Something to declare: Summer deals; Ireland on the cheap; Staying out of trouble in Japan

The best deals, the latest hot spots and what's new in travel


Destination of the week: summer deals

Holiday prices are rising fast now that July has begun, and Mediterranean packages at under £400 for a week are scarce. Once the school holidays begin in England and Wales later this month, the average price will go higher still. But if you have not yet booked a holiday there is a solution: find a cheap flight to a business destination, and travel on from there.

Package prices are normally highest for travel on a Saturday, but on flights heavily used by business travellers this is sometimes the cheapest day of the week.

For example, flying from Stansted to Bergamo, near Milan, on Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com), out on 30 July and back a week later, the return fare is £45. Bergamo is well placed for the Italian lakes such as Garda (right), and has good train connections (via Milan) to a range of beach and countryside destinations.

There are also excellent deals to Germany, the choice of cheap flights is even wider. On the same day, 30 July, you can fly from Liverpool to Cologne for just £48 return on easyJet (0905 821 0905; www.easyJet.com).

The German city itself is well-equipped for family holidays, with a first-rate zoo, a chocolate museum and boat trips on the Rhine, and it is also well placed for excursions into the countryside. These fares were researched on Tuesday afternoon, 5 July, and are likely to increase closer to departure.

Warning of the week: stay out of trouble in Japan

"If you are arrested in Japan, even for a minor offence, expect as much as 23 days police detention while your case is investigated," according to the Foreign Office. "Bail is not granted to foreigners."

The travel advice also explains that you are not allowed access to a lawyer when being questioned by police. "You are advised not to sign any document you cannot understand, since it is very hard to amend once signed." And if you are indicted for a crime, "you can expect up to a year for the completion of your case".

And time spent in detention while on remand or making an appeal does not automatically count towards completion of the sentence.

Bargain of the week: Ireland on the cheap, guaranteed

With hundreds of flights between the UK and Ireland each week, the ferry companies have found it difficult to compete. But they are now hitting back with guaranteed low prices from anywhere on the British mainland to Dublin and beyond.

Irish Ferries and Stena Line have teamed up with train operators to offer extremely low fares through the SailRail venture. The companies promise "guaranteed fares are not subject to availability".

Typically, a return journey from most parts of north-west England to main destinations in eastern Ireland cost £54 return. The most you will pay, for example from the far north of Scotland to the south-west corner of Ireland, is £82 return.

"Arrive rested and refreshed without the hassle of negotiating a busy airport and surly flight attendants," says Irish Ferries. Book on 08450 755 755 or visit www.sailrail.co.uk.

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