Something To Declare

Christmas shopping abroad; inspirational bookshops;
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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: Christmas shopping abroad

The traditional day-trip to les hypermarchés of Calais can hardly be classed as a great adventure. To make it more of an experience, go for a long weekend for not much more than the cost of a day excursion. Discount agency Ferrysavers (0870 442 4223, www.ferrysavers.com) is offering a Dover-Calais return on Hoverspeed for £80.10, for which you must return within 72 hours of arrival; this is not available direct from Hoverspeed.

Alternatively, you could try the new P&O Stena Line weekend fare of £92 return, if you can meet the unusual conditions for the crossing. You must sail from Dover after 2pm on Friday, and return on Sunday between 6am and 10pm, but not during the 2-6pm peak. The £92 fare for a car and up to nine passengers is available only through www.posl.com; it costs a fiver more by phone on 0870 600 0600.

If you have your sights set on something more ambitious, you could travel from Dorset to Times Square for three nights from 18 November for £689, based on two people sharing.

The second half of November is the lowest season in travel from Britain, which is why Bath Travel (01202 200707) chose it to charter a Boeing to fly from Bournemouth to New York for a Christmas shopping trip. After the events of 11 September, the company offered customers the option to cancel free of charge; as a result around 100 places remain on the trip. The price includes a coach transfer with a three-hour guided tour of the city on the way from Newark airport, and three nights in the Marriott Marquis on Times Square. The company boss, Stephen Bath, will join the group – always a promising sign.

For scheduled flights across the Atlantic, there are fewer special offers than normal; the airlines are restructuring rather than offering short-term specials. Through discount agents, BA is selling seats to Boston, New York and Washington for around £280.

Destination of the week: check out bookshops in London and Bristol for inspiration

As the nights draw in, Stanfords travel bookshops are seeking to inspire adventure with a series of talks in London and Bristol. On 11 October, BBC correspondent George Alagiah speaks in London about his book A Passage to Africa; on 14 November, Sara Wheeler traces the life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Tickets: 020-7836 1321 or www.stanfords.co.uk.

In Bristol, Max Milligan, a man who once set up a pub in Peru, talks on the Realm of the Incas on 8 November. On the same theme, Hugh Thomson is to speak on the Lost City of the Incas on 6 February. His is part of a series of wilderness lectures at Bristol Universitywhich begins next Wednesday. Tickets and details from Stanfords on 0117-929 9966.

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