about you, the parents, and providing you with the tools to support yourself this season.

Celebrations and activities that are out of the norm can certainly cause confusion, which can lead to an upset child – and upset parents – during the holiday season.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, don’t greet the holiday season with worry at the thought of being stressed. With some proper planning, you can enjoy the holiday season with your child to the fullest.

Here are some simple, yet powerful tips that will make your holiday merry and bright.

  1. Live in the Moment:

It’s great to have plans, but when it comes to children, especially special needs children, plans can change at the drop of a hat. You can certainly make your holiday plans, but be willing to adjust them based on your child’s reaction. Live in the moment and go with the flow. Your kids will only be young and carefree for so long, enjoy it while you can!

  1. Make it Simple:

Yes, the holidays are often about elaborate celebrations filled with great fanfare; however, such events may not be received well by children with special needs. Remember that consistency is key with special needs children. Include some special activities for you to enjoy, but don’t go overboard, as to avoid unwanted stress.

  1. Prioritize:

What is most important to you during the holiday season? Is it going to church to celebrate? Decorating? Partaking in a traditional family event? Choose one or two things that are of particular importance to you and focus your energy on making those events a success.

  1. Have an Emergency Plan:

You never know when things can go awry; which is as true for parents of typically developing children as it is for parents of children with special needs. Have a plan in place, should things go sour to add extra security during the chaos of the holidays.

  1. Prepare:

The element of surprise isn’t always the best with special needs children. Taking your child to a parade that interrupts part of his or her daily routine can be quite upsetting. Prepare your child for the changes and discuss events early and in detail so your child knows what to expect in order to reduce the chances of a meltdown.

  1. Keep Track:

When preparing your child for upcoming holiday events, keeping track of when the event will occur can benefit both you and your child. Post a calendar and count down the days until the event happens. Having a goal in sight can create much excitement and help keep you focused on the positive.

  1. Think Twice:

Really think about an event and your child’s reaction before you decide to go. If your child is noise sensitive and the event includes loud noises, it might be in everyone’s best interest to avoid such an event. It is easy to get carried away with the planning of the holiday season, however, taking the time to carefully think about your plans may help you avoid much stress.

  1. Enlist Help:

Remember that there is no shame in asking for help. The holidays are stressful enough for anyone, and they can be particularly more-so for the parent of a special needs child. Ask for help from friends and family members. A little help can go a long way.

  1. Take a Deep Breath:

Remember that nothing in life is perfect. Stay as cool, calm and collected as possible. Your child will play off of your emotions and when your tensions are high, your child will react – and likely in a negative way.

  1. Go Easy on Yourself:

Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t a super hero. Despite your best efforts, things can go wrong. Don’t beat yourself up if a meltdown occurs or you can’t attend to everything you planned. Life happens, roll with it and make sure to take some time for yourself and take care of your needs.

The Best Ways to Book Cheaper Hotel Rates

cheaper hotel rates

Don’t hotels always seem to account for the largest portion of your travel funds? They certainly do for me. Even if you’re not booking a 4- or 5-star property, a few days stay in a hotel can easily set you back $500, if not more. I like a nice hotel as much as the next person, but when I’m on a budget, I want to make sure I have enough after airfare and lodging to actually enjoy my trip: have good meals, go sightseeing, and buy some souvenirs for my loved ones.

After years of working in the travel industry and having lots of personal travel experience, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips on how to book cheaper hotel rates that I wanted to share. Be sure to share any tips you might have in the comments below.

 

Use a Metasearch Engine

The popularity of hotel metasearch engines is on the rise and for good reason: it’s one of the most efficient ways to find affordable accommodations. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, a hotel metasearch engine is a website that searches multiple hotel booking sites at once. For example, instead of running a search on Expedia, Orbitz,Priceline, and the hotel’s website, you can use a metasearch engine to search multiple sites at once to see which provider offers the lowest rates and best value. Kayak,Hipmunk, Room 77, TripAdvisor, and Trivago are just a few of the options available.

