Travelers unearth rare ‘deals’

How many frequent-flier miles or hotel points have you earned without setting foot on a plane or sleeping in a bed other than your own? To what lengths would you go to beef up your account?

Most of us have credit cards that earn points with at least one of the many loyalty programs available. There also are Web sites that track promotions in various industries on a daily basis. Then there are those deals that were never meant to be deals. About two years ago, American Express Co., the fourth-largest U.S. credit card issuer, began what company officials called a pilot program that allowed customers to use their cards to buy traveler’s checks without the standard $15 fee…

Year-end travel deals trimmed

Does elite status with your preferred airline or hotel chain seem elusive this year? The good news is, year-end promotions offering elite fast-track and bonus points are back. The bad news is, they are fewer and less generous than in the past.

That, of course, is hardly surprising, with all the ills that have befallen the travel industry in recent months. What is surprising is the diversity of those deals, depending on the loyalty program to which you belong. No two of them are exactly alike — except that most require registration and end Dec. 15, so holiday travel is not covered. American Airlines is offering its customers who fly a round trip between the United States and Britain a free companion ticket for a future trip to either Britain or the Caribbean…

Traveling solo has its charm

How many times have you wanted to take a trip somewhere, but ended up staying home because you didn’t want to travel alone? Next time, don’t let that ruin your plans. Traveling solo is a great way to see new places and make new friends.

I don’t mean joining a tour group, though that’s certainly one way to meet like-minded people. Such groups tend to visit the most obvious tourist sites and don’t interact with locals — not the best path to learning about other cultures and lifestyles. If you pay for a plane ticket to a foreign country, you are probably not the type to spend the trip watching MTV in your hotel room and eating at McDonald’s. And most likely, you do at least some preparation by reading travel guides to figure out what places you should visit…