If you're hunting for bargains, this has to be one of the season's best buys: five days at Mission San Luis Rey Retreat near Oceanside for only $125 per couple ($100 single). Besides a bunk, the rate includes breakfast, dinner daily. "Cheapest vacation in the United States," says Father Michael Weishaar. Mission San Luis Rey (founded in 1798) features a swimming pool, tennis, volleyball courts. A total of 55 guest rooms. "A 'holy motel,' " quips Father Michael, who reminds would-be guests that baths are shared. To get a fix on the mission, it's four miles east of Interstate 5 at Oceanside, only minutes from the beach. For details write to Retreat Center, P.O. Box 409, San Luis Rey, Calif. 92068, or telephone (619) 757-3659.
Off-campus apartments operated by Marymount Palos Verdes College will be up for grabs this summer for $25 (one bedroom), $40 (two bedrooms) per night. Refrigerators, stoves. Apartments are within walking distance of markets, drugstores, parks. Guests have campus privileges (swimming pools, tennis courts). A real value for friends, relatives visiting the L.A. area. Contact Donald L. Williams, Marymount Palos Verdes College, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. 90274. Telephone (213) 377-5501.
Dorothy Ralphs of Gardena owns an English cottage near Chichester, England. On the rail line between Gatwick Airport and London's Victoria Station. "Close to cathedrals, a castle, ferry to Isle of Wight and a wealth of wonderful scenery, pubs," says Ralphs. This is a Tudor-style cottage . . . furnished "to suit American tastes." Ralphs describes the house and garden as "England at its prettiest and best." Rates: $90 per day, $450 per week. Telephone Ralphs during the day: (213) 327-2825.
An apartment for the price of a hotel room in Paris is the lure tossed out by a Canadian who also does barge trips in France. Rates for the apartments start as low as $75 a day. TV, stereos, kitchens, food stocks. Even a few bottles of wine. "For people who would like to feel comfortably at home in Paris but don't want to pay for the Ritz," says our tipster. The apartments are in the Marais section of the city (this is old, old Paris). Special rates for weekly, monthly rentals. Contact William Forsythe, 6 Clearbrooke Circle, Rexdale, Ontario, Canada M9W 2E3. Forsythe also books barge trips on the canals of France for $399/$600 for six days/nights. Breakfast and lunch are part of the deal.
Joan Marsden claims you can "stay in a hotel in the woods outside Karlsbad, Germany, for less than $4 a night." Marsden publishes a biannual newsletter (combined with a catalogue of hard-to-find travel books). It's called "How to Travel Inexpensively." Filled with tips for vacationing on the cheap, and it's free. Write to Marsden c/o Nomadic Books, 201 N.E. 45th, Seattle, Wash. 98105. Says Marsden: "We offer a large collection of books about out-of-the-way adventures: hitchhiking in Africa, climbing volcanoes in Mexico, bushwalking in New Guinea or working your way around the world."
Weekending in New York
Although New York isn't noted for its bargains, here's one that's reasonable. A hotel room for two nights for as little as $105 per person (double occupancy) plus tickets to a Broadway play, complimentary cocktails, free parking and a champagne breakfast delivered to your room. For the Big Apple, that's cheap. The offer comes from Days Inn on 57th Street, only a few minutes from the theater district. Your travel agent has details. (For a list of reasonable restaurants in Manhattan, write for the free guide published by the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2 Columbus Circle, New York 10019.) If you enjoy deli food, try Kaplan's on West 47th between 5th and 6th avenues. (Dinners, $3.50/$10.)
More than 600 colleges and universities in the United States and Europe will be providing guest lodging this summer for $6 to $16 a day. Rentals by the day, week or month. Accommodations vary from single/double rooms to bedroom apartments and suites with kitchens. Universities in 25 countries overseas charge an average of $11 a day. Schools generally provide food service as well as rooms. Guests get in on the campus action--tennis, boating, swimming, concerts. You'll find all the details in the 70-page 1986/87 "U.S. and Worldwide Accommodations Guide" ($9.95) published by Campus Travel Service, 1303 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, Calif. 92661. (Also contains addresses of U.S. and European tourist offices, home exchange/B&B agencies and dozens of tips for travelers.) A slim publication but it can save you money if you're following the economy trail.
Farmhouse in England