Visiting New York on a budget Sources: For information on accommodations or package deals, get in touch with the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, Amtrak, Gray Line or AAA.

Travel Q&A

October 19, 1997|By Jean Allen | Jean Allen,SUN SENTINEL

My husband and I are planning a trip to New York City this fall. We are on a limited income, so we hope we can afford a three- to five-day stay in a moderate-price hotel.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau can supply a list of hotels and package deals, many of which are on weekends. Gray Line of New York packages hotels, show tickets, some sightseeing and meals, for two and three nights. Call 800-669-0051.

Call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-NYC-VISIT or find the information on the bureau's Web site (http: //www .nycvisit.com). The site and toll-free number offer dozens of sightseeing ideas, tour opportunities, entertainment options and so on.

Delta Airlines offers combination air-hotel packages, including airport transfers and theater tickets along with the room and flights. Call 800-233-7260 or ask a travel agent to handle the booking. If you'd like to take the train one way and fly the other, Amtrak and United Airlines have air/rail packages that include hotel, theater and sightseeing. Call 800-321- 9887.

I also find that the hotel variety and wide price range in the AAA tour books are hard to beat. AAA lists accommodations by geographical area (lower Manhattan, midtown Manhattan and so forth) with spotter maps. The books are free to members.

My son and his buddies are taking a semester off from college to make a long trip by car around the United States. I have been delegated to find out about youth hostels where they can stay. I hope you can help. Tell me what to do next.

The boys have a good idea. Not only will they get cheap sleep but they'll meet hostelers from all over the world.

Start your hostel hunt by sending for the free brochure "Hostelling Map of the USA," which provides locations, addresses and open/closed dates of 150 youth hostels in the United States and explains how to make reservations. For the map brochure and membership information, contact HI-AYH Map Brochure, 733 15th St. N.W., Suite 840, Washington D.C. 20005; 202-783-6161.

Hostel overnight fees range from $10 to $24, and all ages can stay there. Most offer dorm-style accommodations with separate rooms for men and women, self-service kitchens, common rooms and dining areas. Some offer private rooms that can be reserved.

For example, one of the two hostels in the Orlando, Fla., area is a former motel in Kissimmee, near Walt Disney World, complete with pool and other amenities. There are hostels in New Hampshire's White Mountains, on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. A new hostel in San Diego is in a handsome old Mediterranean-style hotel in the city's historic Gaslamp Quarter. A 60-bed Pittsburgh hostel is housed in a turn-of-the-century bank building; the original 8-ton vault door is now the entrance to the elevator.

Other cost-cutting options, such as YMCA lodgings, are listed in a Budget Lodging Guide, $16.95 including shipping and handling, B&J Publications, P.O. Box 5486, Fullerton, Calif. 92635; call 800-525-6633 for credit-card orders.

The guide lists 400 YMCAs worldwide that offer lodging and in most cases economical on-site food service for men, women and families. Also listed are U.S. youth hostels and many economy and mid-priced accommodations and B&B reservation services.

I have always wanted to visit Portugal, especially the coastal area near Lisbon where my relatives came from. Any advice?

Next year would be a good time for a visit, since the little nation should be all spruced up in connection with Expo 98, the final world exposition of the 20th century, scheduled in Lisbon May 22 to Sept. 30. There will also be a "Festival of 100 Days," Feb. 12 to May 21, filled with performing arts events.

The Expo commemorates the 500th anniversary of the May 1498 arrival in India of a Portuguese fleet commanded by Vasco Da Gama. The theme will be "The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future."

The fair is being built along the Tagus River, with 130 nations to date signed up for participation, including the United States. Early indications are that the Expo will combine entertainment and exhibits.

For those who find world fairs a bore, Lisbon and its nearby coast are worth visiting at any time. Lisbon's Alfama, the charming Moorish area, is my favorite, and a short train ride from the city are the resort areas of Sintra and Estoril as well as a string of quaint fishing villages. The Portuguese National Tourist Office -- 590 Fifth Ave., 4th floor, New York, N.Y. 10036-4704, 800-PORTUGAL from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays -- has useful brochures and guides about the country, which is Europe's least expensive for visitors.

Pub Date: 10/19/97

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