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Make your new year happy with a vacation plan

Taking a flying leap like this has made Killington ski area in Vermont the Beast of the East. Taking a flying leap like this has made Killington ski area in Vermont the Beast of the East. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / December 30, 2007

What better time than New Year's Day to plan your travels for 2008. One resolution that should be easy to keep is to visit or revisit places that are different, exciting, or even comfortably familiar. The trend toward higher prices and packages with fewer features is likely to continue in 2008, so this is also a good time to think about what kinds of trips you can afford and strategize against overspending by doing your research and comparing as many options as possible. Some places and possibilities:

If you like skiing at Vermont's Killington resort, but dread the drive, Cape Air, in partnership with JetBlue, has low-fare service to nearby Rutland. I sampled a couple of dates in January and found a fare of $47.50 each way. Once at Killington, two- to seven-day Ski and Stay packages, including lodging and lift tickets, start at $112 per person per night, with a variety of lodgings including the Killington Grand Resort Hotel. Children age 12 and younger ski and ride free Monday-Friday when their parents, before they arrive, buy a lift ticket for five days or more by booking a package or by going through Killington e-tickets.

Visit killington.com or call 800-621-MTNS (6867). For flights, visit www.flycapeair.com or call 800-352-0714 or 508-771-6944.

People are of two minds about discount coupon books: They may save you money but restrict your choices, or introduce you to places you might not otherwise have tried. The best known of them is the Entertainment book (entertainment.com), with coupons specific to the area you live in or plan to visit. Most cost $20-$30, are good throughout the year, and offer dining, hotel, and other deals. The books present thousands of dollars in discounts, but you would have to use many, many of them to reach that level of savings. Nonetheless, you may easily recoup the cost of the book. As the year passes its midpoint, you may find the books deeply discounted.

Many destinations offer their own discount books free or for a small charge. In Las Vegas, it's difficult to avoid them. In Sedona, Ariz., a SuperPass booklet includes discounts on dining, shopping, and outdoor recreation throughout the Sedona area and costs $10, either at the uptown visitors' center or at visitsedona.com.

Book a trip with Over the Hill Gang International by Jan. 31 and get a free membership in the gang, a $50 value. As the name jokingly implies, the focus is on the 50-and-over set, with free guided ski days and discounts of up to 50 percent on lift tickets at big resorts, non-ski adventure travel, and camaraderie with other members of similar interests. Trips in 2008 include biking in Vietnam (for $3,339) and trekking and heli-hiking the Canadian Rockies ($4,279).

Visit othgi.com or call 719-389-0022.

Maybe 2008 is the year you will discover what cruise-going is all about. You can take a virtual tour of Cunard's elegant new Queen Victoria, conducted by the ship's captain and entertainment director, by going online and clicking on the Virtual Tour icon. A Spring Getaway, May 2-6, from Southampton, England, that visits Le Havre, France; Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Zeebrugge, Belgium, begins at $995.

Visit cunard.com or call 800-7-CUNARD (728-6273).

For the walkers and hikers among us, the world will continue to offer a footpath. Country Walkers, for instance, has new getaway trips to Tuscany (May 25-29, Sept. 14-18, and Sept. 28-Oct. 2) for $2,548; the lakes of Lugano and Como, Italy (June 23-27, July 21-25, and Aug. 11-15 and 25-29) for $2,548; and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state (Aug. 20-24 and Sept. 3-7) for $1,798. In offering four-night trips, Country Walkers cites a recent Expedia study indicating that 35 percent of employed US adults do not take all their vacation days and just 14 percent say they intend to take a full two-week vacation.

Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-464-9255.

Bikers, too, will have more places to wheel about. Somerville-based DuVine Adventures this year is including wine with all dinners and has added trips to Chile and Argentina (Feb. 15-23, Nov. 7-15, and Dec. 12-20) for $4,995; New Zealand, Feb. 17-25 and Dec. 27-Jan. 4, 2009) for $5,995; and new destinations in France and Italy, with details to be posted.

Visit duvine.com or call 888-396-5383 or 617-776-4441.

