Breaking News! Travel Can Be Affordable For the Entire Family With Vacation Home Rentals!

My wife and I are travel nuts. We would travel for a living if we could. A few years ago while vacationing in Hawaii, we decided on staying 2 weeks rather than our usual one week spree. Somehow thinking or perhaps subconsciously wishing that there would be some economies of scale, I was more than sticker shocked when we checked out of our hotel- I was mortified.

Vacation rental homes are the answer!

A week later, while back at home I decided to seriously look at how we could maintain our lifestyle and love for travel without paying literally a small fortune for a one to two week vacation. We were contemplating a trip for our family of five to London and europe in a few years and with the currency exchange rate literally doubling the price of everything I searched for a solution.

I found the answer to my cost saving quest, vacation rental homes.

In a lot of circumstances vacationing is a time to get pampered with massages, room service, valet service etc. When I was single and later married without children yet, the pamper factor was critical to our hotel and vacation decision process. Discounting our new family structure with three offspring, a larger mortgage, and escalating costs all around, we have found that when we really want to immerse ourselves in a new culture and location, renting a vacation home can give us everything we want in a travel experience and not break the bank to have a fabulous time. This is true not only for our Hawaii trips, but now for most of our european trips as well.

Some of the vacation home rentals are pretty close to a hotel experience and still give you the feeling that you are a local and not a vacationer. We have experienced fabulous restaurants and activities that were outside of the tourist spots that we would surely have missed if we stayed at a hotel.

If you stay in the UK for example, there are many self-contained rentals for your stay, all fully supported by a service company staff. The London vacation rentals are the London apartments and houses of residents temporarily away from the city. You have the informality, warmth and convenience of a real home in a London property, at prices to suit most pockets. The city self-catering rentals were ideal for vacation or corporate rentals.

A summary of the alternatives we saw in a nutshell are as follows:

*Hotels- Perhaps a little too formal, especially for a long stay. Expensive!

*Bed and Breakfasts- Often just a cheap (and sometimes rather unpleasant) down-market hotel, you may have to lodge uncomfortably close to the owners of a private house and other guests

*Short let commercial apartments- Cold and impersonal and the minimum stay of one week – no good if you want to stay less

We found the vacation rentals to be a great choice for the following reasons:

*Our short stay central London vacation rentals were at London apartments and houses of residents temporarily away from the city

*The apartments were thoroughly screened for location and hand picked, they were places were places where we would be happy to live ourselves

*We found a location with a 3 day minimum, minimum length of stay in most of the London vacation rentals is 5 nights; all other places we saw had a 7 night minimum

*Most of our London short stay, self-contained holiday rentals are no more than 10 minutes from a tube station, often less

*Our rental had a car to meet us at the airport and took us to our London self-catering apartment, it was by far the easiest way to get into town with lots of bags

*We were met by one of our representatives who let us in and gave us tips about the local area and answer questions. Our rental came with its own mini guide covering the neighborhood shops, local transport, pubs, restaurants and cafes

*Our beds were made up and towels put out, a weekly clean and change of towels and bed linen was included as is the end of stay cleaning and laundry; additional cleaning and servicing can be arranged on request

*We were also provided a starter pack of breakfast provisions to cover the first day or two of our stay

I just elaborated on this one example we found of at a very popular travel destination- London. Although for most all of our travels to rural, third- world destination we continue to stay at the highest star rated hotels we can afford. But given all of the above benefits I just described, we found that with most metropolitan cities, culturally rich locations, and tropical vacation destinations, vacation home rentals are an economical way to really experience a culture and new city.

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Thailand News – Travel Situation Update

The tourism industry in Thailand truly took off when US soldiers started to arrive in the 1960s for Rest and Recuperation (R&R) during the Vietnam War period. Coinciding, international mass tourism sharply increased during the same period due to the rising standard of living, more people acquiring more free time and due to improvements in technology making it possible to travel further, faster, cheaper and in greater numbers, epitomized by the Boeing 747 which first flew commercially in 1970. Thailand was one of the major players in Asia to capitalize on this then-new trend.

Tourist numbers have grown from 336,000 foreign visitors and 54,000 R&R soldiers in 1967 to over 14 million international guests visiting Thailand in 2007. The average duration of their stay in 2007 was 9.19 days, generating an estimated 547,782 million Thai baht, around 11 billion Euros. In 2006, Thailand was the 18th most visited country in the World Tourism rankings with 13.9 million visitors. France, comparable to Thailand in size and population, led the list with over 79 million foreign tourists.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, 55% of the tourists in 2007 came from the Asia Pacific region, Japanese and Malaysians forming the two biggest groups. The largest groups of Western tourists come from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and the United States. The number of tourists arriving from the Middle East and Russia is on the rise. Around 55% of Thailand’s tourists are return visitors. The peak period is during the Christmas and New Year holidays when Western tourists flee the cold conditions back home.

No patience with Swine Flu in Thailand
Laboratory tests conducted on a 42-year-old Thai woman who was quarantined on Tuesday for possible swine-flu infection showed that she is free from the deadly virus, a hospital official said on Wednesday.

Two tests were made on samples from the woman. She was found to be suffering from ordinary human flu, Chulalongkorn Hospital virus specialist Dr Yong Pooworawan said at a press conference.

The woman was admitted to Chulalongkorn hospital on Tuesday after having developed a fever last Thursday on arriving back from Singapore. Her trip had earlier taken her to Mexico and the USA between April 3 and 19.

On Tuesday, the Public Health Ministry issued a warning that travelers should avoid going to Mexico or the US if possible.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai confirmed in parliament on Wednesday that the swine flu virus strain responsible for the global alert has not spread to Thailand.

