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All People > vaboywnder > Scott's Blog > 2014 > May

In my spare time I like to read about travel and share information. Most travelers are familiar with the major booking travel websites like Hotwire, Priceline, Travelocity, Kayak, and Orbitz. Today I thought it would be cool to take a look at some of the lesser known travel websites that have some great deals/services.




1.) Daily Getaways-  I decided to mention this one first because these are limited time offers which are currently in progress.  American Express & The U.S. Travel Association has teamed up again to offer limited time offers known as "Daily Getaways".  There is a calendar of deals on the website for hotels offers, gift cards, theme park tickets, and car rental deals.  Also if you pay with your American Express Card you get an extra 10% off.  One of the most noteworthy deals are the Marriott Gift Cards which go on sale June 9th at 1pm EST.  You can get a $1,000 Marriott Gift Card for $810 if you pay with American Express.



2.) Oyster.Com  This is one job I would love to have.  This company sends out employees to popular hotels and vacation properties all around the world to photograph hotel rooms and rate the properties. The photographs and reviews are extremely high quality and detailed.  If I'm not sure about a certain property that I'm considering visiting then I head over to Oyster.Com to check out their photographs and review of the property.



3.) RocketMiles.Com  This website has been around a little over a year now although I just learned about it recently.  Its a great way to earn airline miles at some hotels that are non Marriott. The website has partnered with some major hotel chains like Hilton and many independent hotels.  If you make a reservation on their website you can earn airline miles with one of their many partners.



All of the reservations made on their website can be canceled and sometimes you can earn extra miles for staying at certain properties.  For example I found a deal for the Four Seasons in Las Vegas where you can earn 10,000 United Miles for a two night stay.


It's definitely a great way to earn rewards for a property whose  rewards program you don't participate in or a property that does not have a rewards program.




4.) Autoslash.Com  This website was mentioned in a travel story on ABC news not too long ago and I haven't had the opportunity to fully put it to the test.  This website is designed to help you find the best car rental deal and then track your reservation for price drops.  I tried the search feature once and noticed it did not seem to factor in deals for AAA but it does a great job at finding the other coupon offers for the different car rental agencies.  In my opinion the best feature of the website is that it allows you to track a car rental you made elsewhere for price drops.




5.) AirCare Insurance- "AirCare" is a new insurance service being offered by Berkshire Hathaway and was recently featured in an article from USA Today.


The service offers an flight insurance policy for $25 which will automatically pay you anywhere from $50 to $1,000 for various flight mishaps.  See Below.


The service offers a smart phone application and allows you to purchase coverage up to one hour prior to your scheduled departure time.  The smart phone application also can help you rebook flights that have gotten canceled.

Anyone who knows me well knows that that I spend a lot of time traveling to Northern VA or as we call it NoVa whenever I have a free weekend and just want to have a quick get away.  Over the last several years it has literally become like a second home. This past weekend eclektech and I took in quite a few things and had a great time.


Our first stop which has become mandatory for every NoVa trip now is in Gainesville at the Wegman's store for cookies.  Some of you Insiders have heard me speak of the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Wegman's Bakery and if you have never tried them you really should!





After picking up our Cookie Stash we headed for the Courtyard by Marriott Dunn Loring.  This is one of the best Courtyard properties out there.  The weekend rates are always very good and while they don't offer a free breakfast they do offer free parking in a secure garage and the location is excellent.  Across the street is the Dunn Loring Metro Station in addition to the Mosiac District being a few blocks away.  Tyson's Corner is also a short 5 min drive from here.  This Courtyard also knows how to treat its Platinum guests.  About 90% of the time when I make a weekend stay I am able to get upgraded to a nice one bedroom suite and this weekend was no exception.





On our first night (Fri) we decided to try a new local favorite restaurant called Black Finn which recently opened in Halstead Square which is a block away from the Courtyard Dunn Loring.  Great restaurant with a huge menu.  I had the steak salad and it was very good!






Saturday morning we decided to drive out to National Harbor, Md which is about 20 minutes from our hotel and right across the Potomac River from Alexandria.  National Harbor has become a new hot spot in the area with new hotels, shops, restaurants along the water front.  Tanger Outlets also just opened up next to the Harbor and there are plans to add a MGM casino in the near future.  Our first stop at the Harbor was the Outlet stores and then we walked around the Harbor afterwards enjoying the nice weather.










After walking around the Harbor area we headed over to the Mosiac District in Merrifield which is a few blocks away from our hotel.  There was an outdoor street festival with food from many different vendors and lots of stuff for the kids including train and pony rides.  After getting a bite to eat we headed for the Angelika Film Centre to catch a movie (Spiderman 2).  That's right the same theater company from NYC has a theater in the Mosiac District of Merrifield now.  This theater shows mostly independent and a few main stream films.  It's an upscale theater which has a small cafe and also a lounge.



After the movie it was time to get some dinner.  We headed for one of our favorite spots in the area...Wildfire at the Tyson's Galleria.  Always excellent service and food including the complimentary corn bread they bring to every table.  Since I had steak the night before I went for the Lemon Pepper Chicken and a baked potato.




It definitely was a great weekend.  Northern VA and DC has so many things to see and do.  We are very fortunate to live a short 2 hour drive from this great area.