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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, March 2015 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2015 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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Cheap Flights! Save Up To 70% + $15 Off.

In This Issue:
Costumed Revelers at New France Festival, Quebec City, Canada

photo costumed20revelers_zps7jugy5nt.jpg

  • Trails in Sedona and Colorado
  • Buy Three Nights Get One Free
  • New Vienna Pass
  • Win a Trip to the Arctic w/Aurora Expeditions
  • Winter Sale at 8 NYC Hilton Worldwide Hotels
  • Oceania Cruises Promotion
  • Hovelstay.com Budget Accommodations
  • Couples Resorts Military Discount
  • Tanzania 50% Companion Discount
  • Costa Cruises Discounts
  • CMV River Cruises 8-Day Cruise from $1499
  • Free Wi-Fi for Tourists in Japan
  • Sail Between Nova Scotia and Portland ME
  • Forever Resorts 2015 Houseboat Value Packages
  • Holland America "Seas the Day" Promotion
  • WDW Spring Offer for Residents/Passholds
  • Amtrak Promotion Codes and Discounts
  • Southwest Airlines Free Flights for Critical Care
  • New France Festival in Quebec City
  • Robin Pope Safaris Discounts

  • Trails in Sedona and Colorado

    There are many reasons to hike in 2015.

    The way to jump-start a healthy routine, there are off-the-beaten-path trails that are breathtaking and easy for someone starting out, or experienced pros. Some trails also offer biking, running, horseback riding and climbing.

    In Sedona, a local favorite is the, “Crack,” found at the end of Bell Trail. Branch off the main trail to a swim hole with several places to jump off small cliffs into pools of water. Here are other Sedona Trails:

    V-Bar-V (West Clear Creek) Difficulty: Novice - The one-mile roundtrip provides amazing views and petroglyphs from the Sinaqua culture and the V-Bar-V Heritage Site.

    Deadman’s Pass Trail Difficulty: Novice - Easy walking on open trails next to the wilderness canyon, between Long Canyon Trail and the Boynton Canyon Trail. The trail also features single-track riding over some of the rocks along the path.

    Jim Thompson Trail Difficulty: Medium - The six-mile roundtrip trail passes through a cattle gate, becoming more narrow as it descends into Mormon Canyon. At the bottom, the trail turns into Brin’s Mesa Trail, with sections requiring moderate climbing.

    Loy Canyon Difficulty: Hard - With an elevation change of 1,700 feet, the 10-miles roundtrip trail is for adrenaline junkies. You climb to a high saddle that overlooks the Secret Mountain mesa, with views of the landscape from the top.

    Visit Sedona or 928/204-1123.

    Colorado Springs, CO. has more than 14,000 acres of trails, parks and open spaces with backdrops of Pikes Peak and the red rocks of Garden of the Gods. From options for beginners, to a true outdoor challenge, here are a few trails in the region.

    Garden of the Gods Park Difficulty: Easy - Paved and gravel trails wind through red rock formations and with views of Pikes Peak.

    Red Rock Canyon Open Space Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Trails wind along the canyons and ridges of red rock and provide views of Garden of the Gods. Trails connect to others in the area.

    Bear Creek Dog Park Difficulty: Easy - Near the foothills, this 25-acre off-leash park provides dogs and owners hiking options and amenities.

    Fountain Creek Park Difficulty: Easy - Wildlife, marshes, streams and ponds run along gentle and shaded trails.

    Barr Trail Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult - The 12-mile (one-way) hike gains 7,800 feet from Manitou Springs to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Hike down or take the Broadmoor's Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

    Colorado Springs.

    Buy Three Nights Get One Free

    Soak up the Bahamian sun while staying on budget at Nassau’s Breezes Resort & Spa. With the resort’s Every Fourth Night Free offer, book by Mar. 31, 201, for travel through Dec. 18, 2015, and earn one free night for every three nights booked. That’s a saving up to $322 on a four-night stay and $645 on an eight-night stay.

    On Cable Beach, Breezes Bahamas features land and water activities ranging from rock wall climbing, tennis and beach volleyball to kayaking and windsurfing, which include free instruction and equipment. There are three freshwater pools, private beachside cabanas, massages and treatments at the à la carte Blue Mahoe Spa. In addition to an open bar day and night, there are six dining options with international cuisines. At night, adults can enjoy live entertainment, party at the disco, visit the piano bar or gamble at one of Nassau’s nearby casinos.