Quebec will be celebrating its 400th birthday throughout 2008 with events galore in the city. Look for packages and other special offers, but while you are waiting, visit quebecregion.com for information and a chance, albeit a slim one, to win a vacation.

Caffeine, free

If you will be among the thousands celebrating First Night in Boston, look for the Eight O'Clock Coffee van at multiple locations. It will be dispensing free cups of coffee from noon until midnight.

Napoleon awaits

At the Museum of Fine Arts, there is the exhibit "Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800-1815." And at Hotel Commonwealth, there is the Napoleon at the MFA Package through Jan. 27. Starting at $379, it includes two VIP tickets to the exhibit, overnight accommodations in an oversized guest room, breakfast, and valet parking.

Visit hotelcommonwealth.com and click on Accommodations, then Packages or call 866-784-4000.

Pro Bowl packages

With eight members of the New England Patriots selected for the Pro Bowl in Honolulu on Feb. 10, interest is high. Expedia has packages that include a sideline ticket, a four-night hotel stay, round-trip airfare, a ticket to the tailgate and VIP parties, a gift bag, transportation from the hotel to the game and tailgate party, and a $50 activity credit. Although packages start at about $2,000, the lowest prices are for flights from the West Coast.

Visit expedia.com/daily/pro mos/deals/nfl/pro_bowl.asp or at expedia.com, click on Deals and Destinations.

Mmmmm . . . pies

There will be cherry, apple, and berry pies, of course, but there will also be raspberry cheese pie, kiwi berry tart, and the hardy sun-dried tomato and goat cheese breakfast pie. The Jan. 20 Pies on Parade Inn to Inn Tour in Rockland, Maine, is a sweet annual event featuring tastings, demonstrations, and workshops, with proceeds helping feed the needy of midcoast Maine. Weekend packages include a night at your choice of the Captain Lindsey House, Berry Manor Inn, or LimeRock Inn, breakfast each morning, two tickets to the tour, a pie cookbook, a personal pie for each guest, and a poster. Prices range from $165-$225 per couple.

Visit historicinnsofrockland .com and click on Events & Packages or call 877-762-4667.

Instant gratification

The problem with most hotel rewards programs is that they can't be used until a future visit . . . which may never happen. Not so at the Best Western Senator Inn & Spa in Augusta, Maine, which has launched a program that lets members apply their rewards toward room charges or hotel services upon checkout. There is no minimum spending or number of stays required. If you prefer not to use the rewards immediately, they can be accumulated for use at the hotel or its 21 partner properties in Maine, New Hampshire, and Michigan. Rates at the Senator range from $109-$259.

To register, visit senatorinn .com/rewards.

Bring on the popcorn

A Popcorn & Powder family package at the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont starts at $305 a night, and includes two or more nights in a guest room that can sleep up to four people. You'll also get breakfast daily, complimentary lift tickets, free hot chocolate, full use of the resort's Racquet & Fitness Club, and admission to Saturday Family Movie Night, with complimentary pizza and popcorn. Spa treatments are available at extra cost.

Visit woodstockinn.com and click on Specials & Packages or call 800-448-7900.

2-for-1 sale

We always appreciate reader tips like this one: South African Airways is holding a 2-for-1 sale from New York or Washington to Cape Town, Durban, or Johannesburg. Book by Jan. 22 and travel Jan. 15-March 1. The price for two is $1,350.

Call 800-521-4845, or for information, visit flysaaspecials.com/2 for1.php.

Hiking the Lost City

The legendary Lost City of the Incas is on the agenda for Cross Country International's 10-night Machu Picchu hike. The trip begins with a short flight from Lima to Cusco, Peru, where participants get a guided tour of the city and explore the Sacred Valley. Later in the day it's off to Soraypampa to begin the hike. Participants walk up to the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak, and panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range. Optional activities include glacial lake fishing, mountain biking, rafting, and visiting hot springs. The hikers will also head down to the Santa Teresa river valley to explore coffee plantations and orchards and walk through rural towns. Lodging, all meals, and admissions are included. Trips, which begin in March and continue all year, cost $3,395 per person.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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