Why I Love the Idea of Exploring Europe in Winter

Winter is one of my favorite seasons in Europe. // (c) 2013 TimeyRes
Winter is one of my favorite seasons in Europe. // (c) 2013 TimeyRes

I have long been a proponent of traveling in the off-season, especially with family. I know that there’s school and holidays, and it’s cold, but it is such a great way to experience Europe’s true charm. It’s precisely the absence of tourists that makes it so much more authentic. In the summertime, every city is buzzing with activity. In the winter, you see children riding the train on the way to school, locals exploring the markets and businessmen escaping for a drink at lunch. These small but significant daily activities are what truly give visitors a glimpse into life in Europe.

All of this leads to my excitement that  Rail Europe is currently offering three different promotions for travel in France, Switzerland and Germany during the holidays. Details on the promotions are below…and if you don’t fancy winter travel, there’s always the gift of a rail pass for the summertime.


  • Details: First Class France-Switzerland Deluxe Pass offers first class train travel within a one-month period at a special price aboard two very extensive rail networks as well as on the high speed Lyria trains that connect them. Plus, enjoy a wide selection of bonuses which includes free entrance to over 400 museums, and discounts on many mountain railways, cable cars and city passes in Switzerland, as well discounts on castles, shows, attractions, museums and city passes in France.
  • Promo (booking) dates: Book tickets from September 19-  December 20, 2013
  • Travel dates: Rail passes must be validated within 6 months of purchase date at the rail station by a railway official.
  • Visithttp://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/france-switzerland-deluxe/index.html



  • Details: REI will offer 5 days of travel for the price of 4. Travelers can score an extra day of travel at no cost with the purchase of a First Class 4-Day Swiss Pass and enjoy 5 consecutive days of unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel system. In addition to sailing along the majestic Swiss countryside along rail routes such as the Glacier Express, Golden Pass Line or Wilhelm Tell Express, travelers enjoy public transportation in 75 Swiss cities, get a 50% price reduction off most mountain railways, and free admission to more than 470 museums in Switzerland. Prices begin at $482 USD.
  • Promo (booking) dates: September 3 through December 20, 2013
  • Travel dates: November 1 to December 31, 2013
  • Visit http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass-free-day-fall/index.html


BAVARIAN BARGAINS THIS WINTER! 20% Off Select German Rail Passes

  • Details: Now offered at 20% off, a German Rail Pass Promotion for 7, 8, 9 or 10 days within 1-month is an even more remarkable deal for an unmatched rail experience aboard one of the most modern rail systems in the world. Travelers will ride freely across Germany, with extensive travel on the national rail network of Germany where quaint villages, beautiful countryside, and storybook Bavarian castles are among the sites to see. Plus, get 20% off admission to castles in Bavaria! Lock-in these fairytale prices worthy of such a magical destination.
  • Promo (booking) dates: October 1- December 5, 2013
  • Travel dates: Valid for travel from October 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014
  • Visithttp://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/german-rail-pass-twenty-off-promo/index.html

Travelocity Data Finds Ways To Save On Christmas Travel

Finding cheap flights at Christmas // (c) 2013 Kevin Dooley
Finding cheap flights at Christmas // (c) 2013 Kevin Dooley

This is something that I have always wondered about: When can you get the lowest airfares on travel at Christmastime. It’s one of the most popular times to travel, visit family and friends, take a winter vacation; your kids are home for an extended period of time so you don’t want to be home for the entire break, but can you get a cheap travel deal? Travelocity has provided insider savings based on their data that shows when families can find ways to save on Christmas travel.

Travelocity’s winter data shows that the average roundtrip domestic airfare is $450, up 7.5 percent from last year. In comparison, international airfare is $1,016, up only 2.5 percent from last year, a relatively small increase. The average daily rate for domestic hotels this winter is $204 and $342 for international. These prices are known as the price to beat, but if travelers book early and are flexible with travel dates they can find better deals.

When to Book Christmas Airfare
According to Travelocity’s Christmas Booking Barometer, which is based on bookings from the past three years, travelers should look to purchase Christmas airfare by November 12.  Trends show a spike beginning around six weeks before Christmas day (around November 13). If travelers are not sure of their travel plans yet, data shows that there is usually a drop in fares three weeks before the holiday (around December 4 – 10) and then it will increase again.

