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Summer Travel: Controling Costs

It seems to be the question on every travel journalist’s mind: Will people stop traveling due to high costs and an uncertain economy? Here’s the short answer: No. But we may see changes in the way people travel and may need to adjust our attitude on what constitutes a good “deal.” For me personally, it’s hard to imagine a price point that would make me stop traveling — it’s just that important to me, and I find ways to make it work. After all, I recently flew to Italy for just three days of skiing — would have loved to have stayed longer, but the Euro is killing me. So, I had a shorter-than-usual trip — but I still went. Shorter trips are just one way that people adjust their travels when they’re trying to control their vacation costs.

Yesterday on the Fox News show “Studio B with Shepard Smith,” I talked about a few other ways travelers can try to control costs this summer. You’ve all heard the advice to book early, but with service cutbacks by a few airlines, there’s going to be stiff competition for the least-expensive seats and booking far in advance is as important as ever for those of you who have your heart set on a particular destination.

Watch the video, or read on for my three other tips:

St. John beach chair photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Jose Kevo.

America’s Favorite Cities? You decide!

Alright, I’m biased. If asked to name my favorite American city, I wouldn’t hesitate to bestow the honor on San Francisco—but that’s because I’ve wanted to live here since first visiting at the tender age of eighteen, and now that I do, I can hardly believe my luck.

But what about where I’d most like to go for a romantic break? Well, um, San Francisco, I’m afraid. And my pick for the city with the best ethnic eats? You guessed it—San Francisco again.

Travel + Leisure magazine is currently conducting its annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, and if you don’t want San Francisco to steal the show in every single category—oh, you know I’ll be voting for it again and again—you might want to head over there and start ticking a few boxes.

What’s Better for an Out-of-Shape Rookie: Skiing or Snowboarding?

Here’s the situation: I have only skied twice in my life in conditions that many West Coasters would sneer at. Both times were many, many years ago, in fake machine-generated snow, on soft and forgiving East Coast slopes. In one case, I fell so spectacularly (cartwheeling head over skis into the air) that a person on the ski lift above actually shouted down at me to make sure I was okay.

In a couple weeks, I head to Vail, Colorado, where the snow is the real deal, and the mountains are thousands of feet higher than those in Pennsylvania’s White Tail and Virginia’s Wintergreen. I’ll be going with friends who currently reside in Colorado, and who spend every weekend that they can snowboarding. While they shred the triple-zillion black-diamond runs and conquer the K-12 a la Lane Myer, my plan is to take a lesson and baby my days away on the bunny slope. But what I can’t decide regarding my lesson is, skiing or snowboarding?

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member NSXEatr.

Buenos Aires Is Where It’s At

I know it’s St. Patrick’s day and so I’m supposed to be talking about Ireland. But let us broaden our minds. Europe is so expensive these days! So guess what is better than feeling like you’re in Europe without actually paying for it? TIme’s up. (I suspect you didn’t come up with anything.) This is reason numero uno, my friends, to visit Argentina. The capital city of Buenos Aires boast architecture that compares to the finest European cities combined with a Latin spirt that makes the place distinct. A few years ago the early adopters started to head their way to BA.

The seasons are opposite from ours making it a refreshing climate change but given that we’re on the same time zone there’s no jet-lag. Let me say that again — the feel of Europe comes without the jet-lag. Reason number two for visiting BA. Not surprisingly it has become increasingly popular. This weekend the New York Times travel section talked about one of my very favorite destiantions.

Photo by IgoUgo member Jim

Gay Thailand: Paradise in More Ways Than One

San Francisco–check. Provincetown, Mass.–check. Miami–check. Gay and lesbian travelers have an increasingly broad–and exuberant–array of gay-friendly U.S. destinations to pick from. Internationally, we’ve also got “gay” Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Canada, and more. But tilt the globe in an entirely different direction, and the average lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person might have no clue where to get their gay on.

Seeking outside-the-box destinations that are also easy on the dollar, many savvy American travelers have recently made Thailand their getaway of choice. But how do gay and lesbian travelers rate this tropical nation? I asked openly gay friends and colleagues James Harris and Mario Diaz for their thoughts on their recent Thailand trips.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member nova_chic.