Here are six of the world’s don’t-miss destinations with suggestions of how to make them affordable for traveling moms, girlfriend getaways or family vacations.
New York‘s hotel scene is dismal, prices are high but quality and ease of travel make it all worth the cost. New York is safe, relatively affordable with many freebies and discounted deals (including half-price theater tickets sold from a stand in Times Square) and it is a paradise of shopping, ethnic food and free events.
Big Apple Greeters is run out of the Borough President’s Office and consists of diehard New Yorkers who really know their stuff. A free service for visitors to New York, you choose a neighborhood and a trained volunteer will take you around. To book this service, call 212-669-8159 or visit www.bigapplegreeter.org, before traveling to New York.
London is even pricier than New York, but there are ways around it. Book a hotel that includes breakfast or look for reasonable hotels in residential areas. I like the area called South Kensington for my stays. Museums are free for the most part and some have excellent food (National Museum, Portrait Gallery Roof, Tate Modern).
An Oyster Card purchased at any Tube Stop will give you half-priced tube and bus service. Like New York, there is a half-priced ticket booth in Leicester Square. Pick up a copy of Time Out London for listings of list lunch-time concerts in churches and low-cost guided neighborhood walks. If you fancy a cheap day hike, purchase the book: Time Out Book of Country Walks and you will have both a hike itinerary and a time to meet up with others who will walk with you. These hikes are all within a train or Tube ride from central London.
Mexico has always worried women, but if you go with the right company and to the right places, you will love it. My two favorite places are Oaxaca and Ixtapan de la Sal, specifically Hotel Ixtapan Spa and Golf Resort.
First Oaxaca: colonial, quaint, reasonable even in the fancy Camino Real Hotel, gourmet food and amazing shopping both in town and in Arrazola, where the painted animals are made. Zapotec Tours also called Oaxaca Hotel Group can arrange a wonderful trip for small or large groups.
Hotel Ixtapan Spa and Golf Resort is a must for any woman: an all-inclusive winter or summer packages are around $1,299 in a double and only a little more for a single! All meals, 21 services with organic products (eucalyptus, mint, fruit, birch) classes daily, golf and tennis lessons are included. Fly to Mexico City, they will arrange transfers and you have entered a world of spa indulgence, relaxed exercise and terrific low-cal fresh food. This is where I go for my girl getaways.
The capital of China has incredible group trip deals for off-season travel, winter and early spring starting around $1,100 including air and hotel. Beijing has New York weather without the snow. Make sure your trip includes breakfast ($25 and upwards a la carte) and book tours there if possible.
Of course, Bangkok has the shopping (gems and silk), the weather, and for women, the infrastructure. You can quite easily hire a taxi for a day at a time very reasonably and go anywhere you want safely.
Hong Kong is more expensive these days, but very walkable and you can eat in excellent cafeterias in shopping malls and enjoy walks designed by the Hong Kong Tourist Authority, one of the most useful of such.