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Do you like winning free things in exchange for doing close to nothing? Well then you're in luck! SmarterTravel is hosting a Summer Giveaway Sweepstakes on Instagram throughout the month of July.

We will be giving away premium amenity kits from various airlines across the country and other awesome prizes to a few lucky winners each week! All you have to do to enter the giveaway is follow us on our Instagram account @smartertravel here.

Already following us? No problem! You can also enter the Sweepstakes by reposting any of our promotional contest photos uploaded to our Instagram account. Simply repost to your own account, tag us in the image, and hashtag #smartertravel. You may repost these images as many times as you would like, however it will only earn you one entry per week.

Following us AND reposting any of our promotional contest photos will earn you two entries. For all of the rules and regulations, click here.

The Sweepstakes will begin on July 1st at 11:00 AM and end on July 31st at 2:00 PM EST.

Good luck and happy following! ... read more»

During a recent visit to London, I met with the top investigator of travel problems for Which? Travel, the British Consumer Association's travel magazine. He noted seven problem areas that the magazine had recently looked into and reported. Although some are uniquely British, others occur almost everywhere. Here are seven travel worries to watch out for.

General "Holiday" (Vacation) Hassles

Issue: Travelers need to know their basic rights in the event of delay, overbooking, airline strikes, or cancellation because of unrest or natural disaster, financial failure of a tour operator, and other misfortunes, as well as how best to complain when something goes wrong with a flight, hotel, or car rental.

U.S. Application: U.S. travelers face the same problems. Currently, traveler protections and compensation requirements are stiffer in Europe than in the U.S., but airlines are lobbying the European Commission to ease some of them. ... read more»

Woman looking from a bridge in Italy (Photo: IndexOpen)

Enter the Eagle Creek "Great Adventure Giveaway" sweepstakes by August 15, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: one of three escorted eight-day Europe tours (Italy, Iceland, or Croatia), including air, accommodations, daily breakfast, and a set of Eagle Creek luggage.

To enter, provide the requested contact information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds.

... read more»

Oftentimes, it's the simple, easy things that we often forget. These no-brainers should be kept in mind while traveling, so don't laugh at us by how obvious these five travel tips may seem—you, too, may even be guilty of letting one or two of them slip your mind!

Don't Be Afraid to Ask

Oftentimes travelers feel awkward or embarrassed to ask hotel staff for help, but that's just silly—that's what they are there for, and they do it all day long. Trust us, a concierge or doorman won't be weirded out by your request for dinner recommendations. And best of all, they're often the most in-the-know people in their cities! ... read more»

The rising Riviera sun touches the tip of Vernazza's bell tower and greets a peaceful world. When the bells chime six, I know it's time to get up. Last night's wind is gone. There's a refreshing damp coolness in the air and a rare Italian silence. With my head down and lost in thought, I wander downhill, passing under the tracks. Then, out of nowhere, a train rips like a table saw through town. In the wake of the train, distant roosters angrily crow "kee-kee-ree-kee" (as they say in Italian) at the modern world.

The harbor square in this Mediterranean village is quiet—littered with callused little boats, still beached for the winter. After the town wakes up, the townspeople will hang out here—where painting and puttering is a spectator sport. Next week, umbrellaed restaurant tables will bully the boats into the water, marking the opening day of the tourist season.

... read more»

Acropolis at Sunset in Athens, Greece (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

At this writing, it isn't clear whether Greece will default or not. Either way, however, traveling there poses some unusual problems:

  • Unless the crisis is averted, or maybe even if it's just kicked down the road a few weeks, banks are shutting down some ATMs and limiting the daily withdrawal for locals. For now, banks apparently allow visitors with foreign credit and debit cards to withdraw the usual limits, but some banks are running out of paper currency.
  • Apparently merchants are not accepting credit cards, fearing that bank problems will prevent them from clearing charges.
  • ... read more»
Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and 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.

The Airlines Are Rolling in Profits, and Fee Dough

How are U.S. airlines doing? As a group, the 26 U.S. airlines racked up their eighth consecutive quarterly net profit, on revenue of $39.1 billion. Pesky fees played a big part. ... read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

How many ways can we slice and dice the world's airlines?

With surveys and polls, carriers can be evaluated and ranked every which way. The biggest. The best. The most profitable. Airlines with the best inflight food; the best inflight entertainment system; the most lucrative loyalty program; the best on-time arrival record; the youngest fleet; the fastest inflight WiFi; the most legroom in coach; the most consecutive profitable quarters; the most employees; the most expansive route networks. And so on.

"And so on" now includes a new category, Best Aircraft Cabin Cleanliness. ... read more»

What is it: A sleek and stylish iPhone case that has a detachable battery sleeve.

Price and Where to Buy: Available on Amazon or at Bloomingdale's.

Pros:

  • Battery can be removed when you don't need it, without losing the protective phone case
  • Battery sleeve adds over 100 percent recharge for the iPhone 6
  • LED light bar shows how much battery is left at a glance
  • Case and phone can be charged simultaneously
  • Hardshell case protects your phone from damage
  • Comes in fun colors

Cons:

On the expensive side, at just under $100 for the iPhone 6 case

... read more»

Even if you've never been to a destination, you've already got the vital information you need to find the perfect hotel.

When we talked to the hotel experts at our sister-site Oyster.com—these are people who spend a lot of time inspecting and photographing hotels around the world—they reminded us of something important but easy to lose sight of in the quest to find the perfect hotel. It's this simple truth: "Often when evaluating which hotel to book, neither is going to be clearly better than the other."

But … there might be a hotel that's better for you. To figure this out, you need to understand your preferences before you sit down to book. Oyster says, "It will come down to what is a priority for you—do you care about having a bigger pool or bigger rooms?" Or, is being centrally located everything to you, room size be damned? ... read more»