Thursday, January 31, 2013

Early Dining Specials

In many parts of the U.S., particularly in resort areas, fine dining places offer great deals if you are willing to eat early. These specials are especially popular with the over-50 crowd, but in these recessionary times you see a lof of younger people taking advantage of them also.
For example, in or near Clearwater Beach, Florida there are three very good restaurants where two people can eat a full dinner with soup or salad, main course and dessert for $25 before tax and tip. House wines and drinks are also available at reduced prices at these times, usually before 5 or 5:30 p.m.
The Island Way Grill is one of them, and its main courses are accompanied by tasty mashed potatoes mixed with wasabi mustard or by rice. The selection of mains is wide, with a number of seafood specials. Salads and warm bread are good, as are desserts although the latter are on the small side. In fact, I noticed recently that the size of the main course also seems to have shrunk since last year, but it is still an excellent value for the price.
 Bob Heilman's Beachcomber has a more limited choice of entrees, but also very good food and larger portions. I got a piece of salmon that could easily have fed two people, along with vegetables, warm bread, a relish tray and dessert. The early specials are served from 4 to 5 p.m. weekdays and Sunday afternoons. The Beachcomber dates back to the 1960s, and food is home style American if your parent was a very good cook. If you want something a little more ethnic, Bobby's Bistro behind the main restaurant has tasty pizzas and a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere
In Bellair near Clearwater Beach, Marlin Darlin is owned by the same people who operate the Island Way and has similar food,  prices and early dinner specials. If you happen to be in this part of the world on U.S. Thanksgiving in late November, they offer a great turkey dinner special for $13.95.
Early dinner specials may not be advertised, but if you are in any resort area it doesn't hurt to call the restaurant and inquire about them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tokyo Cheapo

Looking for more suggestions on ways to save money while visiting Tokyo? Check out for information on visiting or living in the Japanese capital city without going broke.
The site is geared to true budget travel, listing mainly hostels for lodging, but it has good ideas even if you prefer to stay in hotels. There is an interesting post on how to spend three days in Tokyo for $125 that involves eating very cheaply, staying all three nights at a comic book store that becomes a type of hostel at night, and landing at Haneda, the closer-in of Tokyo's two airports.
Japan is known for innovative hotel options, including the coffin-like capsule hotels that cater mainly to Japanese businessmen who are too drunk to make it home. Very few of these hotels accept women or foreigners, thank heaven. However, shops that convert to hostels at night were a new one for me. The latter even sell six-hour or nine-hour packages of sleep time.
Japan's scarcity of land means that many Japanese live in places that Westerners would find claustrophobic. However, the country's high level of economic development and strict social norms mean that even very small or somewhat dingy places are likely to be very safe. Unless you get drunk or otherwise go looking for trouble, you have little to worry about in terms of street crime.
The TokyoCheapo site suggests bringing most of the cash you expect to need with you from home, where exchange rates are likely to be better. And because of the culture, you need not be concerned about walking around with a lot of cash.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Volunteer Tour Guides in Japan

If Japan is one of the countries you have long wanted to visit, but you are intimidated by the difference or language and culture and reported high cost, you may be pleased to learn that in many parts of Japan you can find volunteer tour guides who know your language.
These guides, who are mostly retirees, students or housewives, will take you on pre-arragned walking tours in some large cities such as Tokyo, or if you contact them far enough in advance they will try to tailor a tour to your specifications. The guest is responsible for paying any admissions or transit fares for the guide, and for any meals or drinks.
The Japan National Tourism Organization ( has a list on its Website of the cities where this service is offered, and of the pre-set tours that occur at specific times in big cities. To me, this sounds like a great way to meet some locals and learn a little bit about the area you are visiting.
I am certainly going to check into this service when I finally visit Japan. That may be fairly soon--I recently learned that the number of Aeroplan ( miles needed for a flight from Canada to Japan has increased from 60,000 to 75,000. If I don't go soom, I may not have enough miles.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Affordable Destinations for 2013

