With the dollar in a deep decline in comparison to the Euro and heck, even the Canadian dollar, it's going to become even more important for many American travelers to really do homework before booking trips to Europe. Although Northern Europe and Scandinavia can be pretty pricey, if you don't mind a little chilly weather, this week's smart deal from Europe ASAP (tel. 415/750-5449; www.europeasap.com) is worth considering. "Holland Independent Holiday" is priced from $699 per person (based on double occupancy) for travel November 1 through December 13, and January 8 -- March 24. This may sound confusing, but here are the details of the trip: eleven days/nine nights, airfare, and three nights' accommodations followed by a seven-day car rental. This means you're spending eleven days total traveling, nine nights in lodgings. It is designed especially for travelers who want to spend time in Amsterdam -- your accommodations are there -- and explore the countryside. Hotel taxes and service charges, along with daily breakfast, are all included, along with the VAT and unlimited mileage for the car rental. You must book at least seven days before you depart and the trip price reflects midweek travel; departures Thursday-Monday will net you a $35-$50 surcharge. You can depart at any time on your requested departure day and the booking deadline is October 22.
This trip is especially appealing you prefer to travel independently, without a set itinerary, and you like to see all of your options in front of you when you're planning. For example, on the company's website you can see the prices if you want the option to upgrade. You can get something a little bit bigger for just a little bit more money, or research the half dozen hotel possibilities that are in front of you, from tourist class options such as Hotel Acro (from $699) or Hotel Waterfront (from $739) all the way up to the superior class Gresham Memphis, which Europe ASAP rates as above first class. It is also possible to add extra nights to this package, and if you're booking this trip with more than one other person, you can generally expect to see a bigger price reduction.
For help on figuring out what to do once your three-night stay in Amsterdam is up and you want to go elsewhere within the city or you want to do some touring of the countryside in the rental car (or by renting a bicycle -- Holland is covered with routes for cyclists) Visit Holland (tel. 212/370-7360; us.holland.com) can assist. For less expensive stays at homes, bed and breakfasts, farms, inns, and other more laid-back accommodations, Bed and Breakfast Holland (www.bedandbreakfastholland.nl) gives you a map, so you begin to explore your options for traveling outside the city center (and see some of the country's 1,000 or so windmills), and see that you're not far from Utrecht, Rotterdam, or Delft, with its world-famous, blue-and-white pottery.
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