More holiday Ideas to Beat the Credit Crunch

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More holiday Ideas to Beat the Credit Crunch

One of the things that I did not have time to cover in my last article on ‘Holidays ideas to beat the Credit Crunch’   was a real killer money saver.  House Swapping, actually I noticed the organisations concerned prefer to call it exchanging, perhaps to avoid any overtones. This one seems a bit way out at first but offers some real savings if you still want to travel and gives much more chance to get into the local culture and pace of life than a traditional package.

The range of people and places who want to swap houses is really quite surprising.  At the biggest home exchange service Homelink there are over 14000 from 72 countries.  I think that sort of people this would suite would be slightly more independent and adventurous.  If you dislike the way you are treated like a tourist on conventional tours and hotels that are impersonal. I think Home Exchangers want to gain new experiences and like to feel in control of their precious leisure time.

Here are some of the reasons why some people find home exchange makes for an ideal holiday.

Holiday Ideas Cost-savings

The cost of accommodation is a major factor in holiday budgeting, especially for those such as teachers or parents of school-aged children who are tied to specific dates and so tend to pay inflated prices. For the price of annual membership (?120), accommodation budgets can be totally eliminated, irrespective of the duration of your stay. It is easy to see how this money could be put to good use: A more exotic destination perhaps? How about longer (or more) holidays? Or maybe you might have little more spending money to treat yourself to some special events that help to turn a good holiday into a great one. One home exchanger recently put the cost-savings into context for me when she said that her membership more than paid for itself on the first night of her first exchange!

You can keep it simple by merely exchanging homes, however you can save even more money by also agreeing to exchange cars, so that the holiday budget can be limited to cost of travel plus food / spending money.

Holiday Ideas Authenticity

Conventional tourism can sometimes thwart the principle of  “When in Rome….” as travellers are often treated as tourists. In this way you have the opportunity to parachute into a genuine local community and live like a local. So, if you like the idea of sauntering along to the local diner to ask for “eggs easy over and coffee”, home exchange could be for you. With this in mind you dont have to live in a touristy area yourself, either.

Holiday Ideas Flexibility

Remember also that there is no limit to the number of exchange holidays that you can take during your membership year. This should be appealing to retired or semi-retired members as they are more able than most to succumb to wanderlust. This also means that there are quite a high proportion of similar travellers, and the sites indicate both where people have children and where they are retired. Having members in over 50 countries also means that there is an enormous range of destinations from which to choose.

The emergence of local airports and low-cost airlines makes domestic and European destinations more accessible and so opens up the possibility of adding a number of cheap 3-7 day breaks to the main holiday of the year. On renewing for their second year, one family recently told me that they had completed seven exchanges in their first year!

Holiday Ideas Convenience

Well-matched home exchange partners go on holiday in the knowledge that their accommodation is likely to be tailored to their needs. For instance, parents of young children may find it easier to relax when their holiday home is child-friendly. Parents might also enjoy travelling light, as many normal accompaniments can be left at home as a car seat, high chair and a range of toys await them.

Furthermore, many members agree to take care of each other’s pets and/or garden maintenance so there may not be a need to pay for alternative arrangements or return home to a jungle after your holiday.

Frequently asked questions about Home Exchanges

How do I know my home will be Safe?

The answer is you don’t. However, arguably your home will be much safer when occupied by exchangers than if left empty. Home insurance companies know this, as do the police. HomeLink claims that in over forty years of exchanging they have had very few instances of damage and no reports of theft. Most problems are at the level of, “housekeeping standards,” at the home being visited. Even in these rare situations exchangers return to find their own home just as they left it. While you are setting up your exchange you will get to know the other family. You also know the other exchanger’s profession and have a good idea of the home involved before you make your first contact.

Most HomeLink members are professionals – doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.- business executives, and retirees. In general, they are in an upper income bracket, well educated and are experienced travellers. They are also very proud of their homes, which is why they’re not too embarrassed to let others enjoy their home whilst they’re away.

Who pays the bills?

Pay your mortgage and utilities as you normally would and agree beforehand who should pay extraordinary expenses such as long distance telephone calls. If a car-exchange is involved you should discuss who pays for minor or major damage.

Is my house covered by my insurance?

