Chilly thrills and spills in Lapland, kinky Calypso and learning to fly...our publisher draws on his globetrotting experience to pick his favourite deals from this week’s Top 20 selection of the best of the web
£349 -- Lapland Ski Week inc Meals & Flights, Save 45%
What’s the festive season without snow? Just pressure to buy lots of presents and spend days in close confinement with odd Uncle Ralph, that’s what. I’ve been to Lapland (the Finnish part), and it’s a vast, wild, chilly, magical place that chimes with the Christmas and New Year of your fantasies. Pricey to get there, though, isn’t it -- especially with all the other outlays at this time of year? Well, not if you spend your working life the way we do, combing the internet for genuine travel deals that are such a bargain you want to start packing straight away – bringing, in this case, your skis and your thickest puffa jacket with you. In truth, if it were me, I might leave the skiing. Unsung, if highly skilled, child rollerskater though I was, I have always found this closely related sport to be mainly just a precursor to crutches and plaster of paris. But Northern Lights tours! Igloo stays! Husky safaris! Of the various other chill thrills on offer as part of this deal, I found the latter experience particularly unforgettable: You get no better taste of this frosty landscape than skimming over it behind a 6-pack of these skinny, ardent, panting creatures who so love to work they bark piteously when not taken out.
£849 -- Tobago All-Inc Caribbean Escape w/Oceanfront Upgrade
“Look, boy!” There’s a lot that’s seductive about Tobago but one thing that might not catch on is the inhabitants’ post-colonial habit of using “boy” in every second sentence. Boys, men, girls, probably even sage and kindly Tobagan grandmothers seem indiscriminately to call each other boy in casual conversation. (Or was it just me?) On the whole, I found a great smorgasbord of attractions on this little brother island to the bigger and busier (and grimier) Trinidad. Calypso, for example, is one Tobagan export you probably have heard of; less widely known is how racy and generally evocative of steamy nights beneath the mango tree this musical tradition has become. And if you like diving...even if you don’t like diving, you will surely be spun out, to borrow a term from my youth, to strap on a snorkel and descend into the kaleidoscopic underworld here that hosts the largest brain coral in the world. And then there’s the goat racing, a pursuit that might have understandably not spread beyond Tobago. No matter what, I'd modestly describe this as a cracking 7-night deal (with flights, boy!) to the island for only £849.
£93 -- Private Aeroplane Pilot Lesson w/Lunch, Reg £199
One thing I haven’t done in my long career in the travel industry (an omission for which many people should no doubt be grateful) is pilot a plane. I have, however, been in a flying machine that was possibly even smaller than the craft involved in our bargain experience. The pilot and I (there was no room for anybody else) were skimming a few hundred feet above the hot red wastes of northern Australia towards one of those cattle stations the size of Belgium that use this form of transport like a taxi. That comparison was pretty apt in this case, given the size, and even more so if you have in mind a rusty, 30-year-old taxi whose strange whining noise at least reminded you the engine was still running. In a similar vein, the young pilot (himself learning to fly a jumbo eventually) kept up a stream of cheery banter but at least didn’t ask me to take the controls while he peeled an orange. But I’m not trying to put you off our deal. Consider the bright side: Lunch is thrown in, so they obviously expect you back, and for only £93 – less than half the standard price – you get to tip your pilot’s hat at someone attractive.