TREKKING by linxiaoqin


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      4E                                                                                                    TRAVEL                               ●          THE BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE              Sunday, April 30, 2006

                                                                                 Good luck using air, hotel points in same trip
                                                                                  By CAROLINE WILBERT                                                                                         ◆ Consider calling your air-
                                                                                      COX NEWS SERVICE                                                                                     line. While consumers are
                                                                                                                                                                                           often reluctant to book with a
                                                                                     ATLANTA — Both the                                                                                    reservations agent because of
                                                                                 airline and hotel industries                                                                              the surcharge, the agents have
                                                                                 are teeming with rewards                                                                                  access to more routes than we
                                                                                 programs for loyal cus-                                                                                   do at home. They can book you
                                                                                 tomers. The trick is figuring                                                                             on flights offered by partner
                                                                                 out how to redeem all the                                                                                 airlines.
                                                                                 chits for a vacation you                                                                                     ◆ With many airlines,
                                                                                 actually want to take.                                                                                    including Delta, in financial
                                                                                     “The best advice is to be                                                                             trouble and trying to squeeze
                                                                                 very flexible,” travel expert                                                                             every last dollar out of flights,
                                                                                 Bob Cowen said.                                                                                           booking with frequent-flier
                                                                                     Based on my own expe-                                                                                 miles isn’t likely to get easier. As
                                                                                 rience, I’d have to agree.                                                                                for hotels, you could sign up for
                                                                                     Having already accumu-                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                           a loyalty program at a chain
                                                                                 lated a pile of Delta Air           Finding a hotel deal to match your airline deal can be tricky.        with hotels in appealing desti-
                                                                                 Lines frequent-flier miles,                                                                               nations, but it’s hard to know
                                                                                 my husband and I regis-                                                                                   where you will want to visit
                                                                                 tered a couple of years ago            Here are a few other ideas    Europe, consider booking a           several years from now. There-
                                                                                 for Hilton Hotels’ rewards          from Cowen, a hard-core busi-    direct flight to a major destina-    fore, Cowen says, don’t get a
                                                                                 program, figuring we’d              ness traveler who posts travel   tion such as London through          credit card that allows you to
                                                                                 soon be jetting off to a            tips online:                     your frequent-flier program,         earn miles or points. Instead,
                                                                                 sandy beach for free.                  ◆ Keep an eye out for new     then book on one of Europe’s         get a credit card that gives you
                                                                                     We dutifully booked our         routes. There often are fre-     discount airlines to get to your     cash back, then pay for your
                                                                                 travel at Hiltons and also          quent-flier seats available on   final destination, such as           vacation outright.
                                                                                 signed up for a Hilton              new routes.                      Milan, Italy, or Vienna, Austria.
                                                                                 HHonors              American          ◆ If you are traveling to     Go to 
                                                                                 Express, which allowed us
                                                                                 to earn points when we
                                                                                 bought groceries or made
                                                                                 other charges. We accumu-
                                                                                 lated      156,000      points,
                                                                                 enough to stay several
                                                                                 nights at some of the
                                                                                 chain’s top hotels.
                                                                                     So now we needed to
                                                                                 decide where to go.
                                                                                     It wasn’t as easy as we
                                                                                     What about the Cayman
                                                 Photo provided by Donna McGee   Islands, where we’d honey-
           Richard and Donna McGee of Sour Lake at a Mayan ruin                  mooned? That would be a
                                                                                 romantic spot to spend our
           in Belize.
                                                                                 fifth anniversary.
                                                                                     Well, except there are no
                                                                                 Hiltons there.

               TREKKING  WITH THE
                                                                                     What about Bermuda?
                                                                                     No Hiltons there, either.
                                                                                     Any good beach locales?

                                                                                     Ah, with a quick search
                                                                                 of Hilton’s Web site, we
                                                                                 found lovely accommoda-
                                                                                 tions in Barbados.
                                                                                     Bad news. No availabili-
               If ancient ruins are your thing, the Central American coun-
           try of Belize is a great destination. But one couple from Sour        ty on Delta for SkyMiles
           Lake found lots more to do — in addition to touring some fab-         customers.
           ulous Mayan sites.                                                        We probably spent a
               Who: Richard and Donna McGee of Sour Lake                         total of five hours through
               Where: Lag, or Structure N10-43, the largest temple in the        several evenings working
           Mayan ruins at Lamanai, which is in the Orange Walk District          on the project on our lap-
           of Belize in Central America.                                         top. We’d search the Hilton
               Out and about: “We spent a week in Belize and enjoyed             Web site for destinations,
           every minute. We went to see the island of Caye Caulker, went         then investigate the feasi-
           cave tubing and ziplining at Jaguar’s Paw, tarpon fishing on the      bility. We looked into a half-
           Sibun River, and shopped at numerous places.”                         dozen possibilities, but
               Travel Tip: “When going to Belize be sure to have sun-            nothing was working out,
           screen and bug spray on hand at all times. Start reading              either because we couldn’t
           books about Belize several months before you go to get ideas          get a Hilton HHonors room
           about activities and sites to see. It is very easy to overindulge     during the dates we wanted
           in the fun and schedule too much, so remember: You’re on              to travel or because we
                                                                                 couldn’t get frequent-flier
           Here’s how to do it:                                                      After exhausting our
              Are you looking for a way to get your picture in the newspa-       beach options, we checked
           per? Here’s one way: Take a Beaumont Enterprise with you on           out Sedona, Ariz., which
           your next trip and get someone to take a photo of you (no big         several friends had recom-
           groups, please) with the section, preferably with some identifi-      mended. Though the
           able landmark in the background. Use your imagination. The            Hilton wasn’t available on
           more creative the photo, the better chance it will be used.           our ideal weekends, we
                                                                                 had, by this point, given up
              Here’s how to do it:                                               on those dates working out.
              1) On a sheet of paper, write your name, physical address,
           e-mail and daytime phone number for contact information.              We booked a Sunday-
                                                                                 through-Wednesday trip.
             2) Then, use this format:                                               If I were to do it again, I’d
             Who: (identify the people in the photo, from left to right);        more thoroughly research
             Where: (where the photo was taken);                                 the best hotel group to sign
             Out and about: (100 words or less about the destination             up with in advance. Star-
           and/or your experience); Travel tip: (for travelers who might         wood Hotels, I now realize,
           want to go there, too).                                               has more hotels in resorts
                                                                                 we’d like to visit. When it
              3) Send the photo to: Trekking with The Enterprise, The
           Beaumont Enterprise, 380 Main St., Beaumont TX 77704.                 came time to book, I would
              Or send it by e-mail to            start out looking at Sunday-
           with “Trekking” in the subject line. Your electronic image must       through-Wednesday avail-
           be in JPG format and scanned at 150 dpi or higher. Your pho-          ability.
           tos will not be returned.                                                 The long weekend was
                                                                                 too difficult to pull off.

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