Jens Jurgen’s Journal
Best Travel Bargains and Tips 2003
By Jens Jurgen
European River Cruises:
The popularity and variety of river cruise itineraries in Europe seem to increase every year. They also include all meals, usually excellent, and there is no constant packing and unpacking. No fear of getting seasick either.
Example: Peter Deilmann Cruises will offer over 300 European river cruises in 2003. Their 9 river cruise ships accommodate anywhere from 58 to 204 passengers.
Deilmann sails along the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, the Main-Danube Canal, Rhone, Saone, Elbe, and Po Rivers.
Some are for 7 nights, others take longer.
For more information, see a good travel agent, or check www.deilmann-cruises.com; 800-348-8287.
The other major European cruise company is Viking River Cruises, operating many ships in Western Europe and Russia. Visit www.vikingrivers.com or call 1-877-66-VIKING, or see your travel agent.
Besides cruising on large deluxe river cruise ships, one can also sail on a smaller barge with only a few cabins or even rent a boat and operate it yourself.
Which Credit Card is Best to Earn Miles?
Many people (including us) earn lots of miles by using certain credit cards, which give miles for each dollar charged, plus often 10,000 miles bonus when you first apply for such cards.
We use both the Delta Sky Miles Card from American Express (one of the best, as they often give double miles) and a card from Citibank that earns AAdvantage miles.
Call 800-SKYMILES for details and up to 15,000 bonus mile offers for certain cards. The Citibank AAdvantage card number is 800-FLY-4444.
Sign Up for Flight Status Notification
Most major carriers and some travel web sites now offer automatic notification of flight delays and changes to your phone, email, pager, or PDA. Be sure to enroll in such options when booking or visiting their web sites.
2003 Europe Rail Travel Brochure
A 32-page "Europe on Track" brochure is available from Rail Europe. Call 888-382-7245 or you can download it from www.raileurope.com. It includes a rail route map and other details on Europe’s luxury trains.
Medical Care Abroad
The Consular Information Sheets, available free online at the State Department web site (www.travel.state.gov), indicate the general quality of medical care in every country abroad. You may want to print those bulletins and take them along on your trip as they have useful addresses and tips for some emergencies.
The site has links to lots of such information including a list of doctors and hospitals for many (but not all) countries.
For more health tips and precautions or news about disease outbreaks go to the Centers for Disease Control web site, www.cdc.gov.travel.
Good Value Destinations for 2003
Mexico. The dollar is still very strong against the Mexican peso and some other South American currencies. Currently one dollar gets almost 11 Mexican pesos, a record.
Canada (clean, safe, affordable, scenic) is still on our list of highly desirable travel destinations. U.S. visitors can even get the sales tax refunded.
Perhaps partly due to the currency exchange rate (one dollar gets you over 1,600,000 liras) and the fact that Turkey does have a faraway border with Iraq that may keep some tourists away, prices are lower than ever. There is even a bargain priced Balkan Rail Pass that includes travel on Turkish trains.
Airline seats and tickets to Vietnam may be more expensive than to most other Asian destinations. One possibility would be to travel using the "Access Asia Pass" from Malaysia Airlines, which lets you fly to up to 25 cities in Asia (including Vietnam) for a flat rate as low as $899 per person. Flights depart from Newark, NJ, or Los Angeles. This fare limits you to a maximum stay of 30 days, though longer duration passes can be bought for an additional charge. For details about this great pass, check www.malaysiaairlines.com or call 800-552-9264 and/or see a good travel agent.
Jens Jurgen, who long published the country’s most useful travel newsletter, TravelCompanions.com.