 

Call the Hotel Directly

If you have a particular hotel in mind, calling the hotel directly can often result in better rates. Since you’re able to speak with someone in real time, the staff will often be privy to rates that aren’t advertised online or, at the very least, they’ll be able to give you insight as to what’s affecting hotel room pricing. Events like conferences, concerts, and conventions can cause hotel room prices to skyrocket, and of course, certain times of year, such as the holidays, will see more expensive rates. If I’m traveling and I’ve found out there’s an event causing hotel rooms in the city center to be more expensive, then I’ll research hotels away from the city center to find lower rates.

Note: Be sure to call the hotel directly and not the 800 number, where you’ll just be routed through central reservations and end up speaking to someone who isn’t onsite at the property.

 

Book Cancelable Rates

Room rates can fluctuate as quickly as minute to minute because a hotel’s inventory is always changing. It’s simple supply and demand: the more people booking rooms at a hotel, the more the hotel can charge. One thing I like to do if I’m flexible with my hotel choice is to book a cancelable rate. It should be fairly obvious which rates are actually cancelable; there’s usually a call-out that states something like “FREE cancellation – PAY LATER,” as seen on Booking.com. I’ll book this rate (I plead though – double and triple check that it’s actually cancelable) and then monitor the price, as well as prices of nearby, comparable hotels. It may take a little bit of extra legwork, but this tactic has saved me as much as $100 per night.

Note: Not all hotels or providers offer cancelable rates. Look at a few different sites and properties to find a suitable hotel that provides a cancelable rate.

 

Book Last Minute

This is a trick best reserved for shorter trips, like romantic weekend getaways or impromptu get-togethers with friends in the city. I certainly wouldn’t advocate waiting till the last minute to book a hotel room for that expensive international trip you’ve been saving up for or leaving your lodging needs up to fate when there could be a major conference happening that results in a hotel room shortage. That being said, if you do a bit of research and are flexible, booking last minute can result in much cheaper rates. Last-minute booking apps like HotelTonight, which works with hotels to negotiate deep discounts on unsold rooms, are a great starting point, and many of the online booking sites, like Expedia and Priceline, have their own “Tonight” or “Deals Tonight” section.

Tip: Many sites offer last-minute deals sections, but are really just pulling the available inventory for the specified locale (not that this is a bad thing), as opposed to working with hotels to provide negotiated last-minute deals. Just be aware of this and shop around before committing to any last-minute deals.

Remember to use TripIt to organize all of your hotel confirmations (and any other trip confirmations) in one spot. You can also sign up for a free 30-day trial of TripIt Pro to try out premium features like alerts, alternate flights, seat tracker, point tracker, fare monitoring, and more.

7 hotel booking tips: from when to find the best deal, to saving cash through your smartphone

1 Hotel in New York
With so much choice, booking a hotel room can throw up as many problems as it solves, not least the uncertainty around knowing if you’re getting the best deal.

Many agents claim booking in advance is the secret to the best deals, however, others like Lastminute.com, contradict this – with cheap late deals all year round, as chains rush to fill rooms last minute.

In reality, it all depends on when, where, and why you are going to stay in a hotel, claim experts at LateRooms.com.

We asked the travel specialists for some top tips on how and when to book for the best hotel room prices, here’s what they found.

For more hacks, see our cheap holidays page, or our 10 money-saving travel tips, for how to save on flights, sightseeing and hotels.

For those looking for a cheap overnight stay, Travelodge has just kicked off its £35 or less airport sale, with a number of reduced rooms at 26 airports nationwide.

1. The early bird catches the worm

Going to a concert, festival, conference, or any other popular event? Book in advance. It’s basic economics – the higher the demand the higher the price.

So, if you’re headed somewhere everyone else is headed too, it’s better to get in there early if you want the best deal. You’ll also avoid the dreaded ‘No Availability’ notice from your favourite hotel.

