The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel

March 13, 2006
Nine ways to score a free trip. They're not for everybody: Research, patience, good timing—and often a bit of luck and sweat—are required. But there's just no beating the price.

1. House-Sitting
Take up residence in someone else's home

Instead of waiting for your rich aunt in the Hamptons to go away and ask you to watch over her place, look into a service that lists house-sitting opportunities. If things work out, you might be chilling out at a Caribbean villa or caring for cats and hens in an adorable French farmhouse.

Since retiring as a university administrator 10 years ago, Grant Thomas of Edmond, Okla., has kept an eye on houses (and pets) in Seattle, Santa Fe, and San Rafael, Calif. "House-sitting has opened up new worlds to me," he says. "I get to know a place much more in-depth, and my experiences have given me a new circle of human, canine, and feline friends across the country."

Before signing on for any assignment, ask questions. Namely, who pays the bills? Many homeowners state upfront that house sitters pay for utilities, at the least. If there are pets, find out how many and what their special needs are. If there's a garden, ask how big it is and how much attention it requires. At some point, the work may make the "free" lodging not worth the trouble. Also, ask the owner for the names and contacts of previous house sitters, and grill them about the experience.

Where do you find these gigs? posts more than 1,000 house-sitting openings per year, most of which are in the U.S. ($30 per year to see online listings). At last check, listed 298 opportunities, including 117 in Australia ($45). There's also, where homeowners can search for registered sitters with availability and skills that match their needs ($40). And is a site where the houses are all left behind by academics on teaching assignments (free for house sitters, from $35 to post a home online). —Sophie Alexander

2. Hiking Trail Volunteers
Get fresh air without paying for it

Most volunteer vacations charge participants for the chance to do grunt work without pay. A few regional trail associations, however, gladly welcome anyone willing to work on hiking paths and don't ask for a dime. As thanks for volunteers' hours of sweat spent clearing debris, building rock steps, or reconfiguring switchbacks, the associations provide free campsites at a minimum. Cabins, bedding, food, and transportation are sometimes included, too.

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance runs two-to-seven-day trips with catered meals at A-list national parks such as Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Glacier (303/838-3760, The group's goal is to complete the trail it's named for, which is about two thirds of the way done. Some programs run by the Pacific Northwest Trail Association—which focuses on a path leading from Washington's Olympic Mountains into Montana—are free (877/854-9415, From Maine to Georgia, volunteers can join one- or two-week trips organized by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (304/535-6331, At some locales, workers sleep in cabins with cots and electricity. —Nick Mosquera

3. Sister City Exchanges
Spend time with family you never knew you had

With a primary goal of promoting cultural understanding, Sister Cities International is a nonprofit network that partners hundreds of U.S. cities with international "sister" cities that have similar climates, industries, or populations ( The local governments of sister cities might exchange ideas about health care, traffic circles, or playgrounds. There are also opportunities for residents to visit sister cities—sometimes totally on your hometown's dime.

Every year, several Tempe, Ariz., high school students are selected to go on five-week trips to sister cities (towns can have more than one) such as Lower Hutt, New Zealand; Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France; and Zhenjiang, China. All expenses are paid, including airfare. "Within a few hours of arriving in Ireland, I felt completely at home," says Sara Bernal, a Tempe high school senior who went to Carlow, another sister city, last year. "I'd give anything to have another experience like it."

Sister city visits aren't just for high school kids. Every year hundreds of groups from U.S. towns head overseas to foster bonds with international "family." Participants are expected to be active in sister city projects and host counterparts when they come to town. Travelers should expect to run fund-raisers for trips—most cities don't foot the bill, at least not entirely—though room and board are usually covered by local hosts. —Laura MacNeil

4. Workampers
Use your RV to get from one job to the next

Millions of RV owners are on the move year-round, and an estimated 750,000 of them couple their travels with short-term work. The wages are enough to get by (typically $8-$12 per hour), and gigs sometimes come with free places to park, including free electric hookup and other perks. The folks on the move are called workampers, and may find themselves checking in guests and overseeing ice cream socials at KOA campgrounds, or dressing up as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World. At last check, more than 700 employers posted summer jobs aimed at RVers at, the online home of Workamper News, which has been around since 1987. Jobs tend to be at state and national parks, seasonal vacation spots, and big events such as the Indianapolis 500. Most workampers spend fewer than 20 hours per week on the job, so there's plenty of opportunity to relax and explore. —Lisa Rose

5. Driveaways
Go on a road trip in someone else's car

Don Jankiewicz, a 34-year-old actor in Los Angeles, has hopped behind the wheel of around 50 cars, none of which were his. He's neither a valet nor a thief. Ever since reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road in college, Jankiewicz has volunteered for driveaway duty whenever he could. A driveaway situation arises when a car owner needs his vehicle moved to a new location and either can't or doesn't want to do the driving. Rather than pay to ship the car, the owner signs his ride up for a driveaway program—essentially giving a free car rental to a volunteer. "You encounter places you never knew existed, and meet people with the most interesting stories," says Jankiewicz. "It's cheaper than any other kind of travel. No one believes this even exists anymore."