In general, most home insurance policies covers home exchangers. After all, they’re your guests, and it’s really no different from having friends or relations stay in your home whilst you’re away on holiday. Most insurance companies say they would much prefer you to have exchangers looking after your home rather than going off on holiday and leaving it empty.   However you would have to check with your insurers and personally I would ensure it either explicit in your policy or you have it in writing.

Planning and getting an exchange

There is a continual turnover of people joining such schemes and looking for exchanges,  many arrange an exchange within a couple of weeks. The most successful exchangers are those who are proactive and send many invitations. The more flexible your plans, the greater your opportunities. Generally speaking, short-haul trips are planned 3-6 months in advance with long-haul trips being planned 6-9 months ahead or more.

What’s actually involved? How do I prepare my house?

These recommendations from http://www.HomeLink.org will give you some idea of what you have to do to prepare your home.

1) Leave your home clean. Standards of cleanliness vary, so make sure that floors are cleaned, refrigerator emptied, oven and hob grease-free, bath and shower free of mould and grime, windows see-through, and surfaces dust-free. No need to repaint the house!

2) Clear away enough of your personal belongings to leave space on shelves and in wardrobes and drawers so that your guests can empty their suitcases, arrange their things in bedrooms and bathrooms and feel at home.

3) Leave at least two sets of clean sheets per bed and two sets of towels per person.

Travel Tips for Holidays in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

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Travel Tips for Holidays in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

At the southern tip of Gran Canaria the island’s most popular holiday resorts, Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas sit side by side. Playa del Ingles is the larger and caters predominantly for low budget package holiday tourists whilst Gran Canaria is a more upmarket and quieter resort.

Although the two resorts join at the eastern end of a beautiful, four mile stretch of sandy beach, they are separated inland by a 250 hectare area of sand dunes. The area is a nature reserve and habitat for several rare species of flora. Some dunes are over ten metres high and when you are in the deep valleys between them, it is easy to imagine that you are lost in a vast area of sandy desert. In reality, most of the dunes area is more like a fertile oasis and there is even a large lagoon of great ecological value. It is an important nesting site for many species of birds.

One novel way of exploring the dunes is from the back of a camel. The rides are a popular tourist attraction that takes you through a picturesque section of the dunes, starting and finishing at the camel station that is within easy walking distance of the centre of Maspalomas.

The beach itself is divided into sections and has blue flag awards. The nearest section to Maspalomas is the family section. Further on is the naturist section and beyond this is a section used by the gay community. All sections have areas where beach parasols and sun-loungers are set out for hire. There are also several beach bars for each section but the beach is so huge that the buildings do not spoil its natural beauty.

The sea is of course, the Atlantic ocean, and very big waves are common. The beach can also get very windy at times but this southern tip of Gran Canaria enjoys warm sunny weather the whole year round so it is unusual for a day in Maspalomas not to be nice enough to enjoy the wonderful beach and be able to take a dip in the sea.

Maspalomas has a delightful promenade that is full of bars, shops, and restaurants. Many of the shops are designer stores and boutiques and two five-star luxury hotels are to be found very close by. There is a fabulous choice of reasonably priced restaurants in the area, several providing free live entertainment whilst you eat.

Although Maspalomas does not offer the same level of vibrant nightlife as its neighbour, Playa del Ingles, what it does offer tends to be more sophisticated. As well as bars with live music in the form of jazz, salsa, and a wide range of pop, there are also several bars providing karaoke fun. Most of the nightclubs offer free entrance, although their drinks can often be quite pricey.

A holiday in Maspalomas offers plenty of sporting activities. Whale and dolphin spotting boat trips are available as well as game fishing safaris. Golfing holidays are popular and there is an excellent, eighteen hole golf course bordering the dunes nature reserve.

For families, the nearby Aqualand provides over thirty water-slides including a gigantic one known as the Tornado which has appeal for adults as well as children.

Whether you are looking for a naturist beach holiday, a golfing holiday or a family holiday, Maspalomas is an upmarket, all-the-year-round sunshine resort with plenty to do.

The best travel tip for arranging a holiday in Maspalomas is to use the Internet to find and book both accommodation and the cheapest flight available. You can carry out a Google search by typing search terms such as “Maspalomas Flights” and “Maspalomas Accommodation” into the Google search box. Direct flights to Las Palmas, (Gran Canaria’s international airport) are available from most U.K. and other European airports. The transfer time from the Airport to Maspalomas is only thirty minutes.