2. It’s better late than never

If you are looking to steal a couple of nights away in your favourite city, go at a time when there isn’t a big event or occasion taking place.

This way you can monitor availability and prices in the weeks leading up to your stay and bag yourself the best deal.

The really brave jetsetters will leave it until the day before they travel (or even the day itself!) to find the best rate.

3. Get on your smartphone

Be tech-savvy about booking.

LateRooms.com has ‘app only’ deals and users can get between 10 and 40% off last minute getaways.

Tripadvisor also has a handy ‘bargain hotels finder’ with 25 of the best priced rooms in your chosen destination. See our Tripadvsior how-to guide for more.

4. Get on the bus

Happy travellers should always consider hotels in neighbouring towns and cities to their chosen location if a big event means that rooms are scarce (or scarily pricey).

5. City breaks are cheaper in summer

Bear in mind the season which you’re looking to go away. City breaks tend to be cheaper in the summer, as there are usually fewer events, fewer business travellers, and a mass exodus to the coast.

It’s worth pointing out that if you try and book a hotel for a June skiing break though, you’ll probably be left disappointed.

6. Secret hotels are the way forward

A lot of four and five star hotels like to remain anonymous when offering discounts and run ‘secret’ deals for their mystery hotel rooms, meaning you can get a great rate but you won’t know where you’re going to stay until night before you arrive.

Lastminute.com is famous for this, with their ‘Top Secret Hotels’ booking system.

LateRooms.com also has a secret system, type in ‘Secret hotel’ into their site and it’ll bring up a number of hotels in your destination.

7. Travel solo

Take advantage of travelling solo – a lot of hotels assume it’ll be two of you staying in a room, but some offer great rates for singletons.

Shop around for the ones that do and you, and only you, will thank yourself for it.

13 Tips for Sniffing Out the Best Deals on Hotel Rooms

Modern hotel room with double bed, TV and colorful pillows

What everyone wants to hear is that there are one or two apps or websites that will always find you the best deal on hotel rooms.

Sorry. It’s just not that easy.

What worked for last month’s business trip to Chicago may not work for this summer’s family vacation to Disney World – or even this month’s return trip to Chicago.

The reason for this lack of consistency is hotels are always in flux. The price of hotel rooms changes daily, often times hourly, based on demand. Sometimes one site has the best deal for the hotel you want, and sometimes another site does. You can often get the best rate by going old school and picking up the phone or just showing up.

“This drives techo-babble people crazy,” says Tim Leffel, author of “Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune” and editor of Hotel Scoop, a lodging review website. “They think you should be able to find the best prices on the Internet, but that’s not always the case.”

The Internet, however, is a good place to start. The first thing you want to research is location. If you’re visiting New York City, you probably want to stay in Manhattan. Before you can look for hotels, you need to know which neighborhoods you’re willing to consider and how you’ll get from those neighborhoods to the places you’re going to visit. After all, a lot of $30 taxi rides will quickly eat up any savings on lodging.

 

Start with the big names in the industry: Travelocity, Expedia or Orbitz. If you’re looking for a broader picture, Leffel likes websites that gather price quotes from a variety of search engines, such as Kayak or Trivago. From these aggregators, you’ll get a sense of hotel prices at the time you plan to travel.

Then check discount sites such as BookIt.com, Hotels.com or Booking.com, plus the named hotels at Hotwire and Priceline. If you find a hotel you like, check the hotel website before calling to see if you can find an even better deal directly from the hotel.

If you’d happily stay at any number of hotels in a specific neighborhood, consider bidding on rooms at Hotwire or Priceline. Both sites offer big discounts if you’re willing to buy a room without knowing which hotel you’ll be staying in. You can narrow your selection by neighborhood and by star rating, but sometimes the neighborhood boundary is pretty big.

Not only is there no magic website, but there’s no magic time to book to get the best price. Often, you can get the best deal at the very last minute. But this is not going to work in a popular location at a busy time. For those deals, you’ll do better booking earlier.

