Another NY Times Travel Show has come and gone and there is always good info to soak up in breakout sessions hosted by some of the big names in travel. Those folks include Samantha Brown, Arthur and Pauline Frommer, and the travel writers at the New York Times. I could not attend every session, but I’ll try to list some of the more interesting companies, apps and ideas for you to use.
Arthur Frommer is very much against the large motorbuses that transport travelers around a country. He prefers to sight see on his feet and not on a bus, meaning doing independent tours. But if you must have an organized group tour, he highly recommends tours that have 12 people or less. They use local accommodations, meaning no big chain hotels and use public transportation. Yes that means catching the train or bus that the local residents use. He recommends Intrepid, gAdventures and Djoser
Pauline Frommer recommends using an “ethnic” travel agency for discounts on airfare, hotels, etc. What is an “ethnic” travel agency? One that caters to the residents of the country you are traveling to. She gave the example of using a travel agency that caters to Japanese citizens when she went to Japan. It took her awhile to get someone who could speak English, but she ended up saving $400 on airfare that she would not have gotten anyplace else.
Inspired by Iceland is Iceland’s way to use tourism to prop up their economy after their recent financial meltdown. You can stay in a farmhouse overnight and learn about Icelandic history, go seal watching, or even meet the mayor of Reykjavik. All of these activities are completely free. Iceland is offering discounted airfare and hotel stays. If you’ve never considered this island nation of 320,000 (yes that is all the people they have) the pricing and benefits say this is the time to go.
Jamaica is offering a program similar to Iceland called “Meet the People”. Anything that gets you off the tourist track and in contact with “real” people is always welcome.
Panama offers free travel insurance. Just sign up at the Tocumen International Airport when you land in Panama City and you’ll have it for 30 days. Just don’t have an accident and found to be drinking, acting reckless or otherwise jeopardize your insurance.
Pauline Frommer talked about Vaughan Systems which allows native English speakers to get a free two week vacation in the Spanish country side. The catch? You have to speak English to Spaniards who want to learn English. That is it. All you have to do is have conversations with people who want to learn English. There is plenty of wine, food and interesting sites along the way to help keep conversations along.
Workwaway provides the opportunity to work (volunteer) for room and board around the world. You can be a ranch hand in Canada, work in a hostel in New Zealand or live with a family in the Italian countryside. A wide variety of experiences are available.
GlobalGreeters finds free tour guides that will take you around major cities all over the world. They will show you the transportation system, take you to the best dining spots and really provide an local’s insider view of a location you would not get on a tour bus with 40 other people.
Arthur Frommer also gave a few tips on Bali and Paris.
To get to Bali from the USA use a company called Escapes Unlimited with a fare of $1399 for 5 days out of Los Angeles or San Francisco. You’ve got to fly to Hong Kong first with a free layover there and then doubleback to Bali. Will take some time but well worth it for the money you save. That price includes airfare, hotels, transfers and even breakfast everyday. Really spectacular savings.
XL Airlines flies Paris to New York. Most of the flight are Paris to New York but you can book New York to Paris for about $550 round trip, taxes and fees included. I didn’t try to book but the search engine brought up the right fare.
In part two, we’ll look at some of the websites mentioned at the New York Times Travel Show that will help you plan and book your next travel adventure.