    Breezes Bahamas welcomes groups, singles, couples and families with children age 14 and older. All you can eat, drink and do is included in one upfront price with no tipping allowed.

    With the promotion, a four-night stay at Breezes Bahamas starts at $645 per person based on double occupancy. A weekend surcharge of $12 per person, per night applies to Thursday, Friday and Saturday night stays.

    Breezes Resorts or 877/273-3937.

    Discount On All Hotel Bookings! Save Up To 75% Off

    New Vienna Pass

    You can now experience Vienna’s sightseeing attractions with one single purchase, the Vienna PASS.

    Available at online, the Vienna PASS gives you entry to more than 60 sites.

    The Vienna PASS offers unlimited access on the city’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses, fast track entry at attractions, a free guidebook with insider tips, a smartphone app and discounts at selected retail and dining outlets. It is available in two-, three- and six-day formats. In addition, the Vienna PASS can be ordered with a travel card for Vienna’s public transport network for unlimited transportation on the city’s underground, tram, bus and urban railway services (S-Bahn).

      Attractions include:
    • Schönbrunn Palace - the former summer residence of the Austrian Imperial family, a Baroque palace complex dating from 1696.
    • Schönbrunn Zoo - founded as an Imperial menagerie in 1752, this is the world’s oldest existing zoo.
    • Riesenrad – the giant Ferris Wheel
    • St Stephen’s Cathedral - 12th century cathedral is the symbol of Vienna and one of Austria’s most important Gothic structures.
    • Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) - houses Raphael’s ‘Madonna in the Meadow’, Vermeer’s ‘The Allegory of Painting’ and the world’s largest Bruegel collection.
    • The Spanish Riding School - the riding school for Lipizzan horses will celebrate its 450th anniversary this year.

    The two-day Vienna PASS is €69 per adult, €34,50 per child, ages six to 19

    Three-day Vienna PASS is €84 per adult, €42 per child.

    Six-day Vienna PASS is €99 per adult, €49,50 per child.

    Children under the age of six gain free admission to all attractions if accompanied by an adult with a Vienna PASS.

    Vienna PASS.

    Win a Trip to the Arctic w/Aurora Expeditions

    Aurora Expeditions launched a Facebook photography competition to find their next 'Official Arctic Photographer' to capture the scenery, wildlife and experiences of the high Arctic.

    The competition is open to anyone who loves capturing travel moments, from professional photographers, amateurs or those who love taking a holiday snapshot.

    The winner will be named the 'Official Arctic Photographer' and will travel on board Aurora Expeditions' 'Across the Arctic Circle' 14-day expedition in June 2015.

    To enter, you must 'like' the Aurora Expeditions' Facebook page and submit your best travel photo via the Facebook competition tab for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Arctic. The prize includes the cruise, return economy airfare from the your nearest capital city and one night’s accommodation at each end of the expedition, worth more than $10,000.

    The prize does not include travel insurance, photography equipment, expedition clothing, passports, visas, vaccinations, meals not included in the expedition itinerary, optional activities, spending money, gratuities and all items of a personal nature.

    You also must submit, in 50 words or less, why you should be the Aurora Expeditions' Official Arctic Photographer.

    Entries require 20 votes to make it through to the final judging stage, where Aurora Expeditions' panel of expert travel and photography judges will choose the final winner.

      To enter simply:
    1. Visit Aurora Expedition's Facebook page to access the competition page
    2. Upload your best travel photo
    3. In 50 words or less, share why you should be Aurora Expeditions' Official Arctic Photographer
    4. Share your entry with your friends and encourage them to vote for you!

    The competition runs until Mar. 15, 2015 and the winner will be notified before Mar. 28, 2015.

    Full competition details

    Winter Sale at 8 NYC Hilton Worldwide Hotels

    Eight Hilton Worldwide hotels in New York City offer the New York Winter Sale Promotion. This package is available through Apr. 5, 2015 and includes a discounted room plus coupon valid for buy one/get one free admission to Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Times Square, coupon for 25 percent off Big Bus Tours and coupon for 20 percent off at Le Perigord Restaurant. A four night minimum stay is required for the package.

    Participating hotels include Hilton Times Square, Hilton New York Fashion District, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Times Square, DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan, Hilton Garden Inn New York/West 35th Street, Hilton Garden Inn Times Square, Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square North and the new Hilton Garden Inn New York/Times Square Central.