Here are 13 tips for getting the best deal on hotel rooms.

Call the hotel. Before you book a room, call the hotel itself (the specific location, not the chain’s 800 number) during business hours to see if the hotel will match or beat rates you’ve found online. Sometimes they’ll throw in extras such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast or late checkout. This gives you maximum flexibility because you usually don’t have to pay in advance, plus you won’t need to deal with a third party if something goes wrong or you come across a cheaper alternative.

Make sure you know the total cost. Some hotels charge a resort fee that may not be included in an online quote. Others charge for Wi-Fi, breakfast or use of the gym. In a city center, parking can cost $35 or more a day. To avoid unpleasant surprises, always ask about which fees are included and how much they’ll cost you.

 

Consider hotels that don’t appear on major search sites. Many small hotels don’t want to pay search site commissions, and therefore they don’t participate. When you call them, you’re often talking to an owner or manager who is empowered to offer a discount. TripAdvisor is a good site to use to identify these small hotels, but you should go directly to the hotel to make reservations.

Consider something larger. If you’re traveling with a family or planning a longer stay, look into renting an apartment or house. You can find listings at HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO, among other services. Many of these lodgings charge a cleaning fee, so keep that in mind when you’re calculating total costs. But with a kitchen you may save on food because you can cook some meals.

Utilize coupon books. On a road trip, pick up the coupon books at rest stops and convenience stores. Those coupons, offered by the owners of individual franchises, often beat the national deals advertised on the chains’ websites.

Travel without reservations. This doesn’t work for Paris at the height of the tourist season, but often times it will get you the best deal at hotels that start the day with plenty of empty rooms. If you just show up, you can also see the room before you commit. Several apps, including Hotel Tonight, cater to travelers looking for a room on the fly.

See what others are paying. Sites such as BetterBidding.com allow you to find out what other travelers have paid at HotWire and Priceline and can sometimes identify the “mystery” hotels that keep their name and location secret until you book.

Check with local tourist offices. In Europe particularly, tourist offices offer room-finding services for same-day rooms. Even in the United States, some cities, such as Newport, R.I., get a list every morning from local hotels of rooms they want to sell for that night. “Think of this as an old-fashion version of Expedia.com, only a real-life person finds the accommodations that is right for you … at the right price,” says Andrea McHugh, marketing and communications manager of Discover Newport.

Be careful with advanced payments. If you book with a service that requires payment in advance, read all the fine print. And make sure you know how much it will cost if you have to cancel.

Check daily deal sites. Groupon, LivingSocial and other deal-of-the-day services offer travel deals, but most of the time you must act quickly to snag one.

Go with a package. If you’re traveling to just one destination, look for a deal that includes hotel, airfare and car rental, which may be cheaper than buying these components individually.

Use travel rewards points. Many credit cards offer points equivalent to several nights’ hotel stays just for signing up, plus you can earn points when you use your new credit cards. “Last fall I went on a two-week vacation to Europe where my girlfriend and I visited Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. One hundred percent of our hotel stays were covered by hotel points, and we stayed at very nice locations, such as the InterContinental Avenue Marceau, Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan and DoubleTree Suites Amsterdam,” says Kevin Barry, who publishes the website Frugal Mouse, about traveling to Disney parks. “Using hotel points for free stays is the best deal in the travel industry, one that many people don’t know about or take advantage of.”

Budget Tips for Booking Hotels

Hotel Reception Staff, Venice, Italy

The majority of Americans traveling in Europe want to sleep in moderately priced hotels. Most of the accommodations I recommend in my guidebooks fall into this category. Keep these things in mind when searching for a good-value hotel that suits your budget:

Comparison-shop. It’s smart to email several hotels to ask for their best price. This is especially helpful when dealing with the larger hotels that use “dynamic pricing,” a computer-generated system that predicts demand for particular days and sets prices accordingly: High-demand days will often be more than double the price of low-demand days. Compare their offers and make your choice.