Fodor's ( is an old established name in the travel guidebook business. The founder Eugene Fodor is long gone (I glimpsed him at an SATW meeting in 1989,not long before his death. He was a slim elegant Hungarian gentleman with white hair then,) but the brand carries on.
On their blog ( one of the most popular blog posts is a list of seven affordable destinations for 2013. They include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; St. Augustine, Florida; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Nashville, Tennessee, among others.
I have quarrels with some of these choices. A quick search of hotels in Rio found very few under $200 a night right now, but that may be because of Carnival. I also know that the Brazilian real has appreciated significantly against the U.S. dollar in recent years. In South America, I would choose a place like Quito, Ecuador for affordability over Rio. (Full disclosure--I have been to Quito but not Rio.)
Along similar lines, I would choose Berlin, Germany over Amsterdam for affordability and interesting sights. Berlin is a real bargain by standards of northern Europe and has a lot to offer in terms of history and museums. So does Amsterdam, but at higher prices generally. I have visited both cities, although it's quite a while since I was in Amsterdam.
Nashville, TN may be of interest to country music fans, but otherwise I don't think it has a lot to offer except for The Hermitage, homestead of President Andrew Jackson, known as Old Hickory. Instead of Nashville I would choose Chicago. Hotels may be more costly, but there is a lot more to see.( But then, having been born in Chicago, I may be prejudiced.)
In any case, check out Fodors for some views on budget travel and for their forums. Their guidebooks aren't bad either, although they tend to skew toward luxury travel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Return to Bone-Chilling Cold

Flew back to Montreal yesterday on Air Canada ( after spending some time in Florida. The flights were fine, with decent leg room even in economy. I was allowed to take my largish carry-on aboard, something I could not do on my flights down on U.S. Air (
I presume the reason must be that the Airbuses used by Air Canada are more spacious that the equipment used by U.S. Air and other American-based carriers, particularly for the flights to and from Montreal. Whereas Montreal to Toronto is a major route for Air Canada, Montreal to Newark, Washington, etc. gets relatively little traffic and hence smaller planes.
Flying in January when winter storms are likely, I think it's smarter to fly through Toronto where they are used to dealing with heavy dumps of snow than through someplace like Washington or Atlanta where any snowfall can cause paralysis.
In this case I lucked out, with no snowstorms in either Montreal or Toronto but extreme cold in both cities. The only difficulty with this routing is changing planes in Toronto. I stayed in the same terminal, Terminal 1, but still had to go through security again. And my booking barely gave me time to make it through immigration when it was not crowded, through security and to my next gate on time. And I was travelling without checked baggage. I doubt I would have made it with baggage. There was no time to stop for food, so I got home a little hungry.
Travelling without checking a bag has pluses and minuses. It is certainly nice not to have to pay extra and wait around for a bag, but a heavy carry-on can be inconvenient too. I wasn't able to lift my bag (which weighed about 30 lbs.) into the overhead compartment on the first flight (luckily, a taller person helped me,) and on the second flight I had to put the bag under an adjacent seat because it didn't fit under the seat in front of me.
All in all, though, I must applaud Air Canada for providing decent baggage room and good, professional cabin service.
Here in Montreal today it is -27 C., or about -17 Fahrenheit. Luckily, there is little or no wind. Anyhow, it's good to be home.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Price Reductions at Fairmont Hotels

Fairmont Hotels ( are not exactly in the budget category, but a winter price reduction for stays from now until the end of April can reduce the cost by up to 50 per cent.
You need to book by the end of January for a promotion called "Everyone's an Original" that applies to Fairmont properties worldwide, although there may be blackout dates at certain hotels.
Fairmont's properties are located mostly in the U.S. and Canada --they now manage many of the elegant old railway hotels in Canada, places such as the Chateau Lake Louise and the Chateau Montebello. However, they have properties in other parts of the world as well.
If you are dreaming of a luxury hotel stay to break the monotony of winter, this could be a good time to sample some of these places. On the Website, check under Offers and Promotions.for more details.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vagaries of Air Fares

I have been researching air fare options for a possible trip to the Russian Far East this summer, and am amazed by the range of prices on some of the usual cheap fare Websites (,, etc.)
For a trip from Montreal to Vladivostok, the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the prices quoted range from a little less than $2.000 to more than $11,000. Because I would actually be coming back from Ulan Ude to Vladivostok, I would probably have to add quite a lot more for that flight, which I am guessing could be via Moscow far to the west. (In Russia as in Africa, sometimes you have to fly very much out of the way to get where you really want to go.)
Then there are round the world air fares to consider--haven't had the energy to look into them yet. I did check whether I would save much by using my Aeroplan (www.aeroplan,ca) points to Japan for the trip out, then returning via Moscos, but that didn't seem to save anything.
The difficulty with the fare that costs less than $2,000 is that you are 29 hours in transit, and any delays would of course add to that sum, not to mention getting to the airport two or three hours in advance. It would make for a very exhausting day and a half or so, I suspect.
Situations like these are ones where it may pay to use a good travel agent and absorb the extra fees, I suspect.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bloggers with Trips

