On the Beach: Budget Holidays are Best This Summer


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MANCHESTER, England, August 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —

-Budget holidays have been all the rage this summer; On the Beach say this is thanks to the availability of cheap packages online-

On the Beach, the UK’s leading online travel agency, has seen a surge of interest in budget holidays. The company observed a significant rise in bookings for budget trips on its website in July, as many Brits headed off on superb, affordable holidays.

Alistair Daly, Marketing Director of On the Beach, comments: “This summer has been all about great bargains to places in Spain, Turkey and Greece. Couples and families alike have been especially keen to book their holidays at a minimum of expense. This perhaps owes to the uncertain economic climate, yet it is mostly thanks to the array of cheap deal on the internet: nowadays there is no need to spend a great deal of money on holidays.”

According to On the Beach, the majority of Brits have headed to the Mediterranean for their budget trips this summer, with warm holidays to places like the Balearic Islands proving especially popular. The company says that the proximity of these locations to Britain, and the ready availability of all inclusive packages, makes them a natural choice for budget conscious travellers.

Daly concludes: “Budget holidays to resorts in the Mediterranean have been popular for a long time, yet it is good to see this recent surge of interest. With so many cheap packages on offer, there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune. As more and more people use the internet to book their travel, we expect this number to only grow – once someone has seen the great deals available online, they are unlikely to consider any other alternatives.”

About On the Beach:

Founded in 1995, On the Beach is one of the UK’s leading online travel agencies carrying over 500,000 passengers every year (ABTA K0813). On the Beach provides value for money flights and hotels in the world’s most popular beach holiday destinations. On the Beach provides consumers with a huge selection of travel products, from 50 million available seats, more than 30,000 hotels around the world, insurance and in-resort transfer partners. Customers can book online at http://www.onthebeach.co.uk or by calling the UK call centre on 0870 606 07 08.

As the expert provider of DIY beach holidays to the UK market, On the Beach is so confident of its industry leading position, it offers a market leading price match guarantee for its customers. On the Beach will refund the difference if a lower price is found for the same product on any UK website*.

*Offer applies to exact product match

For more news and great deals follow @OntheBeachUK or join the On the Beach Facebook Fan Page.

SOURCE On the Beach

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City looking at businessman’s criminal past in Greece

City staff say they are seeking legal and governance advice this week to determine whether to act on revelations about the chairman of a local BIA’s criminal record in Greece.

The Globe and Mail reported Saturday that Constantine Voidonicolas, chairman of the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, was convicted of three gun-related charges by an Athens court in 2004. He fired on four construction workers during an argument outside his home, according to Greek court documents. Mr. Voidonicolas told The Globe that he was protecting his wife and children.


“Quite frankly, I don’t know what the city can or should do, depending upon how the facts turn out. So we are reviewing the situation,” said Mike Williams, general manager of the city’s economic development and culture division, which oversees Toronto’s 72 BIAs.

BIA (Business Improvement Area) board members are selected by business and property owners and approved by local community councils, which are committees of city council.

“We need some advice on governance with regard to city boards and we need some legal input.”

The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA organizes Toronto’s popular Taste of the Danforth, an annual festival celebrating Greek culture that attracts hundreds of thousands of participants each year.

At an emergency BIA board meeting Monday night, 10 members voted to support Mr. Voidonicolas in his role as chairman while one member abstained, Mr. Voidonicolas’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said.

Mr. Brauti said Mr. Voidonicolas called for Monday night’s vote because he was concerned that the revelations about his criminal past might tarnish the image of the BIA.

At the meeting, Mr. Voidonicolas encouraged the other board members to speak freely, and he assured them that he “wouldn’t be offended in any way,” Mr. Brauti said.

Mr. Brauti added that no one from the city had contacted his client. “His only comment was that the organization runs extremely smoothly and so he’s not sure why there would be any kind of issue. The board is happy and the community’s happy.”

Aris Sideratos, who runs Skyway Tours, a travel agency based in Toronto, said Mr. Voidonicolas’s history in Greece is a personal matter and doesn’t affect his work at the BIA.

“As a BIA member, as a BIA chair, this man has been great. The BIA has never been in better shape than it is now, we have a huge financial surplus, and absolutely no financial corruption,” Mr. Sideratos said.

Two store owners interviewed by The Globe declined to comment publicly because of the nature of the allegations against Mr. Voidonicolas.

Mr. Voidonicolas was born in Greece, but obtained Canadian citizenship and established himself in Toronto’s GreekTown community, buying and leasing commercial buildings.

After the shooting incident outside his Athens home in 1999, Mr. Voidonicolas fled to Canada. He was later sentenced in absentia to 42 months in prison for “illegal gun carrying,” “illegal gun use” and “illegal gun possession.” Greek court records indicate he has also been convicted of offences related to social-security fraud and unpaid taxes, though Mr. Voidonicolas has denied these convictions occurred. Mr. Voidonicolas is still wanted by Greek authorities. A Greek police officer who acts as a liaison with Interpol, the agency that co-ordinates international arrest warrants, confirmed there is a warrant for Mr. Voidonicolas and that Canadian authorities are aware of it.

After last year’s festival, the GreekTown BIA donated over $93,000 to local charities, said Faiza Ansari, the BIA’s director of operations. The Toronto East General Hospital received almost half of that money, and other charities included the Hellenic Homes for the Aged, and the Greek Community of Toronto. Ms. Ansari said it’s up to the board to decide where it will donate money raised from this year’s festival.

This year’s Taste of the Danforth festival received a grant of $60,000 from the province’s Celebrate Ontario fund.

Jim Karygiannis, Liberal MP for Scarborough-Agincourt and the party’s multiculturalism critic, attended Taste of the Danforth this year, where he stopped to pose for a photograph with Mr. Voidonicolis and other politicians.