    When booking, mention one of the above hotel plus plan code KX or KX1.

    New York Winter Sale page or 212/707-4700.

    Good Sam Roadside Assistance - New Member

    Oceania Cruises Promotion

    Oceania Cruises offers several promotions to make your cruise less expensive. The promotions apply to specific voyages and are capacity controlled and subject to change.

    Your World on Sale Promotion – receive up to $1,000 shipboard credit, free pre-paid gratuities and free unlimited internet.

    Reduced Fares - On Asia and South Pacific voyages. Savings up to $8,000.

    Beijing Deluxe Hotel Package – Two-night pre- or post-cruise hotel stay including transfers and breakfast is $99 per person.

    Papeete Deluxe Hotel Package - One-night pre- or post-cruise hotel stay including transfers and breakfast for $99 per room.

    Angkor Wat Experience - Three-night pre- or post-cruise land program $999 per person based on double occupancy.

    Winelands and Wildlife Safari - Three-night pre- or post-cruise land program from $99 per person. Visits Cape Town before journeying to the Cape Winelands.

    2015-16 Winter Collection - Early booking savings up to $5,000 and free internet.

    Caribbean and Panama Canal cruise – Two-for-one cruise fares and free airfare from select gateways.

    Oceania Cruises or 855-OCEANIA.

    Hovelstay.com Budget Accommodations

    Hovelstay.com started as a college-student-only site, with lots of adventure (deluxe tree house in Poptun Peten, Guatemala for $19 per night). Students aren't looking for luxury, just a place to crash near favored Spring Break destinations. In other words – budget. Opening the site to all users in October 2014, brought an up-tick in property owners listing their vacation rentals under hovelstay's "Clean and Comfortable" category, with most of them making travelers feel comfortable.

    This is an opportunity for traveling with limited means. Instead of staying at budget roadside motels, you have another choice. Hovelstay.com's clean and comfortable category room prices are under $99 per night. Many properties are comparable to those twice the price on other vacation rental sites. Survival category hovels can be as low as $5 per night for a campground house (like a thatched hut or tent) in Guatemala. The Good Enough category, advertised as in the neighborhood you want to be in and clean sheets, can offer a furnished studio apartment in Hollywood, CA for $95 per night while a country log home in the woods in Washington State for $35.

    If you have a room to rent, here’s your chance. The booking fee, paid by rentee and renter is three percent.


    Couples Resorts Military Discount

    Couples Resorts offer military personnel a 10 percent discount on current available hotel only rates.

    Couples resorts operate four adult all-inclusive, couples-only resorts, including Couples Tower Isle formally Couples Ocho Rios, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Swept Away and Couples Negril in Jamaica.

    The Military discount must be reserved and confirmed at least 46 days from time of arrival or at time of full payment (if within 46 days).

    The discount cannot be applied to any promotion that includes resort credits, free nights or other value-added benefits. You can choose the 10 percent military discount or a promotion that includes benefits such as resort credits, free nights.

    If you use the Military discount, bring your military id card for proof of identification to the resort upon check in.

    Lack of valid identification will result in loss of the discount with the difference payable at time of check in.

    The Military discount is only available through Couples Resorts' reservations center (client direct or travel agent). Rate code MILI will display when booking online

    The offer is not valid on group travel, combined air and hotel rate, Couplicious Wednesday Escape or Couples Secret Rendezvous.

    Couples Resorts cater to adult couples with features such as wedding and honeymoon products and amenities, golf, spa and fitness facilities and off property excursions.

    Couples Resorts.

    share trip hotel discount screen sharing trips

    Tanzania 50% Companion Discount

    Tour operator Great Safaris offers a 10-day Tanzania adventure that gets you a 50 percent companion discount off the regular land rate. The offer is valid when booked by May 30, 2015, for travel through Oct. 15, 2015. It is not combinable with any other offers.

    The safari visits game-rich areas of Tanzania such as Arusha, Lake Manyara, Serengeti Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire. Rates range from $3,595 to $4,695 per person.

    International airfare and park fees are not included. Airfare may be available upon request. Holiday/Seasonal supplements apply.

      Other Great Safari discounts include:
    • Cape and Kruger 50 percent companion discount when you book at the Classic or Luxe levels. Book by Apr.30, 2015, for travel through Oct. 15, 2015.
    • 50 percent off companion discount on the 12-day Gift of the Nile land and cruise package for travel through 2015.
    • 50 percent off for your sweetheart on the 11-day World's Greatest Romantic Adventure South African safari. Valid for travel through Dec. 5, 2015.

