Still looking for ways to hit the road and still save dollars and fuel this season? We've gathered together a few more deals to try and entice you to still take that vacation or weekend getaway -- don't let $3 a gallon gas prices (and higher) stop you.
When I last wrote about this topic a couple of weeks ago, I received some constructive (and critical) feedback from a reader who suggested that it was irresponsible of me not to include alternate transport modes as an option for saving on fuel from both a monetary perspective and more importantly an environmental aspect. So in fairness to those who want to leave the car at home, here are also a few options for biking, sailing and riding.
Vacations by Rail (tel. 877/929-7245; www.vacationsbyrail.com) has a great selection of both domestic and international train expeditions. Whether you choose to travel independently or with an escorted tour, Vacations by Rail can offer detailed itineraries with accommodation and touring options. Their eight day "Trains Across Colorado" package is one of their most popular. Starting in Denver, the trip includes services of a professional tour manager, motorcoach transportation for touring (okay so there is some fuel usage), 13 meals (six dinners, one lunch and six breakfasts) and an opportunity to experience five scenic train rides following historic routes of the Old West. Climb 7,539 feet on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, ride the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway, travel through the Rockies aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, marvel at the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, voted one of the "Top Ten Most Exciting Train Journeys in the World" and hop aboard the Georgetown Loop Railroad and Devil's Gate High Bridge. Visit the U.S. Air Force Academy and its Cadet Chapel, Garden of the Gods Park and take a Denver city tour. Accommodation is one night each at the DoubleTree Hotel in Denver, the Drury Inn in Colorado Springs, the Clarion Hotel of the Rio Grande, Alamosa, the Quality Inn, Durango, the DoubleTree Grand Junction Hotel, Grand Junction and two-nights at the Woodfield Suites in Denver. This trip is priced at $1,379 per person and you also receive $40 in future travel credits. Dates for the remainder of 2006 include June 25, July 9, 16, 19 and 23, August 6, 9 and 20, September 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24 and 27 and October 1.
The nine-day "New England Rails and Sails" package is priced at $1,599 per person for departures from Boston on July 25, August 8, September 19 and 28, October 5 and 10, 2006. The trip includes the services of a professional tour manager, motorcoach transportation for touring, 11 meals (four dinners including a savory lobster dinner and seven breakfasts), round-trip airport transfers if required and a city tour of Boston with a local guide. Experience five New England Trains - the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum, the Conway Scenic Railroad, the Green Mountain Flyer, the Essex Steam Train and the Cape Cod Central Railroad. Then set sail with a cruise through Portland's Casco Bay to Diamond Island, paddle downstream on the Becky Thatcher riverboat cruise and enjoy a Hyannis Harbor cruise. The package also includes a dinner at DiMillo's floating restaurant, outlet stores shopping in North Conway, New Hampshire, staying at Mohegan Sun and $45 in future travel credits. Accommodation is one night each at the DoubleTree Hotel Downtown in Boston, the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland, Maine, the Grand Summit Resort in West Dover, Vermont and two nights each at the Green Granite Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire, the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut and the Four Points by Sheraton Resort Cape Cod in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Sojourn Bike Tours (tel. 800/730-4771; www.gosojourn.com) has a colorful array of local riding tours with destinations like Arizona, North Carolina, California, Maine and Vermont. It may not save you money, but it's a great way to have a vacation that is environmentally friendly, great exercise and easy on the palate as well. Their six day Sonoma Wine Coast Bike Tour is the ultimate California bike tour with spectacular scenery, fabulous cycling and luxurious lodging through the best Sonoma County. Cycle through fields of vineyards and redwood forests as you approach the Pacific coastline.Â¿ The back roads of the Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill appellations are perfect for cycling and exploring the northern Wine Country.Â¿ Visit wineries including Clos du Bois, Quivira, Murphy-Goode, Chateau Souverain and Simi. The tour starts and ends at Madrona Manor, Healdsburg and includes transfers to/from Santa Rosa to/from Healdsburg, five nights of luxurious wine country accommodations (including one on the coast), five breakfasts, three picnic lunches, and four dinners, a tour, tasting and picnic at a winery overlooking the Alexander Valley, a private welcome dinner and wine pairing at a Healdsburg winery and use of a 27-speed hybrid or 24-speed road bike. This trip is priced from $1,795 per person, double occupancy. Departure dates are June 11, July 16, August 20, and October 1, 8 and 22, 2006.
