Something To Declare: Lake Como; Ski & Snowboard Show; Dutch Caribbean; cash in Russia

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: Lake Como

If you are free to travel to northern Italy in November or early December, Shearings Holidays (0844 209 7157) has an appealing deal for a flat £299: flights, transfers, three or four nights' accommodation, all meals – and free drinks between 8.30pm and midnight.

"We tried to put this deal together ourselves," says Raphael Giacardi of the bargain-spotting site Travelzoo, "and the best price we could get was £450".

The price of £299 applies on a range of dates from 8 November to 13 December. It is subject to possible flight supplements, since the air element is sourced from a variety of airlines at Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Manchester, Liverpool or Edinburgh. But at the time of going to press, dates in November appeared to be supplement-free.

Tip of the week: Powder puff

The world's largest consumer winter-sports event, the Ski & Snowboard Show (0871 2301 100; metrosnow.co.uk), takes place 20-24 October at London Olympia. Tui Ski, which owns Crystal, Thomson and First Choice ski, is returning to the show, which aims to recreate "the mountain atmosphere in the heart of London".

New activities include the Land Rover Mountain Theatre, with presentations from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Sir Steve Redgrave, and the "Ice Driving Experience".

Tickets are normally £12 (£9 in advance) for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, or £16 (£13 advance) for Saturday and Sunday. But Independent Traveller readers qualify for a reduced price for two of £15 (weekdays) or £20 (weekends) when booking by phone or online and quoting "Independent".

Destination of the week: The Dutch Caribbean

The Dutch Antilles is one of the three components of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – along with Aruba (a small island off the coast of Venezuela) and the European nation we call Holland. But from tomorrow the federation that unites St Maarten with Curacao, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba is to end. As one nation becomes five, the kind of travellers who like to tick off countries will have four more to visit. Access to Curacao and Bonaire is through Amsterdam on KLM, while St Maarten also has links from Paris Charles de Gaulle on Air France and from Paris Orly on Corsair.

Warning of the week: Cash in Russia

Until recently, visitors to Russia could benefit from arguably the most competitive foreign-exchange market in the world, with a host of bureaux de change in the main tourist cities. But from 1 October, private change offices have been shut down.

"Only change money at banks, hotels and airport exchange bureaux," says the Foreign Office, adding that it is illegal to do so with street traders – and to settle meal and room bills with foreign currency such as dollars or euros.

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