    Great Safaris or 800/409-7755.

    Costa Cruises Discounts

    Costa Cruises offers some discounted Mediterranean cruises.

    The seven-day Sunshine Cities cruise on the Costa Fascinosa on Mar. 22, 2015, departs from Savona and visits Italy, Malta, the Balearic Islands and Spain. Prices start from $499 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin or $649 for an outside cabin, a 66 percent savings from the published rate.

    The seven-day Greek Islands cruise on the Costa Mediterranea departs on Apr. 11 or Apr. 18, 2015, from Trieste and visits Italy, Greece and Croatia. The price is $549 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin or $849 for an outside cabin, a savings of 67 percent off the published rate.

    The 12-day Mediterranean cruise on the Costa neoClassica departs from Venice on Apr. 8, 2015, and visits ports in Italy, Greece, Malta and Croatia. The price is $1,099 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin or $1,449 for an oceanview cabin, a 57 percent savings from the published rate.

    The 12-day cruise on Apr. 24, 2015, aboard the Costa neoRomantica departs from Savona and visits ports in Italy, France and Greece. The price is $1,249 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin or $1,649 for an outside cabin, a 58 percent savings from the published rate.

    The 12-day cruise on May 20, 2015, aboard the Costa neoRomantica departs from Hamburg and ports include Haugesund, Bodø, Narvik and the Lofoten Islands in Norway. The price is $1,399 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin or $1,799 for an outside cabin, a 68 percent savings from the published rate.

    Costa Cruises or 800/462-6782.


    CMV River Cruises 8-Day Cruise from $1499

    Discover the heartland of Europe sailing along the banks of the Danube with CMV River Cruises’ Cruise of Discovery on the Danube on Apr. 25, 2015. The eight day cruise on the MS Belvedere starts from $1,499 per person and visits Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Bratislava, Linz and Melk.

    The cruise fare includes five free city tours and/or shore excursions, all day beverage package, all on board gratuities and entertainment, all meals on board, port charges, taxes, and gratuities.

    CMV River Cruises or 855/206-4897.

    Free Wi-Fi for Tourists in Japan

    A group of 17 local governments and companies in Japan will start a free Wi-Fi service aimed at foreigners visiting Japan. Free trials have started.

    The Travel Japan Wi-Fi project will make the service available through a smartphone app and accessible at up to 240,000 locations across the country. The app will allow smartphones and tablets to connect to hot spots and receive sightseeing information and sales promotions.

    The Travel Japan Wi-Fi app runs on the Android and iOS operating systems and will provide sightseeing and other information in English, Chinese, Korean and Thai.

    Downloading the app and registering opens up access to some of the company’s 240,000 hot spots nationwide, including Starbucks outlets and on the Airport Limousine Bus.

    It also has access to store coupons and promotions for partner firms. A visit to those outlets, or a purchase, may result in the user getting a premium code for unlocking access to the full range of Wi2 hot spots.

    The participants include entertainment guide PIA Corp., discount chain Don Quijote Co., and Japan Airlines Co., which will issue a premium hot spot code if a user flies on JAL.

    Municipalities such as the cities of Kobe and Kyoto are partners, too, meaning they, too, can distribute the code.

    The system is ultimately a form of sponsorship: Partner organizations pay a fee to Wi2 for the right to advertise their services to users.

    Wi2 said the Travel Japan Wi-Fi app will also collect information on user habits, such as GPS records of their travels, so the activity can be analyzed and used to focus tourist marketing strategies.

    The trial will last through June 2015, with the full roll-out eyed in July 2015.

    Sail Between Nova Scotia and Portland ME

    Reserve to sail aboard Nova Star between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, ME in 2015.

    Nova Star Cruises will provide seven day a week roundtrip ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S. and Portland, ME June 1 until Oct. 14, 2015. Nova Star Cruises operates a cruise ferry service tht accommodates up to 750 passengers and provides a travel experience that includes fine dining, a casino, retail store, children’s play area and spa.

    The flexible pricing structure for 2015 will see fares based on the season, day of the week, direction of travel and other demand-based variables. The one-way fare for adults 18 and over starts at $94. Travel is free for children ages 13 and under. The youth rate starts at $19 one-way which applies to children older than 14 but under 18 on the date of travel. Private cabins are priced from $59. One-way rates for passenger vehicles up to 20 feet start at $94 and $64 for motorcycles. Fares are subject to port fees and a $5 fuel surcharge.