If you enjoy reading travel blogs and would like to replicate some of the experiences you're reading about, a new service called OutTrippin is about to go live. It connects readers with bloggers and tour operators, and is the brainchild of a young woman who goes by the name Indiana June.
The blogger provides information on a trip he or she took, a connection with an outfitter or tour operator, and the new service provides customers. The blogger supposedly gets a cut of the price of the tour.
From what I can see so far, it appears that most of the tours will be of the outdoor/extreme sports type. I signed up for the service myself, but am not sure my recent travels would fit into this template. Perhaps I could do a couch potato's tour to Siberia, or a spy reader's jaunt around Berlin. Lately I've been travelling mainly independently or with nonprofit groups.
I've always been more of a culture vulture than an extreme sports type. Whenever I've had the chance to do outdoorsy activities other than walking or tennis or a little skating, I've usually declined. Not that I have anything against the more extreme pursuits, just that whenever I've tried them the outcome hasn't been pretty.
However, if you relish the idea of kayaking in Argentina or bicycling across some lesser developed country, you should check out And if I can find anyone to organize an opera lover's tour of Europe or a cultural tour of Russia at a reasonable price, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saving up for Travel

The Website isn't geared specifically to saving for travel, but it has some good suggestions that would apply to saving for travel, retirement, a new home or car or anything else.
Begun by Anna Newell Jones, a young woman who decided to take action in order to get out of debt, the site details in an interesting way how she went first on a spending fast for a year, then on a spending diet and managed to get out of a substantial amount of debt. It helps that she has a regular job and a sideline business, of course.
She did it by paying only for necessities like rent, food (at home, no restaurants,) gas, insurance, and forgoing buying new clothes, taking vacations, etc. Drastic steps, but it worked.
She lists 56 Free Things To Do, such as taking books or tapes out of the library, walking, biking (if you have a bike,) cutting your own hair, organizing your house or your finances, reading the archives of blogs you enjoy, and many others including visiting local attractions on free days. Of course, if you have a business you can always work on the business, learn a new language from books and tapes, learn more about internet marketing, or search for a new job.
You may already be doing many of these, but it is good to know you aren't alone. The blare of advertising is so loud that sometimes you start to think you must be the only one who isn't constantly at the mall or shopping online.
Another site with interesting ideas on how to save up for travel is

Monday, January 14, 2013

Savings on Overseas Flights

Several airlines have announced lower prices for flights from North America to Europe and farther afield, provided you book by various dates in January.
Finnair ( has rates as low as $660 from New York to Warsaw round trip for midweek flights up until April 30. New York to Vilnius, Lithuania is priced from $630 under the same conditions, while New York to Helsinki starts at $700. These flights must be booked by January 17.
Finnair flies from Canada to Europe only in summer, but there are also good prices on these flights in you book this month. Toronto to Helsinki flights start at $899 return, provided you book by Jan. 30. I have taken this flight as well as a couple of other Finnair flights and always found the service pleasant and the equipment good.
British Airways ( also has some good deals on travel beyond Britain, provided you book by Jan. 23. An example is New York to Bangalore, India for as little as $981, or Los Angeles to Johannesburg, South Africa starting at $1,258. Similar rates are in effect from Canadian destinations.
Air France ( is offering fares such as $853 return from Houston to Amsterdam, with a 10-day minimum and 30 day maximum stay. Place your order by Jan. 31 to get savings like this.
With fares as low as these, and with global warming, winter and early spring may become the new high season for travel abroad.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Complaining Sometimes Helps

I spoke with a friend today who was scheduled to fly from New York to Montreal last Monday, but her flight was cancelled. It was early in the day so the airline offered to put her on another flight, but she had an important appointment and would miss it if she took that flight.
She was able to make her case forcefully enough that she was re-booked on another airline for a flight that got her in on time. Sometimes, it does pay to complain, or at least to make sure that airline or hotel personnel understand all the facts about your situation. If you can't get the situation resolved on the spot, call, write a letter or send an email after the fact.
If even this doesn't work, consider contacting Christopher Elliott, ( who is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a non-profit group that advocates for travellers.
Travellers' legitimate grievances sometimes get ignored because different sets of laws apply in different countries, and with regard to travel by air and sea. Chris Elliott writes a blog with good advice on how to minimize the likelihood of encountering hassles on the road.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Junior Year Abroad

