fumbles the numbers, makes vacation savings look sweeter


I've spent years writing about affordable travel for a slew of magazines and sites, including this one and Budget Travel, where I worked as an editor, and Travel + Leisure Family, where I covered family-friendly packages. Dozens of "deals" cross my desk every day. A lot of times--in fact most of the time--I find that these so-called packages are not the sweet deals they appear at first blush. On closer inspection, you find that you could actually do better.

How? Sometimes promotions lock you into a room category that's not the cheapest in the hotel. Sometimes, the deal forces you to say several nights longer than you might otherwise (I'm lookin' at you, Disney). Sometimes, that "corporate discount" code actually ends up jacking up the regular price. And quite often, you can't find the low price quoted by the hotel, no matter how many travel dates you plug into the reservations system. is a new site that claims to do something that travelers need badly. It takes all those packages that the hotel industry is forever advertising (Girlfriend getaway deal! Valentine's lovebirds package!) and picks them apart, element by element, to see if you're really saving money. How much would that champagne cost you otherwise? What about that spa treatment they're throwing in? It adds it all up and compares the result to the package price.