The Internet has been a boon to travelers, allowing us to do all kinds of research before going to a new destination with just a few taps on a keyboard. The problem now is there’s SO much information out there, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Say hello to a new web site and service called Fortnighter.com. The site matches travelers with trusted travel journalists who can provide itineraries that address your interests. It was started by three media and advertising executives who travel frequently. Another partner is a travel writer who writes for national newspapers, magazines, and major guide books.
Fortnighter contracts with travel writers in the places you want to visit. Tell them what your interests are, the interests of your fellow travelers, and within a week, Fortnighter experts will prepare a trip plan with sites worth visiting, restaurants and hotel suggestions for you—it’s like having a trusted friend on the ground.
For one to three-day stays, it’ll cost you $135; $200 for a four-to-six day trip; and $320 for a seven or more day itinerary. The travel journalist keeps two-thirds of that fee, and Fortnighter.com keeps the other third.
The site eventually hopes to sell pre-made itineraries for less.
If you owe taxes this year, why not pick up some frequent flyer miles?
But if you’re using a card that gives you frequent flyer miles, you might want to use a credit card or even a debit card—which usually carries a flat fee of only about $3.
Let’s say you use a company called PayUSATax.com—it’s one of the five companies that the government works with—to pay a tax bill of $10,000. It’ll cost you $180 to use a credit card, just $3.49 to use a debit card. But not all debit cards—US Airway’s VISA, for example—won’t allow you to accrue miles when you pay taxes.
Paying that $180 might be worth it if you need 10,000 miles to top off a mileage account. Same thing if you’re striving to reach a spending threshold for bonus miles. For example, British Airways’ VISA card will give you a free companion ticket if you spend $30,000 in a year—maybe your tax payment would put you over the top.
Consider carefully, my fellow travelers!
Leasing in Europe isn’t like leasing in the States. Anyone who needs a car or van for 17 days or longer will save on a lease because you won’t be charged a value added tax, which can add 18% or more to the cost of your rental.
It takes a bit more paperwork, and you must arrange for your car BEFORE you begin your trip, but it’ll be well worth your while. You’ll probably get a new car. You may not have to pay drop-off charges if you’re not going to return the car to the city in which you picked it up. And insurance may be included in the much lower rate.
When I’m shooting my public television shows, I use a New York-based company called Europe By Car. But, again, make your arrangements at least a week before you plan to travel.
One more thing: If you want to lease—or rent—a van this summer in Europe, book right away. Those tend to get reserved way ahead of time.
First of all, what country you rent in can make a big difference in how much you pay. The savings can be great enough that you might want to choose the country you fly into and out of partly on the basis of how much your rental car will cost.
For example, rent a car in Germany to drive into a former Eastern bloc country such as Poland, Croatia, Hungary, or the Czech Republic, and you’ll pay about $250 a week for a compact. Rent it in Venice, and you’ll pay $590.
Rental rates in Italy are high because you’re required to buy insurance that can double the cost of your rental. Your credit card or hometown car insurance doesn’t cover you there. If you’re visiting northern Italy, you might want to consider flying into Geneva and driving south into Italy—you’ll be covered that way because you rented your car in Switzerland.
If you can drive a standard shift, you’ll save money—automatics usually cost more. I’ll have more tips for you in tomorrow’s “Travel Minute.”
There are sunny, safe places in the world where you can find health insurance for $50 a month. Where $1,200 a month allows you to live in a very nice house or apartment and afford full-time help.
But why wait until you’re ready to retire to check these places out?
A web site, specializes in suggesting great places for retirement, and I talked with the site’s publisher, Kathleen Peddicord, on my weekend radio show to ask for her top picks.
I reached her at her home in Panama, which is at the top of her list. Specifically, Coronado, Panama, (pictured) a beach community on the country’s Pacific Coast about an hour outside the capital of Panama City. Peddicord says there’s great health care, the US dollar is the local currency, and the country is very friendly to American retirees.
But it’s also a great place to visit, so go whether you’re about to retire or not.
She also suggested the Languedoc region of France, Belize, Ecuador, and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. All great tourist destinations, as well.