Although the change hasn't yet been officially announced, we have definite word that the well-known STA (Student Travel Association) will be raising the age limit for their services from 26 to 30. Starting immediately, young people who are no longer students, but are less than 30 years of age, will be permitted to take advantage of STA's "student discounts" on airfares, tours, hotel stays, packages and cruises. And since an awesome percentage of America's population is under the age of 30, that news is a price cut for many tens of millions of travelers. If you're a stripling of 29 and under, you might take a look at StaTravel.com....Mohonk Mountain House, the giant resort hotel built in the late 1800s alongside a mountain lake near New Paltz, New York, 90 miles north of New York City, is still going strong and better than ever (as I learned last week during a short stay). Founded by two Quaker brothers, and designed to offer an immersion into glorious nature, it is run by a fifth generation of the same family and remains as enchanting as ever. Though you can now have wine or beer with your meals (you earlier couldn't), you otherwise enjoy an unchanging routine of hikes and boating, horseback and carriage rides, exploration of caves, serious movies at night, and serious evening lectures from wildlife or agricultural experts, alongside just a few modern touches like an indoor pool and spa, and a mountainside ice skating rink. $300 a day per person brings you rooms equipped with working fireplaces, and breakfast and dinner. More details at www.mohonk.com/NewYorkResort. .
Though AirBnB.com has leapt to the top of the list of sources for short-term apartment and home stays, and seems to dominate discussion of that subject, it's challenged by at least seven other nationwide competitors that you might also try: Rentalo.com, Roomorama.com, Flipkey.com, Homeaway.com, VRBO.com, EVRentals.com, and Wimdu.com (the last-named being a well-regarded British firm). And there are scores of local, room-finding agencies that specialize in their particular community, like NewYorkStay.com. Add the several room-exchanging firms (you stay in someone else's apartment or home while they stay in yours), like HomeExchange.com or IntervacUSA.com; as well as those generous sources of free-of-charge apartment and home stays, like Couchsurfing.org and GlobalFreeLoaders.com. As I've written before, the substitution of apartments and homes for standard hotel rooms is perhaps the major trend in vacation travel today.
The Travel Show on radio, presented every Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. E.S.T. by my daughter and myself, presents the opportunity for readers of this column to pose travel questions to us, for immediate response. For some time to come, however, the show is pre-empted on sporadic Sundays by baseball games and their "pre-shows" in numerous cities that otherwise carry the program live. If readers would like to hear the show nevertheless, they can do so by simply going to Frommers.com and clicking on the word "RADIO" in the upper right hand area of the main menu page. There, our comments on travel developments are "streamed live" from noon to two, and also presented in the weeks to come by "podcasts" of the last several months' programs. We've been heartened by the number of our readers who are able to hear the show even in these days of spring training games.
The hottest town in Mexico, in terms of its touristic appeal, not its weather, is San Miguel de Allende, 150 miles north of Mexico City. Basking in being named "the best city in the world" by the Conde Nast organization, its city fathers are obviously attempting to broaden its demographic appeal to a younger group of American visitors, balancing its former status as a supreme location for American retirees, who currently make up nearly ten percent of the city's population of 100,000 people. When I was last there, I was greatly impressed by the active cultural life of San Miguel, which ranged from art showings to writers' conferences to a small opera house, all happily supported by an impressive group of American residents in their 60s and 70s. San Miguel is now building a convention center, other community facilities, and a giant, gated, retirement community. It remains to be seen, however, whether younger American tourists will gravitate to this dynamic town of intellectually-curious, culturally-attuned American retirees.