10 great places for travel bargains in 2011

May 26, 2011

By Tim Leffel


Although  drug-related violence has been concentrated near the U.S. border, many travelers have avoided the entire country. That means incredible bargains in Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and other resort areas, Leffel says. “There are so many rooms they are trying to
fill, so every week there are unbelievable deals.” Bargains are even more eye-opening in interior cities. “You pay what the Mexicans pay,” says Leffel, who is spending the year living in the colonial city of Guanajuato. 800-446-3942; visitmexico.com


You  don’t have to be a mountain climber to experience the home of Mount Everest. Visitors can take fascinating cultural tours out of Kathmandu, while fully outfitted whitewater rafting trips are available at less than $50 a day, a fraction of the cost in North America. Recent political problems mean that tourists are staying away, and bargains are even greater than usual, Leffel says. welcomenepal.com


The  Asian country has been a bargain destination for a decade, and there’s no reason that will change in 2011, Leffel says. Resort islands like Bali are easy to reach, and although the country is popular with Australians, most Americans don’t realize how much Indonesia has to offer. “It’s a whole chain of islands and it’s got everything: beaches, diving, mountains and culture,” Leffel says. indonesia.travel


With  first-class diving and Mayan ruins, Honduras has long been a bargain vacation spot. But tourists have stayed away since a political power struggle in 2009. Despite higher prices on Roatan, a popular cruise ship stopover, “they like to bill it as the Caribbean without the Caribbean prices, and it’s less than half the price for hotels and diving. You can pay $30 to $40 a dive,” Leffel says. 800-410-9608; letsgohonduras.com/


Whether  you’re a backpacker looking for $5-a-night flophouse, or a high-end visitor seeking a luxury hotel, you’ll find bargains here. Vietnam is one of the few Asian countries where the dollar gained value in 2010, up about 5.5% for the year. “It’s a wonderful country to visit and it’s easy there. You can set up tours at hotels, and the food is great,” Leffel says. vietnamtourism.com


This  Mediterranean country has been attracting tourists for millennia, and despite its recent debt crisis, that’s not going to change. But the protests and strikes, compounded with the recession that has cut the number of European visitors, means there’s excess capacity now. “They’re hurting for business and rolling out the discounts,” Leffel says. Look for bargain tours,
cruises and island vacations. 212-421-5777; visitgreece.gr


It’s  likely the Emerald Isle’s financial crisis will bring travel discounts this year, Leffel says. The country added scores of hotels during its recent economic boom, and now hoteliers are reporting trouble filling rooms. “Anytime a place is on CNN— that sticks in peoples’ heads longer than it should,” Leffel says. 800-742-6762; discoverireland.com


Not  only does this African nation have incredible ruins and scenery, but its currency dropped more than almost any other — nearly 30% against the dollar in 2010. Ethiopia suffers from its location next to troubled Somalia. Leffel suggests traveling with a tour group to reduce the hassle out of exploring the undeveloped country. “There’s a lot to see and do here, but it’s for the heartier tourist,” he says. tourismethiopia.org


This  Eastern European nation has all the charm of its western neighbors at lower costs. The country hasn’t yet adopted the euro, and its currency fell more than 10% against the dollar in 2010, making it a greater bargain. Leffel recommends avoiding pricey Budapest and heading to the wine country. gotohungary.com


Few  people realize what a travel bargain they have at home. Look for deals in places that depend on conventions, such as Las Vegas and Orlando. If you stay away from holiday and peak travel periods, you can find great deals, Leffel says. usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel_Tourism/State_Tourism.shtml

Source USA Today Travel

Would you pay about $80 for an upgrade?

May 11, 2011

 by: Sean O’Neill,

 Delta will offer long-haul flights with Economy Comfort seats, which will have an additional four inches of legroom, some free booze, priority boarding, free HBO programming on the seatback TVs, and about 50 percent greater angle recline in your seat, says the airline’s blog.

The seats will be on 108 planes covering most “long-haul intercontinental routes between the U.S. and Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and South America (Lima, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Santiago)” says the airline.

You can’t buy the Economy Comfort seats directly. But starting today, you may book an economy-class ticket, and then if one of these seats are available on your flight, you can upgrade to it. Prices vary, but The Points Guy (who broke the story, after Delta’s blog) has reports of the cost being about $80 one-way on an East Coast to Europe route. The Economist’s Gulliver blog sees upgrade costs as high as $160 one-way. In any event, Delta offers the seats for free to selected members of their frequent flier program, such as those with Diamond and Platinum Medallion status, notes Jaunted.

In short, great news for tall travelers with extra money to spend. Full details on Economy Comfort on Delta’s site.

Delta joins a string of airlines with a medium upgrade option, such as to United/Continental’s Economy Plus. Southwest is now the only airline not to offer a comparable service.

Reaction so far has been mixed. Gulliver, for instance, has mocked the name: “If you name your premium-economy seating “Economy Comfort,” what not-very-subliminal message are you giving about the joys of your regular economy seating?” It’s also criticized some of the details. “Early boarding is not much of a lure on an international flight with allocated seats.”

Travelers turn back to travel agents

May 10, 2011

Washington Post’s “Travelers turn back to travel agents” – This Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post ran a positive article, addressing the value of working with a professional travel agent. ‘Travelers turn back to travel agents’ notes that while for many years consumers saw travel agents as having “gone the way of the milkman,” today it’s a different story. As writer Nancy Trejos, explains, “[T]he travel agent has been given a reprieve. That’s because many vacations have become as hard to plan as the name of last year’s traveler-stranding Icelandic volcano was to pronounce. Natural disasters cause flight cancellations. Revolutions put tourist destinations off-limits. Airlines and rental car agencies confound with ever-increasing fees. And the Internet spews so much information that it manages to hurt consumers as much as it helps them. … Travelers are starting to need vacations from planning their vacations.” The article goes on to quote ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar as saying: ““Consumers are looking for specialists. They want a destination wedding specialist, an Africa specialist, a Puerto Rico specialist.”

Source: Washington Post

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