Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is it Legal to Rent a Short-Term Vacation Property?

Latin Quarter, Paris

Today, Budget Travel published an article by Brad Tuttle that calms any fears you may have about short-term vacation rentals.

Bans on vacation rentals have made headlines in Paris, San Francisco, and New York. Here's why the confusing "bans" are mostly bunk—and why you shouldn't cancel your vacation-rental reservation anytime soon.
By Brad Tuttle (with reporting by Meg Zimbeck)

For years, we've been advising our readers to rent short-term apartments whenever they plan to spend more than a few days in expensive cities like Paris and New York. Short-term apartment rentals can help travelers save money on both lodging and meals, while providing a more authentic experience.

Regardless of recent headlines concerning new rules—or supposed new efforts to enforce old rules—for short-term rentals, we still endorse the option as a smart, fun, and safe way to stay. While there may be new implications for owners seeking to rent out their properties in these cities, renters themselves face no possibility of fines or problems of any kind with the local authorities. "There's nothing illegal that the traveler is doing when staying in a vacation rental," says Carl Shepherd, chief development officer of direct-from-owner rental specialist HomeAway. "None of these cities have any penalties for renters."

The announcements of lawmakers and housing officials seem to imply otherwise, hinting that because some home owners may technically be violating unenforced local ordinances by renting out their properties, renters are somehow guilty by association. The truth is that based on years of precedent—and the fact that restrictions are vaguely worded and that the municipalities involved are uninterested or incapable of enforcing them—the risks encountered by renters are extremely minimal. So fear not. Arm yourself with our 6 Tips for Safer, Smarter Rentals, and read on for specific advice about Paris, San Francisco, and New York.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tightwad Tips from Billionaires

Jean Folger, Investopedia, discusses some billionaires' spending habits in "7 Spending Tips from Frugal Billionaires."  Although this article doesn't mention their vacation styles, I'll bet these frugal billionaires are tightwad travelers! 

Carlos Slim Helu (Carlos Slim), a telecom tycoon and billionaire with well-known frugal tendencies, has a net worth of $60.6 billion according to Forbes. Assuming no changes in his net worth, he could spend $1,150 a minute for the next 100 years before he ran out of money. To put this in perspective, he could spend in 13 minutes what a minimum-wage earner brings home after an entire year of the daily grind.

Granted, the world's billionaires (all 1,011 of them) are in the debatably enviable position of having, quite literally, more money than they can possibly spend, yet some are still living well below their means, and save money in surprising places. Even non-billionaires (currently 6,864,605,142 of us) can partake in these seven spending tips from frugal billionaires.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Letter on a Plane Ticket Says a Lot About You

Ever wonder which fares are upgradeable or which fares mean you're more likely to be bumped off if the flight is full?  This article by Samantha Bomkamp answers those questions.

By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Airlines Writer

NEW YORK – There are a few bits of information to pay close attention to on an airline ticket: the flight number, gate number and boarding time. Fare basis code? Not a common concern.

But the single-letter code can make a big difference in some parts of the travel experience, even though most passengers don't pay any attention. A fare basis code further divides passengers into classes based on how much they paid and how far out they booked. There are about a dozen in coach class alone.

When you're on the plane, there's no difference in service between a passenger who has a "Y" or "Q" — a full-fare and a discounted ticket — if you're both in coach. But the codes are still important: Some indicate your trip isn't eligible for frequent-flier miles or an upgrade; others tell a ticket agent where to rank you on a standby list.