Tips on trimming

Cutting Costs and Taking Care

L ooking for ways to trim the travel budget? Visitors to large cities should try discount hotel brokers before paying the regular-and very high-rack rate for their stays. Among the advantages of these services:

  • They're free.
  • They offer a number of choices in each city so it's possible to get a wide range of accommodations with only one phone call.
  • Their services are open to anyone, so it's not necessary to join any frequent guest clubs.

Here's a look at two discount brokers. Quikbook offers visitors to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington low prices at major hotels in prime locations in all of those cities. The telephone number is 800-789-9887; Web site is .

Hotel Reservations Network covers a slightly longer list of U.S. cities-including Orlando and Las Vegas-as well as London and Paris. It also claims to be able to find rooms for sold-out dates in major cities-when a large convention is in town, for example. One drawback of this service is that users are required to pay for their entire stay in advance instead of at checkout time. The phone number is 800-964-6835; Web site is .

Airfare Cost-Cutting Tips

W hat's the best way to contain airfare expenses? Anyone who travels regularly knows that booking in advance and staying over on a Saturday night are two reliable savings strategies. Here are some other steps to consider when planning a trip, according to the travel information service System One Co.:

  • Avoid weekend departures . Business travelers flying midweek may have an advantage over vacation travelers because weekend fares often are higher than those on weekdays. During off-peak periods, Tuesday or Wednesday may be the cheapest days to fly. (Travelers will still have to stay over on a Saturday night to get the lowest rates, however.)

  • Check out the new guys in town . A good way to save money is to take advantage of low introductory fares when carriers open up new markets. An airline launching regular service to a new city will probably offer discounts to get the traffic started. Before you book the usual flight on the usual airline, check the travel ads to see if a carrier that is new to the area has a better deal.

  • Be ready to book flights in both directions . One-way travel is almost always more expensive than a round-trip excursion. A one-way trip may even cost the same total amount as a round-trip fare to the same location. Solidify your travel plans in advance to avoid high one-way tariffs.

Who's the Best Doctor in Peoria?

W hat happens to travelers when they get sick on the road? For many, the only choices are to pick a doctor's name out of a phone book, go to a hospital emergency room or clinic or return home. Guessing where to get adequate health care in a strange city is an unappealing prospect, but going home in the middle of an assignment or before an important meeting is equally unacceptable. Two companies offer assistance to those who are laid up on the road.

  • HotelDocs . This company uses a network of over 2,000 doctors in more than 150 U.S. cities who will come to the caller's location within an average of 35 minutes. This service has no sign-up fee and is open 24 hours a day to anyone who calls 800-468-3537. The standard treatment fee is $150. The company operator gets details about symptoms so the physicians generally can bring any necessary medications or equipment, or they can write prescriptions if needed. All doctors have affiliations with local hospitals; most are general practitioners. Specialists, including dentists, obstetricians, allergists, chiropractors and acupuncturists, are on call, although the company doesn't guarantee their availability. Many are multilingual.

  • Inn Care of America . This membership service gives travelers seeking non-emergency medical care access to more than 2,500 family physicians and medical clinics throughout the country. After a caller contacts the customer service center at 800-489-6277, a physician returns the call within 45 minutes to assess the patient's condition and determine whether he or she should travel to the doctor's office, receive a house call or go directly to a hospital. To use the service, there is a $39.95 annual membership fee, plus the doctor's normal fees.

A medical emergency—or even a simple flu—can take costly time out of a scheduled business trip. Companies or firms that arm their staffs with information about programs such as these can relieve health worries and help ensure that travelers stay on course.

— Anita Dennis ,
Journal contributing editor

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