The B.A.T. (Bay Area Traveler) has moved! See www.travelskills.com

March 25, 2009

Mixed Bag of Travel News and Tips

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:42 am

(the following are some recent top line items from our sister publication, THE TICKET)

BIG SALE ON HILTONS IN NYC. It’s amazing to see how fast and how far hotel rates in NYC have fallen. For a glimpse of this crash, check out the page and calendars Hilton has set up to hawk its NYC properties. During March and April you can score the Millennium Hilton near Wall Street for as little at $119. The Waldorf can be had for around $175. And at the NY Hilton at Rockefeller Center rates are $159. (Less than a year ago, rooms at any of these hotels were fetching $400+.)

LIQUIDS BAN EVAPORATING. According to several reports, the British government is preparing to relax its ban on liquids, which limits passengers to carrying 100 milliliter bottles, as it introduces improved X-ray machines at airports. Remember, the ban on liquids and gels came as a result of a British investigation that found a terror cell planning to use liquids to blow up a plane. Britain was the first to impose the ban, so now that it will likely be the first to get rid of it, other nations might follow.

DO YOU PDA? According to PhoCusWright Consulting, nearly one fifth (18.9%) of U.S. mobile consumers are now carrying smartphones, with 49.2% planning to purchase one in the next two years. (Your BAT editor really really wants to get an i-Phone but AT&T service is weak at his home office in Noe Valley.)

MARRIOTT POINTS FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS. Marriott Rewards has teamed up with Priority Pass, a membership program that offers access to more than 600 VIP lounges at airports worldwide. Redeem your Marriott points for discounts on annual program fees. Priority Pass is a great card for international travelers who may fly coach, but would like business class lounge access. Instead of a hefty one-time fee, you pay for a membership, and then a per-visit fee. Marriott Rewards members who want to pay for their membership to Priority Pass (normally $99 per year) can join at the special rate of 20,000 Rewards points (then $27 per visit).  Click here for more information .

TAX SEASON SECRET: To simplify record keeping for meal deductions, consider the IRS’s little-known “standard meal allowance.” Instead of keeping track of receipts for three daily meals, you can deduct a total $39 per day for meals and incidentals. (Which means if your total meal costs come out to be less than $39, you’ll come out ahead.) Here’s what the IRS says: “For travel in 2008, the rate for most small localities in the United States is $39 a day from January 1 through December 31, 2008. Most major cities and many other localities in the U. S. are designated as high-cost areas, qualifying for higher standard meal allowances.” These higher allowances can be found on the always helpful  GSA per diem Web site.

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