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Five Fun Things to Do With $1,000–or Less

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Dear Reader,

Your dollars are shrinking, and the economic outlook is uncertain. Still…you’d like to get away…have an adventure…start a new life…invest outside the States.

What do you do if your budget is small but your thinking is big?

What could you do with, say, $1,000 (or less) to spend? Here are some suggestions:

1. Rent an Irish castle. You can rent Lismore Castle, County Waterford (not far from IL headquarters in Waterford) during the summer from owner Lord Hartington. A butler and staff are part of the deal, along with dinner, breakfast, and afternoon tea every day. The castle has 7 acres of gardens, with easy access to several thousand acres of woods, farmland, and mountains. Diversions on the property include billiards, table tennis, and tennis. The rate for one week for you plus 11 guests (with a bedroom each) is 3,500 euro ($4,500) per night. That’s $750 per person for a weekend…which makes it cheaper than some Dublin hotels. For more information, tel. (353) 58-54424 or visit http://www.lismorecastle.com.

2. Attend the next Forum del Vino in Buenos Aires. Argentina’s Forum del Vino is one of the best-organized, most serious wine salons in the world (admission is 25 pesos–$8.50). Round-trip airfare from New York to Buenos Aires is $509 with Lan Chile (http://www.travelocity.com). And five nights at our favorite hotel in this city, the five-star Claridge, will cost you less than $500. Contact Andres Rosberg for details about this year’s event, scheduled for October: info@forumdelvino.com.ar.

3. Save money on healthcare. Quality dental work costs a fraction in Mexico what it does in the U.S. or Canada (fillings from $20, dentures from $175). And many dentists and other medical doctors in this country have trained in the U.S. and speak excellent English.

Budapest, Hungary, is one of the best places in the world for plastic surgery. Modern medical facilities, world-class care, and inexpensive prices mean you can have common procedures, such as laser treatment, collagen injections, liposuction, breast augmentation, nose surgery, and facelifts, performed for a fraction what you’d pay in the States. With the money you save, you can treat yourself to an extended recovery period in this beautiful city. Andrew Der, writing from Hungary, recommends two surgeons in particular: Dr. Istvan Szemerey, tel./fax (361)202-1178, and Dr. Gusztav Gulyas, tel. (361)275-0374 or fax (361)275-0376. Round-trip fare from New York to Mexico City is $254; to Budapest, $359 (http://www.travelocity.com).

4. Safeguard your home overseas. Title insurance ensures that a) your new home will indeed belong to you, and b) you are protected against future claims on the property. It could be the best international investment you ever make. It generally costs 0.5% of the purchase price or a minimum fee ($1,000 in Mexico, for example).

5. Buy a GPS. This is a tip from my husband who bought a GPS on his last visit to Panama City and has been telling me about it since. It does all the usual stuff–displays maps of the Americas, calculates the area of a lot, gives you your position on the Earth accurate to less than three meters–but it also has other nifty features. It will tell you where the nearest restaurant or hotel is, map a route to the best fishing spots (and tell you the best time to fish on any given date), and display local points of interest. A basic model costs around $300, but you’ll pay less than $200 if you buy it in Panama City.

P.S. We’ll have five more $1,000-or-less ideas for you next week, including how to double your $1,000…and then double it again, another handy gadget for travelers, and more. Stay tuned.

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