Snowbirds Flock to Orange County Beaches

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Snowbirds Flock to Orange County Beaches

Every year more and more snowbirds are migrating to the many beaches of California. With over 1,000 miles of shoreline, almost 120 beach cities, and over 450 beaches, it can be tough decision choosing a place to stay. All beach towns are definitely not alike and the shorelines range from coarse to fine sandy beaches to, pebbles and rocks.
The Orange County area is one of my favorite winter getaways. It’s close enough to Los Angeles for those times when you need a big city fix, but far enough removed that you can still find a quiet, uncrowded haven to enjoy an ocean view. You can walk or ride a bike for miles along the beaches and ocean front walkways and soak up the sun in the moderate winter temperatures. Here is a run-down of some of my favorite Orange County beach towns.
Seal Beach
Great beach shopping, including clothing for the over-25 crowd, with fewer crowds than Laguna or Newport; this combined with free parking make this beach an all around winner. It has plenty of dining choices, entertainment, and an Old Town featuring wide, shady streets. You can fish from one of the longest piers in the state, and enjoy views that go on forever.
Huntington Beach
Also known as “Surf City” and the subject of the song by the same name, Huntington Beach was a humble surf town that evolved into a growing city with a population over 195,000. Residents and visitors are treated to eight miles of uninterrupted scenic beachfront, the 350-acre Central Park complex, biking/walking and equestrian trails, world class surfing and professional sporting events such as AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and the Surf City USA Marathon. The long pier is the perfect place to watch surfers or stop for breakfast and enjoy the morning view.
The Main St. is famous for its surf shops, but dig deeper and you’ll find the 5 Points Shopping Center filled with popular outlet stores, and the Bella Terra Mall with a new 20-screen theater. One of the nation’s largest shopping malls, South Coast Plaza, is located only minutes away. Huntington Beach is also conveniently located only 15 miles from Disneyland, 15 minutes from Newport Beach and Long Beach, and acts as a bedroom community for Los Angeles or Orange County commuters.
Newport Beach
Newport Beach is the epitome of a California beach town and an ideal winter escape from the cold. The City of Newport includes 22 square miles of ocean and bay, which includes several islands and the five mile stretch known as the Newport or Balboa Peninsula. This little gem is full of shops, restaurants, sandy beaches, two piers, boat rentals, boat cruises, and prime surfing spots. You can shop ’til you drop at the nearby Fashion Island, with its 200 specialty stores, 40 restaurants and a cinema.
Golfers delight in several nearby courses including Newport Beach Golf Course, Hyatt Newporter Golf Course and Pelican Hills Golf Course.
Some of the most lucrative real estate in southern California is located among the seven islands that make up Newport Beach. Homes upwards of $2 million are surrounded by one of the world’s largest small yacht harbors.

Elegance Abounds with Cheap Holiday Deals to Vilamoura

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Elegance Abounds with Cheap Holiday Deals to Vilamoura

You do not have to spend a fortune to feel like King of the World when you enjoy family holidays to Vilamoura. This resort is like few others you will find in your holiday travels. The community seems to center around the impressive marina. Last minute deals to Vilamoura make this resort a possibility for those who would otherwise never dare to check out their options for cheap holiday deals to this beautiful resort that was built to be a first class holiday escape. Now is a great time to check out the package holidays that are waiting for you in this incredible resort.

Five Star is about the only way to describe family holidays to Vilamoura. Everything about this resort is designed with an eye to detail and elegance. The beaches are beautiful and the marina was created to be the stunning centerpiece it has become. You will find fine dining along with some of the most impressive golf courses Portugal has to offer all within easy range of Vilamoura.

If you aren’t content to simply see the luxury surrounding you and want to taste it for yourself, there are yacht charters that will give you a good taste of the high life. You can also enjoy excellent fishing trips that cater to the other half (no smelly old fishing hats here). Who knew fishing could go first class right?

There are regular busses from Vilamoura to Quartiera beach where you can enjoy a little sand, a lot of sun, and plenty of water sports for the entire family. You will find that the marina in Vilamoura is an excellent spot for hiring the equipment needed to enjoy many of the water sports like diving and water skiing as well as to charter sailing outings at almost any hour of the day or night. Sunrise, sunset, and moonlit cruises are especially favored by the romantics who visit these shores.

The nightlife, like everything else in Vilamoura is designed with an eye towards a more elegant crowd. You will find jazz bars, cabarets, and casinos in addition to the bars you might expect in a holiday hot spot such as Vilamoura.

