Something To Declare: Long-haul Christmas for couples; Tunisian treasures; flying around India; time your Channel hop

Bargain of the week: Long-haul Christmas for couples

Weak consumer confidence, as reflected in late bookings, low prices and tour-operator failures, appears to be affecting even late December – normally a time when flights and hotel beds are in short supply. To boost sales, the very robust Trailfinders (0845 050 5871; trailfinders.com) has packaged flights and rooms to desirable festive destinations, aimed at couples; all prices are per person based on two travelling together, and for specific dates.

A four-night stay in the mid-range Metro Hotel in New York, leaving on 23 December on BA from Heathrow, costs £769. Unusually for the US, the deal includes breakfast. Book by next Friday, 27 August.

A week at the five-star Indigo Pearl resort on the Thai island of Phuket (below), departing 20 December, is £1,785 including flights from Heathrow via Mumbai to Bangkok with Jet Airways; domestic transfers on Bangkok Airways; transfers; and breakfast. Book by 31 August.

The same booking deadline applies for the most luxurious – and expensive – option, to St Lucia. Fly non-stop from Gatwick to the Caribbean on 19 December, with Virgin Atlantic, and transfer to the Sandals Grande St Lucian Spa for an all-inclusive week. At £2,229, it works out at £318 per person per day.

Warning of the week: Tunisian treasures

"At Tunisia's archaeological sites, you may well be offered ancient coins for sale," warns the new fifth edition of Lonely Planet's Tunisia (£14.99). "Buying looted ancient artefacts is not only unethical but illegal – but if this does not deter you, bear in mind that they may well be fakes. Official guards have also been known to offer visitors ancient tesserae [individual tiles from mosaics] and the like as souvenirs. Taking such objects out of the country is illegal." The Foreign Office concurs: "It is not permitted to remove antiquities from Tunisia without first obtaining permission from Customs authorities". Offenders risk fines and imprisonment.

Destination of the week: Flying around India

Indian Railways may still be the world's greatest transport undertaking, but the expanding number of low-cost airlines provide tempting alternatives for travellers anxious to see as much of the country as possible in a limited time. The problem: as in Europe, it is expensive and difficult to change dates, making impromptu travel impractical.

The solution could be to book an itinerary through Jet Airways (0808 101 1199; jetairways.com), where date changes are available for a nominal fee of 750 rupees (about £10). The Independent Traveller asked for an itinerary around southern India starting and ending in Chennai (formerly Madras). It encompasses Bangalore, the Portuguese colonial city of Kochi (formerly Cochin, above), Trivandrum (for beaches and backwaters of Kerala) and the religious hub of Madurai. The price is £331.

While Jet Airways is one of the few airlines still to offer unlimited-travel air pass options, its "Visit India" fares do not represent good value. A one-week pass costs US$360 (£240), but surcharges of US$80 (£53) are payable on every flight.

Tip of the week: Time your Channel hop

Crossing the Channel this weekend for France or beyond for a week or so? Adjust either your return date, or your expectations for crowds and congestion.

Dover expects Saturday 28 August to be the busiest inbound from France. On the corresponding day last year more than 70,000 passengers sailed in to the port. SeaFrance, which sails from Calais to Dover, says 28, 29 and 30 August are looking the busiest in terms of advance bookings.

According to Eurotunnel, bank holiday Monday (30 August) and the following weekend, 4-5 September, are likely to be busiest through the Channel Tunnel from Calais to Folkestone.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine