Touring Germany by horse carriage sounds like fun. A dozen passengers maximum. Three- and six-day trips. Guests are picked up at Munich Airport, transferred by bus to the village of Feldafing 25 miles south of Munich. The first night is spent in an ancient hotel where the Empress of Austria sought shelter a century ago. Carriage tours begin the next day, following the path of Ludwig II from Lake Stearnberg to famed Neuschwanstein Castle. This is in southern Bavaria. Wonderful scenery. Nightly shelter in country hotels. Details from Coaching Bavaria, Kerschlach 2, 8121 Pahl, Federal Republic of Germany, or contact the German National Tourist Office, 444 S. Flower St., Suite 2230, Los Angeles 90071. Telephone (213) 688-7332.
Ken Schmitt does hiking tours of Maui. Paths lead to lush valleys. A chance to swim beneath waterfalls with towering cliffs as a backdrop. Others hike into Haleakala crater. Day hikes range from 5 to 12 hours. Or Schmitt will put together a customized expedition involving several days. He furnishes tents, sleeping mats, snorkel gear, meals, ground transportation, rain ponchos, waterproof packs, etc. Prices are steep. From $180 a day per person to $280 for a couple, $65 for each additional person. Write to Schmitt c/o Hike Maui, P.O. Box 10506, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761.
This has to be one of the season's best deals. Starting in May you'll be able to fly to the Bahamas for only $299 round trip. For an extra 100 bucks the tour operator will put you up in a hotel for seven nights. Flights will be by Bahamas Express, using wide-body jets. Nineteen hotels are taking part in the program. Weekly departures from LAX beginning May 24. The program continues through Nov. 1. Contact your travel agent or Flyfaire/GoGo Tours, 6820 La Tijera Blvd., Suite 115, Los Angeles 90045. Telephone (213) 776-0510 or toll-free (800) 262-1252. Outside California call (800) 421-5628.
Switzerland on the Cheap
Swissair has a new vacation offer. A hotel room for as little as $13.50 per person per night, double occupancy. A total of 370 hotels in Switzerland and Austria are taking part in the program. Travelers buy vouchers prior to leaving the United States. You may book accommodations in advance or day by day after arrival in Europe. (With the big crowds expected this summer, my advice is to pre-book.) Prices range up to $37.80 per person at Geneva's slick President Hotel. Rates include continental breakfast, taxes. Program is called the Swiss Invention. Contact Swissair at (800) 221-6644.
New Zealand Farmhouses
If you're turned off by hotels, New Zealand will book you into farmhouses and country homes. And they're bargains. These are "self-drive" vacations starting at $154 per person for two vacationers (four days) sharing a car/room on the North Island. Or you can do 10 days on the South Island for $399. Prices include dinner, bed and breakfast. Some farms provide trout fishing, hot springs. Additional information from Network Travel Planners, 202 Main St., Venice, Calif. 90291. Telephone (213) 392-8425 or call toll-free (800) 352-8234 in California. Outside the state it's (800) 421-9979.
Little Hotels of England
Proprietors of 20 small hotels have joined to promote travel between London and Stratford-on-Avon. Properties are within two hours' driving time from London. Everything from manor houses in the Cotswolds to historic hotels near Oxford. Chadlington House is a gabled inn (circa 1650) that offers views of the Lode Valley. Family-run, restful atmosphere, pretty gardens. Recommended by Guide Michelin. Its proprietress, Rita Oxford, will mail you a brochure describing all 20 properties. Her address: Chadlington House, Chadlington, Oxfordshire OX7 3LC, England.
Meanwhile, a note from Kit Chapman, proprietor of the Castle Hotel in Somerset, tells about courses offered for guests (painting, embroidery, philosophy, investment counseling, aerobic dancing, yoga, etc.). Newly opened: four suites overlooking the hotel's 12th-Century Norman Garden. I spent a memorable night at this hotel a couple of years ago. It's special. For other details write to Chapman c/o the Castle Hotel, Castle Green, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1NF, England.
Home Rentals Overseas
Lisa Morgan of San Clemente asks about home rentals overseas. Drop a note to Claire Packman, At Home Abroad, Sutton Town House, 405 East 56th St., 6H, New York 10022. Packman operates one of the oldest companies in the rental game. Lists hundreds of homes, all price categories. Example: There's a 350-year-old property set in 100 acres of pine trees, vineyards in France's Provence region with several rentals priced from $450 a week. On the up scale: a villa overlooking the French Riviera that's "fit for a potentate," says Packman. So's the price: $30,000 a month. Write to Packman for her other listings.
Ione, Calif.--Judie Karhan, Agoura: Enjoyed the Heirloom Inn ("elegant old brick house left over from 1862"), Box 322, Ione, Calif. 95640. Rates: $45/$60.