“The fact that the chairman of the GreekTown BIA has difficulties is unfortunate, but that in no way, shape or form reflects on what happened that weekend and the two million people that visited,” Mr. Karygiannis said.

“We were not aware of any difficulties [for Mr. Voidonicolas] and if there’s any difficulties then it’s for the law to deal with and the authority of the government of Canada,” he said.

With a report from Greg McArthur


Travellers warned as malaria hits Greece

Mark Gould


Thursday, 25 August 2011

As GPs and local authority pest control officers report rising numbers of reports of mosquito bites in the UK the Health Protection Agency has announced that six cases of malaria have been seen in Greece.

A survey of UK local authorities reveals that reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996.

And NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings from early May this year to now – up nearly 15% from last summer. Not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes – many can be attributed to bedbugs, midges and fleas.

Scientists say conditions in the UK, particularly in southeastern England, are increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes. While the HPA says there is no evidence of mosquitoes in the UK carrying malaria it is advising travellers to Greece to take more precautions against insect bites.

Since June the HPA says it has been made aware of six reported cases of malaria in Greece. All six cases were seen in people who had no history of travel to a country where malaria is common. Five of these cases were in Greek adults and one was in a Roma child. This is the third consecutive year that small numbers of cases have been reported in Greece as a result of local transmission.

The Greek authorities have responded to this situation by establishing enhanced surveillance of malaria in the areas where the cases have been identified (the districts of Laconia in the south and Evoia in the east), and intensifying local mosquito control programmes.

Awareness has also been raised among local doctors, and a large-scale communication campaign for personal protection against mosquito bites has been implemented for the local population.

Professor David Hill, Director of the HPA’s National Travel Health Network and Centre said: “The risk to holiday makers of catching malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarials when visiting this country, but travellers should take measures to prevent being bitten.

“We already advise people travelling to Greece to prevent insect bites to protect against another mosquito-borne infection caused by West Nile virus. This can cause a nervous system disease and over 200 cases were reported in Greece last year. The recent cases of malaria in Greece reinforce the importance of taking precautions against being bitten while on holiday.”

Dr Jane Jones, a travel health expert at the HPA, said: “Although the risk of catching malaria while in Greece is extremely low it’s important that travellers returning from affected areas seek medical advice promptly if they experience symptoms of malaria, which include fever, headache, and muscle pains. The HPA is also advising health professionals to consider mosquito borne illnesses in travellers returning from Greece with relevant symptoms and ensure they are tested appropriately.”

The HPA recommends a combination of five different methods to protect from mosquito bites:

  • Use of repellents – The HPA strongly recommends DEET-based insect repellents.

  • Insecticide – should be used to kill any resting mosquitoes in a room.

  • Nets – If sleeping outdoors or in unscreened accommodation, insecticide-treated mosquito nets should be used. Those impregnated with insecticide provide extra protection.

  • Clothing -.Where possible, cover up with long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing, long trousers and socks if out of doors after sunset, to minimise accessibility to skin for biting mosquitoes. Cotton clothing can be sprayed with DEET.

  • Room protection – Air conditioning reduces the likelihood of mosquito bite as do ceiling fans. Doors, windows and other possible mosquito entry routes to sleeping accommodation should be screened with fine mesh netting which must be close-fitting and free from tears.


On the Beach: Budget Holidays are Best This Summer

/PRNewswire/ —

-Budget holidays have been all the rage this summer; On the Beach say this is thanks to the availability of cheap packages online-

On the Beach, the UK’s leading online travel agency, has seen a surge of interest in budget holidays. The company observed a significant rise in bookings for budget trips on its website in July, as many Brits headed off on superb, affordable holidays.

Alistair Daly, Marketing Director of On the Beach, comments: “This summer has been all about great bargains to places in Spain, Turkey and Greece. Couples and families alike have been especially keen to book their holidays at a minimum of expense. This perhaps owes to the uncertain economic climate, yet it is mostly thanks to the array of cheap deal on the internet: nowadays there is no need to spend a great deal of money on holidays.”

According to On the Beach, the majority of Brits have headed to the Mediterranean for their budget trips this summer, with warm holidays to places like the Balearic Islands proving especially popular. The company says that the proximity of these locations to Britain, and the ready availability of all inclusive packages, makes them a natural choice for budget conscious travellers.

Daly concludes: “Budget holidays to resorts in the Mediterranean have been popular for a long time, yet it is good to see this recent surge of interest. With so many cheap packages on offer, there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune. As more and more people use the internet to book their travel, we expect this number to only grow – once someone has seen the great deals available online, they are unlikely to consider any other alternatives.”

About On the Beach:

Founded in 1995, On the Beach is one of the UK’s leading online travel agencies carrying over 500,000 passengers every year (ABTA K0813). On the Beach provides value for money flights and hotels in the world’s most popular beach holiday destinations. On the Beach provides consumers with a huge selection of travel products, from 50 million available seats, more than 30,000 hotels around the world, insurance and in-resort transfer partners. Customers can book online at http://www.onthebeach.co.uk or by calling the UK call centre on 0870 606 07 08.

As the expert provider of DIY beach holidays to the UK market, On the Beach is so confident of its industry leading position, it offers a market leading price match guarantee for its customers. On the Beach will refund the difference if a lower price is found for the same product on any UK website*.

*Offer applies to exact product match

For more news and great deals follow @OntheBeachUK or join the On the Beach Facebook Fan Page.

SOURCE On the Beach


Credit Agricole Net Profit -11%, Hit By Greece

— Shares gain more than 7.5% after huge losses in the last month

— Management managed to reassure investors about funding pressure

— Exposure to Greece, Portugal and Ireland could still be a problem in the future

(Adds detail and analyst comment in paragraphs 1-2 and 13.)