Bike The Whites (tel. 800-421-1785; www.bikethewhites.com), is an affordable and environmentally friendly way to visit some of New Hampshire's best inns. This inn to inn biking tour lets you ride your way through Mt. Washington Valley's scenic back roads, covered bridges and rolling terrain. At the end of the day, you'll be treated to the luxurious surroundings and gourmet fare. Bike The Whites packages range in price from an all-inclusive $329 in June to $379 from July through September 15, and $429 from September 19 to October 31, 2006. These prices are per person for three days and nights of luxury accommodations, fine dining and friendly one-on-one attention from innkeepers. Accommodations include the award-winning 1785 inn, renowned for their fine dining and extensive wine collection, Snowvillage Inn and Tamworth Inn, also renowned for dining and views. Start each morning planning a customized route for your ability level with experienced cyclists/innkeepers as you enjoy a hearty country breakfast. Pedal between 20 and 40 miles a day (depending upon your ability and energy level), and for the more adventurous, off road and single track biking are also available. You can bring your own bike or they will provide a Trek all-terrain lightweight 24-speed Alpha aluminum bicycles for rent. These bikes are top-of-the-line models, with seat post suspension, gel seats and upright riding position.
Other travel providers offering fuel saving discounts and incentives include Apple Core Hotels (tel. 800/567-7720; www.applecorehotels.com), who have a "leave the car at home" promotion. Apple Core Hotels is a private company that runs five hotels in the Manhattan area -- ComfortÂ¿Inn, SuperÂ¿8, LaÂ¿Quinta, RedÂ¿Roof and Ramada. But unlike other hotels with these brand names located elsewhere, Apple Core Hotels always offer free wireless Internet service, 24-hour business centers, fitness centers, in-room coffee makers, complimentary continental breakfast and other extras. This summer they will be offering relief to travelers burdened by record-breaking gas prices with an eco- and wallet-friendly value package. The package is priced at $160 plus taxes and includes overnight accommodations, complimentary breakfast, two full-day, unlimited-ride, "Fun Pass" Metro Cards and two round-trip AirTrain tickets from John F. Kennedy Airport or two round-trip bus tickets from La Guardia Airport. Mention the package code Summer under Special Requests when booking online. The package is valid for stays between July 1 and 31, 2006.
Hotels.com (www.hotels.com) is doing its bit to alleviate the gas price burden and has a special at the moment whereby if you book two nights' accommodations through their website at one or more of thousands of properties, you are eligible for a $30 rebate (which you can put towards the cost of gas, or anything else for that matter). Book before July 31, 2006 for stays through September 5, 2006 and get your $30 back by mail-in rebate. Print the coupon, fill it out, and mail it to the address shown along with your original gas receipt. They'll refund the credit card used to book your hotel room up to $30. Submissions must be postmarked by September 12, 2006 and received by September 19, 2006 with only one rebate available per customer, household or reservation.
If you are planning a trip to Aspen, you can take advantage of their resort wide gas saving offer. Guests who book at least two nights at one of the 15 participating properties through Stay Aspen Snowmass (tel. 888/649-5982; www.stayaspensnowmass.com/plan.spec.gas.php) will receive a voucher for up to $50 free gas at The Aspen Store, two free passes for the scenic bus to the Maroon Bells ($14 value), two free bicycle rentals for a day, free parking at your accommodation and a free pass to Aspen Recreation Center. You also get free transportation around town while you are there courtesy of Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA). You must ask for the special "Gas Package" when making your booking and this deal is valid until October 15, 2006.
The Travel Industry Association of America -- TIA (www.tia.org) has gathered together listings of various tour operators, visitor associations, hoteliers and innkeepers across the U.S. that are offering gas rebates, incentives and discounts. Check out the list or offers at www.tia.org/resources/pdfs/gasideas2006.pdf.
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