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The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C. (Photo: E.David of NCBF Luria)

Thank you again to everyone who participated in last week's Q&A. It was a huge success, and you definitely put my sleuthing skills to the test. With so many thought-provoking questions, there simply wasn't time to answer all of them, so I'm giving one of the more in-depth questions my full attention and answering it here.

Reader caligold writes, "We are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., in August and have airfare already booked. I would like to find a better deal on hotels but do want a hotel in downtown D.C. (not suburbs), with an indoor pool and breakfast. We need 2 rooms for 5 nights and should qualify for a discount with AARP. Is there a nice hotel with these requirements for less than $170 per day? Also, can you give suggestions for transportation to and from Dulles Airport to downtown D.C. and to D.C. attractions? I have been told that a taxi is cheaper (for 4 adults) than a SuperShuttle van. Is this true? Will most taxis accommodate 4 adults with luggage (1 or 2 bags each)? Is taking a trolley tour (off and on at stops) better than taking the Metro? Thank you."

This situation has (or will) happened to all of us when planning a trip. The airfare is booked, but now you have to figure out where to stay, how to get around, and what to do. For starters, take a deep breath. Booking and planning while unconscious can be extremely tricky and time consuming....read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

There are certain things I rarely question in this world: My parents love me just the way I am, everything is better with food, a pet can give life meaning, and the early bird definitely gets the worm. You may wonder how I can be so certain about that last one, and it's because as a child, I spent many a pre-dawn morning catching night crawlers with my brother. This somewhat gross act taught me that as soon as the sun peaked over the horrizon, the slithering worms would disappear back into the soil and leave the flocks of late birds out of luck.

Though this is a very literal example of the old adage, travel can be a lot like hunting for night crawlers—minus the early rising, rain boots, and digging around in soil. Once you see a deal you like, you have to pounce on it before it disappears. And right now, CheapCaribbean is offering the kind of deal that you just might miss if you blink....read more»

London: Tower Bridge (Photo: iStockphoto/jan kranendonk)

If you’ve been dreaming about a hop, skip, and a jump across the Pond—and why wouldn’t you be with Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, and Covent Gardens calling my, I mean, your name?—but the current exchange rate ($1 U.S. equals about £1.51 GBP; check XE.com for current exchange rates) is too high for your budget tastes, Orbitz’ new 48-hour London hotel sale might be just the ticket. Book by Wednesday, June 30, 2010, to take advantage of up to 40 percent off or get free nights at participating hotels throughout London....read more»

Hyatt Regency Cambridge (Photo: Hyatt)

As temperatures continue to rise—at least here in Boston (curse this humidity!)—you may have set your sights to cooler, tropical, or air-conditioned destinations. And to help keep you cool, I've uncovered this nifty little promotion from Hyatt: 25 percent off their daily room rates in places like the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S....read more»

<h2>Ladera, St. Lucia</h2>

Clinging to a mountain slope in the rainforest between <a href="http://www.stlucia.org/" target="_blank">St. Lucia</a>'s two Piton peaks, the eco-lodge style resort <a href="http://www.ladera.com/" target="_blank">Ladera</a> removes the division that normally exists between hotel guests and the outside environment. Ladera's six villas and 21 suites are completely open on their westward-facing sides (but designed for safety and protection against the elements), allowing nature lovers to see and hear the sounds of the rainforest below. Winter rates at this luxurious Caribbean retreat start at $495 per night, which includes daily breakfast and afternoon tea and shuttle service to the beach.
 
(Photo: Ladera)

Bid on a "mystery auction" with LuxuryLink.com or FamilyGetaway.com and you just might get it for as little as a buck!...read more»

Man on laptop and phone (Photo: Index Open)

Our gallivanting gumshoe will be here all day to answer your travel quandaries live. No question is too big or too small. So, ask away!...read more»

(Photo: Southwest)

You may have already seen that Southwest is celebrating its 39th birthday in style by offering low prices on airfare, but Southwest Vacations is also putting on its party hat with reduced airfares, free nights, and free car rentals on select four-nights (or more) packages. Prices start at as little as $57 per person per night (without taxes and fees) in destinations such as Las Vegas, and include airfare and hotel. And, we all know that there are plenty of ways to party in Sin City....read more»

<h2>All-inclusive Resort</h2><p>When it comes to taking a vacation from everyday life, including daily tasks such as cooking dinner, an all-inclusive resort makes it easy to just kick back and enjoy. And <a href="http://www.atlantis.com/" target="_blank">Atlantis</a> is the mother of all resorts, where you can relax by the pool or on the beach while the staff takes care of everything else. There's rarely a dull moment at Atlantis, as the resort offers a range of activities for all ages. <a href="http://www.atlantis.com/accommodations/specials.aspx" target="_blank">Package deals</a> may be the way to go, as they typically take the legwork out of planning, and are usually cheaper.</p><p>(Photo: John Madere)</p>

The well-known resort on Paradise Island has the offer of a lifetime, but you must book by July 4, 2010....read more»

Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios Orlando)

Wizards and muggles listen closely: With the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Island of Adventure theme park finally upon us (June 18, 2010), Southwest Vacations is celebrating by offering Seven-Night Universal Orlando packages starting at $114 per person, per night (without taxes and fees) for two people traveling together. You must book by August 26, 2010, for travel between August 23 and September 30....read more»

Rome Colosseum at Dusk (Photo: iStockPhoto/David Iliff)

Superman has Lex Luther, Batman has the Joker, and I have the most devious foe in the travel world, especially when it comes to crossing the Pond: Summer's high prices. I'm always looking for new ways to combat the villainous warm-weather-induced price hikes, and though I always have a few tricks up my sleeve, I can't do it alone.

That's why I find it oh-so-very-helpful when a travel provider offers deals that do some of the work for me. For instance, Go-Today.com is currently offering $100 per person off trips that depart in July and August. Granted, the discount only applies when you spend $1,300 or more, but most vacation packages abroad during the summer cost close to or at least that much....read more»

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