Tuesday, 27 January 2004

A few of our favorite places

Airtreks.com staff recommendations

(from the January 2004 Airtreks.com monthly newsletter — you can subscribe here at the lower left of the home page)

Travelers often ask our consultants, “Where do you think we should go?” Usually, our answer is, “Wherever you like!” Each of you, like each of us, has different tastes and interests, and no one place is best for everyone.

But all of us at Airtreks.com love to travel. Between us, we visit dozens of countries each year. We have our favorites, and we’re the first to hear about it when air trekkers are starting to discover a new destination.

So we polled our staff of resident experts to find out where they recommend: the best place in the world to go right now. Our answers are as far-flung as our travels. Top picks for some of us who’ve been there include Zanzibar, Iceland, Capetown, and Syria. Inevitably, some of us start with the unmatched ethnic and cultural richness and diversity of India and China, which between them make up a third of the human world.

But there was also surprising agreement amongst our travel consultants,with two regions in particular getting our, “go there now” nod:

A sizeable contingent of our staff points air trekkers to the South Pacific, especially New Zealand (“So much to do on each island, good land transportation, best weather right now, the scenery you’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings movies”) but also Australia (“friendly people and so many great things to do”).

Even more of our staff give their top recommendation to southern South America: Brazil (Carnaval is coming up in February — check it out in Salvador or around Recife), Chile (the beauty of the Andes mountains, the city of Santiago, and “wineries to the north are wonderful day trips”), and the clear winner in our staff poll: Argentina and its queen mega-city, Buenos Aires .

Why? Diversity and beauty of the land. Wonderful people. (You could say that, truthfully, about almost anywhere, of course.) Music and dancing. Shopping. Excellent infrastructure. Great food (“steaks the size of shoes”, elaborate European-style cuisine with the best and freshest local ingredients — for peanut prices). Above all, “Great value for the money.”

Wherever you’re going, there are a couple of lessons here, especially about that, “value for the money”:

  1. Don’t let stories about the rise of the Euro confuse you about the cost of travel to the rest of the world. Yes, travel to Western Europe is more expensive for Americans than it was last year. But that’s not a reason to stay home — that’s a reason to consider traveling further afield, to places where the U.S. dollar still goes much further than it does at home. Most air trekkers still find that their expenses on the road are substantially less than their living expenses were at home in the USA.

  2. Don’t confuse bad news for locals with bad news for visitors. Reports about Argentina have focused on the fall of the peso, and the problems that has caused. As the local currency has collapsed against the dollar, local salaries and savings have lost two-thirds of their purchasing power. But that also means that the buying power of tourists’ dollars has tripled, and that they can travel just as well on a budget a third the size of what they used to need.

And the warmth and sincerity of the welcome! Argentines know they live in a beautiful country that just a few years ago was expensive for foreigners on a budget. If they were Americans, they’d be jumping at the chance to visit Argentina now, while it’s such a bargain. Like people in other such spots around the world, they welcome visitors and their dollars, and congratulate them on their good taste in choosing their vacation destination so well.

It’s a great time to travel, and there are lots of great places to choose from. Overall, travel values have never been better. Go! And wherever you go, have a wonderful trip.

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 27 January 2004, 18:26 ( 6:26 PM)
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