PARIS (Dow Jones)–Credit Agricole SA (ACA.FR), France’s third-largest bank by market capitalization, posted an 11% decline in second-quarter net profit, hit by its exposure to Greece, but its shares rose sharply as the results still beat some analyst expectations and as it was able to allay investor concerns about its funding situation for …


Last-minute getaways as summer slips away

If you haven’t had a proper vacation this year and are despairing that the summer has slipped away, there’s only one way to be thinking at this point: it ain’t over till it’s over.


    1. Image: Dick Cheney


      Cheney: My book will have ‘heads exploding’ in D.C.


      “There are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington,’’ when his memoir comes out Aug. 30, former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview that will air Aug. 29. Among the revelations: Cheney kept a resignation letter in a safe in case he had a heart attack or stroke.



    2. Updated 62 minutes ago

      8/25/2011 1:01:08 AM +00:00




      150,000 tourists in NC told to leave as Irene nears


    3. Tori Spelling: ‘I don’t miss Donna Martin’s wardrobe’


    4. Bittman’s cold cream of tomato and peach soup




    5. Fear of ‘loneliness’ drives her to hoard 38 pets

Travel companies know it too, and many are scrambling to bring in a few precious extra dollars before it’s all over again for another year. Add to this the latest economic slump, which is spurring travel companies to offer considerable last-minute discounts, and you have a good shot at salvaging a little bit of summer before it’s gone.

Rx for rescuing your summer

There are as many ways to approach a last-minute, late summer vacation as there are places you might visit. So we won’t tell you where to go, but instead suggest how to figure out where to go.

Do something “summery.” Summer as is much a feeling as it is a season, so if you want to grab hold of it before it’s gone, plan a trip with a summer vibe, not just a summer time frame. Depending on how your pleasures tend, this could mean a wine tasting tour, sitting on a beach, staying in a cabin in the woods in Maine, sleeping in a tent in the Olympic mountains, riding a motorcycle or taking a balloon ride. Just go where “there’s things to do not because you gotta,” as the sage Jonathan Richman sang.

Don’t settle for time off and time away; do something that reminds you of summer, without exception. For me, it is going to be a dawn patrol surf, tomorrow morning as it turns out. If you need some inspiration, check out our Summer vacation ideas.

Go with the sure thing

This past winter, our family ended up with a single weekend to try to get some time away together, so we cobbled together a trip to a place that would thrill our 4-year-old but also let his parents go on autopilot for a couple of days. We chose an unusually “conventional” destination (for our younger selves, anyway) — Disney World — and it was a blow-out success. Some destinations are simply a sure thing, and when you are trying to rescue an entire summer from going down the tubes, going with the sure thing makes a lot of sense. Travel to places like Disney, Las Vegas and New York City (and if the airlines cooperate Paris and London), where end-of-summer deals mean there are heaps of hotels with corridors of empty rooms, lots of flights and things to do for almost everyone. You almost cannot fail.

Get on a boat

A last-minute summer cruise can offer a perfect combination of activities, destination trainspotting (thanks to multiple ports of call) and laziness. Check out the last-minute cruise deals from our sister site, Cruise Critic; most of these deals are for September at this point, but I took a close look and found a few for next weekend as well.

Let the travel winds take you where they will. The notion of surrendering control of your travels to the simple fact of what is cheap and readily available has “care-free summer” etched all over it.

See below for ways to find the best late summer travel bargains, and then go wherever they might take you. In the past, this approach took me to offbeat regions of Guatemala and Venezuela, a couple of the most memorable trips I have ever taken.

Go home again

The end of summer comes wrapped in a feeling of nostalgia rivaled only perhaps by the winter holiday season — there is nothing quite like spending the last days of summer in your old home town.

Go south

If you find yourself past Labor Day without having taken a summer vacation, remember that summer lasts longer to the south. In places like Florida and southern California, you will find the sensations of summer rushing back well into September and even October. Sitting on a beach in the first week of October feels almost decadent, but most folks can hack it for a couple of days.

Very late summer and early fall can also be a beautiful time of year in places that were almost uninhabitable a couple weeks ago (or will be a few weeks hence); in the Southwest, for example, a mid-September desert vacation can be so climatologically and visually pleasant that you might want to live there year-round (until you check the average temps for July, that is). The same can be true for a lake in Montana, which will be fantastically mellow and temperate next weekend, but snow-ringed in October.

Go places no one talks about

End-of-summer deals are flooding the market in second- and third-tier tourist destinations; think Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of Miami Beach, Santa Cruz, Calif., instead of Carmel, Calif. You won’t be missing much; if your goal is to sit on the beach, read books, take naps and regroup in general, all you need is an affordable hotel near the beach with a decent place to eat or two — nothing more.

Do an economic crisis tour

If you are hoping to see Europe in late summer, it turns out that the places that are most troubled economically are also the most interested in accepting your travel dollars. The Icelandic krona is about two for one against the dollar these days, and while they still use the euro, prices have crashed in Portugal and Greece. Your money goes further in these places than it does anywhere else in Europe. The same applies to some extent to destinations like the Gulf region of the United States, where New Orleans and towns like Panama City, Fla., are still reeling from weather and oil-spill events, and hotels are hurting for visitors.

Making it happen

When you are trying to book the kind of trip we are discussing here, sometimes you have to look beyond the usual booking engines and travel outlets — or at least beyond the straightforward, above-the-fold airfare searches on those sites.

