Just because you're a budget traveler doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort and style. A new breed of extended stay hotels is putting a sophisticated spin on long-term lodging. Among them is AKA, a chain with eight hotels in cities such as Philadelphia and Arlington, Virginia, and plans to open locations in Los Angeles and London this fall. Each hotel has sleek, modern suites with a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Other amenities include a business center, free Wi-Fi access, and a Zipcar account. Not too bad for $195 and up per night.
Accumulated all your frequent-flier miles on Delta but the flight you want is on American? No worries. The Global Points Exchange on Points.com lets members of participating programs trade miles. After signing up for a free account, users can browse an online trading board for listings or post their own. Users set the terms and pay the exchange about a penny for each mile swapped.
Travel search engine Kayak aims to make hunting for hotel bargains easier. Members can sign up for a weekly e-mail advertising limited-availability offers negotiated with the site's most-searched-for hotels. One recent sale featured deluxe rooms at the swank Snake River Lodge & Spa in Teton Village, Wyoming, for $165 per night, reduced from $275.
Finding the best deal on a car rental has never been easier than with CarRentals.com's recently released iPhone app. Customers can reserve cars with large companies such as Hertz and Enterprise, along with smaller regional players. The app can search for cars at 15,000 locations worldwide by entering an airport code, zip code, city, or by using your phone's current location. Once you find a car, you can make a reservation, which you can also cancel on your phone.
Until recently, online video chat services have been relatively bare-bones, better suited for a call to Grandma than a client. The beta version of Skype 5.0, currently available only for PCs, allows video chats with up to five people, so you can hold videoconferences while traveling. You can share your screen during calls and record videos using an add-on. The price for all that functionality? Free.