Travel dreams vs. travel dollars

Posted: Updated:

How often have you dreamed about the things you'd do and the places you'd go if money were not a factor? If you're me, pretty much all the time.

Particularly the travel part.

The folks at Harris Interactive put out a poll this week with an intriguing premise - if you could go anywhere in the world, and price was no object, where would you go?

Let's take a look at their Top 10 destinations:

10) New Zealand
9) Spain
8) Japan
Tie for 6) Greece & Germany
5) France
4) Great Britain
3) Ireland
2) Australia

And drum roll please:

1) Italy

Having been lucky enough to travel to many of these destinations, I can't find a dud in the bunch.

And the best part about this list? While you can absolutely find ultra-exclusive and super-deluxe accommodations in each of these destinations, you'll also find a wide range of accommodations to suit a big variety of travel budgets!

So how can you bring your travel dreams to travel reality without having to sacrifice a comfortable vacation? I've got a couple of suggestions:

Travel in Shoulder or Low Season - I find the weather in Spain and Italy to be much more pleasant in the Fall and Spring - their shoulder seasons - than the more expensive Summer months. The crowds are way down and the temperatures won't make you pine for a personal air conditioner.

And don't be afraid of Low season - basically Winter in each of the destinations. There can be something very charming about a quaint English town with a new dusting of snow. Or check out the glittering store windows of Pre-Christmas Paris!

The airfares are lower in these "off" travel times, which will often pull a more expensive destination back into the realm of possibility!

Consider an Escorted Tour or Package - I've have wonderful experiences with escorted tours and packages! I love not having to worry about unfamiliar roads on motor coach tours, leaving it to my tour guide to find my hotel in a charming but unknown town. Tour Guides are worth their weight in gold, as they "set the scene," so to speak, while you travel from place to place.

Add those factors to this: the tour companies have such buying power, they're able to put together all the elements of your trip at a wonderful savings - often up to 30% less than you could do on your own.

"Locally hosted" packages are often a great value, too. You might consider a "city stay" type of package, where a tour company will put a discounted hotel stay with a city tour, a local transportation pass and some other interesting site seeing. Again - the savings can run from 30% - 50%!

Cruising is Cool - Where else can you unpack one time while your hotel floats you from place to place? You may have only a day in some of the destinations, but it gives you a taste of these wonderful destinations at a terrific savings!

Heck, the Magical Mediterranean cruise I've been talking about for October includes stops and stays in three of the Top 10 destinations - Italy, France and Spain!

Greece and Italy; Australia and New Zealand; Britain and Ireland - you'll find cruise itineraries that will incorporate these combinations of countries and often more.

Considering a cruise will include all your meals along with your accommodations - and a river cruise will even include shore excursions - you're looking at terrific value for your vacation dollar!

Sure some of the Top 10 destinations can be expensive - but they also offer great values too, if you know where to look!

TRAVEL SPECIALS

ITALY'S GREAT CITIES PLUS LONDON
March 11 - March 22, 2011
From $2599.00 per person, double occupancy!

Here's a great example of what I was talking about above - because of the purchasing power of Globus, a wonderful tour company offering this fully escorted tour, I'm able to offer this terrific tour of Italy along with a taste of London - one of my favorite cities!

This fantastic package includes round trip air from Phoenix, a fully escorted tour of Italy, with a total of four nights in Rome, two nights in Florence and two nights in Venice. Add in two nights in London as we make our way back home and you have four amazing cities in one fantastic trip!

Lots of wonderful sightseeing is included: the fabulous Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’s David, Romeo & Juliet’s Verona, a private transfer boat in Venice and Chianti country. You'll also have a full day in London to do as you please! Air taxes are additional - currently running $185.00 per person.

Check out the itinerary below:

Day 1 Board your overnight British Airways transatlantic flights

Day 2 Arrival in Rome, Italy
Relax in your comfortable hotel after your evening arrival in this lovely city.

