Monday, December 19, 2011

Year End Review

We're heading into the holidays, time for a brief review of developments in budget travel this year. It's been a mixed picture. Widespread economic problems have tended to help keep prices down, but have also impacted the ability of many people to travel at all.
And the tendency in developed and developing countries alike toward a bifurcated society, with a few people at the top able to pay big bucks while the majority struggle, applies also to travel. I enjoy Peter Greenberg's travel expertise, and was interested when his blog mentioned new low-cost hotels in New York City. Unfortunately, his idea of low-cost starts at $250 per night.On the upside, there are always new hostels and real budget hotels opening around the world, even in pricey Moscow, and the options for low-cost nontraditional travel are many. In addition to lodgings run by religious organizations, groups such as and provide the opportunity to meet and stay with locals at little or no cost.I have yet to experience couchsurfing, and have perhaps written too much about Friendship Force. The latter deserves to be better known, since it is open to everyone regardless of age or ability to put up travellers. Even if you live where there is no chapter of the group, a lot of exchanges are open to non-members, or you may be able to join a nearby chapter. If you are really ambitious, you can get together with your friends are form a new chapter.
On the airline front things seem mostly to go from bad to worse. I have rarely had problems when travelling by air, but this was my year. I am still waiting to be paid $176 Continental Airlines owes me for a hotel stay nearly six months ago. They probably hope I will eventually give up, but that is not going to happen. On the plux side, I was very pleasantly surprised by my first experience in many years of service and equipment on Aeroflot Russian Airlines, even on routes within Russia. It's light years ahead of its Soviet-era predecessor, and of some Western airlines.
Finally, on a personal note I want to offer birthday wishes to one of my best friends, Dr. Valerie Broege.
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