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Winter’s coming — time to flee for three months

September, 2010

With September’s evening chill warning that winter is around the corner, many of us are reflecting on how to prolong summer’s benefits.

The thought of spending two or three months in a temperate clime does not have to be a pipe dream.

One idea affords great opportunities, and a cost-effective way to enjoy the great warm outdoors: Double or triple up with friends and rent a villa. A number of websites devoted to renting villas worldwide are available. With the world’s economy in the throes, it is a competitive market.

It’s not impossible to find a three-bedroom villa with its own swimming pool on or near a beach in Costa Rica or Panama, for around $2,400 a month at high season. Shared among three couples, it’s a more reasonable $800 for a month-long stay in a warm weather paradise.

A Google search reveals a wide variety in cost and allure. Many of the countries with thorny economies provide the best value for three-month stays. You won’t always have to be washing dishes, because supper out is affordable.

See whether you can indulge in your favourite passions in your country of choice: You can find anything from mountain climbing and yoga to bird watching and golfing in many countries.

The trick to a shared vacation is making it work with your friends. You need to set some basic understandings and collaborate when difficulties arise. Sharing luxurious quarters can be emotionally rewarding and JPOFGF (just plain old fashioned good fun).

Overseas options afford reasonably priced three-month stays. These destinations have become part of a growing Canadian trend: Spain, Portugal and Tunisia. This trend has developed over the last five or six years, in part, explains Dan Prior, business manager for Ontario and Maritimes for Boomerang and Exotick Tours, because of the high cost of medical insurance in the United States.

He also blames unpredictable weather in Florida. He quips that Spain is becoming less popular for Canadians because of the low quality fare in dining. “The country seems to be getting overrun with British fish and chips.”

Greg Derohanessian, co-owner of travel wholesaler Jolivac, offers two- and three-month packages in hotels or kitchenette apartments along the Costa del Sol in Spain, the Algarve in Portugal and the Tunisian Mediterranean coast.

“In these areas the number of sun days is predictable,” he says. Boomers favour places where they can do a little exploration through day excursions, he says “One advantage of going abroad for a few months is discovering a new culture.”

Most reputable travel wholesalers like Jolivac and Thomas Cooke use accommodations close to beaches “because people like to takes strolls and yet be close enough to restaurants, food markets or golf courses so they don’t have to pay for a taxi every time they go out,” Derohanessian says.

“Reputable companies will also have on-ground representatives to take care of any problems.”

A three-month stay in Portugal or Spain is $3,500 a person, including airfare and lodgings in an apartment. A similar stay in Tunisia is around $2,200, including airfare, hotel and two meals a day.

In our global economy, language isn’t a problem. According to Thomas Cooke’s Dan Prior, these areas are long-term tourist destinations.

“It’s not off the beaten path so the infrastructure is very well established. It’s is very common for most people to speak English.”

If you want to explore a new culture at a calm, unhurried pace, and want to escape from our Siberia-like winters, travelling abroad for three months is a tantalizing option.



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