Drivers usually need only to fill out an application form and present a valid driver's license and references, though some situations require that you be fingerprinted or submit a driving history (available through your DMV). For insurance reasons, drivers probably need to be at least 23. Once approved, you're handed the car keys and given a free first tank of gas. All other expenses, including gas and lodging, are yours.

With 43 U.S. locations, Auto Driveaway is the country's biggest player, listing about 150 opportunities per month (800/346-2277,, $350 deposit). Some offices will even take requests for specific routes and call you if there's a car that's a match. Start inquiring a month in advance of when you'd like to hit the road, and continue checking in.

Don't expect to have a completely unrestricted, carefree joyride, however. There are limits on mileage (point-to-point road distance plus 15-25 percent extra), driving time (with Auto Driveaway you're not supposed to be on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.), and trip duration (negotiated, but most people must average at least 400 miles per day). A driver on a typical 3,000-mile cross-country road trip is given seven to ten days to complete the journey, with a maximum of 3,500 miles logged on the odometer. To eliminate headaches and maximize the opportunity for fun, Jankiewicz carefully maps out his routes ahead of time, checking the Internet for construction delays and weather forecasts. —Michele Schwartz

6. Hospitality Exchanges
Crash on couches and make friends along the way

To most people, the idea is crazy: heading to a stranger's house to sleep on the couch or in a spare room. Perhaps even loonier: welcoming someone you've never met into your house. But thousands of people take part in hospitality exchanges, as such visits are known. Konstantinos Chalvatzis, a 25-year-old teaching assistant who lives just outside Athens, Greece, joined hospitality club last March; the online community knows him as "Promitheus." Since then, he has welcomed about 40 strangers into his apartment, and stayed on the couches of more than 60 club members. "When people stay with me, they get a real sense of what living in Athens is like," he says. "If I have time I'll show them the big monuments, as well as residential areas, taverns, and underground art galleries."

Participants come in all ages, colors, and cultures, though they tend to be male, English-speaking, and in their 20s and 30s, and hail from America, Germany, Australia, and Canada. The upside is not only free lodging but the chance to meet people who tend to be open-minded, curious, and generous. But it's not the equivalent of a free hotel, says Bryan McDonald ("Duke"), a 28-year-old musician born in Mexico who now calls Amsterdam home. "The best thing a Couchsurfer can do is spend time with his host," he says. "I've had guests cook their favorite food, or make something special from their country for me. These little things mean a lot to hosts."

There are three major players in hospitality exchanges, none of which charge a membership fee. debuted in 2000, and currently has more than 328,500 members. It features the most comprehensive security procedures; before being accepted as guests, travelers must provide full names and passport numbers., with nearly 62,000 members, pushes the idea of hosting as much as freeloading, advising members not to accept a free stay unless they can host within six months. Couchsurfing, in business since 2004 and home to 754,146 members in 229 countries, has the most technically advanced search ability. Travelers can view every possible open couch in a specified radius, rather than only by city or country, which is how the other two work.

For all three clubs, hosts and couch crashers are paired up based on profiles that include languages spoken, location, and interests (from Björk to Frisbee and beyond). Many members clarify what's not acceptable—"no drugs" is a common refrain. Though safety can't be guaranteed, members post messages about how visits went. A recent note on Couchsurfing, from a Californian about an Austrian host: "Joe was my 'host with the most' in Vienna. He likes to cook for guests and even has ketchup for Americans!" —Chelan David

7. Volunteer Farm Workers
Trade a day in the fields for room and board

For a month in 2003, Gungsadawn Kitatikarn, of New York City, harvested kale, lettuce, carrots, strawberries, and fava beans in exchange for food and lodging at a Portuguese farm named Belgais. She worked 9 to 5 most days, with an hour lunch break that usually wound up being a communal buffet for two dozen people, and stayed in a furnished bungalow with hot showers a short walk from the main farmhouse. Someone from the ranch drove her into the nearby town of Castelo Branco when it was time for a break. "The people were lovely and respectful, and the ranch was breathtaking," she recalls. "Since I was out in the middle of nowhere in Portugal it was sometimes too quiet for a city gal. But I became comfortable with the silence, and thoroughly enjoyed it."

Belgais is one of more than 4,500 organic farms around the world that provide free food and lodging for guests willing to weed, plant seeds, plow fields, dig trenches, and harvest crops. Nonprofit organization World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms compiles a country-by-country list of participating farms ( Once you pay an annual membership fee, you receive either Internet access or a mailed booklet with contact information for farms in the regions you've selected (fee varies by country; in the U.S., it's $20 for one person, or $30 for a dual membership). You then get in touch with the farm directly to negotiate how long you'll stay, what kind of work you'll do, where you'll sleep, and how much you'll be required to work. Each farm is different, but the standard for volunteers is six hours of work per day, six days per week. That doesn't leave all that much free time, but for many people, working the land in a beautiful, simple setting makes for a nice, healthy respite from their hectic lives. —Laura MacNeil

8. Rotary Club Trips
Network your way to somewhere exciting

Most people are vaguely aware of the Rotary Club as something local businessmen join so they can trade business cards over lunch. The truth is, the organization is huge and international, with more than 1.2 million members and 33,000 clubs in 200 countries (

Rotary International also sponsors travelers on special trips abroad, and there are a few ways even nonmembers can take advantage of the programs. The Group Study Exchange sends groups of four business or professional people—anyone from architects to police officers—to learn about their respective professions in Mexico, Thailand, and dozens of other destinations. Rotary International pays for transportation, including airfare, and local hosts provide meals and accommodations. Applicants are required to have at least two years of experience in their field and, since the idea is to foster future business leaders, be between 25 and 40 years old.

Another possibility comes in the form of Rotary clubs that pay for visitors to come into their communities as volunteer consultants of sorts. According to Rotary International, host cities look for people with "a proven level of professional or technical skills," and, depending on the situation, restaurant owners, plumbers, computer programmers, teachers, and business managers may fit the bill. An online database allows you to search the options.

Finally, Rotary clubs organize some 8,000 youth exchanges per year, in which students 15 and up are hosted overseas in private homes and camps for stints of few days to several months. Room and board are covered, though airfare is not. Don't expect to jump on any Rotary-sponsored vacation right away, however. Competition for program openings is stiff, and involves a lengthy application process that can take up to a year. —Laura MacNeil

9. Home Swapping
Exchange houses and live like a local

The concept of home swapping is as simple as it sounds. You trade your pad for someone else's, and everyone gets a free place to stay. "If you have a sense of humor and go with the flow, home exchange will work for you," says T.T. Baker, co-author of The Home Exchange Guide, who has swapped homes five times. "If you have a narrow comfort zone, stay in a hotel." Checking references, talking over the phone with your counterpart, and having contracts clearly spelled out—especially when it comes to bills and damages—alleviate the anxiety.

The right situation may require months of planning and a dose of luck. It certainly makes things easier if you live in Miami Beach, or some other spot popular with travelers. Home exchange services charge $35-$110 per year, and by joining more than one club you obviously increase your chances. Reputable companies with listings worldwide include:;;;;; and —Sophie Alexander

Here's to the kindness of strangers

After joining one of these clubs, you'll stay for a few dollars or free at members' homes. Most clubs also expect members to host travelers. —Lee Uehara


