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Your Life: Travel: Haul right; YOU CAN GO FAR ON A WEEKEND BREAK.

Byline: edited by IAIN MAYHEW

IF you're a nervous flier, then look away now. But if you relish the thought of throwing a few things in a weekend bag and heading to an exotic destination, then this is for you.

Long-haul short breaks are becoming increasingly popular. Many travellers think nothing of spending several hours in the air to explore some of the world's great cities and shop for bargains over a long weekend.

Here's a taster, using two of the UK's main long-haul airlines, BA and Virgin Atlantic. For independent travellers it's worth checking flight consolidators such as Trailfinders (0207 938 3939/www.trailfinders. com), ebookers (0800 970 3116/www.ebookers.com) and Travelbag (0870 814 6887/www.travelbag.co.uk).

These companies can find the cheapest flights and arrange accommodation too. But also try some of the hotel websites. Click on www.HotelClub.co.uk, a new site which features 15,000 hotels in 71 countries. It also offers dollar vouchers every time you book, which you can use towards the cost of your next trip.

On the following pages we also feature two ideas for exciting long-haul breaks, Boston and Shanghai. So take the weekend off - and take yourself off for the weekend...

DUBAI

HOW FAR: 6-7 hours.

WHY GO?: Sun, sand, shopping and some of the best hotels in the world. Dubai gets stinking hot in the summer and the sea feels like a warm bath, but the malls, hotels and restaurants are all icily air-conditioned. Nightlife is generally limited to hotel bars and discos.

IS IT WORTH IT? For guaranteed sun, Dubai is unbeatable. If you're into gold jewellery, electronic goods and Arabian rugs, you'll save a small fortune. Duty-free shopping at Dubai airport is about as cheap as it gets.

THE DEALS: British Airways Holidays offers three nights at the four-star Oasis Beach Hotel from pounds 598 per person departing August 21 to 26. The price includes return scheduled flights from Heathrow to Dubai, half board and transfers. Call 0870 24 33 406 or visit ba holidays.com

Virgin Holidays offers breaks to Dubai from pounds 399pp, including scheduled flights with Qatar Airways from Heathrow and Manchester, three nights at the Golden Sands Apartments on a room-only basis and transfers. Call 0871 222 1204 or visit www.virgin.com/holidays

NEW YORK

HOW FAR: 7-8 hours.

WHY GO?: Sightseeing, shows and shopping. New York is the ultimate short break city. You will never tire of the buzz, from a stroll in Central Park to the nightlife of Greenwich Village.

IS IT WORTH IT? Yes. Christmas shopping at Macy's and Bloomingdales is almost a ritual for bargain-hunting Brits.

THE DEALS: Virgin Holidays offers three-night breaks to New York from pounds 539 per adult and pounds 289 per child (2-11). Price includes scheduled return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow, three nights room-only at the Days Hotel and transfers.

SAN FRANCISCO

HOW FAR: 10-11 hours.

WHY GO?: Seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, a boat trip around Alcatraz, a clatter around the steep streets by cable car. With great restaurants and nightlife, this city has the lot.

IS IT WORTH IT? You may not pick up any bargains but you'll bring back wonderful memories.

THE DEALS: A trip to San Francisco costs from pounds 569 per adult and pounds 369 per child (2-11) with Virgin Holidays. Price includes scheduled return flights with Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow, three nights at the Canterbury Hotel on a room-only basis.

HONG KONG

HOW FAR: 10-11 hours.

WHY GO?: A taste of the Orient with a European flavour. Take a cable car up to the Peak, shop in the markets of Kowloon, ride on a ferry to one of the outlying islands.

IS IT WORTH IT? Clothes and electronic goods are cheap.

THE DEALS: British Airways Holidays offers return flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong from pounds 509pp in Sept-Dec with four nights, room only, at the four-star Wharney Guang Dong hotel from pounds 17pppn.

Five nights in Hong Kong at the City Garden Hotel, room-only, costs from pounds 709 pp with Virgin Holidays, including return scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow.

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STREET WISE: A San Francisco cable car
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 2, 2005
Words:698
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