When I asked travel agents and international business people what countries provide the best vacation bargains, the consensus was the United States itself, and Canada.
The reasons are simple: You get more for your dollar, and transportation costs are minimal. In some European countries, such as West Germany, a hotel room for two can cost as much as $80 a night. One drink in the hotel bar can cost $5. This is because the dollar has dropped in value in Germany and prices are high anyway.
In Canada, on the other hand, two can get a good hotel room for as little as $25 a night, a good dinner for two with a bottle of wine can cost around $25. A sixpack of famous Canadian ale costs as little as $1.50. You can alsobuy English woolens and English chinaware at bargain prices in Canada.
To stimulate more tourist trade, two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, recently lifted all sales and hotel taxes for tourists. (It's a buyer's market now for hotel rooms. In major Canadian tourist towntoo many hotels have been built and managers are hungry for business.)
The value of the American dollar is at a 40year high in Canada, recently quoted at near $1.15 in Canadian dollar currency. The best place to exchange your money there is at a bank. Hotels and restaurants tend to give a lower rate. One tip: Exchange only what you need and spend what is left. Changing Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars back home is usually done at a lower rate.
Of course, traveling in Canada or the United States is aided by the fact you can use your own car or inexpensive bus or rail transportation. With this in mind I might add Mexico to the bargain list.
If you have the urge to roam farther abroad, the two best bets are Spain and Portugal. The special "super Apex" air fares are much lower than the regular fares, but you have to sign up in advance and stay a certain number of days.
The American dollar has actually gone up 17 percent in Spain over the past year. This means you can get a good hotel room, possibly in one of the Spanish government attractive paradores (castles converted into inns for around $25 a night for two people.
Dinner on the town for two with a bottle of wine will cost around $25 at a good restaurant. If you are driving out in the country, you can enhance a pinic lunch in a roadside Park with roja wine (only $1 a bottle).
In neighboring Portugal, there are similar bargains. The wines are good and inexpensive, and a room at a government inn can go for as little as $20 a night for two people.
Back in America, budget motels charge a fraction of what you'd pay in major motels or hotels. You can get a room for two as low as $15 a night.
For $2.95 postpaid, you can get the "1978 National Directory of Budget Motels" from Pilot Books, 347 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016. The guide lists some l,500 motels in 48 states. Thirty budget motel chains have tollfree phone numbers for reservations.
If you don't want to drive, Amtrak, the airlines and bus lines all offer budget travel packages this summer.
Q: At a hair-removal salon a technician told me the electrical impulses used actually might cause more hair to grow. Is this true?
A: My medical experts tell me this is not generally true. But they say in extremely rare cases some external injury (such as that caused by electrical impulses) might cause extra hair growth.
Q: In reading your recent column on hair removal, I thought you might be interested in the fact that hair samplescan be analyzed to provide medical and nutritional information about a patient. Why isn't this valuable diagnostic tool used more often?
A: Probably because it is more expensive than blood or urinalysis tests. Hair tests can run from $30 to $50 each, depending on what you're looking for.
Experts say analyzing hair samples is particularly effective in diagnosing the presence of dangerous heavy metals (such as lead or mercury). In special cases, nutritional deficiencies also can be spotted through hair analysis.