Book directly with the hotel. Skip the middleman, such as a hotel-booking website or the tourist information office’s room-finding service. Booking services extract a commission from the hotel, which logically closes the door on special deals. If you book directly with the hotel, it doesn’t have to pay a cut to that intermediary. This might make the hotelier more open to giving you a deal.

Try to wrangle a discount for a longer stay or payment in cash. If you plan to stay three or more nights at a place, or if you pay in cash rather than by credit card (saving the hotelier the credit-card company’s fee), it’s worth asking if a discount is available.

If it’s off-season, bargain. Prices usually rise with demand during festivals and in July and August. Off-season, try haggling. If the place is too expensive, tell them your limit; they might meet it. Or consider arriving without a reservation and dropping in at the last minute to try to score a deal.

Think small. Larger hotels are usually pricier than small hotels or B&Bs, partly because of taxes (for example, in Britain, once a B&B exceeds a certain revenue level, it’s required to pay an extra 20 percent tax to the government). Hoteliers who pay high taxes pass their costs on to you.

Know the exceptions. Hotels in northern Europe are pricier than those in the south, but you can find exceptions. In Scandinavia, Brussels, and Berlin, fancy “business hotels” are desperate for customers in the summer and year-round on weekends, when their business customers stay away. Some offer some amazing deals through the local tourist information offices. The later your arrival, the better the discount.

Don’t consume above your needs. Know the government ratings. A three-star hotel is not necessarily a bad value, but if I stay in a three-star hotel, I’ve spent $60 extra for things I don’t need. Amenities such as air-conditioning, elevators, private showers, room service, a 24-hour reception desk, and people in uniforms each add $10 apiece to your room cost. Before you know it, the simple $90 room is up to $150. Then, additional charges can pile on top of this already inflated room rate. For example, most moderately priced hotels offer Wi-Fi free to their guests, while the expensive places are more likely to charge for it.

Check the prices on the room list, and figure out how to get the best-value rooms. Room prices can vary tremendously within a hotel according to facilities provided. On their websites (and near their reception desks), most places post a room summary that lists each room, its bed configuration, facilities, and maximum price (for one and for two people), sometimes broken down by season (low, middle, high). Also read the breakfast, tax, and extra-bed policies. By studying this information, you’ll see that, in many places, a shower costs less than a bath, and a double bed is cheaper than twins. In other words, an inattentive couple who would have been just as happy with a shower and a double bed can end up paying more for an unneeded tub and twins. If you want a cheap room, say so. Many hoteliers have a few unrenovated rooms without a private bathroom; they usually don’t even mention these, figuring they’d be unacceptable to Americans.

Put more people in a room. Family rooms are common, and putting four in a quad is much cheaper than two doubles. Many doubles come with a small double bed and a sliver of a single, so a third person pays very little.

Avoid doing outside business through your hotel. Go to the flamenco show and get the ticket yourself. You’ll learn more, save money, and be more likely to sit with locals than with a bunch of tourists. So often, tourists are herded together — by a conspiracy of hotel managers and tour organizers — at gimmicky folk evenings featuring a medley of cheesy cultural clichés kept alive only for the tourists. You can’t relive your precious nights in Sevilla. Do them right — on your own.

Avoid hotels that require you to buy meals. Many national governments regulate hotel prices according to class or rating. In order to overcome this price ceiling (especially at resorts in peak season, when demand exceeds supply), hotels might require you to buy dinner — or your choice of lunch or dinner — in their dining room. It’s generally called “half-board,” “half-pension,” or demi-pension. While this might not be expensive, I prefer the freedom to explore and sample the atmosphere of restaurants in other neighborhoods. Breakfast is often included in the room rate, but in some countries it’s an expensive, semi-optional tack-on. If you want to opt out of a pricey hotel breakfast, ask if it’s possible when you book the room.