Day 3 At leisure in Rome
Time to start exploring the Eternal City with your entire day free! At 6 p.m. meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a special Welcome Dinner with wine in one of Rome’s lively restaurants. (BB,D)

Day 4 Rome
Sightseeing starts with a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel (arranged next morning if closed today), world famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings and The Last Judgement. Continue to monumental St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Cross the Tiber and visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Then there is plenty of time for independent activities and exciting optional excursion possibilities. (BB)

Day 5 Rome / Pisa / Florence
Follow the Aurelian Way along the Tyrrhenian coast to Pisa. Here take your pictures of the amazing Leaning Tower, 180 feet high and no less than 12 feet out of the perpendicular. Then on to Florence, the splendid capital of Tuscany. (BB,D)

Day 6 Florence
Guided sightseeing includes the magnificent Cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery's heavy bronze "Gate of Paradise," and sculpture-studded Signoria Square. To top it off, admire Michelangelo’s celebrated David in the Academy of the Fine Arts. The afternoon is free for independent sightseeing and browsing through the shops in Piazza Santa Croce. (BB)

Day 7 Florence/Verona/Venice
Journey north through the fertile Lombardian plains to Verona, medieval setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. See Juliet’s Balcony and stroll around the picturesque market square before continuing to Venice in the afternoon. (BB)

Day 8 Venice
Start morning sightseeing in style as you glide by private boat along the Giudecca Canal to meet your resident expert. Highlights of your walking tour are St. Mark’s Square and the Byzantine Basilica, lavish Doges’ Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. Also watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects in an age-old traditional manner. Afterwards enjoy Venice at your own pace or join an optional gondola ride. (BB)

Day 9 Venice / Rome
A kaleidoscope of Italian landscapes parades past the coach windows on the way through the lush plains of the mighty River Po and across the wooded Etruscan Apennine mountain range. An exciting detour then takes you off the highway into the vine- and olive-clad Tuscan Hills which are the home of the popular Chianti wines. Tonight in Rome, an optional festive dinner may be just the way to celebrate the success of your leisurely Italian vacation. (BB)

Day 10 Depart Rome/Arrive London
After a leisurely breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight to London. Transfer from Heathrow to our Chelsea-area hotel. Evening at leisure to enjoy this amazing city! (BB)

Day 11 At leisure in London
A full day to enjoy London! Stroll around London's beautiful parks or take the London Underground to the Tower of London to see the crown jewels! You might consider one of London's famous double-decker bus "Hop On, Hop Off" tours, which lets you explore London at your own pace. Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace - your list of places to explore is endless!

Day 12 Depart London
Our nonstop flight departs Heathrow Airport this afternoon for our early evening arrival in Phoenix.

These dates are over Spring Break for many school districts, so make it a family affair! The weather in Italy will be very mild and the crowds should be low since it's not a peak travel season.

For more information on what's included in the trip, please go to my agency site at www.travelationonline.com. Give me a call or send me an e-mail to hold your space. I hope you come with us!

OFF SEASON EUROPE:
2nd PERSON FLIES FOR $199.00!

Here's another example of Low and Shoulder season deals!

One of my favorite tour companies (escorted and locally hosted trips offered) is having a wonderful deal if you book your Fall, Winter and Spring travel in Europe by August 13. When one person pays the regular air fare, the second person flies for $199.00!

This rate is valid for tons of different destinations and departures - spend a week in London or tour the Alps! Travel around Italy or Spain. If there's a European destination you've been dreaming of, give me a call or send me an e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. We'll find a trip to make it happen!

And finally, if you've been dreaming about warm water and sandy beaches…

BIG ISLAND BREAK
Keauhou Beach Resort
From $909.00 per person, double occupancy!

The package includes round trip air from Phoenix, six nights accommodation in an Ocean View Room and a rental car for the length of your stay! Travel now through early December for this excellent value.

I've stayed at this property personally. You'll love the tide pools that run along the front of the hotel, and the beach attached to the property offers some of the absolute best snorkeling I've done in the entire state of Hawaii! I couldn't believe the wide variety of fish! And the terrific beach bar/restaurant right along the sand has good prices and great food. This is a great property for families or couples.

The rate is based on availability and must be booked by August 9!

An island vacation or a European adventure - we're planning your next vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the Metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623, call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. I look forward to hearing from you!