Consolidators

When I was starting out my days as an “independent traveler” while living in New York City, the best place to find cheap travel was on the back of the Village Voice, where so-called “bucket shops,” or consolidators, advertised almost ridiculously low-priced junkets, often to admittedly marginal destinations. Some of the most memorable trips of my youth were purchased at these dingy joints, but these days you don’t need to suffer subway rides to strange offices, or carry around paper tickets that you hope are real — you can just go to a last-minute travel Web site. Check out Best bets for booking a last-minute trip for our favorite sites, as well as Airline consolidators.

The Sunday paper

Finding a great travel deal can take as much time and effort as can the actual trip itself. While your go-to starting place should remain sites like our Travel deals section, one thing your old-fashioned local Sunday paper can offer is a filter for deals that don’t apply to you at all, and a gathering of very local offers in one place — the ads are usually targeted to your nearest departure airport or cruise port, so you don’t have to wade through tons of deals out of LAX while all you want is to get to a beach from your home in Cincinnati. Many consolidators advertise in the paper as well.

Clubs or credit cards

AAA, the travel branch of your credit card company, the AARP and travel discount clubs (see How private sale travel sites could save you money) can be solid resources for unusually good deals to excellent destinations, particularly those still giving off the summer vibe.

E-mail newsletters

Over the past 10 days or so, nearly every travel service to whom I have ever given my e-mail address has sent me information hawking one last-minute summer deal or another, and some of them are pretty darn good. Sign up for a batch of newsletters from your favorite sites, sit back and let the deals come to you.

Vacation packages on the ‘usual’ booking and airline Web sites

Most booking sites and airline sites branched out into full-service travel packaging a long time ago. In the same way these sites can be extremely convenient ways to purchase straightforward airfares, they can also be among the easiest ways to scoop up the best deals on travel packages for all types of people. When you visit these sites, go straight to the “Vacation packages” links on most of their home pages.

Online travel deal listings

Online aggregators of the best travel deals are still the best place to start; check out our Travel deals section to get underway. In particular, scroll down a bit on sites like this to the vacation package and hotel deals; a lot of us think of travel as “flying” and check mainly for airfare deals, but that’s not where the best ideas — and savings — are to be found at this time of year.

Read the fine print

When you are booking travel away from the usual suspects, such as with last-minute aggregators, consolidators or vacation clubs, you will want to read the fine print and do your research much more closely than usual. There can be perfectly legal “gotcha” clauses in there, and a search on reviews of the travel company or hotel will let you know what you are really getting into and what you can reasonably expect.

The sun is setting on summer; don’t let it slip away or it may, as Richman sang, “haunt you one day in your life.”

More from IndependentTraveler.com


Last-minute getaways as summer slips away

If you haven’t had a proper vacation this year and are despairing that the summer has slipped away, there’s only one way to be thinking at this point: it ain’t over till it’s over.


    1. Image: Dick Cheney


      Cheney: My book will have ‘heads exploding’ in D.C.


      “There are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington,’’ when his memoir comes out Aug. 30, former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview that will air Aug. 29. Among the revelations: Cheney kept a resignation letter in a safe in case he had a heart attack or stroke.



    2. Updated 62 minutes ago

      8/25/2011 1:01:08 AM +00:00




      150,000 tourists in NC told to leave as Irene nears


    3. Tori Spelling: ‘I don’t miss Donna Martin’s wardrobe’


    4. Bittman’s cold cream of tomato and peach soup




    5. Fear of ‘loneliness’ drives her to hoard 38 pets

Travel companies know it too, and many are scrambling to bring in a few precious extra dollars before it’s all over again for another year. Add to this the latest economic slump, which is spurring travel companies to offer considerable last-minute discounts, and you have a good shot at salvaging a little bit of summer before it’s gone.

Rx for rescuing your summer

There are as many ways to approach a last-minute, late summer vacation as there are places you might visit. So we won’t tell you where to go, but instead suggest how to figure out where to go.

Do something “summery.” Summer as is much a feeling as it is a season, so if you want to grab hold of it before it’s gone, plan a trip with a summer vibe, not just a summer time frame. Depending on how your pleasures tend, this could mean a wine tasting tour, sitting on a beach, staying in a cabin in the woods in Maine, sleeping in a tent in the Olympic mountains, riding a motorcycle or taking a balloon ride. Just go where “there’s things to do not because you gotta,” as the sage Jonathan Richman sang.

Don’t settle for time off and time away; do something that reminds you of summer, without exception. For me, it is going to be a dawn patrol surf, tomorrow morning as it turns out. If you need some inspiration, check out our Summer vacation ideas.

Go with the sure thing

This past winter, our family ended up with a single weekend to try to get some time away together, so we cobbled together a trip to a place that would thrill our 4-year-old but also let his parents go on autopilot for a couple of days. We chose an unusually “conventional” destination (for our younger selves, anyway) — Disney World — and it was a blow-out success. Some destinations are simply a sure thing, and when you are trying to rescue an entire summer from going down the tubes, going with the sure thing makes a lot of sense. Travel to places like Disney, Las Vegas and New York City (and if the airlines cooperate Paris and London), where end-of-summer deals mean there are heaps of hotels with corridors of empty rooms, lots of flights and things to do for almost everyone. You almost cannot fail.

Get on a boat

A last-minute summer cruise can offer a perfect combination of activities, destination trainspotting (thanks to multiple ports of call) and laziness. Check out the last-minute cruise deals from our sister site, Cruise Critic; most of these deals are for September at this point, but I took a close look and found a few for next weekend as well.

Let the travel winds take you where they will. The notion of surrendering control of your travels to the simple fact of what is cheap and readily available has “care-free summer” etched all over it.

See below for ways to find the best late summer travel bargains, and then go wherever they might take you. In the past, this approach took me to offbeat regions of Guatemala and Venezuela, a couple of the most memorable trips I have ever taken.

