TRAVEL YOUR QUESTIONS: The obsessive traveller

Cutting costs

I have wished to visit Cape Verde off the west African coast for some time, although my funds are limited. A Heathrow flight with TAP, with an overnight stay in Lisbon, would apparently be some pounds 1,800. This seems a little steep when a similar fare would take me on a world tour with several stopovers.

Richard Bacon

via e-mail

Phil Haines replies:

Travel to obscure countries is rarely both straightforward and inexpensive. But it can usually be one of them.

Years ago, the easiest access was to stopover on the Cape Verdian island of Sal, travelling between Johannesburg and New York with South African Airways - which always had to refuel there during the apartheid era because other African countries denied it landing rights.

Anyway, these days the cheapest way to get to Cape Verde is as follows. Buy a cheap ticket from London to Dakar in Senegal - about pounds 400 return. On arrival in Dakar, buy the leg to Praia, on the Cape Verde island of Santiago. (Bear in mind that this flight has to be confirmed in person in Dakar). This is also a pleasant route, because Senegal is a fascinating country to visit. (If you have time on your hands, you could even consider hanging around there for the monthly boat to Praia.)

The outlying islands of Cape Verde can be reached by inter-island ferries or internal flights.

Phil Haines - the youngest person to have visited every country in the world - runs a travel company, Live Ltd (tel: 0181-737 3725; phil.haines@livetravel. com), "specialising in travel to special places".

Young fun

We have a gregarious, outgoing daughter and an eight-year-old son with autism. What would be a suitable holiday for our family? We have tried apartments with children's clubs, but my son does not enjoy the clubs because they involve face painting, sports etc, which are not suitable for him. We have also hired a villa with a pool, but my daughter misses company and entertainment.

My son's behaviour can be eccentric and noisy which puts other children off joining him and because of this a hotel would not be appropriate. He also tends to wake at 5.30am, disturbing neighbours.

Mrs M MacDonald


Kate Calvert replies:

It sounds like you need somewhere that offers both entertainment and separate accommodation.

One option is Crystal Premier France, which runs Pepi Penguin Clubs at six properties in France and some separate accommodation - so you wouldn't have to worry about your son making noise. The facilities usually include a pool and possibly golf, tennis and a club area. There is also the children's club, which operates six days a week, May to September, for children aged six months to 11 years. You can book by the half day. Prices in the Dordogne, for example, cost from pounds 365 per week for a cottage. Return travel is extra. Call the family hotline (tel: 0181-241 5199;

Alternatively, you could try Gascony Secret , which recommends properties (tel: 01284 827253). Near Condom in Gascony, for example, there are three gites where families can stay, with nine acres of land, shared pool facilities and a lake. These cost between pounds 450 and pounds 510 per week in high season. Five minutes away, children can be booked on a daily basis (at extra cost) into Les Enfants du Paradis, a club based in a 17th-century farmhouse, set in 10 acres with a pool. This is run by an English couple with four children of their own.

A maximum of eight children can enjoy riding, tennis, golf, canoeing, walks, bike rides, fishing, painting and sculpting.

Kate Calvert edits 'Family Travel', the subscription-only publication for parents (tel: 0171-272 7441).

Play it safe

My wife and I plan to travel in Central America between El Salvador and Panama by local transport, taking about four weeks. Books tend to suggest that some of these countries are more hazardous to travel in than Kosovo. Do you have any information?

Geoff Beckett

via e-mail

Mark Stratton replies:

Prior to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Mitch last October, travelling between El Salvador and Panama - which involves passing through Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica - was relatively straightforward.

Recent reports suggest the main roads of the two worst affected countries, Nicaragua and Honduras, have been patched up - although the Foreign Office ( still warns of problems away from the main routes.

Frequent, inexpensive buses will take you along La Carretera Interamericana, the main Central American highway. Many of the region's main attractions, such as the Mayan ruins of Copan (Honduras) and the colonial city of Granada (Nicaragua), have been largely unaffected.

Crime has always been a problem but most overland travellers have few problems. However, care should be taken particularly in San Salvador, the north coast of Honduras, Managua and Panama City. Foreign Office advice warns of "significant lawlessness" across El Salvador. The best advice here, especially in the capital San Salvador, is to stay in your hotel after dark and use taxis. Panama and Costa Rica are generally safe.

For peace of mind you might consider a specialist tour operator. Journey Latin America (tel: 0181-747 8315) uses public transport throughout its three-week trip between Honduras and Panama. Prices start from pounds 1,050, including flights.

Mark Stratton is a traveller and writer.

Home swaps

Please could you give details of companies that arrange house swaps. We are particularly interested in travelling to the US.

Emma Tennant

via e-mail

The Travel Editor replies:

The growth in popularity of home swaps has led to an increase in the number of companies offering this service, with houses available all over the world. The US, Australia and France tend to be top of the swaps, with the US the most popular location - .particularly Florida, California and New England.

For an annual fee, ranging from pounds 38 to pounds 89, the companies will place your details on their listings directories, which you will regularly receive. Intervac (tel: 01225 892208) offers access to more than 50 countries. The International Home Exchange Association (IHEA) - an umbrella group of several firms, including Homebase (tel: 0181-886 8752) - pools listings to provide nearly 12,000 potential swaps.

If you fear ending up in the home swap from hell, Latitudes (tel: 01273 581793) offers a custom-matching service. Also, the Special Families Trust (tel: 01752 347577) provides a small list of properties for anyone with a physical disability.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
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
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice