TIPS FOR EQUESTRIAN VACATIONS
By Patti Schofler
The aircraft takes off. You lean back, close your eyes and imagine yourself at your destination warmed by Tuscan sun as you canter over the rolling hills. Or you envision views of the Bavarian Alps and a king’s castles from atop of a four -horse mail coach fitted for today’s modern traveler.
Then the bubble is burst. The person seated next to you boasts about how little he paid for his flight — considerably less than you paid.
Learning a few tricks of the trade for international air travel may save you money better spent on your equestrian vacation.
Travel trend studies show that the best time to book economic European airfares is two to three months before departure, notes Nathan Zieman at High Pointe International Equestrian Tours. “If you book earlier, you may end up paying more for the same coach seat as someone who books later. When booking close to your travel time, likely fares will have risen again. It’s finding that perfect timing, which is usually two to three months in advance.”
To assist equestrian travelers, High Pointe is launching an addition to its website homepage ( www.highpointetours.com ) which will highlight airline specials to popular equestrian destinations when they are available.
The lowest prices of the year for European travel are for flights in February. These airfares are offered in November and early December. “Airlines often launch sales for fall travel about the end of July or early August,” points out Zieman. “Now is a great time to travel to Europe as the dollar has strengthened dramatically against the euro. So now we can also shop in Europe.”
“For trips in the United States, sales are typically launched on Monday nights and the cheapest prices can often be found on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The best times to book domestic flights are Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, and two to three weeks before the flight dates. This is the time airlines are trying to fill up seats,” advises Zieman.
More tips on equestrian travel from High Pointe are:
• Ask if the ride has been recognized by the local tourism board or a travel magazine. The response says acres about the quality of the tour.
• Inquire about the guide’s liability insurance. Every professional in the equestrian business should understand the need to carry adequate insurance.
• Query how long the ride has been offered. Like buying a new model car, you might not want to be the first behind the wheel. Let the tour work out the bugs before you put your foot in the stirrup.
• Make sure the rider/driver requirements match your ability. This will mean honestly evaluating your own skills as well as the described tour rider requisites.
• If you are particular about your lodging, inquire about the type of lodging offered. Remember you are sometimes riding places which are not easily accessible by vehicles so you cannot expect a five-star resort, Mann advises.
• If you are concerned about the quality of horses and the guide’s ability, work with an equestrian travel agency who inspects the rides in advance.
A travel company that specializes in equestrian vacations around the world, High Pointe Pointe International Equestrian Tours has for decades arranged for horse lovers exciting vacations including adventures along the beaches of Spain, jumping and trail riding about the famed town of Adare in County Limerick, Ireland, riding safaris over the African plains of the Masai Mara, the California Dreamin’on the Mendocino Coast and the Sugarbush Countryside Ride in Vermont.