Europe on a budget

I would like to travel around Europe for at least a fortnight next summer. As a student I am restricted in budget and would like the cheapest possible holiday offering the most adventure. Would Inter-railing be a good way to travel or would a package tour be best?

MG Jones


The travel editor replies: The new 22-day Inter-rail pass (available from Campus Travel, 0171 730 3402) costs only pounds 159 - if you are satisfied with staying within any one of the eight European Inter-rail zones. For example, zone H (Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Macedonia) involves some fairly inexpensive and exciting countries - but you'd have to pay extra for the transport to get you to that zone in the first place. Nearer zones and countries that are easier and cheaper to get to will cripple your daily budget by comparison. You are better off going for an all-zone pass of one month for pounds 259 - if you can afford it.

Alternatively, you could simply opt for an unbelievably cheap package tour to an inexpensive destination with a company like New Millennium (0121 711 2232) which specialises in rural areas of eastern Europe.

Just one of its many bargain breaks is a 17-day B&B coach trip in the Czech Republic next summer from just pounds 264. Once at the resort you are free to do your own thing, and if you are careful with your money, you can live quite well on pounds 10 per day.

Failing all that, just take a package tour to one of the Mediterranean's cheaper resorts. Late availability deals including flights and a room in a concrete monstrosity in the Costa del Sol, for example, can cost as little as pounds 100 a week. With the basics taken care of, you are perfectly free to travel around for a few days during your stay. Walk into your local travel agent and ask about the cheapest deals on offer.

I have the opposite problem from my friends when I travel - constipation

When my friends go abroad they usually complain about diarrhoea but in my case the problem is the other way around. I always get terrible constipation and it somehow seems to be connected to flying which I have to do frequently, for radio and television work. What should I do to avoid this awkward and, frankly embarrassing, problem.

Dave Green


Larry Goodyer replies: This is far from an unusual problem, but not often considered because of the high incidence of diarrhoea amongst travellers. There are quite a number of factors which can lead to constipation when travelling. The most obvious would be a change of diet to one which contains less fibre than you might be used to. A hot climate combined with perhaps not drinking quite enough from day to day would also result in a hard stools and constipation. There may also be an element of reluctance to use the different sanitary arrangements available in some countries. A regular bowel habit may be lost particularly by travellers on the road, where it may be difficult to locate toilets when they are needed, with the additional worry of carrying sufficient supplies of toilet paper.

Problems can also arise with the use of anti-diarrhoea agents, which can have a strong constipating effect that lingers after the diarrhoea has gone away. The situation present in an aircraft could well precipitate your problems. It is known that immobility can contribute to constipation, and if drinks are taken in the form of alcohol this would also tend to dehydrate. Certainly make sure that you have a good fluid intake when visiting hot countries and try to maintain a diet high in fibre.

Ideally you could use as a treatment one of the bulking agents available, but these come in sachets which could take up quite a bit of room in luggage. The alternative for occasional use would be a stimulant type of laxative such as senna.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

Do we need a car in Florida?

We are a party of eight people aged from six to 64, going to Orlando and staying at a villa in Kissimmee. The older members of our party are reluctant to hire a vehicle for transport - they are talking about taxis and buses. Is this feasible?

A Henry


Simon Calder replies: There's a popular myth among travellers to Florida that it is absolutely imperative to have a car to get around. Certainly it can be useful, and public transport is anathema to most Americans. But in fact the visitor with a bit of dedication can also get around quite happily by bus, taxi or train.

Starting at the international airport, there are regular buses that take about an hour to meander downtown. The fare is under $1, and a transfer is allowed to other buses on the Orlando system - all the important attractions can be reached in this way, though it can be a slow process.

Kissimmee is beyond the city limits and therefore not blessed with the same range of transport. However, there are regular buses to and from Orlando, plus plenty of taxis to reach attractions that are between the two. And there is no need to stop at central Florida; trains and Greyhound buses can take you elsewhere in Florida and the US.

Simon Calder is the travel editor of the 'Independent'.