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SOURCEBOOK 2007 | TOURING AROUND

When it's not where, but how

February 04, 2007|Avital Binshtock | Special to The Times

WHILE you ponder new places to travel this year, try a different mode of travel too. We're not talking elephant or camel riding (though that's not out of the question), but other ways to make the going more interesting.

1. Hail a water taxi

Taxis are ubiquitous in Manhattan but why stick to land? New York Water Taxi (www.nywatertaxi.com) carries passengers in catamarans (up to 149 passengers) with stops at Hunters Point, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Brooklyn and elsewhere. One-way tickets are $4.50 to $10.

2. Board a train

Yes, trains have existed forever, but railways are suddenly hot because of travelers' frustration with air travel. Some track stars offer better -- albeit more expensive -- itineraries: GrandLuxe Rail Journeys (www.americanorientexpress.com) for North America, Orient-Express (www.orientexpress.com) for Europe and Asia, MIR (www.mircorp.com) for Russia and the Middle East, and Rovos Rail (www.rovos.com) for Africa.

3. Cruise a river

You can explore an entire region while having to unpack only once. Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivers.com) offers a 150-person vessel on European, Russian or Chinese rivers, making excursion stops at prime docks. One price gets you round-trip air travel, a cabin and more.

4. Go private

Forget long check-in and security-screening lines. Think private jets -- and you don't have to buy one. Flexjet (www.flexjet.com) offers fractional ownership of a plane or a new Flexjet 25 Card that lets clients buy time on a Learjet (minimum purchase is $129,900 for 25 hours). XOJet (www.xojet.com) charges flat rates from coast to coast (west to east is $24,350).

5. Get specialized

Specialized air carriers include boutique airlines (Eos Airlines, www.eosairlines.com, a new premium-class airline offering 48-passenger flights from New York to London), low-cost air carriers (Skybus Airlines, www.skybus.com, debuts flights on its all-Airbus fleet in spring), even "air taxis" (SATSAir, www.satsair.com).

6. Homogenize

The terms "mancursion" and "girlcation" have officially entered the lexicon, and traveling in same-sex groups is increasingly popular. The website www.imin.com caters to gender-specific trip planning and allows groups to collectively choose dates, hotels and roommates -- eliminatingthe clutter that comes with mass e-mail.

7. Try the Monorail

Whatever happened to the monorail? That dinky one at Disneyland aside, its mainstream use never came to pass in the U.S. -- but it's being tried in Las Vegas. The Vegas Monorail (www.lvmonorail.com) debuted in 2004; plans are to extend it to McCarran International Airport by 2011.

8. Electrify

Electric cars aren't popular just with celebrities; forward-thinking hotels and tour companies have adopted them as primary vehicles. The White Barn Inn & Spa (www.whitebarninn.com) in Kennebunkport, Maine, uses an electric zero-emissions car to caddy guests around.

9. Get a "Seg" up

Segway (www.segway.com) has zoomed into tourism. The personal transporters are the focal point of tours in Orange County (www.segwayoctours.com), Palm Desert (www.segwayofthedesert.com), Silicon Valley (www.sbsegway.com), San Francisco and Sausalito (www.sfelectrictour.com), Hawaii (www.segwayofhawaii.com), even Israel (www.2all.co.il/Web/Sites/segwaytours972).

10. Hoof it

No travel mode can better acquaint a sojourner to a foreign land than walking. Fazendin Portfolio (www.fazendinportfolio.com), the Wayfarers (www.thewayfarers.com) and Country Walkers (www.countrywalkers.com) offer walking journeys in Africa, Europe and the Americas, respectively.

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