In travel, there’s always an alternative to consider when you plan your next vacation. Here are some of them:
(1) Cruises vs. all-inclusive resort hotels: Strictly from the standpoint of cost, the all-inclusive resort hotel is increasingly felt to be the less expensive of vacation choices. That’s because the all-inclusives don’t charge extra for numerous daily needs for which you pay extra on a cruise: drinks, especially, but also for specialty restaurants serving an ethnic fare. Consider, too, gratuities at the end of your stay (which aren’t regarded as necessary at an all-inclusive resort). Every year, the cruise lines devise additional extra-charge features, and more and more Americans are therefore consulting the websites of those many tour operators that now charge one single, solitary amount for an entire week-long vacation, including round-trip airfare to the destination and transfers between airport and hotel.
(2) Hotels vs. apartments or vacation homes: The apartment and home win, hands-down, By simply planning at least a one-week stay at the destination, you’ll be able to occupy an apartment (anywhere in the world) or vacation home (like in Orlando) for far less than you’d pay in a hotel, and yet in spacious quarters that include facilities for making your own breakfast (and occasionally other meals).
(3) Hostels vs. hotels: If you’re an adventurous sort leading an unpretentious life, you’ll want to seek out a hostel accommodation now found in all major cities. There’s no maximum age restriction any more, and many people of mature age find that they enjoy the youthful flavor and sociability of hostels that increasingly supplement their dorms with private rooms--yet still at a remarkably low price.
(4) Independent travel vs. group travel: Because people all over the world would never dream of striking up a conversation with a touristic group (even though they frequently make contact with individuals), independent travel introduces you to the authentic life of the destination.. It widens your horizons, confers unique and memorable experiences, and is infinitely superior in all sorts of ways to surrounding yourself on a foreign trip with a crowd of your fellow Americans.
(5) Trains versus planes: Wherever the choice exists, you’ll want to opt for a train, and thus avoid the crowded, stressful conditions of virtually every airport. You’ll also enjoy a more intimate experience with the area through which you’re passing, and you’ll avoid those many occasions when flights are cancelled because of weather (while trains keep operating).
(6) Ocean cruising vs. river cruising: The river cruise is a very special activity, and though a small number of persons in their 50s are now opting for river trips, the general age level remains quite high (people in their 70s, especially). Younger people still aren’t opting for a river cruise in any major numbers.
(7) Print guidebooks vs. mobile electronics. To the extent that most of those hand-held products are “user-generated” (that is, they consist of recommendations and critiques e-mailed to them by travel amateurs), you should know that they are now being massively manipulated by the very hotels and restaurants they cover. A large part of their contents are fakes, and the claim by their advocates that they can distinguish the fakes from the honest reviews, is totally spurious. Call me a self-interested imposter, but I will continue using print guidebooks written by long-experienced travel professionals.
Photo credit: Ann Cecil/Lonely Planet Images