Start making your plans today and check often for last minute deals to Vilamoura. If you’ve ever wondered how the other half live, family holidays to this impressive resort will certainly tell the tale. You can have cheap holiday offers that feel like you’ve hit the jackpot but you must search for those cheap holiday deals that will get you there. Plan your package holidays to Vilamoura today and enjoy the trip of a lifetime tomorrow.

Argentina Travel Tips

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Argentina Travel Tips

Argentina has a total area of 3.761-million squire km and 99% of which is land. After Brazil, Argentina is the second largest land mass in South America and 8th in the world. Its bordering nations are Chile in the east, Bolivia and Paraguay in the north, and Brazil and Uraguay in the west. The Atlantic Ocean is in the eastern and southern part of the country.
With its size and location, Argentina is home to several tourist attractions that would boldly define the uniqueness of the country.
The Iguazu Falls, part of the Iguazu National Park in the province of Misiones, Litoral showcases the beauty of water and the spectacle of nature. The falls produce 70-meter plummet and is taller and twice as wide as the Niagara Falls. The horseshoe-shaped falls is the result of a volcanic eruption. Surely your travel in Argentina is not complete without paying a visit to Iguazu Falls.
Also in Misiones is the San Ignacio Jesuitic Ruins. This religious community founded by the Jesuits aimed to bring the Christianity to the locals. He 17th century ruins will show how the community has survived and has lived in during its time.
The Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires is Argentina’s pride and one of few structures that has gained the country its reputation and rights to be called as the “Paris of South America.” The opera house is finished in 1907 with a touch of French, Italian Renaissance and Classical Greek. If no show is presented, visitors can see tour the opera house’s interiors.
Also in Buenos Aires is the La Boca, a fancy and colorful neighborhood located near the Rio Riachuelo. “The Mouth” when translated in English is filled with street performers, tango dancers, and tourists taking pictures everywhere.
Meanwhile, a trip in Cafe Tortoni, one of the oldest caf? where Carlos Gardel, the tango legend and Jorges Luis Borges, the writer spend their precious moments. The 1858 Caf? Tortoni is the focal point of Buenos Aires’ social life.
Cementerio de la Recoleta is Buenos Aires is the place to go on you Argentina travel if you want to see where Evita P?ron lies- wife of the former president Juan P?ron with a movie named after her and dedicated for her. Her final resting place is directed within Recoleta neighbourhood, a sophisticated mausoleums where other rich and famous Argentine lies.
Traveling in Argentina would introduce you to tango. And there is no better place to witness the local dance than in San Telmo. The place is once a lonely place for Spanish immigrants. This is where they sang and dance. Men dance with prostitutes. Soon, some respectable women joined in. And as time and people passed by, the dance soon became one of the most recognized in the world: tango. Today, San Telmo still resembles the old Spain with cobbled stone streets and historical buildings but most of all, San Telmo is a unique place where tango is most applaud.

Tired of Paying at the Pump

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Tired of Paying at the Pump? Buy a Ticket to Ride

With an average fill-up costing anywhere from $40 to $60 each time you visit the pump, it’s easy to see why people are opting for alternative modes of transportation and why ridership on trains and buses continues to increase.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, an average transit user saves between $300 and $3,000 worth of gasoline per year. Overall, public transportation saves approximately 855 million gallons of gas each year.

“Public transportation is the quickest way people can beat the high price of gas,” said APTA President William W. Millar.

While some commuters may struggle with relinquishing control of their car to rely on the schedule of a bus or train, consider this fact: The second most expensive cost American families currently incur is paying for their transportation needs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using the rail or bus system can positively impact families’ bottom line and put money back in their pockets.

Public transportation is growing in popularity. Since 1995, transit use has increased by 25 percent.

“More and more people are choosing to ride public transportation. With rising gas prices, it is obvious that people need to have transportation choices besides driving a car,” Millar said.

For those considering using public transportation, APTA provides the following tips on getting started:

* Log on to www.publictransportation.org to find your local transit system.

* Go to your local system’s Web site to find information on schedules and fares.

* Ask your employer if transit benefits are provided. Employers may provide up to $105 a month in pre-tax money for employees to use public transportation. These transit benefits can also be used for parking at transit stations.

* When visiting a community, consider the discounted one-day pass for tourists.