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Thanksgiving travel packages to Europe have become so popular and inexpensive; it's almost as affordable to take an entire family of four to Paris as it is to drive from Buffalo to Baltimore to see Grandma. Certainly, it's a great option in order to escape the family inquisition for a new boyfriend or girlfriend who hasn't met Mom and Dad yet. Or a great time for a group of city friends who just don't want to cook, or don't have the space to entertain. Any way you look at it, with these prices, you don't need an excuse to see Europe this Thanksgiving. But act fast, these deals expire soon.

Gate1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has deals to most of the European capitals. Deals are from four to six days and include airfare, lodging and daily breakfast. Take Paris, for example. A six-day/four-night trip starts at $399 with accommodations in the 12th Arrondissement near the Village de Bercy. From the hotel, Notre Dame is only three Metro stops away. The hotel has a restaurant and bar attached. Formerly an industrial neighborhood bordering the Seine, the 12th is now an up and coming commercial center that draws business people for meetings and after work drinks. The nearby Gare de Lyon means you have access to the Parisian suburbs and tourist points around the city. Daily continental breakfast is included. Air taxes and departure fees are not. Ask the Gate One representative about the prices of these taxes which can run between $50 and $250 depending on your destination. Book this and other Gate1 Thanksgiving excursions soon as availability may be limited for late bookings. This Paris trip departs on November 23, 2005.

Gate1 offers other Thanksgiving deals priced per person based on double occupancy hotel lodging to the following cities from New York (other cities are available for additional prices):

  • Brussels for 5 Days: $389
  • Vienna for 6 Days: $399
  • Prague for 6 Days: $419
  • London for 6 Days: $449
  • Budapest for 6 Days: $479
  • Amsterdam for 5 Days: $499
  • Rome for 6 Days: $499
  • Barcelona for 6 Days: $499
  • Madrid for 6 Days: $499
  • Venice for 6 Days: $559

Most trips depart one or two days before Thanksgiving. Check each individual city for hotels, remembering these low prices are for lodging in moderately rated hotels in good to sometimes very central locations. Also, remember the air security and departure tax add-on will be different for each.

Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a special Thanksgiving trip to London starting at $399 for double occupancy accommodations in a budget hotel located across the street from Hyde Park. At the time we went to press, Go-Today was listing a purchase deadline of November 4 for this package. That being said, the company typically extends those deadlines until all its inventory is sold so be sure to check Go-Today's site for updated information. Prices for the package with accommodations at the standard class and very comfortable Somerset Bayswater Hotel go up to $479. This hotel is close to Kensington Gardens. The package includes round-trip airfare out of New York (prices also increase for departures from other New York cities), all lodging, daily breakfast and hotel taxes and service charges. Departure dates for this trip are November 23, 2005.

If you happen to have family in Finland, Go-Today has a three-night five-day trip to Helsinki starting at $589 that includes airfare and hotel. Travel is good from now until December 15, 2005 with no blackout dates, meaning you can choose to depart around the Thanksgiving holiday. Purchase deadline is by November 17, 2005. The trip departs out of New York but add $30 for departure out of Boston, $60 out of Philadelphia, and $80 out of the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. Add $310 from Austin or San Antonio, Texas. Departures are Thursday with a Saturday night stay required, so you might even be able to get a quick Turkey leg in with the family before heading overseas.

For a Thanksgiving in Iceland (why not go remote), Iceland Air Holidays (tel. 800/779-2899; www.icelandairholidays.com) has a "Northern Lights Quest" with mid-week departures out of Baltimore, Boston, Orlando and Minneapolis starting at $601 per person with double occupancy lodging. While you are not guaranteed a Northern Light sighting (since according to the website the "Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon"), you are guaranteed an Icelandic adventure filled with thrilling sites, and great fun at the clubs, restaurants and bars that stay open all night. This two-night four-day trip is a "photo safari" giving you glimpses of Iceland's natural beauty. This tour takes advantage of the best time to view the Northern Lights -- November to February. The detailed itinerary includes two breakfasts, plenty of independent shopping and sightseeing time and two nights searching for that majestic evening light show. Single supplements start at only $64 more than the double occupancy price. No Thanksgiving blackout dates apply here. The turkeys in Iceland, however, are scant. IcelandAir also offers a Thanksgiving package starting at $751 dollars. See the website for details. This trip includes a Thanksgiving buffet at a local restaurant.

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