Farewell Google Express, We Never Really Knew Why You Existed, Anyway

Google Express was the shopping website/portal that never really knew what it wanted to be when it grew up. Not to be confused with the “Shopping” tab when you Google an item, this was a separate service. You could search for an item and it would show you which one, of several online stores you’d never heard of before, carried it and what price you’d pay.

It always felt as if this was the idea of a VP at Google who said: “We need to compete with Amazon.com for online shopping, but we sell no merchandise.” The reason the service existed seemed unclear. Why would you need to buy items to get shipped through Google’s shopping portal? Google already provides you information about where you can buy an item with their main service and that search isn’t limited to the stores who are signed up for the Google Express platform. So why bother?

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And now they’ll never get a chance to figure it out:

Continue reading “Farewell Google Express, We Never Really Knew Why You Existed, Anyway”

My Two Favorite Ways To Prevent Miles And Points From Expiring

Earning points and miles to reach your travel goals is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you earn them through signing up for credit cards, flying on airplanes, staying in hotels or even if you write out and send in 188 postcards. All of these actions take time and effort. The last thing you want to happen is to have your account go inactive and your balances zeroed out.

Depending on the program, you’ll lose all your points if you don’t have any qualifying activity within a certain time frame that can vary from three years to just THREE MONTHS!! Using a website, such as AwardWallet, helps keep things organized so you know when points will expire. There will be times when you won’t have a flight on a particular airline or a stay at a specific hotel chain planned before your points will disappear. All is not lost though, because there are many other ways to keep your accounts active. Here are two of my favorite ways to have some account activity and keep from losing my points. Continue reading “My Two Favorite Ways To Prevent Miles And Points From Expiring”

Is It Worth The Extra Money To Book A Room Directly From The Hotel Website?

The hotel chains have spent a lot of money on marketing to try to get you to book a hotel room directly with them by using their website or app and have gone with the “carrot and stick” approach to achieve that goal. On one hand, they’ve gone out of their way to market special low “Member Exclusive Rates” that are only available to members of their loyalty program and “Best Rate Guarantees” that tell you if you find a cheaper rate after booking with them, they’ll match it and lower the rate even further. At the same time, the hotel chains penalize you for booking anywhere except directly with them. Some of these “sticks” are they don’t give you any recognition of your loyalty status or let you earn any points in their program when staying on externally booked stays. They’ll also only give perks like free WiFi if you’ve booked directly with them.

When I say you need to book direct with the hotel, I mean you use the hotel’s website, the hotel chain’s website, the smartphone app for the hotel chain, or by calling the hotel to make a reservation.

When I mention using an “external” website, that is basically everything else. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, Hotels Tonight, Hotwire and Booking.com are just some of them. If you’re completing the booking anywhere but with the hotel, it’s an external website.

Hotel search engines like Trivago, Kayak and TripAdvisor show you prices directly from the hotel as well as from external sites, so it’s best to use something like that to see who has the cheapest price.

So, should you only book your hotel rooms directly with the hotel even if an external site is less expensive?  Continue reading “Is It Worth The Extra Money To Book A Room Directly From The Hotel Website?”

AAA Membership Provides More Than Roadside Assistance – They Save You Money On Travel!

AAA. It’s a name synonymous with travel. Most people associate them with the roadside assistance they provide when you have car trouble. But they also provide many other services, some travel-related and others that seem to have nothing to do with automobiles.

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For me, my first knowledge of AAA was their  TripTik®  maps. When we were going on a road trip, we’d tell AAA where we were going and they’d give us a road map with a route highlighted. For an obsessive planner, this was heaven. I remember looking at these things way before I could drive.

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Times change and as you know, getting a map to your destination is now as easy as looking at your car’s GPS or pulling up an app on your phone.

Even though we no longer need the maps, I still have my membership and have no intention of getting rid of it. I use my AAA card for several other purposes:

Continue reading “AAA Membership Provides More Than Roadside Assistance – They Save You Money On Travel!”

How To Earn An Easy 1500 Membership Rewards, How To Make Your Hilton Honors Account Harder to Hack, & More

Happy Sunday to all of our travel friends, both near and far! Here are some articles we’ve read from other bloggers (and other sources) that we think you may like, as well, so we’re passing them along.

Continue reading “How To Earn An Easy 1500 Membership Rewards, How To Make Your Hilton Honors Account Harder to Hack, & More”