He said he had ordered provincial health units throughout the country to stock medicines used to treat influenza and to be ready in case the deadly variant of the virus spreads to Asia.

Democrat MP Somboon Uthaiwienkul urged the government to register migrants coming to work in Thailand because they could easily become a burden on society whenever a disease spreads.

Health official’s overseas treating people who have been infected with swine fever confirm that the generic antiviral drug oseltamivir, sold commercially as Tami flu, is effective against the virus.

CNN International today announced the results of its Online Consumer Survey (OCS) on Travel and Tourism which reveals that Thailand was chosen as representing the best value for money for travelers in the Asia Pacific region. The survey conducted across CNN English websites had more than 5,000 respondents globally. Thailand came out as the best value in Asia-Pacific for respondents over China in second place and India in third.

The comprehensive survey also revealed that although times are tough, the recession hasn’t reduced people’s desire to travel. On the contrary – people are trading down, not trading out – but not compromising their experience. In addition, more business leaders are likely to travel over the next 12 months than in the past year.

* Overall the survey indicated that more people would travel for holiday over the next 12 months than last year, but 1 in 5 would make fewer trips

* 46% of business travelers in Asia Pacific claim the economic environment has had no impact on their business travel plans.

* 79% of Asia-Pac respondents feel they are likely to take a vacation in the region within the next 12 months. And the economic downturn isn’t affecting everyone’s travel plans. Asia-Pacific holidaymakers spent an average of just over US$4,000 on their last vacation, – ahead of the global average of $3,700.

* 71% of CNN’s audience of global travelers flies long-haul for leisure. Respondents take an average of 14 days vacation a year and holiday an average of three times a year.

Brand image and reputation also remains a critical factor for air travel, and survey respondents clearly feel that preferred, trusted airlines are able to command a premium. Respondents are also more likely to do fewer trips than look for cheaper hotels or discounted flights with budget airlines.

* 58% of Asia Pacific respondents are ‘willing to pay more to travel with my preferred airline’ (vs. 50% globally and just 41% of North American respondents)

* 61% of these Asia Pacific air travelers ‘prefer to fly with a trusted brand regardless of cost’. Furthermore, in difficult financial times, there is value for advertisers in targeting premium audiences.

* 83% of business travelers influence the choice of airlines and hotels when it comes to corporate travel.

* 40% of those who travel for work fly business or first class, make an average of five business trips per year and are away for an average of 19 days per year.

William Hsu, VP Advertising Sales, CNN International added “These results send a strong message to tourism boards that smart destination branding is critical for country differentiation and return on investment.”

The survey comes as the latest PAX research for the full year 2008 once again reconfirms CNN as the leading channel in its genre for reaching each of the 3 main PAX groups: Affluent Adults, Business Decision Makers and Top Management. Among the Top Management group CNN is the leading international channel regardless of genre, while continues to generate substantially higher reach than all other measured media sites.

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Your Budget Travel Guide

Have you always wanted to travel but feared the thought of spending beyond your means? Well, here is a piece of good news: travel need not be costly. Travelling is not the exclusive turf of those who can afford to pay their way through anything. Whether you are an ordinary office employee, a student or a retiree, you have every right to enjoy the wonders of this world commensurate to your financial capacity. Be your own travel guide!

Deciding to be your own travel guide will help you find resourceful solutions to the endless expenses involved in travelling. Travelling is even more enjoyable when it is not heavy on your pocket. Cheap travelling is a practice that many people are yet to master. Many travellers have been duped by expensive travel guides and travel agents, not knowing that there are actually several ways to lessen the financial challenges.

Here are ways through which you can travel with minimal costs:

1. Find the Most Affordable Hostel

Hostels are relatively cheaper than hotels. Though structurally smaller and more cramped, they offer the same amenities and, at times, the same basic travel comforts as many hotels. If you are looking for free Wi-Fi connection, free breakfast and free airport transfers, most hostels offer these services, too. Others offer free laundry, staff-sponsored parties and a common room where guests can mingle and get to know each other.

The only things you have to put up with are space and, in certain hostels, hygiene. The trick is to do your research beforehand. Read reviews to know what previous guests think. You will have a clear idea of which hostels to consider and which ones to avoid. Lastly, be on the lookout for promos. Hostels occasionally offer discounts and other perks. A dormitory-type may be a lot cheaper, but if you want a cleaner and less topsy-turvy situation (particularly if you are female), then go for an all-girls dormitory. These rooms are usually less crowded and are more comfortable.

2. Walk More

Travelling on a budget means preparing to give up taxis or private cars. What most comfort travellers do not understand, however, is that they are actually spending more for transportation expenses than they are for food, lodging or souvenirs. Some taxi drivers take advantage of tourists, driving them in circles so that they will be forced to pay more than what is necessary. On one hand, if you use your feet more, not only will you be able to test and improve your sense of direction, you can also see and experience interesting spots inaccessible through regular transportation. If you are not sure where to go, then read through blogs, brochures or local magazines. They can serve as your portable travel guide.

3. Adopt a Flexible Itinerary

The worst that you can do to yourself while travelling is to be a stickler for rules. It is important to have an itinerary to keep things in order, but it is much more important to enjoy your trip and have a blast. Give a little room for unexpected adventures. Do not set your return date if you think you need more time to explore a place. Your itinerary may look great, but first-hand suggestions from locals and backpackers are the stuff that make travelling more exciting. Travel guide books and magazines may not have an inkling about these suggested spots, which are usually underrated, less crowded and far more beautiful than many tourist spots made famous by media mileage.

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