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Travel Tips

David Neeleman

Window or aisle? Jumpseat. When I'm flying on planes I like to hang out in the back with the flight crew and help serve the customers. Some days I'd rather sit and watch TV, but I learn a lot from hanging out with our customers and crew. I think it's time well spent. The last thing I ate from a minibar? I'm a budget traveler. I'm too cheap to buy anything from a minibar. I won't pay two bucks for a candy bar. I won't leave home without... My Blackberry charger and a calculator watch. The charger because if I run out of juice I can stay connected and my watch because I'm always thinking about new deals so I've got to have it to run the numbers. The best trip I've ever taken? And why? Paraty, Brazil. It's an over 400-year-old town with a bunch of little islands off the coast. I was there with my family and on the way home we stopped at the Embraer factory and looked at our new planes being built. It was a great trip. My dream trip? I've been trying to get my wife and family to go to Rome. I'm a Christian history guy so I'm interested in visiting the museums there. The movie or book that inspired me to pack my bags? Southwest Airlines annual report. My greatest travel pet peeve? No TV's on airplanes that aren't mine. It's just boring. There's got to be something in the seatback that entertains people, not some three-month-old movie that's ten or twelve rows away. How I deal with jetlag? I don't really get jetlag. When I get to the place that I'm going to, I never sleep out of rhythm. If I've been up all night and I get to my destination at ten in the morning, I don't go to bed. I wait until it's the hour to go to sleep, and even if I go to bed early, like eight or nine o'clock, I just fight through it. Don't ever arrive at noon, go to sleep and wake up at five in the afternoon--you'll never get over it. You'll be up all night and the cycle will continue. If I could travel with any living person... My father. He's getting along in his years and we've got precious time over the next ten or fifteen years. I'd like to spend as much time as I can with him. He travels a lot and knows the world, like every great restaurant to go to. He's a blast to travel with. I'll never go back to _________And why? I'm not a very picky traveler. I'm not someone who needs to stay in the best hotels. Every place I go I find interesting. I can't think of anyplace that I've been that I wouldn't go back to. India's an interesting place. I've never been there, but my dad claims that his best two days in India was the day he visited the Taj Mahal and the day he left for home. If I could be anywhere right now... I wouldn't want to be anywhere but where I am now.

Travel Tips

Flying Business Class Overseas

Last fall, two new airlines began flying New York-London routes, with not a coach seat between them. In planes that normally accommodate 200, MAXjet and Eos placed 102 and 48 seats respectively. All passengers fly in business class, with no middle seats and more space than coach, including nearly double the legroom. On Eos, seats even recline into totally flat beds. To make a splash, they undercut the competition. MAXjet's one-way fare currently starts at $679, about the same as what British Airways, United, and American charge for a walk-up coach fare. In January, MAXjet even ran a $999 sale for round trips. On Eos, where seats are two inches wider than MAXjet's, flights normally cost $3,250 each way--still more than $1,000 less than the average New York-London business-class seat. Eos and MAXjet's routes are limited. They fly between JFK and London Stansted, which both happen to be hubs for popular low-fare carriers--JetBlue at JFK, EasyJet and Ryanair at Stansted. Both carriers plan on expanding; MAXjet begins flights to Stansted from Washington-Dulles this month. The upscale upstarts represent only one way for folks to fly in business- or first-class without paying full price. Starting at $25 a month--or $197 a year--First Class Flyer sends subscribers a monthly e-mail newsletter of upgrade strategies and deals on upper-class tickets that airlines don't publicize (888/980-9922, Last December's issue highlighted a business-class special on Iberia: $2,200 for round trips to Madrid from Chicago, Miami, or New York--about half what you'd tend to pay to make the trip from Chicago. There are also agencies that have contracts with dozens of airlines (particularly foreign carriers) and specialize in discounting upper-class seats. By booking through AccessFares (888/318-4287, or 1st-Air.Net (585/383-4470,, you'll save at least 20 percent, and sometimes as much as 50 percent. Recent searches at 1st-Air.Net turned up a business-class round trip from Boston to Tokyo on Korean Air for $5,370 (the published fare was $7,850); as well as Los Angeles-Tahiti round trips on Air Tahiti Nui for $2,890 in business class and $5,195 in first class (published fares: $3,595 and $8,095 respectively). Discounted or not, a first- or business-class seat still costs a big chunk of cash. To be sure you're getting the most for your money, request quotes from travel agents and tour operators that specialize in your destination. NTA America, for example, has access to discounted business-class fares to Japan (800/682-7872, Finally, don't overlook the tried-and-true method of using frequent-flier miles for free upgrades. Many airlines will bump you up in exchange for as little as 15,000 miles. Subscribe to your carrier's e-mail list to receive notices about specials.

Travel Tips

Picking the Right Spanish Parador

As the renovation project continues, it may be difficult to discern which paradores underwent a carefully considered redesign, and which merely got new curtains and carpeting. How do you find the gems? Do your homework online At, the official site, search by style (monastery, castle, historical site) and/or services (pool, playground, tennis). "Modern" style means the building isn't old--therefore, no palaces or castles. To find a recently renovated centuries-old building, cross-search something like "convent" with a modern amenity, such as a pool. Each property has a gallery of photos. Skip them at your peril. Go to the source "Contact the paradores' main office and ask when the hotel was redesigned," says designer Pascua Ortega. Make inquiries with the reservation center, either by e-mail ( or phone (011-34/91-516-6666). Play favorites Designer Jaime Beriestain also renovated the Parador de la Seu d'Urgell, and Ortega had a hand in the more modern ski chalet Parador de Vielha. (Both are in the Pyrenees.) Call in help Marketing Ahead, the U.S. marketing firm that works with the parador system, can make your reservations and plan itineraries for no additional fee (, 800/223-1356). Shop for discounts Many paradores have rates as low as $109. (The ones in this story start at $133.) You can do even better. At, click on Special Promotions for discounts such as the five-night card: You pay $515 for five nights at any of the 89 participating hotels, whether it's a five-night stay at one parador or consecutive one-night stays at five different ones.

