Something to Declare: Budget travel; Europe by rail; EasyJet Plus

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: Anywhere, on a shoestring

The upmarket tour operator Kuoni now has a no-frills option: Shoestring. This was originally a Dutch company, but is now based in Lugano in Switzerland – where Kuoni's HQ is located.

The concept of Shoestring (which has a London phone number, 020-3024 4000; www.shoestring.co.uk) is simple. It offers itineraries to a wide range of destinations, at a fixed price throughout the year for the ground arrangements (transport, accommodation with breakfast, and guiding). The air fare varies.

A three-week tour through Indonesia from Jakarta via Bali to Lombok costs £499; air fares from the UK for next month are around £550.

Closer to home, a one-week trip through Imperian Morocco, taking in Fez, Meknes, Casablanca and Marrakech, is just £199.

Another bonus compared with some other companies: you are unlikely to be told that a particular departure has been cancelled due to low demand: "A Shoestring tour runs when only two people have booked," says the firm.

Warning of the week: Europe by rail

Britain isn't the only nation in Europe where engineering work is disrupting travel, according to the April edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable (£13.50).

The overnight Lusitania train between Madrid and Lisbon has been diverted indefinitely because of a derailment and the state of the track. In France, a bridge over the Garonne in Bordeaux will be replaced over the weekend of 8-11 May.

On the Danish mainland, trains between Fredericia and Aarhus will be disrupted from next weekend to 1 July. And in the Isle of Man, the northern and most scenic section of the Manx Electric Railway is closed all season.

Bargain of the week: easyJet Plus!

If you fly frequently with this airline, the easyJet Plus! membership card could be a good deal. The basic annual card – which costs £75 if you buy before the end of April – confers unlimited "Speedy Boarding", a privilege that can cost up to £7.50. For families, easyJet Plus! is better value: a spouse card costs £50, with child cards at £25 each. For a family of two adults and two children, profits start no later than seven return flights a year.

The new card also entitles holders to use the "Speedy Boarding Plus!" desks at key airports. There is no need to pre-book these facilities; you just show the card at the gate. The card has its own website: www.easyJetplus.com.

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