    The company introduced incentives to encourage travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, when demand is typically lower throughout the season. If you travel roundtrip aboard Nova Star, you will receive a 10 percent discount off passenger, cabin and vehicle fares. Nova Star Cruises will continue to offer an extra 10 percent discount for Nova Scotia residents in 2015.

    Nova Star Cruises or 866/864-6295.


    $15* Off on Spring Break Travel Deals

    Forever Resorts 2015 Houseboat Value Packages

    Take advantage of special houseboat booking incentives from by Forever Resorts. Offering houseboat rentals at Western United States’ lake destinations, Forever Resorts allows the chance to explore nature’s beauty while enjoying the comforts of home.

    Discounts in 2015 include:

    American Heroes Discount - Active military, veterans, firefighters, police and EMTs are eligible to receive a $200 discount off houseboat rental and/or a 10 percent discount on powerboats, personal watercraft and other small boats. To obtain this discount, provide valid documentation upon arrival and check-in, although the qualifying hero need not be the primary name on the invoice. This discount is offered at every Forever Resorts marina, any time, with no blackout dates.

    A Week to Remember – Book any size houseboat at any Forever Resorts houseboat destination and receive a seven-day rental for the price of six; that’s a savings of up to $1,995. This special may not be combined with any other offer and is valid until Oct. 31, 2015; blackout dates of July 1 to 31, 2015, apply.

    Five for Five Fuel Special - Book a five-day houseboat vacation on a 60-foot Eagle or 70-foot Titanium houseboat and take up to $500 off the final fuel bill. This special is available at all Forever Resorts houseboat destinations, may not be combined with any other offer and is valid until Oct. 31, 2015; blackout dates of July 1 to 31, 2015, apply.

    Forever Houseboat rental or 800/255-5561.

    Holland America "Seas the Day" Promotion

    Holland America Line "Seas the Day" promotion features savings up to 50 percent, reduced fares for third/fourth guests in a stateroom and up to $400 per stateroom onboard credits on several of the line's exotic voyages when booked before Mar. 31, 2015.

    Eligible itineraries include select 2015 fall – 2016 spring Australia and New Zealand voyages, South America, Asia, Hawaii/Tahiti, Panama Canal, Grand Voyage segments and the Passage to the Far East cruise.

    With Seas the Day offers, book an itinerary up to 19 days and receive an onboard credit up to $200 per cabin ($100 per person). Cruise 20 days or more and receive an onboard credit up to $400 per cabin ($200 per person). The onboard credit is valid for the first and second guests in the cabin, while third and fourth guests are eligible for special reduced fares. In addition, the exotic voyages feature up to 50 percent savings off the cruise fare.

    Among the exotic voyage itineraries available in the Seas the Day promotion are ms Zaandam's 17-day Circle Hawaii cruise departing Sep. 20, 2015; ms Oosterdam's 19-day Panama Canal transit departing Sep. 27, 2015; ms Amsterdam's 50-day Tales of the South Pacific voyage departing Sep. 27, 2015; a 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruise aboard ms Noordam departing Feb. 13, 2016; ms Volendam's 30-day Solar Eclipse and Far East Discovery Collectors' Voyage departing Mar. 1, 2016; and several segments of the 2016 Grand World Voyage, 2016 Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage and 2016 Grand Mediterranean Voyage.

    Holland America Line or 877/724-5425.

    WDW Spring Offer for Residents/Passholds

    Walt Disney World has a Spring offer for annual passholders and Florida residents.

    Annual Passholder room discounts of up to 37 percent are available at select Disney resort hotels most nights Apr. 6 to June 15, 2015.

    Sample Savings

    Up to 20 percent off Art of Animation Family Suites
    Up to 25 percent off select Value Resorts
    Up to 20 percent off Port Orleans French Quarter Resort (15 percent on weekends)
    Up to 30 percent off select Moderate resorts
    Up to 30 percent off Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah & Club rooms
    Up to 30 percent off Contemporary & Grand Floridian non-suite rooms
    Up to 37 percent off select Deluxe Resorts
    Up to 30 percent off Animal Kingdom Villas
    Up to 37 percent off select Deluxe Villa Resorts
    Up to 10 percent off suites

    The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings are based on the non-discounted price a non-Passholder pays for the same room. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. Passholder must present valid adult Pass at check-in.