If you are a university student or know one, consider the value of a junior (or other) year abroad. Many American colleges and universities offer these programs, and if yours doesn't, you may be able to join the program of a different college. Sometimes studying abroad is actually less expensive than staying in the U.S.
When I was an undergraduate my college (Saint Mary's at Notre Dame IN, had one or two overseas programs in Europe, but now they offer options in 11 countries around the world. Many private and public institutions of higher learning provide chances for students to broaden their experience of the world while earning credits toward a degree.
Studying abroad when you are young can change your life. Spending a 'year in Bologna, Italy as a grad student certainly changed mine. I had grown up in a sheltered Midwestern environment, and had ventured (with my parents,) only as far as Mexico and Canada. Although I was in international studies at Johns Hopkins (,) I did not have a huge desire to go abroad. But winning a fellowship that covered the cost of my year in Bologna changed my mind.
During my year overseas I learned enough Italian to get around, travelled widely through Europe and developed an addiction to travel that I still have. My overseas experience was of interest to employers when I was looking for jobs, and certainly helped me land some travel writing gigs. And it broke me out of my American cocoon.
If you want to give a gift to a child or other young relative, I can't think of a better one than sponsoring a year or semester abroad. It's a gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Deals in the Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains are unmistakeable, craggy peaks in funhouse shapes in the northernmost part of Italy. In winter they are a favourite place of skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts, and this area is generally less expensive than other parts of Italy or nearby Switzerland.
The Dolomites lie in South Tyrol (,) an Austrian province that became part of Italy following World War I. Today it is a bilingual province with a lot to recommend it. There are stunning resorts like Cortina d"Ampezzo (if you've seen the original Pink Panther movie, it was set there,) quiet Alpine villages, family-oriented resorts such as Val Gardena, lively towns such as Bozen/Bolzano and Brixen/Bressanone.
Ski deals can be interesting--one week long package offers transport to a different ski area each of seven days and accommodation, starting at only 211 euros. A weekend package at Val Martello with two nights lodging and a snowshoe excursion is priced from 102 euros. Since this part of Italy is somewhat Germanic, breakfasts included with your lodging should be more filling than the usual in Italy.
It's quite a while since I visited the South Tyrol, but I spent two very pleasasnt weeks there one summer studying Italian in Bressanone and staying with a family. I also skied at Val Gardena a long time ago, and enjoyed the warm sun and friendly hospitality.
For some beautiful pictures of this part of the world, check the blogsite

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Flash Hotel Savings

If you book in the next 45 hours, you can score some amazing savings on hotels with Orbitz ( The catch is you have to be a member and receive those sometimes annoying emails, but it could be worth signing up.
The reductions are 50 per cent, which means a room for as little as $40 at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, or a place at the Duke Grand Rome boutique hotel near the Borghese Gardens for $68 a night. Rome is an expensive city, so the latter sounds like an especially good deal. At the Edgewater in Seattle, the half-price reduction brings a room to $105, while the Flemings Mayfair in London has rooms for as little as $152 . Yes, the latter is pricey, but almost everything in London is. There may be blackout dates at these prices.
I have not experienced it myself, but have been reading about the ridiculous fees many hotels are adding on to basic bills. Many charge a "resort fee" just because they have certain facilities, or are in a resort area. One hotel in Toronto was charging almost $20 a day just for the privilege of having a small refrigerator in the room, whether or not you ever used it.
It pays to ask about any extra fees when you check in. If there are fees you object to, say so, whether at check in or check out. If enough people complain about these gouging charges, they will disappear. The basic price may go up some, but at least you'll know up front what you will be paying.
The tendency fo a lot of hotels to try to maximize revenue from each guest is one of the reasons I often prefer, where possible, to stay in nonprofit lodgings like those run by religious groups, or at least in smaller, family-run places.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Scotland in Florida

