Hotel Room with Desk (Photo: Thinkstock/Comstock)

My recent round-the-world trip provided a chance to sample the current state of inexpensive hotel options. Yes, I was flying in extravagant business class (on frequent-flyer miles) but I reverted to my penny-pinching ways for hotels; overall, I'd say with success.

Bookings were through some combination of and Agoda. Hotels were chosen for moderate price—between $50 and $100 per night—plus location, availability of no-charge Wi-Fi and reference to travelers' reviews on the booking sites and TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel's sister site). Some overall observations and conclusions:

Budget and low-cost hotels in much of the world differ most from homegrown varieties in that the rooms are typically a lot smaller. Often, they're just barely big enough to accommodate one double bed. Some have no furniture other than the bed, a built-in counter, perhaps an end table by the bed, and an armoire or closet. Only one of the rooms where I stayed had a big, comfortable chair, and two had neither chair nor more»

Security: TSA Agent Behind Metal Detector (Photo: Thinkstock)

Ever feel like the TSA is just going through the motions at the airport? This story probably won't help with that image. The NY Post reports that a TSA agent at New York's JFK Airport failed to notice that his metal detector was unplugged, and sent hundreds of passengers through unscreened. After the mistake was finally detected, the terminal had to be evacuated and two planes were brought back from the gate so that hundreds of passengers could be rescreened. more»

Man pushing luggage towards security (Photo: Index Open)

Beginning on July 10, upgrades on Alaska Airlines flights—whether they're paid for with miles or purchased with cash at the gate—will come with one fewer associated perk.

Currently, whether you paid for a first-class ticket or were upgraded from coach, if you're flying up front, the fees for the first and second checked bags are waived. That's not just Alaska's policy—it's standard industry-wide. more»

Credit card on keyboard (Photo: Index Open)

Ed Perkins on two new cards that drop the 2 percent fee and offer generous points or cash-back more»

Eye: Man's Eye and Matrix (Photo: Shutterstock/Smit)

Are you a Mac or a PC? Orbitz already knows—and it may treat you differently based on your answer.

The Wall Street Journal reports that booking site Orbitz has begun to display altered travel options depending on the kinds of computers customers are using. According to the report, "Mac computers spend as much as 30 percent more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see." more»

Venezuela: Isla Margarita, Beach (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

With sand as white as a margarita's salt! more»

Cabo San Lucas Beach, Baja, Mexico (Photo: Mexico Tourism Board)

Enter Virgin America's One & Only Palmilla sweepstakes by July 13 for a chance to win a four-night trip for two to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, including air, hotel, and a choice of travel packages (spa, food and wine, girlfriend getaway, etc.).

To participate, "like" Virgin America's Facebook page and fill in the online entry form. Additional entries are awarded for referring friends to the sweepstakes.

Time required to enter: less than 30 more»

Wildlife: Mosquito, Illustration (Photo: Shutterstock/justone)

Are super mosquitoes the new zombies? We reveal the answers to your most burning questions in this week's round-up of new and interesting travel more»

Globe Passport Plane Ticket (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Following is our regular summary of the best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car-rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Hilton's Next Promotion: Double, Triple Points

Between July 1 and September 30, Hilton HHonors members can earn double points for weekday stays and triple points for weekend stays at participating more»

Shopping: Shopping Cart on Laptop (Photo: Shutterstock/Ewa Studio)

A new booking site from Sears lets travelers purchase vacations on layaway. But the program could be a good deal for Sears—and a bad deal for customers seeking low-priced getaways.

Sears introduced its new travel booking site,, this week. The site sells cruises, airfare, hotel stays, packages, and car rentals. According to a press release from the company, select prepaid packages from Sears Vacations are eligible for layaway financing—you can buy now and pay over more»