    You must book by June 12, 2015. The offer excludes three-bedroom villas, campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid standard rooms, Port Orleans French Quarter, All-Star Movies, Bay Lake Tower and Villas at Grand Floridian.

    The spring offer for Florida residents are room discounts up to 35 percent off select Disney resort hotels most nights Mar. 29 to June 5, 2015. Florida residents can upgrade to a package that includes a Florida resident admission ticket.

    The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings based on non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any

    Florida residents must book by June 1, 2015. The offer excludes campsites and three-bedroom villas and is not valid for Disney's Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid standard rooms, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Disney's All-Star Movies Resort.

    The Magic for Less Travel.

    New York City PASS - Save 40% to the 6 best New York Attractions!

    Amtrak Promotion Codes and Discounts

    Amtrak operates passenger trains on long-distance routes plus regional corridors in the Northeast, Illinois, Michigan, California and Pacific Northwest. Most Amtrak discounts are available to all passengers booking online. Review promotion code terms for eligibility.

    Standard Amtrak Discounts - apply to all train travel except weekday Acela Express, business class upgrades, and sleeping accommodations. Amtrak tickets must be purchased three days in advance for Student Advantage, Veterans Advantage, NARP, and AAA discounts.

    • Student Advantage (costs $12.50 per year after rebate) saves 10 percent on all Amtrak tickets.
    • Save 10 percent with the AAA Amtrak discount.
    • Save 10 percent with National Association of Railroad Passengers membership
    • Children: Kids two to 12 years of age ride 50 percent off the standard adult fare on most Amtrak trains.
    • Seniors: Age 62 and older receive a 15 percent discount on most trains (excludes Auto Train).
    • Military: US military personnel, plus their spouses and dependents, receive a 10 percent discount
    • Veterans Advantage: Save 15 percent on Amtrak fares with a Veterans Advantage card.
    • Disabilities: Disabled passengers, plus one companion, receive a 15 percent Amtrak ticket discount

    Advance Purchase Discounts - Amtrak tickets are priced using fare “buckets” based on availability. The fare increases to the next bucket as tickets are sold, so you save by booking early. This is true for long-distance routes and holiday travel, where you need to book months in advance for the lowest fare. Promotion codes and advance purchase discounts only apply to trains at the lowest bucket, limiting last-minute discounts.

    Amtrak occasionally runs three-day online sales with discounts up to 50 percent off. There is no advance notice of these sales, so “like” Amtrak’s Facebook Page for updates.

    A 14-day advance purchase discount of 25 percent is offered on Northeast Regional trains between Boston, Springfield, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond, Newport News, and all intermediate stations. This discount is applied automatically, subject to availability. Only trains selling at the lowest fare bucket receive the advance purchase discount, so book early for the widest selection of trains.

    Specials SmartFares - Discount Amtrak SmartFares (25 percent off coach) are available each week online. Every Tuesday, discount Amtrak route segments and dates are posted via Amtrak’s Facebook Page. To receive the weekly fare discount, book between Tuesday and Friday for travel one to five weeks in advance. The weekly specials are non-refundable and can only be purchased online.

    Multi-Ride Amtrak Tickets Several discounts are available for frequent Amtrak travel nationwide, within California, and on specific regional routes. Long-distance Amtrak trips involving multiple stopovers benefit from a USA Rail Pass. Stopovers of less than 24 hours are available without charge using the multi-city ticket option online.

    USA Rail Passes: 15, 30 and 45-day rail passes for travel on any Amtrak route except Auto Train and Acela.

    California Rail Pass: seven days of travel during a 21 day period on the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner, and Coast Starlight (within California only).

    Multi-Ride Amtrak Tickets: Discounts for multiple rides within a single period, including 10-ride tickets and unlimited monthly tickets. Not available on Acela Express or long-distance routes.

    Save 50 percent on companion Amtrak fares for college campus visits in 2015. This discount is for high school students only. If you're a college student, purchase a Student Advantage Card to receive 10 percent off all Amtrak tickets. High school juniors and seniors visiting a college or university with one parent/guardian are eligible to receive 50 percent off a companion fare. Make your reservation via Amtrak's Campus Visit Promo Page at least three days prior to travel and present a valid student ID for your discount tickets. This offer is NOT valid on Acela Express or Auto Train. Valid for travel through Dec.18, 2015.