Dunedin, Florida is a town that advertises itself as "the real Florida," away from the glitz of the beaches, the tacky strip malls and the high priced attractions. Settled by Scots in the 19th century and using the Gaelic name of Edinburgh, it is a charming place in the sun with lots of pleasant, reasonably-priced restaurants and some nearby natural attractions.
The downtown area has a low-rise, almost Victorian look with lots of big trees and brick streets. Main Street is the location of most of the pubs and restaurants. Some that are worth a visit are Bauser's, a pub that allows dogs and whose exterior walls are decorated with dog protraits; Sea Sea Riders, with  covered outdoor terrace dining; Casa Tina for Mexican food and decor; Pan y Vino for delicious pizza and an extensive wine selection; and The Living Room for Armenian food served in a luxurious setting that includes some interesting books you can read while you wait for your meal. (I found a good book on the Chechen War there.)
There is a pretty Bed and Breakfast inn called Meranova right downtown, but it is fairly expensive. Nearby, a cafe called British Delicious serves specialties from the islands, as does a British-themed pub at the marina called Crickets. Dunedin also boasts a Lawn Bowling club, a Highland Festival and other occasions when you are likely to see men in skirts carrying bagpipes. The town is home to a lot of artists, and Art Fairs downtown are frequent. The local library on Douglas Street is a good place to pass some time, and for its size has a good selection of books, including used books you can buy for as little as 50 cents. Marguerite's Cafe right next door is convenient for lunch al fresco in warm weather.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can travel to Dunedin without using a car from Clearwater Beach, downtown Clearwater or Tarpon Springs on the Jolley Trolley. Dunedin is also served by local buses.
Last but not least, Dunedin is home to the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training and to the minor league Dunedin Blue Jays in the regular season. The town attracts a lot of Canadians for its baseball and Scottish heritage.

Monday, January 07, 2013

China with Kids

Imagine teaching English in China with your husband, living in a tiny unheated apartment where there is no running water at night. Some teaching days are eight hours long, four two-hour classes one right after the other.
Then add on three kids under five, one of whom is an adopted Chinese girl. None of you speak much Mandarin yet.
That describes the situation Aminta Arrington ( faced not long ago when when she chose to relocate with her family to teach at a university in a provincial Chinese city. She writes about it frankly and movingly in her book, Home is a Roof over a Pig. The title refers to the Chinese pictogram for home, and Arrington weaves information about the Chinese language throughout the work.
Reading it, I was reminded of another very good book by an American woman who taught English in China--it was called The Early Arrival of Dreams.
Arrington went in search of the "real" China, far from the big modern cities and found it. She doesn't gloss over the culture shock she and the rest of the family experienced, but clearly she relished most of the time she spent in the northern city of Tai'an. In fact, she and her entire family are still living in China, but now in Beijing.
This book is must reading if you are considering teaching or living in China, and certainly can be recommended as good armchair travel reading too. I was pleased to note that Arrington is a fellow graduate, quite a bit later, of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Update from Central America

My friend who is staying in Panajachel, Guatemala this winter reports that he is enjoying it very much. He's meeting a lot of friendly retired Americans, staying in the same compound where he lived many years ago (and paying a ridiculously low rent,) even going to the local gym most days.
Meantime, another friend has spoken of her plans to move from California to a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica later this year. This was a big surprise to me, since I had never heard her expresss any interest in Central America before. But she said there is a big colony of American expats there with a pleasant lifestyle and much lower costs than in the U.S. I knew a lot of Americans live in Costa Rica, but just thought she would seek out a more exotic location. She has previously lived in Hong Kong and Switzerland, among other places, and has travelled widely.
My only exposure to Central America was a brief visit to Costa Rica in the 1980s, and all I can remember that was particularly interesting was an excursion to the Poas volcano, a live bubling volcano you can walk right up to see.
Anyway, I find it unusual that two such well-travelled friends are impressed by this region at the same time. I would appreciate hearing from others who live in or have travelled extensively in Central America.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Discounts on Luxury Cruises

If you are willing to book ahead, there are some significant savings available on some luxury ships. Seabourn Cruises are considered to be among the best available, and it is possible to book passage on some of their ships for just over $200 per person per night, plus shipboard credits, through the Website
Seabourn has interesting itineraries around the world, such as Athens to Singapore for $202 per person per night, or Dubai to Singapore starting at $249 per person per night. I have never sailed with Seabourn, but have heard good reports from people who have.
Cunard ( is offering transAtlantic crossings on its flagship Queen Mary 2 this year for as little as $999 per person. which works out to less than $200 per night. The transAtlantic crossing is one I would recommend to everyone as at least a once in a lifetime experience, and the Queen Mary 2 is one of the few ships still providing it on a regular basis.
You may have seen QM2 in the news lately for intestinal illness that affected some 200 passengers. Unfortunately, this type of illness (along with seasickness) can occur on even the tightest ship. It's just one of the hazards of travel, and the experience of crossing the fierce Atlantic on a vessel with the storied tradition and elegance of a Cunard ship is, in my opinion, well worth the risk.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Secret Attractions

