Ireland – Now a Very Cheap Holiday Destination

Ireland is a beautiful place to visit with a huge spread of attractions ranging from the stunning scenery to incredible heritage, not to mention probably the greatest experience – that of meeting the friendly people who will warm your memories of the country.

The trouble with Ireland up until recently was that it was so expensive compared to other European destinations. Even without taking the vagaries of the currency movements into account – the strong Euro meant those coming from a US dollar or Sterling area were saddled with extra costs – Ireland was expensive in the areas that a visitor is exposed to on any trip – mainly accommodation, food and drink. In 2009 the Euro was very strong against both the dollar and the British pound Sterling; achieving effective parity against the latter and reaching at one point almost EUR1.60 to US$. In 2010 thus far, the situation has improved to the advantage of the tourist coming from Britain or America.

Add this to dramatic falls in prices of accommodation across all sectors from guesthouses to 5-star hotels and you begin to see a benefit in considering Ireland as economically sensible place to consider visiting in 2010. It is reckoned by industry sources that accommodation rates have fallen by about 70% of their 2008 prices. There are some incredible deals out there for both families and individuals. Best of all whatever you are quoted is negotiable as providers are desperate to fill beds. The building boom in Ireland meant there was a surfeit of hotels built with attractive spas and golf courses attached. They now need customers almost at any cost merely to keep things ticking over and meet their banking repayments.

Another area that is suffering and thus follows in the downward price spiral is restaurants. For decades tourist to Ireland complained about the price of dining out whether it was your Michelin star restaurant or your run of the mill cafe or bistro. The prices in Dublin City and other cities and towns around Ireland were frankly outrageous compared to other European cities and popular tourist destinations. There are many reasons quoted by restaurant owners for higher prices – excessive rents and rates, high insurance and labour costs and so on and so forth. Some of their arguments are very valid, because without doubt there is an underlying higher cost base to doing business in any sector in Ireland. But whatever the reasons of the past, things have changed for the better in 2010. Suddenly restaurants are offering great value in many ways. Imaginative menus, family deals and early-bird deals are all the rage. Industry sources again state that compared to just a year ago, Dublin restaurants are on average 40% cheaper and similar if not greater reductions are commonplace throughout the rest of the country.

If you are travelling to the North of Ireland which is a Sterling area, competition is still forcing prices of accommodation and dinging out down. “Negotiate your own deal” is the new mantra quoted by consumer organizations when holidaying in any part of Ireland and seeking value in everything from accommodation to car hire, cruiser hire, golf (another pursuit that has dropped and any all-in package deals.

So the message is for all those wondering where to go for their holiday in 2010; try Ireland for you will be surprised at the good value!

How to Get Cheap Holidays Abroad

There are many cheap holidays abroad to be found by shopping around since booking agents offer the same deals but often at hugely varying prices. Reports in the news are that there has been a surge in late bookings for the bank holiday weekend. Apparently around 2 million Brits will head abroad so they can secure some summer sun since the outlook for the UK this weekend could go either way.

There are many cheap holidays abroad where you will almost be guaranteed to feel the sun shining in your face, popular destinations for this weekend will be short breaks for the families however if you don’t have the constraints of sticking to school holiday terms then you can venture further a field for bargain holidays for this summer period and look to fly after this weekends bank holiday. If you are booking your flights and accommodation separately then it would be wise to book after Tuesday at the very least and if possible in mid September to avoid high flight prices.

Experts have previously advised the cheapest holidays abroad would be in countries outside the Euro zone such as Turkey and Bulgaria since the exchange rate dive bombed and almost hit a one euro to one pound exchange. However the exchange rate has improved greatly for those using sterling pound and there are many countries using the Euro where hotels are offering massive discounts off room prices which offsets the slightly higher costs of holidaying there.

If you are seeking a beach holiday add Spain, Portugal (which have suffered significantly from the downturn) Greece, and Turkey to your list of destinations and for city breaks there are bargain vacations to be found such as travelling to Rome and Barcelona and even New York.

I’ve heard of massive discounts off hotel prices of up to 50% for hotels in Spain and in New York. You will be able to afford a holiday this year or enjoy a luxury four star hotel!

Remember to shop around, use the internet to compare deals and visit your travel agent to see what there offers are. If you have found great deals on the internet it can be worth bargaining with the high street travel agent to see if they are willing to match or beat your deal.

Cheap Holidays in Cuba

Ask anyone the first three things they can think of when mentioning Cuba and you will most probably hear Cuban cigars, music and Castro. The first two not only are the reasons a lot of tourists visit Cuba every year. Even though a socialist country and in tensed relationship with the United States, Cuba seems to be one of the preferred Caribbean holiday destinations. With lots of places to visit and lots of things to do, most of them with very good prices, a holiday in Cuba can prove to be a great alternative to other Caribbean destinations and definitely a cheaper one. Access to the biggest Caribbean island is mainly done by air and very rarely by boat. The island is divided into three regions: Western Cuba, Central Cuba and Eastern Cuba and getting from one region to the other can be done by car, bus, plane or boat. In the cities you can get around by bus, bike or taxi. Renting a car is not always recommended and if you are alone or with a friend you can hitchhike.

The top tourist destinations in Cuba are Havana, the capital, Santa Clara which hosts the statue of Che Guevara, Pinar del Rio which is considered the capital of the cigar industry, Varadero, Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa for the beaches. Tourists who visit Cuba take day trips to Trinidad a Cuban city with colonial-era architecture, to Isla de la Juventud, a big island that is part of Cuba, or to Maria la Gorda, a small village at the sea where one can go diving or snorkeling. For nature lovers Cuba is the place that is not only surrounded by waters, but also has several national parks that can be visited and where different activities can be done during your holiday. In Pinar del Rio you can visit, Vinales National Park or La Guira National park which have a lot of caves and mountains. For scuba diving, beaches and bird watching as well as for visiting a historical site you can visit the Cienaga de Zapata National park situated in the Mantanzas region. A few of the places that you should visit and enjoy while in Cuba are the tobacco factories, the sea wall Malecon, the coral reefs from Cayo Coco, and many more.

As with most Caribbean destinations the best time to enjoy a holiday in Cuba is any period from December to April which is actually considered the tourist season. There are many things that make Cuba a destination to avoid, however once you get to find out details about the country, its regions and the ways that you can spend your holiday, you are most likely to return or extend your staying. If you are traveling for the first time to Cuba, make sure you find out if you need a visa and how you can obtain it. Most countries need visas which are not difficult to get but the period of time varies. Also take cash with you and choose one of the main currencies like the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, and the GBP. There are two kinds of money in Cuba, the Cuban Pesos (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). The currency you want to use while there is the CUP. If you are not a smoker and you do not want to try the famous Cuban cigars, you can try the rum or the coffee or any of their popular rum based cocktails, the Cuba Libre or the Mojito. The thing that unites all of these is the music, salsa, son and Afro-Cubano.

In terms of accommodation if you really want to experience the Cuban way of life and culture, you should try the private rooms called casa particular. Since casa particulares are available in most of the towns, there is a network of casa particulares around the island and the owners will send you from one casa to another if you want them too. One thing to remember is that while prices are low compared to other tourist places, you are charged for everything and if you are not paying attention you can be overcharged. Most of the people have low wages, thus tipping is expected and encouraged everywhere. When you leave Cuba be careful about the things you want to take out of Cuba as there are restrictions to the amount of cigars, rum, coffee and other souvenirs.