Something To Declare: Death of the day-trip; trans-Siberian railway; round-the-world flights
Where to go, how to save, what to avoid
Saturday 31 January 2009
Warning of the week: death of the day-trip
"The credit crunch, oil prices, and the growing awareness of the environmental impact of aviation means the flying visit has gone out of fashion." So says Stephen Bath, of Bath Travel, on his decision to axe the firm's day-trips to Europe and beyond.
The company's tour-operating division, Palmair (01202 200 700; palmair. co.uk), has run as many as 30 day-trips a year from Bournemouth airport to destinations as diverse as northern Iceland and Upper Egypt. But its final awayday takes off two weeks today: a St Valentine's Day trip to Venice. Places on the flight, leaving Bournemouth at 7.30am, are still available for £294, including inflight meals. When the plane lands back in Dorset at 10pm, it will mark the end of 16 years of such day-long excursions.
Thanks to the expansion in low-cost flying from Bournemouth, though, "DIY" day-trips will still be available. On 28 February, for example, you can fly to Geneva with easyJet for the day (well, for a late lunch, given the airline's schedules) for just £43 return.
Destination of the week: trans-Siberian railway
An early candidate for "most diverse travel collection of the year" is The Trans-Siberian Railway: a Traveller's Anthology, published this week by Signal Books (£12.99). No previous collection can boast a sequence of extracts from Paul Theroux, Bob Geldof and a 1914 Baedeker guide (giving full details of the four-day voyage from London to St Petersburg, price £7.10s).
The book will prove a good companion for a trip on the world's longest railway journey. Coincidentally, Regent Holidays (0845 277 3380; regent-holidays.co.uk) has launched its Russia & Trans-Siberian 2009 brochure, which for the first time has an option that embraces North Korea. This 12-day trip (£995, excluding flights) starts in Beijing and includes two nights in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
Bargain of the week: Round-the-world flights
For anyone who finds themselves with time on their hands, and perhaps a redundancy cheque to spend, February could be an excellent time for global circumnavigation. Haydn Wrath, of the round-the-world specialist Travel Nation (01273 718 025; travel-nation.co.uk), says: "Airlines are reducing their dreaded fuel surcharges, so that a ticket that would have cost £1,800 last year will now typically cost £1,500".
In addition, Australian airline Qantas has reconfigured its fare rules to offer more low-cost options for people heading around the planet. A London-Singapore-Sydney-Los Angeles-London trip now costs £1,079, compared with £1,330 previously. The first three legs can be taken on Qantas Airbus A380s, with the final flight from LA on a British Airways Jumbo.
For a more exotic route, using the A380 as far as Sydney (picured), Mr Wrath recommends continuing via Australia's Gold Coast, Cairns, Melbourne to Christchurch, where you make your own way to Auckland and stop at Fiji on the way home, all for £1,368, saving around £200 thanks to the rule change.
If you can travel next month, and book by 8 February, Air New Zealand has some excellent prices. Travel Nation quotes the example of London-Hong Kong-Auckland, surface to Christ-church, followed by the trans-Pacific flight to San Francisco, an overland trip to LA, where you pick up the London-bound flight – all for £839.
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