Destination of the week: Chicago
This all-American city is a far better prospect for Christmas shopping than is New York, with lower hotel rates and easy access. For example, Expedia.co.uk (020-3027 8682) is selling four nights at the Beaux Arts-style Palmer House Hilton, two blocks from Macy's and the Art Institute, for £552 per person based on two sharing – and including non-stop flights on United from Heathrow. This was a test booking made for flights out on 2 December.
Shopping is only one dimension; the city's superb architecture adds three more. The Chicago Architecture Foundation at 224 South Michigan Avenue (001 312 922 3432; caf.architecture.org) has a range of special tours, best prefaced by a visit to the Chicago Model City, built on a scale of 1 inch to 50 feet.
If your time is short, opt for the Skyscraper Express, on Fridays and Saturdays at 1.30pm, or the one-hour "Time machine" through skyscraper history on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10.30am or Saturdays at 3.30pm.
Warning of the week: Dengue risk in Australia
"Dengue fever outbreaks occur periodically in north Queensland", warns the state government. While the incidence of the mosquito-borne disease is far less than in other tropical locations, there have been cases in both Townsville and Cairns. "The only precaution visitors need to take is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes," says Queensland Health. "Wear insect repellent, particularly during the day when the dengue mosquito is most active; wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing; use insect spray to kill mosquitoes in rooms; use mosquito coils or plug-in insecticide mats."
The state government also says that the mosquitoes responsible breed in urban environments, so "The usual tourist activities in north Queensland such as reef and rainforest trips carry a low risk".
Bargain of the week: Barbados and breakfast
You can expect plenty of deals for travel to the Caribbean over the coming month, and as the storm season ends it is an excellent time to travel there before the Christmas peak. Typically the offers are for "room-only" accommodation. But Trailfinders (0845 050 5871; trailfinders.com) is selling a week at the three-star Coconut Court Beach Hotel in Barbados, with breakfast (and transfers) for £749 per person, based on two departing Gatwick on 6 December.
Midweek Travel in The Independent and i next Wednesday, 17 November, will feature an insider's guide to Barbados on a budget.
Tip of the week: Tivoli
The gardens at the heart of Copenhagen opened for the Christmas season yesterday. Until 23 December, visitors to Tivoli can meet Santa Claus and watch the nightly firework display; Tivoli will also open 26-30 December, without Santa. Opening hours are long: 11am-10pm or later. Admission for November is DKK75 (£8.50), for December DKK95 (£11), with children aged 3-11 DKK50 (£5.70) throughout. See tivoli.dk.