As every Wisconsinite knows, it is typical to have these wonderfully mild winter thaws, only to have our springtime hopes dashed by another late winter snowstorm. It is about that same time when we question our sanity for living here and then quickly check out the package deals to the Caribbean.

Well if you've been reading my blog you already know that I am obsessed with lists. (And why yes, I do make lists of the places I want to visit before I die.) However I am also obsessed with finding the perfect travel bargain. So here I share with you some of the websites which have given me much travel pleasure without hurting my pocketbook. Happy travel shopping!

1) KimptonHotels.com. Oh how I love boutique hotels, and Kimpton does them so superbly. Join the Kimpton InTouchRewards program and get pampered even more with online booking specials at cheap, cheap rates ($89-$169 for four star luxury boutique hotels in major cities). Plus I love all the extra perks: nightly wine hour, a $15 mini bar credit when I check in, the Aveda or L'Occitane bath products. Fact: I once booked The Muse near Times Square for $84 per night as part of their anniversary special. Shocking, but true.

2) Quikbook.com. Wonderfully low hotel prices in large metropolitan areas. I always go here first for any New York or Chicago accomodations.

3) Groupon.com. (For those phonetically challenged, it rhymes with coupon.) Groupon uses the collective buying power of consumers in select cities in order to offer daily deals. It's especially useful for 50% off certain restaurants; be sure to check out your vacation city for such bargains.

4) Travelzoo.com. Sign up for the Top 20 Deals list and every Wednesday you will be emailed twenty wonderfully tempting travel deals. However, Travelzoo has now expanded to offer non-travel deals based on the strength of their subscriber base (like Groupon.com). I just snagged facial and massage packages for $85 at Valeo Chicago (inside the JW Marriott Hotel). Regular retail price was $250. Recently I was directed to Restaurants.com where I got a $25 certificate to a steak and ale house in a Chicago suburb for $2 (yes, you read that right. Two bucks.) I also got a $25 certificate to a Greektown (Chicago) restaurant for 6 bucks. Minimum purchases apply, but with deals like these I am too giddy to care.

5) Megabus.com. Every winter Megabus offers thousands of FREE rides, and this year is no exception. In the past I have taken advantage of $1 fares from Milwaukee to Chicago.

And #6 for good measure: Sundaraspa.com. Once you pull up to Sundara Inn and Spa in Wisconsin Dells, you will forget you are in the land of tourist traps and water parks. Sundara is a beautiful adults-only retreat tucked back into the quiet woods. Even if you do not splurge on spa treatments, the pool and spa ritual areas are extremely relaxing in themselves. Online specials (and even "call at the last minute" specials) are very reasonable and probably half the price of a comparable resort in a major metropolitan area.

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