Go home again

The end of summer comes wrapped in a feeling of nostalgia rivaled only perhaps by the winter holiday season — there is nothing quite like spending the last days of summer in your old home town.

Go south

If you find yourself past Labor Day without having taken a summer vacation, remember that summer lasts longer to the south. In places like Florida and southern California, you will find the sensations of summer rushing back well into September and even October. Sitting on a beach in the first week of October feels almost decadent, but most folks can hack it for a couple of days.

Very late summer and early fall can also be a beautiful time of year in places that were almost uninhabitable a couple weeks ago (or will be a few weeks hence); in the Southwest, for example, a mid-September desert vacation can be so climatologically and visually pleasant that you might want to live there year-round (until you check the average temps for July, that is). The same can be true for a lake in Montana, which will be fantastically mellow and temperate next weekend, but snow-ringed in October.

Go places no one talks about

End-of-summer deals are flooding the market in second- and third-tier tourist destinations; think Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of Miami Beach, Santa Cruz, Calif., instead of Carmel, Calif. You won’t be missing much; if your goal is to sit on the beach, read books, take naps and regroup in general, all you need is an affordable hotel near the beach with a decent place to eat or two — nothing more.

Do an economic crisis tour

If you are hoping to see Europe in late summer, it turns out that the places that are most troubled economically are also the most interested in accepting your travel dollars. The Icelandic krona is about two for one against the dollar these days, and while they still use the euro, prices have crashed in Portugal and Greece. Your money goes further in these places than it does anywhere else in Europe. The same applies to some extent to destinations like the Gulf region of the United States, where New Orleans and towns like Panama City, Fla., are still reeling from weather and oil-spill events, and hotels are hurting for visitors.

Making it happen

When you are trying to book the kind of trip we are discussing here, sometimes you have to look beyond the usual booking engines and travel outlets — or at least beyond the straightforward, above-the-fold airfare searches on those sites.

Consolidators

When I was starting out my days as an “independent traveler” while living in New York City, the best place to find cheap travel was on the back of the Village Voice, where so-called “bucket shops,” or consolidators, advertised almost ridiculously low-priced junkets, often to admittedly marginal destinations. Some of the most memorable trips of my youth were purchased at these dingy joints, but these days you don’t need to suffer subway rides to strange offices, or carry around paper tickets that you hope are real — you can just go to a last-minute travel Web site. Check out Best bets for booking a last-minute trip for our favorite sites, as well as Airline consolidators.

The Sunday paper

Finding a great travel deal can take as much time and effort as can the actual trip itself. While your go-to starting place should remain sites like our Travel deals section, one thing your old-fashioned local Sunday paper can offer is a filter for deals that don’t apply to you at all, and a gathering of very local offers in one place — the ads are usually targeted to your nearest departure airport or cruise port, so you don’t have to wade through tons of deals out of LAX while all you want is to get to a beach from your home in Cincinnati. Many consolidators advertise in the paper as well.

Clubs or credit cards

AAA, the travel branch of your credit card company, the AARP and travel discount clubs (see How private sale travel sites could save you money) can be solid resources for unusually good deals to excellent destinations, particularly those still giving off the summer vibe.

E-mail newsletters

Over the past 10 days or so, nearly every travel service to whom I have ever given my e-mail address has sent me information hawking one last-minute summer deal or another, and some of them are pretty darn good. Sign up for a batch of newsletters from your favorite sites, sit back and let the deals come to you.

Vacation packages on the ‘usual’ booking and airline Web sites

Most booking sites and airline sites branched out into full-service travel packaging a long time ago. In the same way these sites can be extremely convenient ways to purchase straightforward airfares, they can also be among the easiest ways to scoop up the best deals on travel packages for all types of people. When you visit these sites, go straight to the “Vacation packages” links on most of their home pages.

Online travel deal listings

Online aggregators of the best travel deals are still the best place to start; check out our Travel deals section to get underway. In particular, scroll down a bit on sites like this to the vacation package and hotel deals; a lot of us think of travel as “flying” and check mainly for airfare deals, but that’s not where the best ideas — and savings — are to be found at this time of year.

Read the fine print

When you are booking travel away from the usual suspects, such as with last-minute aggregators, consolidators or vacation clubs, you will want to read the fine print and do your research much more closely than usual. There can be perfectly legal “gotcha” clauses in there, and a search on reviews of the travel company or hotel will let you know what you are really getting into and what you can reasonably expect.

The sun is setting on summer; don’t let it slip away or it may, as Richman sang, “haunt you one day in your life.”

More from IndependentTraveler.com


World Travel Health Alerts – August 24, 2011 – e

WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERTS – August 24, 2011

– Malaria returns to Greece
– West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle East
– Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
– More measles across the globe
– JE hits Nepal’s north
– Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
– Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
– Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
– Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
– Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
– Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
– Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
– Malaria makes a comeback in Senegal

Malaria returns to Greece
Greece has had its first outbreak of malaria in almost 40 years. Six locally occurring cases of the milder P. vivax strain occurred in Laconia and Evoia, two districts in the southern Peloponnesus region. More details. Travellers were among those infected: one during a stay in southern Elos and Skala, and a German couple while holidaying in Kassandra (Chalkidiki, Greek Macedonia). More details.

Advice to travellers: The malaria risk in Greece is low and Travelvax does not recommend anti-malarial medication at this time. However, as West Nile fever is also circulating (see below), travellers should cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing effective active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin when outdoors.

West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle
East
Greece has also recorded 22 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) recently, and more are expected as rain and high temperatures boost Aedes and Culex mosquito populations. The mosquito-borne disease is not uncommon in Greece: last year there were 257 cases in Central Macedonia and Thessalia – 191 resulting in severe encephalitis. More details.

Other countries in the region to record WNV cases since July 1 include Albania (2), Israel (6), Romania (1), and the Russian Federation (11). More details.

