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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Hotel Planning Tips - Try Orbitz with a Coupon.

I've been spending a lot of time looking at accommodation, apartment rentals, hotels and resorts for our  trip. In Rome we opted for a flat (which I've told you about) and in Bangladesh and Burma I have local travel agents Myanmar Shalom and Bangladesh Eco-Tours taking care of places that can't be easily booked online.
After picking the hotels (through a combination of magazines, guidebooks, Fodors Travel Forum advice, and reviews on I'll check the rates using and, or if I'm  looking for a rate  with breakfast. If I have a particular destination in mind I'll also check, and other private sale sites like -just to see if there are any deals I can't pass up! However, recently I keep finding myself coming back to and the related site Their  prepaid hotel rates are very competitive and are often combinable with 15-20% off coupons which may be clearly advertised or can be found on this essential Flyer Talk thread, which I reference every time I book on a large hotel site. 
Combining early booking, prepayment and an online coupon, can make for big savings particularly on hotels like the Chatrium Riverside  in Bangkok where we're staying in an apartment for eleven nights, see photos above. When I emailed the hotel directly they wouldn't match the rate I booked at Orbitz.  However, while prepayment makes for a cheaper rate it is also locks you into the stay, but so far this has worked well for us. Famous last words right?

In addition, Orbitz has recently introduced a system that provides cash back towards future purchases called Orbitz Rewards.  They currently offer 3% back when booking on the web, increasing to 5% if you use their mobile app to book your hotel. Other sites offer higher cash back rates but I find this rewards program seamless and easy to use.  It's particularly good when you can combine the lowest possible online rate with a coupon - which recently worked for me in London where we're staying at Flemings, see room photos from their website directly above and below. 
After a 20% off coupon on we're paying less than $173 per night, including tax and fees which is a great price for a boutique hotel in Mayfair even at this time of year. Yes, it's their basic room (which is very small) but they often offer paid upgrades at the front desk and I love both the location and the decor. At this price I'll take a small room and be happy to have it! The coupons on cheap tickets sometimes go as high as 25% off while Orbitz generally goes no higher than 20% though they have the added advantage of the cash back rewards a and perks like free Continental breakfast at places like Flemings for clients who have booked four plus nights with them.

If you decide to try Orbitz and enroll in the rewards program click here for a $25 credit off your first hotel booking. I'm all about stacking theses discounts for the best deal, but full disclosure they'll give me the  same $25 if you book. 

You have to be flexible about where you stay to effectively exploit these rates,  last time I was in London Flemings was far more expensive, so I opted for the Apex Temple Court which I blogged about here. In New York I've found the same thing and we bounce around five mid-range properties depending which is currently on sale. 

Right now, for the places we're going, Orbitz is a great resource but overall you need  flexibility, persistence, planning and information  to secure value and comfort for every trip. 

Have fun wherever you are and happy travels....