    Amtrak Promotion Codes & Coupons for 2015 - Most 2015 Amtrak promotion codes require a three-day advance purchase; apply to adult, child, and senior fares only; may not be combined with other discounts; exclude Acela Express; and are subject to blackouts during peak travel periods.

    Amtrak or 800-USA-RAIL.

    Southwest Airlines Free Flights for Critical Care

    About 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations from across the nation will benefit from the Southwest Airlines 2015 Medical Transportation Grant Program, with the total impact reaching 101 facilities.

    Through the program, participating nonprofit hospitals and medical programs provide free, roundtrip airline tickets to families who need to travel for specialized medical care. Receiving world class medical attention is more attainable when the cost of travel is not an issue. In 2015, Southwest will provide more than $3.2 million in free transportation to caregivers and patients seeking medical treatment, a 14 percent increase from the 2014 program. Click here for a full list of 2015 participants.

    Since the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program's inception eight years ago, more than $16.4 million in free transportation has been distributed to organizations in 26 states, impacting the lives of more than 41,000 individuals.

    In 2013, Andy Furmann was in a life-changing ski accident that left him partially paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. Andy traveled from his home in Massachusetts to Atlanta so he could receive treatment at Shepherd Center, a hospital research facility and rehabilitation center specifically for people with spinal cord or brain injuries. Through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, Andy's father was able to balance work at home while visiting Andy in Atlanta. According to Andy, his father's presence during his treatment was just as important as his physical therapy and medical treatment.

    To learn about qualifications for travel assistance through the designated organizations, contact the Social Work, Travel/Concierge Service, or Patient Assistance Department directly at each location, as each has unique guidelines for the administration of tickets.

    New France Festival - photos and story by Nicki Chodnoff

    photo costumed20revelers_zps7jugy5nt.jpg Traffic was a bear driving from Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel. The normally 30 minute drive to the Frontenac was taking more than 60 minutes due to closed streets and more cars. We barely had time to check in and dashed out to watch the kick-off event of the city’s annual SAQ New France Festival or Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France in French, held around the first week in August every year. Quebec City celebrates its era as a French colony (1608-1759) with a litany of events that begins with a parade through the old walled city where parade seating was located just outside of the hotel.

    Quebec City was the French toe-hold in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico. The city was the center of New France and had 5,000 inhabitants when the British occupied it in 1759. Today, Quebec City and Quebec Provence are the heart of French culture in North America, where you are immersed in all things French without leaving the American continent. It’s a taste of France without flying across an ocean.

    French culture was well represented at the Wednesday night parade that featured 13 giant puppets, the largest being Samuel de Champlain, the father of New France, standing about 18 feet tall. It takes at least two people to carry the behemoths. The other giants represent soldiers, the pioneer founders, the women of New France, nobles and the Great Spirit of the Nations that pays tribute to the First Nations, Canada’s first inhabitants. In addition to giant puppets and three wooden ships on wheels pushed by men traversing the parade route, there were military bands, dancers and a military convoy.

    Equally colorful were the people watching the parade, from the grand stand or on the streets along the parade route. Many were in New France costumes. During the annual celebration of Quebec as a French colony (1608-1759), many ordinary citizens get into the New France spirit by attending events in period dress. We too were decked out as nobles in frilly long dresses or lacy and bejeweled long jackets while others dressed as Jesuits in black robes, pioneer farmers, unkempt fur traders and trappers in baggy shirts and beaded First Nation inhabitants.

     photo giants20New20France_zpsq5utxsep.jpgWe rented 17-century French costumes for the entire weekend so we could mix and mingle and get into the spirit of the event. Many non-costumed visitors at events looked at us as if we were celebrities asking us to pose for photos and wanting our opinions of the event.

    The entire weekend of Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, the festive atmosphere engulfed the Old Town. Activities take place in the streets and squares around Place Royale and Upper Town, Quai des pionniers and Quai 22 in the Port of Québec.

    Old Town, the oldest quarter of Quebec City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is filled with coffee shops, boutiques, souvenir shops, cobblestone streets and renovated old buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries that look like they could fit in medieval France. Because of its unique architecture and historic sites, the area is named a World Heritage Treasure.

     photo snack20time_zpsabll0qnr.jpgWalking along Old Town streets is a trip back in time as colorfully clad entertainers make the streets come alive with music, shows and street theatre. Music is everywhere: fiddlers furiously play traditional tunes, singing groups serenade in squares and street corners, brassy regiments bands march and spread their toe-tapping tunes, musicians play the harp or piano on the street.