Advice to travellers: WNV generally causes only mild flu-like symptoms. However, in a small number of cases the virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. Travellers visiting an infected area should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
Dengue is still on the rise in Metro Manila. The latest hot spot is Muntinlupa City (the southernmost city in the National Capital Region), with scores of new cases each day. Meanwhile, case numbers are down by 75%in Aklan province (Western Visayas).

The death toll in India’s Orissa state has now risen to 19 among 1163 confirmed or suspected cases.
In Pakistan, outbreaks continue in the national capital, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.

In Brazil ,there have been 915 cases in Ribeirao Preto (Sao Paulo State) in the past month for a total of 16,240 this year.

More details.

Advice to travellers: We repeat our weekly warning to Australians travelling to the tropics t
o cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient to exposed skin when outdoors. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus inhabit urban areas, including upmarket hotels and resorts. They bite mainly during the daylight hours.

More measles across the globe
Measles outbreaks were reported in Europe, Africa, the USA, and the Pacific this week.

EUROPE: The Continent has now had 26,000 cases, 6 of them fatal. Cases are rising in Dublin, which has over two thirds of Ireland’s 135 cases. More details.

MAYOTTE: An outbreak has been reported on the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, an offshore department of France. More details.

ETHIOPIA: Deaths from measles and malnutrition have reached alarming levels in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, home to 118,000 Somali refugees. More details.

USA: A child infected in Kenya returned home and infected a second child in Minnesota’s Dakota County. Both are in hospital, one in a critical condition. More details.

AUSTRALIA: A German backpacker was diagnosed with measles after arriving in Alice Springs. More details.

In Sydney’s west, Blacktown has had a sharp rise in cases, with most of this year
’s 26 cases in the Mt Druitt area. More details.

NEW ZEALAND: There have been more cases on the North Island – 109 in Auckland, 19 in Waikato. More details.

Advice to travellers: Given the ongoing measles epidemics in many parts of the world, Australian travellers who have not had measles or have not received two documented doses of live virus vaccine should consider a booster, regardless of their destination. We also advise travellers check their immunisation status for childhood diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria, mumps, and polio, as part of their pre-travel medical preparations.

JE hits Nepal’s north
Japanese encephalitis is circulating in Nepal’s northwest. Two deaths late last month have been followed by 2 more in Kanchanpur last Friday, while Nepalgunj has had more than a dozen cases. Authorities have begun a vaccination campaign. More details.

Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
Vietnam recorded 11 deaths from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in the last month, bringing the year’s total to 81 (32,588 cases). The majority have been in southern provinces and cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, and Vinh Long. More details.

Advice to travellers: HFMD mainly occurs in children. While most recover without treatment, paralysis or death can occur in severe cases. It is spread by direct contac
t with infected persons, or with virus-contaminated surfaces. Good hygiene practices greatly reduce the risk of infection. There is no vaccine or preventative medication.

Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
In Bolivia, stray dogs are being rounded up in Punata (Arani province) after a surge in attacks on humans by rabid animals in recent weeks. Authorities are concerned at a rising incidence of the disease and have launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. More details.

Advice to travellers: Rabies generally presents a low risk to most short-stay travel. The potential for exposure rises for longer stays – especially for children. Dog bites cause 99% of human fatalities, however travellers should avoid any contact with wild animals or pets. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. To discuss the risk of rabies for your itinerary, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
Botswana is battling a countrywide outbreak of Rotavirus, with at least 14 deaths among 914 cases. Among the district worst effected are Kgatleng (530 cases), Mahalapye (81), Gaborone (78), Kweneng East (77), Ngami (75), and South East with 54. More details.

Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
In the Dominican Republic, more cholera is expected in the capital, Santo Domingo, after Hurricane Irene lashed the Caribbean and southern USA this week. The country’s cholera death toll has reached 109 from 15,879 cases since last November. The health ministry says the capital still faces a serious epidemic. More details.

Meanwhile, a new study by American microbiologists has confirmed that UN peacekeeping troops from Nepal introduced cholera to Haiti. The disease has killed some 6000 people in 10 months.

Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
In the Canary Islands, authorities on Tenerife believe a popular local restaurant may be the source of an outbreak of Salmonella. Seven of the 18 victims remained in the island’s hospital on Friday. More details.

Investigations are underway in Ontario (Canada) to find a link in a cluster of genetically similar E. coli 0157 cases in the Grey-Bruce district. Eight people have been hospitalised in recent weeks. More details.

Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
Pakistan’s polio case tally has risen to 69 with 6 new cases in the last week. Meanwhile, a strike by paramedics in Quetta has hindered a vaccination drive. More details.

Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
Saudi Arabia has confirmed vaccination requirements for Muslim pilgrims planning to attend the Hajj, which will fall between November 4 and 9.

Visa applicants will be required to show proof of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine, and seasonal influenza.

Yellow fever and polio vaccination is required from pilgrims travelling from or through endemic regions, mainly in Africa. More details.


World Travel Health Alerts – August 24, 2011 – e

WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERTS – August 24, 2011

– Malaria returns to Greece
– West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle East
– Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
– More measles across the globe
– JE hits Nepal’s north
– Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
– Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
– Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
– Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
– Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
– Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
– Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
– Malaria makes a comeback in Senegal

Malaria returns to Greece
Greece has had its first outbreak of malaria in almost 40 years. Six locally occurring cases of the milder P. vivax strain occurred in Laconia and Evoia, two districts in the southern Peloponnesus region. More details. Travellers were among those infected: one during a stay in southern Elos and Skala, and a German couple while holidaying in Kassandra (Chalkidiki, Greek Macedonia). More details.