  Booking Week          Fare
8 weeks before  Oct 30 – Nov 5 $       314.00
7 weeks before Nov 6 – Nov 12 $       320.00
6 weeks before Nov 13 – Nov 19 $       352.00
5 weeks before Nov 20 – Nov 26 $       392.00
4 weeks before Nov 27 – Dec 3 $       341.00
3 weeks before Dec 4 – Dec 10 $       313.00
2 weeks before Dec 11 – Dec 17 $       363.00
1 week before Dec 18 – Dec 24 $       438.00

Cheapest Days to Fly Domestic for Christmas 2013
Travelocity always recommends being flexible with travel dates when possible to save additional money. Travelers can save more than $350 this Christmas if they are flexible with their travel dates. Travelers can expect to pay less if they leave for Christmas vacation Monday, December 23 or after. Departing on the weekend prior will likely result in higher fares. For returns, travel prices fluctuate about $100, and Travelocity data points to higher prices on Sunday, December 29 or Monday, December 30.

When booking flights on Travelocity, there’s an option to search for flights within one to three days of your ideal departure and return date and this will help travelers find the combination of dates that work best for their route.




Travelzoo Deal Experts Share Top Tips For Holiday Travel

It’s holiday travel time — or at least booking time and if you havent’ already made your plans, TravelZoo has put together top tips for booking holiday travel. Travelzoo Inc., a global Internet media company, published its Top Tips for Holiday Travel, a collection of expert advice to help travelers alleviate the stress of, and save money on, holiday travel. The tips were compiled and ranked by Travelzoo’s Deal Experts.

Top tips for holiday travel // (c) 2013 TravelZoo
Top tips for holiday travel // (c) 2013 TravelZoo


Germany Travel at Your Fingertips

Germany is fun for famlies at Christmas // (c) heatheronhertravels
Germany is fun for famlies at Christmas // (c) heatheronhertravels

Planning a vacation abroad can be time consuming and complicated but travel to Germany is a whole lot easier for families. Germany’s largest online marketplace for leisure activities Regiondo (http://www.regiondo.com) aims at simplifying the process by gathering over 7,500 offers from local partners on a unique platform. Whether travelers are looking for a guided city tour, a jumping dinner, a helicopter tour, a massage or a trip to the zoo Regiondo.com makes all available offers bookable with just one click.

All activities can be browsed through by city, distance, theme and price. The simple online booking system makes the process of buying a ticket quick and easy, saving users the time of making phone calls or emailing back and forth with the providers. Furthermore, reviews of prior customers help locating the most fitting offer. Once booked, users will receive their tickets optionally by e-mail, ready to be printed out, or by mail, making the trouble of queuing up at the ticket counter history.


Private Tours Are Perfect for Family Travel to China

Janeen Christoff
Janeen Christoff during a visit to the Great Wall in China

Wendy Wu Tours, the operator of Classic and Premier Group tours to China, has one of  America’s most comprehensive ranges of vacations to China from the U.S., now including a selection of privately guided tours with daily departures.

“Our Private Tours to China offer the assurance of a set itinerary with the flexibility to set the pace of the day. It allows passengers to experience China their way. They have a choice of Deluxe or Superior hotel categories and we’ve left some evenings at leisure for those who like to explore on their own. Private Tours are ideal for families, as it allows our guests later start times and the option to linger at one site and skip over another. Also perfect for honeymooners who don’t usually want to travel in a group, as well as groups of friends and special interest groups,” said Mark Grundy, president.

Wendy Wu, founder and CEO added, “We’ve taken our most popular Classic Group tours and created private versions. This allows our passengers to travel on tried and true itineraries of China, while setting the overall flow of the tour themselves. They experience a more personal tour with their private guides and pre-negotiated rates keeps costs affordable. Furthermore, the choice of hotel category allows guests to customize to their comfort level and select dinners on their own for exploring their tastes or just relax at the hotel. Private Tours offer passengers who want freedom and personalized touring the perfect balance of guidance and leisure.”