    Costumed villagers such as wenches, ship builders, and seamstresses offered historical re-enactments, information on history and genealogy and demonstrated their trades or traditional arts such as how to build birch bark canoes, or served delicious foods, either samples or full portions. The people from one booth were celebrating and sharing information about the 400th anniversary of French speaking residents of Ontario.

     photo chateau20frontenac_zpsrpwymhyu.jpgThe streets were crammed with people, many dressed as if they stepped out of the Middle Ages. By the port, you could sit, relax, and replenish with food and drink. One shaded area with picnic tables and benches was reserved for dining with an assortment of local foods for purchase in nearby booths: cheeses, sausages, fondue, spinach pie, corn on the cob or ice cream and waffles topped with maple syrup.

    Getting into the SAQ New France Festival events was easy, a $12 pass shaped like a medallion was your ticket in and included admission to select museums open only during the festival. We toured parts of the historic Ursuline Convent and gardens that our guide had never been allowed to visit before.

    For a little quiet and countryside, before, during or after the SAQ New France Festival, go a few miles northeast of Quebec City to find Montmorency Falls Park or cross the St. Lawrence River for Ile d’Orleans.

    Montmorency Falls  photo Montmorency20Falls20_zpssedcnfyv.jpgYou can view the 272 foot Montmorency Falls, higher than Niagara Falls, by walking onto the suspension bridge over the crest of the falls where you can see and hear all the thundering water or from the gondola ride. Named by Samuel de Champlain in 1613 after Henri II, duc de Montmorency who served as viceroy of New France from 1620 to 1625, at Montmorency Falls you may spot the Lady in White who tells visitors how she tossed herself over the falls when her fiance was lost in battle. The falls form at the mouth of the Montmorency River, where they drop over a cliff into the St. Lawrence River. Montmorency Falls is surrounded by Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, where you can see the falls while having a picnic.

    In the middle of the St. Lawrence River within sight of Quebec City, sits Île d’Orléans, an island designated a historical district with 300 years of history. Known as the “Garden of Québec,” agri-tourism is a major industry. Roadside stands sell fresh fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, apples, and potatoes grown on the island and the source for products and produce found in Quebec City’s shops and restaurants.

    On Île d’Orléans you’ll find artisans who take the beautifully grown local fruit and berries and enhanced them. Tigidou Confiturerie adds locally grown herbs to the fruits and berries and cooks them into jams and liqueurs at Tigidou Confiturerie. Cassis Mona et Filles takes the black currents they grow and distills them into crème de cassis, port and other berry products. Both are places where you can talk with the owners and learn how they make their products and about the ingredients they use.

     photo lcircle20drsquoOrleacuteans20garden20stand_zpsbsruzfe6.jpgÎle d’Orléans had another life. When Jacques Cartier found vines on the island, he named it Ile de Bacchus, for Bacchus the Roman god of wine. He later changed the name to honor the Duke of Orleans. The island is still lined with vineyards and wineries. You can easily go from vineyard to vineyard, ala Napa Valley, California, tasting local wines, including the famous local ice wine.

    If you plan to go to the SAQ New France Festival, get that New France look and get into the spirit by renting a costume. The site lists places (with websites) where you can buy or rent costumes. Be prepared to engage Google translate as all websites for the costume rental places are in French. Renting a costume takes pre-planning. You will need to send in a personal measurements diagram listing your height, weight, waist size and hat size several weeks before your arrival. When you arrive in Quebec City you get a final fitting before putting on your 17-century costume loaner.

    If you want to dress up without spending money on a costume, the page gives you tips on how to get that New France look on the cheap by using clothes you already.

     photo Tigidou20Confiturerie20_zpsvrariage.jpg
    Quebec City Tourism New France Festival

    Where to Stay: Quebec City is use to tourists and convention with some 12,000 rooms in and around the old city. If you want to be in the heart of the action, consider the beautiful and historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The towering symbol of Quebec City, the hotel hosted presidents and pop stars for nearly a century. Called the most photographed hotel, the hotel's 611 rooms and suites recently received a multi-million dollar restoration that blend the past with lighter and brighter interiors so rooms have a sleek, more contemporary update.

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