Lonely Planet, well-known for publishing about 100 travel guides covering much of the world, has just issued its first edition of "Britain: Travel Survival Kit."
The 1,210-page guide is packed with more than 200 maps and details on where to stay, what to see, how to get around, historical background, suggestions for dining and a section on London titled "Tourist Traps." It's the kind of detailed information that's invaluable to an independent traveler.
The candidness that the authors inject into Lonely Planet guides is one of the features that travelers say they like most about them. For example, in writing about Buckingham Palace, the authors state: "The interiors range from bad kitsch to tasteless opulence . . . Basically, there are many great houses in Britain that are both considerably more beautiful and much more interesting."
But statements such as these irritate local tourism operators, according to British media. All the fuss, of course, is good for generating publicity when launching a new book. People tend to believe that if an author is not afraid to be harsh, he or she must be giving helpful information. If your budget is really tight, that's the kind of information you might really appreciate.
"Britain: Travel Survival Kit" by Richard Everist, Bryn Thomas and Tony Wheeler, is available in retail bookstores for $24.95.
A new resort-style hostel has opened in the Orlando area, less than five miles from Walt Disney World. This will be especially helpful for solo travelers who want to stop in this popular area of central Florida, but don't have someone to split the cost of hotel and motel rooms with.
The Hostelling International Orlando Resort is in a former motel on a two-acre lot on the shore of Lake Cecile. In addition to regular hostel facilities, such as a kitchen, laundry and common areas, this hostel has air conditioning, a swimming pool, barbecue and volleyball court. Paddle boats are available on the lake.
As many as 200 guests can be accommodated in dormitory rooms with four to six beds and in a limited number of family and couples rooms. All the rooms have private bathrooms.
Guests who are members of Hostelling International are charged $12-$14 per night. Non-members are charged an additional $3 per night guest fee.
The hostel is at 4840 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34746; telephone (407) 396-8282. Call the hostel for information on how to reach it by local transportation. The staff has made special arrangements with local taxi services for set fees from rail and bus drop-off points.
The hostel is well situated for visits to the numerous local tourist attractions, and it has an information desk that can help with details on what to see and how to get there.
For example, a shuttle service is available from the hostel to Walt Disney World for $9 round trip, and to Universal Studios for $19. It's also possible to book tours to the Kennedy Space Center, which is less than an hour from the hotel. For $39, you get return transportation and a tour.
You can reserve a bed at the hostel, using a credit card for a deposit, directly, or by calling (800) 444-6111.
There's no getting around it, the theme parks are expensive. But there are a couple of ways to stretch your dollars. One is to buy a two-day pass to a theme park. These are just slightly more than a one-day pass. For example, a one-day adult pass to Sea World costs $39.95; a two-day pass for an adult is $40.05.
Another idea is to use discount coupons that can be found through the Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention and Visitors Bureau's Vacation Guide. It has 100 coupons for year-round discounts at parks such as Universal Studios Florida, Sea World of Florida and Water Mania. The guide also offers accommodation listings. (There are 130 hotel and motels, and 28 campgrounds in the Kissimmee-St. Cloud area.) Free copies are available by calling (800) 526-5477.