Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cheap Fares to South America, Caribbean

There are some unusually low air fares being offered this summer and fall for flights from Montreal and Toronto to South America and certain islands in the Caribbean. The best deals in terms of distance flown are those to Santiago, Chile and are available in the fall.

For example, round trip flights including tax on various airlines start at $727 Canadian from Montreal in the September to December period. Flights to Peru from Montreal begin as low as $667 Canadian, and similar prices are being offered to these places from Toronto. Check details on www.yuldeals.com for Montreal departures, www.yyzdeals if you are leaving from Toronto. Normally fares are almost twice this high.

Watch these sites for bargains on last minute deals to the Caribbean too. Recent round trip flights including tax have been as low as $265 Canadian from Toronto to Curacao, or $277 Canadian from Montreal to Grand Exuma, Bahamas.

It's a pleasant change to be able to report some deals for Canadian flyers, since in general air fares within and from Canada are very high.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Iran, Egypt Offer Best Value for Tourists

According to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, this year the countries that offer the best value to tourists are topped by Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. A story in Cairo Scene (www.cairoscene.com) points out that Egypt is especially enticing, with hotels averaging just $73 per night per room, and many that are much cheaper.

In addition, Egypt boasts the longest river in the world, one of the ancient wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid of Cheops in a Cairo suburb, warm weather and friendly people. If you travel beyond Cairo you can explore many more ancient sites of interest such as the Valley of the Kings at Luxor and others along the Nile as far as the border of Sudan.

I agree that Egypt is a great place to visit, though it can be daunting for Westerners with its chaos, poverty and incessant requests for baksheesh (tips.) I last visited in the 1990s, so I cannot say anything useful about current conditions or safety in the country.

It is a sad fact that virtually all the top ten countries for value in tourism present significant challenges for Westerners. Some such as Iran are very difficult for female visitors or Americans of any gender, and the number four country on the list, Yemen, is so dangerous that U.S. special forces had to be evacuated from there recently.

Still, it is good to know that it remains possible to travel inexpensively, especially if you are willing to take some risks.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hovelstay for True Budget Travel

If you are tired of reading about "budget" travel places where a room may cost well over $100 a night, consider booking a stay through a new Website called www.hovelstay.com. This site offers three levels of accommodation, in locations all around the world.

For example, you can spend the night on a llama farm in Israel and niteract with the animals during the day. (That sounds lovely.) Of course, you may be sharing your spartan quarters with a number of strangers. Or in pricey Sydney, Australia you can sleep in someone's paved, covered back garden for $15 per night. Renting a tree house in Guatemala will set you back just $11 a night.

At the lowest level of lodging, toilets and bathing facilities are likely to be shared, and sleeping space may not include a real bed. There are two higher levels, but none of the properties listed costs more than $99 per night.

This is an interesting, fun concept, but as with all these sites where you are dealing with individuals and not established companies, be sure to nail down the details in advance. And if you happen to have a shed, barn or other building on your property that isn't earning its keep, consider listing it for penny-pinching travellers.