If you are a Cold War buff like me, there are several cities in Europe where you can view buildings connected with that long period of history, which lasted roughly from 1947 when George Kennan wrote his famous "X" article in the journal Foreign Affairs to 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved.
I had hoped to add to this post a picture of the large yellow building in Moscow known as the Lubyanks, but on checking I discovered that I took the picture in 2007, before I switched to a digital camera. The building itself is unremarkable and not far from the Kremlin, just a short walk to the northeast. It is still the headquarters for the Russian Security Service (FSB/SVR) and during Stalin's time was the dreaded destination of many of those arrested for crimes against the people. In some cases it was a final stop, in others just a way station en route to the gulags in eastern Siberia. Rumor has it that there are many storeys of prisons and torture chambers underneath the building.
In St. Petersburg, Russia the so-called Big House of the security services is located at the intersection of Liteiny Prospect and the Neva River, at the start of the Liteiny Bridge and just across the river from the Finland Station, where Lenin arrived in 1917 to take charge of the Bolshevik Party and lead the Revolution. The building is far taller than most other buildings in the city center.
 I stayed in an apartment just a couple of blocks from the Big House for a couple of weeks, and walked past it a few times not knowing what it was. I thought it was probably a utility building of some kind, but never ventured in to try to find out. I did notice that the streets nearby were usually very quiet, with few pedestrians around.
To get an idea of how the East German security service known as the Stasi operated, today you can actually visit the Stasi Museum in East Berlin ( The admission charge is a modest 5 euros, and the museum is located near the Magdalenastrasse Ubahn station. I have not visited this place, but it looks interesting if antiquated, with typewriters and reams of paper files.
In London, it must be hard to miss the huge new headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service on the Thames River. (Not, in my view, very secret.) The former headquarters of the service, called in some spy novels the Circus, is rumored to be located at Cambridge Circus in the west central section of the city. It's fun to walk around and try to guess which building it could be.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Caretaking Lifestyle

One way to explore a different country or region at minimal cost is to become a caretaker or housesitter for a time. These jobs are all different, but there are a lot of people looking for responsible caretakers for their vacation home/ranch/inn/other property. Sometimes the job also includes looking after children or animals.
These are not generally jobs where you will get rich, and many of them are located in remote areas, so you have to be pretty self-sufficient. Still, it could be an interesting opportunity for the right person.
For listings of job openings in this field, you can subscribe at a newsletter published every two months called the Caretaker Gazette. It is put out by people in Texas who run a Website called There is a charge of at least $29.95 U.S. for the listings online for a year,
but you can glean a lot about the opportunities available and the kind of folks who enjoy these jobs from the Website itself.
I read the profiles of two sample caretakers, one a writer and the other a former forest ranger, so they seemed to be people who are comfortable with a lot of solitude. It's not just for loners, though--there are a lot of openings for couples and some for families or groups. Usually lodging is supplied, along with a small stipend if much work in involved.
Many of the jobs are in the U.S., so ability to work legally in the U.S. is an asset. But there are openings worldwide, if you want to venture abroad.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Free Online Travel Mag

Looking for some new travel ideas for 2013? You may be interested in an online travel magazine called No, it's not about getting out of the way of the sound man, it's geared to members of the Baby Boom generation.
There are different definitions of the Baby Boom in different countries, but generally it includes everybody born after World War II up to about 1965.  The articles in WatchBoom are well-written and likely to appeal to all ages, however, especially to travellers looking for the unusual.
I learned from the site about cruises to the main attractions of classical antiquity in the Mediterranean on a ship called the Aegean Odyssey. This is a converted ferry boat that attracts an older, more intellectual crowd than the usual cruise ship. It sounds a lot like the ships of Swan Hellenic, a British company that cruises the same region and features lectures by highly-qualified academics.
Another article featured Jerash, a ruined Roman city in northern Jordan which I have visited and enjoyed. It is very well-preserved and a lot less crowded than similar places in Italy or Greece.
Not all the travel ideas are modestly-priced, and in the articles I read there was no mention of whether the writer had paid his or her own way. I suspect the writer got a significant reduction in most cases.
You need to sign up to get monthly delivery of the magazine to your in-box, but you can peruse the archives without signing up.