Travel Tips

Planning a Caribbean Vacation

What you'll find in this article: Caribbean trip planning advice, St. Lucia restaurants, St. Lucia hotels and resorts, snorkeling, and other activities in St. Lucia After three years of law school and several grueling weeks preparing for the bar exam, Jenny Meader and Heather McKinney, of Little Rock, Ark., are ready for some R&R. Both are in their early thirties, having worked for several years before heading back to school, and are looking to steer clear of a spring break bacchanal. "We're planning a Caribbean vacation before we become responsible adults again," Jenny wrote to us. "No more briefing, no more blue books, no more teacher's dirty looks." Heather and Jenny have hefty loans to pay off and hope to keep expenses to a minimum, with a budget of $2,500 each for about five nights. "We'd like to leave sometime around April 7, when the bar exam results come out," says Jenny. "The trip will either be a celebratory one, because we passed, or one where we find a new career selling seashells by the seashore." Picking the right island is the first task. We start by asking what they see when they imagine their ideal locale. "Sandy beaches," Jenny responds, "with clean, clear water, friendly locals, and good food." Heather adds that they'd also like to do some hiking. "Being near the beach and the rain forest would be amazing," she says. "We intend to go hiking and snorkeling." The island also has to be a safe, stress-free place for single women. And finally, they're looking for a stylish, welcoming place to stay with air-conditioning and, ideally, a kitchenette. It's a tall order, especially considering their money constraints and the fact that they're traveling at the tail end of high season. We first suggest St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not only is the island mostly undeveloped, two-thirds of it is a national park, with fantastic beaches and easy day hikes. But there are a few drawbacks. St. John is popular for cruise ship excursions, and well-known beaches such as Trunk Bay can get crowded. More cons: St. John doesn't have a true, classic rain forest with towering old trees; and, perhaps most critically, inexpensive rooms with A/C are scarce. Jenny is intrigued with what she's heard about the "Nature Island" of Dominica. It certainly has a legitimate rain forest, along with challenging hikes at altitudes high enough to keep mosquitoes at bay. There aren't a lot of tourists, which sounds good, but they stay away largely for the same reasons Heather and Jenny might--the beaches are either rocky or too far from the hotels they'd find most comfortable. And the main town, Roseau, is full of old, worn-looking buildings and might be a turnoff. While discussing the options, Jenny and Heather discover their priorities don't entirely match. "I'm sold on Dominica," says Jenny, "but Heather doesn't want to give up the beaches. Is there someplace that's a cross between Dominica and the Virgin Islands?" The solution is St. Lucia, famous for the two giant oceanside peaks known as the Pitons, with wonderful white-sand beaches and a variety of accommodations. We recommend staying in the shadow of Petit Piton, at the southern end of the island, near the fishing village of Soufrière. There are plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities, and it's away from the traffic and large hotels of capital city Castries. Before they settle on the Soufrière area, we offer up another choice on St. Lucia's east side, the Fox Grove Inn, which rents hotel rooms and apartments, only some of which have air-conditioning. And considering the location, they'd definitely need to rent a car, something they'd rather not do, at least not for the entire vacation. Upscale Soufrière resorts such as Anse Chastanet and Ladera are out of Jenny and Heather's price range, but might be worth visiting for a meal or a swim. At our suggestion, they consider two retreats in the mountains outside town, Crystals Guest Cottages and Stonefield Estate Villa Resort. Jenny and Heather are instantly infatuated with the latter's 19 villas--with kitchens--spread over 26 acres; paths trace lines among the mango trees and other greenery. "It seems to be exactly what we want," says Heather. "It's away from the bustle, and how could we not be excited about the amazing views?" They especially like that airport pickup is included in their package, and that all guests can ride a daily shuttle into Soufrière and to the beach at the Jalousie Plantation resort, each about ten minutes away. They decide to delay their trip until after April 15, when the resort's rates drop. And then they splurge, going for a package that includes massages and a larger, ocean-view villa. "The regular deluxe suite was sold out for our dates, so we upgraded to the luxury