Travel: Departures

Mid-June is traditionally when the best bargains for cheap flights to Australia expire, but in a soft market with plenty of capacity some deals are being extended into July. For example, to qualify for All Nippon Airways' cheap fare to Sydney you must leave the UK before 10 July. Until then, you can get a Heathrow-Australia flight, via Tokyo or Osaka, for pounds 604 through Airline Network (01772 727272).

If you can depart for Australia by 30 June, Bridge The World (0171-209 9000) has an enticing deal that includes southern Africa. For pounds 714 you can fly London-Harare on British Airways, hop across to Sydney on Qantas and fly home direct. Johannesburg and Perth are also available (with some variations in fares and taxes). In July the price leaps by pounds 350.

The next time that cheap fares are likely to be widely available is late October and early November. In previous years, Austravel (0171-734 7755) has filled the inbound journeys on the first few flights of its charter series by offering a fare of pounds 599, flying out on scheduled carriers and back to the UK on Britannia charters. This pattern is likely to be repeated for 1996. One advantage is that you can choose from a wide range of arrival and departure points in Australia.

From this week, Scotland becomes closer to Northern Ireland. P&O European Ferries has launched its new Jetliner fast ferry between Cairnryan and Larne, reducing the journey time by more than half to just one hour. The company has a series of day trips based on the new service, with excursions to the Giant's Causeway, Derry and the Mountains of Mourne for pounds 18 each (bookings can be made on 0990 980888).

The SeaCat service between Stranraer and Belfast (0345 523523) continues to offer a pounds 15 day return fare for the 90-minute trip, but capacity on the route will increase greatly from 7 July - when Stena Line (0990 707070) introduces the HSS fast ferry. A day-trip ticket costs pounds 24 return (increasing to pounds 27 on Saturdays).

The Settle to Carlisle railway line is offering a special summer day fare from various northern-England stations, including York, Newcastle and Durham. You pay pounds 25 (children half-fare) for unlimited travel to, and on, England's most beautiful and fragile line. The deal does not apply on Fridays and Sundays.

Luton becomes the hub of a new European flight network from Wednesday. The new airline Debonair is starting services from the Bedfordshire airport to three European cities. The lowest return fare to each - including tax - is shown in brackets: Barcelona (pounds 99), Dusseldorf (pounds 87) and Munich (pounds 107).

Other routes are due to start up later in the summer, which will include Copenhagen, Madrid and Newcastle. You book direct on a free phone number, 0500 146200, or through a travel agent.

EasyJet (01582 445566) offers connections to Luton from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with fares starting at pounds 29 each way plus tax.

Villas in Tuscany, Provence and the Algarve are being rented out to customers tendering "reasonable offers" to the tour operator, International Chapters (0171-722 0722). The company still has spare fortnights at some large and classy villas, which would normally cost pounds 5,500 to pounds 8,600 and sleep up to 14 people. Prospective tenants for these properties can call International Chapters and make a bid.

"The one certainty about holidaying with friends is that you never know what will happen. Family dynamics are unstable at the best of times. Multiply them by two or more, mix them up in a new environment toss in all the expectations of a holiday, and you end up with a cocktail so volatile that it should come with a health warning".

In Family Life in Section Two of the Independent on Monday, Hilary Wilce describes the hazards of holidaying en familles, and suggests ten tips for a harmonious holiday.