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Presents too costly? Book a bargain foray abroad

Real Deals

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / December 4, 2005

While you're out shopping for holiday bargains, don't forget about travel. At this time of year, you're likely to find good prices in foreign destinations. For instance:

Winters are warm in Sicily, and Tourcrafters has a four-night Sunny Break package in the resort community of Taormina for $675 from Boston. Included are the flight and accommodations at the hillside Bay Palace Hotel, as well as daily breakfast and hotel service charges and fees. The offer is good through Dec. 15 and again Jan. 6-March 15.

Visit www.tourcrafters.com or call 800-482-5995.

The purchase deadline is Thursday (Dec. 8) but Virgin Vacations is offering three nights in Paris with air fare starting at $399. Travel is valid through March 25.

Visit virgin-vacations.com or call 888-937-8474.

By registering with British Airways on its website, you can access special offers that change every two weeks. The current offer, for instance, had premier economy Boston-London fares for $199 each way.

Visit www.ba.com and click on Special Offers, then Current Offers.

El Al, Israel's national airline, has seven-day, fly-and-stay specials through March. From New York, passengers can fly and stay at popular destinations for $1,275-$1,445.

Call 800-EL-AL-SUN or visit www.elal.com and click on English.

Exotic Journeys is offering 11-day India excursions that encompass New Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra beginning at $1,999. The package includes air fare from New York, domestic air fare between Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay), rooms in four-star hotels, room taxes (but not flight taxes), transfers, sightseeing, and the services of English-speaking local guides. Departures are available on selected dates from Jan. 31-April 25.

Call 800-55-INDIA or visit www.exoticjourneys.com.

Toronto may not be considered exotic, but Middle Earth certainly is. Maxxim Vacations' Lord of the Rings package to that city costs $619 per person, including round-trip air fare from Boston, two nights' accommodation at the Delta Chelsea Hotel, and orchestra-level tickets to the musical version of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy. The package is available Feb. 2-April 30.

Call 800-567-6666 or visit wwwmaxximvacations.com.

An eight-day cycling and walking tour in Spain's Catalonia region is offered year-round, except July, by Active Journeys. The land-only price of $1,100 includes accommodations, bike rental, all breakfasts, and six dinners. The tour is graded at a moderate level of difficulty.

Call 800-597-5594 or visit www.activejourneys.com.

Free publications

For a 148-page guide to the Denver metro area, call 800-2-DENVER or visit www.denver.org. Information is included on the 100th anniversary celebration of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Jan. 7-22.

Study London, a 20-page brochure for those who want to study or work in the city, is available by calling VisitBritain at 800-462-2748, or by downloading it from www.visitlondon.com.

For a sample copy of Mouse Tips -- The Unofficial Newsletter of Walt Disney World, write to Mouse Tips, PO Box 383, Columbus, OH 43216. The quarterly newsletter has insider tips, attraction updates, and advice on where to eat, stay, and shop. Annual subscriptions are $12.95.

'Go' card

Smart Destinations has launched a Go USA Card featuring unlimited, flexible, prepaid admission to attractions in Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. The card can be purchased in increments of 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days, to be used any time within a year at many attractions. Prices range from $59 for a one-day card to $159 for a seven-day card. The company says the cost can be recouped by visiting two or three attractions each day.

Visit www.gousacard.com.

December on the Cape

Ocean Edge Resort & Club in Brewster is now open year-round. A Sea Captain's Getaway package for next weekend (Dec. 9-11) includes a visit from Santa, carriage rides, the annual Sea Captain's festivities in Brewster, and a Christmas Stroll through Chatham. Two-night packages begin at $540 double occupancy, plus $25 per child.

Call 800-811-3457 or visit www.oceanedge.com.

Jazz in Jamaica

For $799 from Boston, GWV Vacations has a week in Jamaica during the annual jazz and blues festival on Jan. 26-28, this year featuring Al Green, Shaggy, Maxi Priest, and James Ingram. Participants stay at Legends on Negril Beach. Festival tickets are extra and can be purchased when reserving the air-and-land package. The trip leaves Boston Jan. 22.

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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