Advice to travellers: The malaria risk in Greece is low and Travelvax does not recommend anti-malarial medication at this time. However, as West Nile fever is also circulating (see below), travellers should cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing effective active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin when outdoors.

West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle
East
Greece has also recorded 22 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) recently, and more are expected as rain and high temperatures boost Aedes and Culex mosquito populations. The mosquito-borne disease is not uncommon in Greece: last year there were 257 cases in Central Macedonia and Thessalia – 191 resulting in severe encephalitis. More details.

Other countries in the region to record WNV cases since July 1 include Albania (2), Israel (6), Romania (1), and the Russian Federation (11). More details.

Advice to travellers: WNV generally causes only mild flu-like symptoms. However, in a small number of cases the virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. Travellers visiting an infected area should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
Dengue is still on the rise in Metro Manila. The latest hot spot is Muntinlupa City (the southernmost city in the National Capital Region), with scores of new cases each day. Meanwhile, case numbers are down by 75%in Aklan province (Western Visayas).

The death toll in India’s Orissa state has now risen to 19 among 1163 confirmed or suspected cases.
In Pakistan, outbreaks continue in the national capital, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.

In Brazil ,there have been 915 cases in Ribeirao Preto (Sao Paulo State) in the past month for a total of 16,240 this year.

More details.

Advice to travellers: We repeat our weekly warning to Australians travelling to the tropics t
o cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient to exposed skin when outdoors. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus inhabit urban areas, including upmarket hotels and resorts. They bite mainly during the daylight hours.

More measles across the globe
Measles outbreaks were reported in Europe, Africa, the USA, and the Pacific this week.

EUROPE: The Continent has now had 26,000 cases, 6 of them fatal. Cases are rising in Dublin, which has over two thirds of Ireland’s 135 cases. More details.

MAYOTTE: An outbreak has been reported on the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, an offshore department of France. More details.

ETHIOPIA: Deaths from measles and malnutrition have reached alarming levels in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, home to 118,000 Somali refugees. More details.

USA: A child infected in Kenya returned home and infected a second child in Minnesota’s Dakota County. Both are in hospital, one in a critical condition. More details.

AUSTRALIA: A German backpacker was diagnosed with measles after arriving in Alice Springs. More details.

In Sydney’s west, Blacktown has had a sharp rise in cases, with most of this year
’s 26 cases in the Mt Druitt area. More details.

NEW ZEALAND: There have been more cases on the North Island – 109 in Auckland, 19 in Waikato. More details.

Advice to travellers: Given the ongoing measles epidemics in many parts of the world, Australian travellers who have not had measles or have not received two documented doses of live virus vaccine should consider a booster, regardless of their destination. We also advise travellers check their immunisation status for childhood diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria, mumps, and polio, as part of their pre-travel medical preparations.

JE hits Nepal’s north
Japanese encephalitis is circulating in Nepal’s northwest. Two deaths late last month have been followed by 2 more in Kanchanpur last Friday, while Nepalgunj has had more than a dozen cases. Authorities have begun a vaccination campaign. More details.

Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
Vietnam recorded 11 deaths from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in the last month, bringing the year’s total to 81 (32,588 cases). The majority have been in southern provinces and cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, and Vinh Long. More details.

Advice to travellers: HFMD mainly occurs in children. While most recover without treatment, paralysis or death can occur in severe cases. It is spread by direct contac
t with infected persons, or with virus-contaminated surfaces. Good hygiene practices greatly reduce the risk of infection. There is no vaccine or preventative medication.

Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
In Bolivia, stray dogs are being rounded up in Punata (Arani province) after a surge in attacks on humans by rabid animals in recent weeks. Authorities are concerned at a rising incidence of the disease and have launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. More details.

Advice to travellers: Rabies generally presents a low risk to most short-stay travel. The potential for exposure rises for longer stays – especially for children. Dog bites cause 99% of human fatalities, however travellers should avoid any contact with wild animals or pets. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. To discuss the risk of rabies for your itinerary, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
Botswana is battling a countrywide outbreak of Rotavirus, with at least 14 deaths among 914 cases. Among the district worst effected are Kgatleng (530 cases), Mahalapye (81), Gaborone (78), Kweneng East (77), Ngami (75), and South East with 54. More details.

Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
In the Dominican Republic, more cholera is expected in the capital, Santo Domingo, after Hurricane Irene lashed the Caribbean and southern USA this week. The country’s cholera death toll has reached 109 from 15,879 cases since last November. The health ministry says the capital still faces a serious epidemic. More details.

Meanwhile, a new study by American microbiologists has confirmed that UN peacekeeping troops from Nepal introduced cholera to Haiti. The disease has killed some 6000 people in 10 months.

Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
In the Canary Islands, authorities on Tenerife believe a popular local restaurant may be the source of an outbreak of Salmonella. Seven of the 18 victims remained in the island’s hospital on Friday. More details.

Investigations are underway in Ontario (Canada) to find a link in a cluster of genetically similar E. coli 0157 cases in the Grey-Bruce district. Eight people have been hospitalised in recent weeks. More details.

Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
Pakistan’s polio case tally has risen to 69 with 6 new cases in the last week. Meanwhile, a strike by paramedics in Quetta has hindered a vaccination drive. More details.

Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
Saudi Arabia has confirmed vaccination requirements for Muslim pilgrims planning to attend the Hajj, which will fall between November 4 and 9.

Visa applicants will be required to show proof of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine, and seasonal influenza.

Yellow fever and polio vaccination is required from pilgrims travelling from or through endemic regions, mainly in Africa. More details.