suite," says Jenny. "We get our own private swimming pool!" Finding reasonable airfare winds up being fairly easy, in part because Jenny and Heather shifted their dates to after spring break. A few Internet searches make it apparent that U.S. Airways has the best fares out of Little Rock: $630 round trip, with stops in Charlotte and Barbados, about $100 less than other carriers for the same dates. Satisfied with that rate, they decide against trying to save some cash by flying out of a bigger hub such as Memphis or Dallas; it isn't worth the trouble. "We definitely want to experience some of the local culture, especially in terms of cuisine," says Jenny. Camilla's, an unpretentious, second-story restaurant with balconies overlooking downtown Soufrière, has excellent dinners (lobster thermidor, creole chicken), as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads for lunch. The Stonefield's own Mango Tree restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, and every Thursday night hosts a fun barbecue ($35). To stock their kitchen, Jenny and Heather will need to take the shuttle into Soufrière and walk to the markets on Bay Street, a block off the waterfront. They'll find all the basics, as well as island vegetables such as dasheen (similar to a potato) and callaloo (for a delicious spinach-like soup). Jenny and Heather will want to get out of the Soufrière area at some point and are leaving the option open to rent a car for a day or two. While most agencies are at or near the airports, Ben's West Coast Jeeps and Taxi Services is in Soufrière and rents cars from $60 a day. (Foreigners on St. Lucia have to get a $21 driving permit, purchased through the rental agency.) With a car, Jenny and Heather can drive to the weekly party known as Friday Fish Fry, when the village of Anse La Raye closes off several streets, and fresh seafood and lobsters are grilled to the beat of Caribbean music. (A cab from Stonefield will cost about $30 per person each way, so it's cheaper to rent a car.) They could also drive to the Enbas Saut Waterfall Trail, which leads through rain forest and over steep steps to falls that double as a popular swimming hole. Lucky hikers catch a glimpse of St. Lucia's rare national bird, the Amazona versicolor. Even at a good pace, hiking the entire Edmund Rainforest Trail, not far from Enbas Saut, can take three hours. But the walking is easy and straightforward, and it's not essential to do the entire hike to spot orchids and bromeliads clinging to trees, along with occasional panoramas of the coast and St. Lucia's tallest peak, Mount Gimie. Deep into the planning, after they've booked airfare and plotted a day-by-day itinerary, the women conclude that five nights just isn't going to cut it. "We're concerned that we won't be able to do everything we want," says Jenny. "So we're thinking about staying two more nights." Changing their flights means $100 more per person--not the end of the world. They stick with Stonefield for five nights, but want something less expensive for the two extra nights, perhaps even camping. Then they book a hotel in northern St. Lucia that they had dismissed earlier: Coco Kreole, where rates start at $85. "It's an inexpensive way to extend our stay," says Heather. "And the location, near all the action in Rodney Bay, gives us a nice change of pace after Stonefield." Making a vacation longer is hardly against the law--and returning to life as responsible adults can wait. Surprise! Jenny and Heather will enjoy a Rainbow Reef snorkeling package, free of charge, thanks to St. Lucia's luxurious Anse Chastanet resort. The package includes an excursion to nearby reefs and a plantation lunch with creole specialties. A water taxi picks the ladies up and drops them off at the Soufrière port. Bring an underwater camera! Transportation Ben's West Coast Jeeps and Taxi Services 758/459-5457,, car rentals from $60 Lodging Fox Grove Inn 758/455-3800,, from $55 Crystals Guest Cottages 758/384-8995,, cottages from $120, seven-night package from $850 Stonefield Estate Villa Resort 758/459-7037,, weeklong package for two from $1,225, $60 per person per day for breakfast and dinner Coco Kreole 758/452-0712,, doubles from $85 Food Ladera 758/459-7323,, Sunday buffet brunch $20 Friday Fish Fry Anse La Raye,, $8 Camilla's 758/459-5379, lobster thermidor, $31 Activities Anse Chastanet 758/459-7000,, Rainbow Reef package $45 Enbas Saut Waterfall Trail trailhead at foot of Mount Gimie, six miles east of Soufrière, $10 Edmund Rainforest Trail Edmund Forest Reserve, on road to Fond St. Jacques, $10 How Was Your Trip? The Reazer family, who we coached in July/August on a 25-day road trip, loved staying in unusual places, like this yurt in Oregon's Fort Stevens State Park. "It had a futon, bunk beds, and heat--which we really needed," says mom Laura.