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Pigs Don’t Fly, They Swim

You know that saying “when pigs fly?” As in, “oh sure, you’ll get that 10% raise—when pigs fly!” or “Brad Pitt? Yeah, he’s totally coming over to my house later to eat hot fudge sundaes.  When pigs fly.”

Well, I’m here to tell you, friends: pigs don’t fly. They swim.

On my recent trip to the Bahamas, I had the great pleasure of boating through the Exuma Cays. We dropped anchor at quite a few of the 365 cays–”one for every day of the year,” said our boat guide Pat with a broad grin–but the one that stands out most in my mind was the one where I swam with a posse of pigs. Yes, I said a posse of pigs. I’ll say it again: I swam with a posse of pigs.

Extended Vacation: Trips for the Unemployed

Suddenly have a lot of free time on your hands? With the jobless claim at a seven-year high, chances are you or someone you know is out of work. Being unemployed may hamper your finances, but those of the “lemons into lemonade” mentality will consider turning this sudden abundance of free time into an opportunity to travel. So if that severance package is burning a hole in your pocket or you’ve got money saved up, consider these five budget-friendly trips for your extended “vacation.” Who knows? By the time you get back this mess could be cleaned up and you’ll be refreshed and ready to re-enter the workforce.

Anguilla
Anguilla is known for its white-sand beaches, fine dining and upscale resorts. What this island in the northern Caribbean is not known for, however, is being inexpensive. Anguilla makes this list for one reason – a deal offered at the Arawak Beach Inn geared at guests staying for one month or longer that makes living the good life affordable. Guests who book extended stays are eligible for a rate of $825 / month – or less than $30 per night – with a three month stay. According to the website, a two month stay it is an additional 20 percent and 25 percent more for one month stays. Accommodations are in an oceanfront room with a kitchen.

Asia Cruise
A month touring Asia? Who has that kind of time? Well – you do. An Asia itinerary on offer from Azamara cruise line is priced from just $1,999 (not including airfare) for a November departure, or about $84 per night. A great value, considering the price includes your accommodations, all meals and transportation between ports. The ship departs from Athens, Greece and calls on exotic locales like Cairo, Dubai, Mumbai and Taiwan before the last stop in Singapore. That should give you enough bragging rights for a lifetime. This particular cruise departs on November 22; there are many shorter cruises and different itineraries available depending on your needs.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo.com member Koror

Maybe You Didn’t Have to Take a Staycation After All

It was the buzzword of the travel industry this summer. You may call it a “staycation” but I call it a “nocation.” And if you think about the premise behind what a staycation really is — staying home and doing nothing — you’ll realize that it really just means not going on vacation. From here on out I will no longer call this phenomenon as a staycation — I prefer to call it what it is. A nocation!

An article in today’s New York Times details the staycation of one man whose cancelled trip to Jamaica forced him into a nocation. He stayed in bed, mostly, and watched Judge Judy. His back started to hurt from being in bed so much. People — this is insanity. Nocations will eventually lead to bedsores if we’re not careful!

The irony of all this nocation talk is that maybe you didn’t need to take one after all. Maybe you could have afforded that summer trip. I was convinced that traveling was not as expensive as the media hype would have you believe and it turns out I was right. Analyzing flight and hotel data from July, I was able to easily identify 14 cities where the cost increase of a trip was no more than $50 more expensive than it was last year. Some cities were even less expensive in July 2008 than July 2007. Here are the complete findings.

I don’t want to say that $50 isn’t a lot of money, because when it seems like the cost of everything is up — from gas to groceries — even a few dollars can seem like a lot. To offset any additional costs, here are a few tips:

Strange Headlines in Travel News

Last week was a bizarre one for travel-related news. In India, a pregnant woman on a train thought she was making a routine bathroom visit and instead gave premature birth to a babylet who fell through the toilet and onto the train tracks–and the baby survived. In Egypt, a study-abroad student lost one-third of his body weight after boarding with a host family who, allegedly, didn’t give him enough to eat during his stay. And, tragically, in the waters off the Bahamas, an Australian tourist was fatally bitten by a shark during an encounter in which bloody fish parts were used to attract the predators to tourists who shelled out the big bucks for a cageless dive.

News Flash: Travel Update for Caribbean and Mexico

After pounding several Caribbean islands over the weekend, Hurricane Dean hit Mexico’s Caribbean coast Tuesday as a Category 5 storm, according to USA Today. The hurricane was downgraded to Category 2, but is expected to regain strength as it heads towards central Mexico.

Travelers with plans to visit Mexico, especially the Yucatan Peninsula, should check with their hotel for information on rebooking. Most hotels and tour operators in impacted destinations will waive cancellation fees and allow travelers to rebook for a later date, based on availability. Customers with cruise itineraries that include Mexico ports will experience itinerary changes; check with your cruise line for updates and schedule changes. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Carnival Cruise Lines shifted the itineraries of six ships, while Royal Caribbean International changed at least two.

Island by Island Conditions
On Grand Cayman, Owen Roberts International Airport is open and the visitor restriction has been lifted. Visitors should check with individual properties for inofrmation on hotel opening status.

Jamaica was spared a direct hit by the hurricane and hotel damage was limited. Many hotels, particularly in western Jamaica, are fully operational. Montego Bay Airport is now open and ready to receive flights. Norman Manley Airport in Kingston is expected to open on Tuesday.

On Martinique, Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport is open. All island hotels are open, though some have suffered landscaping damage. No structural damage was reported.

On St. Lucia, both airports are open and hurricane damage was minimal.

On St. Kitts, airline service remains normal and all hotels are open. The island suffered very little impact from the storm.