Conquering Travel Anxiety

I’m flying to Greece tomorrow for a five-week vacation, and though this should obviously make me break into song, I’m in the midst of a pre-travel “To Do” meltdown, my brain fried, trapezoid muscles in knots. On my list are the expected essentials — buy sunscreen, pay bills, water grass and plants–but also the non-essential tasks that I should have taken care of months ago but suddenly loom as big, fat emergencies:

•Return vitamins I ordered online- (sitting on shelf for three months after customer rep said I could send them back)

•Repair car – (tire mud guard ripped off on highway nine months ago–does not affect driving)

•Fix banister leading to basement, pried loose from wall (noticed two months ago. Someone might die!)

•Write and publish article about extended vacation in Greece (wrote first draft three years ago)

A confession: I am the type of person who generally has two or three to-do lists going at once: one on 8×10 paper, one on iphone (“Notes” is a new torture mechanism), and a few on scraps buried in my pocketbook.

But before leaving home for 37 days, the list takes on a whole new level of urgency and obsession. As I settle into middle-age, I feel the finality of embarking on any trip, frankly, as strongly as if I were vanishing from the planet and had only a few precious hours to get my affairs in order: find new job, shop for better car insurance, weed garden, clean out kitchen junk drawer–you name it, I should have done it yesterday.

I seem incapable of comprehending that five weeks will pass in a flash, as they always do during my favorite season, and I will return to New Jersey once more to call Aunt Fotini and get my haircut and read stacks of newspapers. I’ll have all darn winter to clean out closets.

I’m particularly thrown off when, without fail, something important but unexpected lands on the list with a thud. For example, yesterday I learned via email that my checking account is overdrawn, probably due to all my enthusiastic pre-paying of bills. I have never overdrawn my checking account, but now I have to scramble to find $$ to deposit.

This is the time when there will be computer glitches. Backing up my cell phone took two hours last night. Who knew photos take that long to sync. I got to bed at 1 a.m.

I hate to admit that I’m even sent into a tizzy when my sisters or close friends start calling one after the other in the precious hours I have set aside for reviewing (for the 20th time) which toiletries are crossing the Atlantic.

I am a “packing light” kind of girl but it takes so much energy to decide whether to take that third beach cover-up or that 5th book that trust me, it’s better to gather up all the Imelda Marcos shoes and throw them in–far less stress involved.

This summer, I thought I would outfox my pre-trip panic and begin planning, shopping, laundering and packing super-early, ticking off to-do items at leisure and in advance. I would kick back during my last week home, go to movies and see friends, smiling smugly when they asked, “You’re done?” What happened instead is this: I’ve been anxious longer, my nervous anticipation and must-do’s stretching out over an excruciating period of time. I stopped living ten days ago, and started focusing on trip prep. I’ve driven myself insane. And naturally I found myself running to the mall this morning anyway, at the 11th hour, having convinced myself that the Crocs I own are too big and make my feet look clownish, and I need a pair that fits (are there any?). The cruel irony: I just came back from returning said pair of Crocs as they weren’t comfortable and I didn’t need them anyway. Two trips to the mall!

Another joke: Following the daily scrutiny of clothes spread out on the guest bed, I am finally ready to BEGIN PACKING. But my suitcase is too darn big for the island hopping I hope to be doing this summer. I have to run to Costco, I saw some decent flight bags there. But Costco is closed tomorrow. Aargh!

I’ll admit this only to you: I stopped wearing good, clean underwear a week ago. I wear only bad, clean underwear since I’ve done my laundry and am carefully “saving” underwear so I don’t need to wash anymore.

What is the psychology of pre-travel angst? Separation anxiety? Obsessive compulsive disorder? Catastrophizing?

I know it will all be fine. The moment I check in at the ticket counter, and hand over my immense suitcase, a sense of peace will wash over me and unwrench my stomach. I will feel silly about the pressure I put on myself under for the past 10 days. Prepping and packing really wasn’t difficult or important, but I made it so. It is finished. Whatever I did and didn’t do, it’s over. Now begins vacation, or much better put by the Europeans, holiday. Woo hoo.

The older I get the worse pre travel angst gets. This morning, waking up for the tenth morning in a row with cortisol flooding my veins, I even considered skipping next summer’s pilgrimage to see my late dad’s birthplace and swim in the sea that restores me. It’s all too much. My daughter, 14, is proof positive that this anxiety afflicts the middle aged: “Why do I have to start early” she complained, “If I’m not

Packing the day before we leave, I’ll feel weird.” Perhaps it is also a gender thing: my husband travels to Eastern Europe once a month and throws five shirts in a bag and is off, actually looking forward to his trip rather than dreading it. Is it because he is less tied to the household, less of a multi-tasker and thus there is nothing on the to-do list except work related issues?

I’ve watched my 75-year old mother and godmother leave for these Greece trips back to their homeland, and they suffer as I do. “It’s the worst part of the trip,” my godmother says. My mother wasn’t even going to buy her ticket this year until I said, “Go! How many more years do you think you’ll be walking?”

There is no way around it except through it. Zoloft is tempting but excessive, wine doesn’t do the trick. For now, I’ve got to ride out the hours. I had an epiphany while attempting to meditate one morning, almost seeing the anxiety as a live wire running through my body that I could diffuse, if I identified it as such: “Aha, you are pre-trip angst, I’m going to breathe and release you. You are not real. I’m not taking you seriously.”

The revelation lasted three seconds. Then my eyes flew open and my mind began racing, leaving me holding my breath and being un-yogi again.

The other half of the solution might be to stop fighting the list and attack it. For instance, I am at this moment typing a new draft of the Greece travel article that’s been in the works for years. Soon I will move on to: Bring iPad? (Still don’t like to read books on it.) How much cash?

This is my solace: in 31 hours, I’ll be sitting on that plane. Goodbye “To Do.” Hello Santorini.

Did I pack enough bathing suits? The skinnier ones, because Europeans aren’t bothered by flesh that moves…