Auto Load Responses: 
Font Size: 

March 26, 2012

12:03
P.M.

Talk about Travel

Total Responses: 105

About the hosts

About the host

Andrea Sachs

Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.

Zofia Smardz

Zofia Smardz is the acting editor of Travel.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column, clearing the way through the fog of consumer travel issues. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.

Becky Krystal

Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.

Jane Touzalin

Jane Touzalin is acting deputy Travel editor.

Carol Sottili

Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.

About the topic

Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section's editors and writers are at your service.
Q.

Andrea Sachs :

Morning, travelers.  Thanks for joining us on our Monday travel chitter-chatter hour.

Today's topic:  lost and found. For an upcoming article, we want to hear about items you have lost and recovered (or still pine for) in airports, hotels and rental cars. Plus, the experience of dealing with the company. Best story wins . . . an interview with me! Oh, yeah,  and a prize.

Q.

Airfares--Are the seats selling?

I typically travel to Europe in May, and I've always been able to find a deal well under $1000, but not this year. What I'm wondering is, do you have data from "the industry" that late spring and summer flights are actually filling up? There are only so many people who can afford $1000+ airfare, so (1) I am curious, and (2) I am wondering of my chances at eventually snagging a deal.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Airlines have been cutting capacity and raising fares in order to remain profitable, which they barely are. That may account for the shortage of inexpensive fares, particularly on those routes. The other issue you may be having is the fare display -- the Transportation Department required airlines to show an "all in" fare that includes taxes and mandatory fees, which may be making your ticket price look higher, at least at first.

– March 26, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

england with 22 year old

I was wondering what would be another memorable city in England other than London for a 22 year old, non drinker, and her mom. Also, which is the safer part of London close to activities and not far from sights. thanks you
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Oh, which to pick? York sounds perfectly lovely, according to this article we ran on it last year. I also love Oxford, home of the great university, which is much closer to London and could be a day trip, as well as Canterbury, seat of the archbishopric and of course immortalized by Chaucer in his tales. Beautiful cathedral famed as the place where Henry II had his great friend Thomas Becket assassinated in 1170 (you can see the very spot where the saint was slain). I've also always wanted to go to Bath -- my sister went there on a trip last fall and raves about it. It's very Jane Austen, as you probably know, and looks to be gorgeous. Other thoughts, chatters?

As to London, it's a very safe city. And the "sights" are everywhere, so it depends on what you want to see. Westminster, the City of London and Kensington, roughly, are probably the heart of the sightseeing area, home to the biggies -- Buckingham Palace, the parks, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral and the museums  -- but it would be very pricey to stay anywhere in that vicinity. London is a very expensive city, so the farther out from the city center you go, the better the lodging prices. "The tube" is a great subway system that will take you all over the city with perfect ease, so you can really stay almost anywhere. That said, you're probably best off sticking to the north and west of the city -- East London is now preparing for the Olympics, and city officials hope that this will give that more historically downtrodden area an economic boost.

Chatters, please jump in with your advice.

– March 26, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

How might I access Talk about Travel?

Is Talk about Travel still accessible on-line? I've clicked "Talk about Travel" on the Post's Travel webpage only to find "Submit Your Question" but no list of others' questions and answers, which I once enjoyed reviewing for tips on travel I never thought to inquire about directly. Please tell me the new way to access such content if that's still available.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Well, I have to say I'm a little confused since you made it here! It sounds like you were looking at this week's blank chat, which is built in advance so people can submit questions early. The page is only filled with questions and answers once we start Mondays at noon. You can find prior transcripts here.

– March 26, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

How to research information on Washingtonpost.com

You write great articles, but I am having trouble finding your wonderful past articles by location. For instance, we just decided to go to Prague and Budapest, and I just can't figure out how to find your prior articles on these cities. i go to Travel and then click on Europe, but then only the very most recent articles show up. It would help to have instructions on the travel webpage. Thank you.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yes, our new web site launch last year really killed our destination-based searches. But I can tell you that as we speak, a new solution is in development and all my fingers are crossed that this will work. In the meantime, here are the links to our previous archives on the Czech Republic and Hungary.

– March 26, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

California

For the couple with baby going to San Francisco this fall, consider a second destination within driving distance for your remaining 3-4 days - Monterey/Carmel, or the Sonoma/Napa wine country, or Lake Tahoe. You don't need another plane flight to find a beautiful and interesting area.

A.
Andrea Sachs :

Great advice. Just be sure to rent a car with a baby seat and pack snacks for roadside picnics.

– March 26, 2012 12:05 PM
Q.

Hotel school

Very interesting article about the hotel/school in Delaware. But, how does it compare with the original -- The Statler Hotel on the campus of Cornell University? That is a very classy and distinctive destination hotel.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I don't know, since I have never been to the Statler.

Can anyone help us with this comparison?

– March 26, 2012 12:05 PM
Q.

Cruise to Jerusalem, Turkey, Greece and Egypt

I am planning a cruise to these countries in October of this year. People have already started cancelling their trip becuase of the unrest in the middle east. Do we have something to really worry about?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

It all depends on your threshold for adventure and your trust in the cruise line.

When the situation gets bad, the cruise lines will rejigger their itineraries to avoid the restive port cities, as they recently did in Tunisia and Egypt. The lines don't want to drop passengers into a riotious scene. However, if you feel uncomfortable knowing that you are entering countries  struggling with economic and political issues, you might want to reconsider. (You might also want to check the cancellation policy, unless you have travel insurance.)

 

– March 26, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Travel Videos

Is it advisable to buy travel videos before going on vacation? A friend of mine told me that they had purchased some travel videos and it helped them plan and get excited about their trip. If so, where can we find travel videos?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Travel videos? Wow, you're taking me back to those promotion VHS tapes my parents had way back when. (I seem to remember watching ones for Disney World and Smugglers' Notch.) Honestly, I don't know how common these are anymore. I guess you can check with the tourism offices of the places you'd like to visit. But I'd recommend starting with a couple of good guidebooks. Or you could try to find movies centered around your destination!

– March 26, 2012 12:12 PM
A.
Jane Touzalin :

You should be able to find travel DVDs at your nearest public library. Why buy them if you can get them free? I agree that watching a DVD about your destination can get you excited about the trip and can also suggest things you'll want to see/do when you get there.

– March 26, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Where and how can a city dweller vacation nearby with their kids?

I am a divorced mom of two living in the city. I made the decision to give up my gas guzzling suv. Where and how can I take my kids on an affordable vacation via bus or train. They have shown interest in going to the attractions in Williamsburg,or Kings Dominion. They also would like to go to the beach,there doesn't seem to be transportation to Ocean City and Atlantic City doesn't seem family friendly in either accommodations or transportation.

A.
Becky Krystal :

Amtrak can definitely get you to a lot of the places you list. If you have a chunk of vacation time, I might suggest first hitting up Kings Dominion. The train goes to Ashland, and from there, catch a cab to Kings Dominion. You could spend a day/night there and then continue on Amtrak to Williamsburg. Do your history thing for a few days. Then hop back on Amtrak and ride the rails to the end of the line at Newport News. There you can take a bus connection (part of your Amtrak ticket) to Virginia Beach. (You could do Greyhound, but that's a longer trip.) It's very family-friendly.

Other possibilities are Philadelphia and Boston (beaches around there as well).

– March 26, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

What to do/see in Oklahoma?

I have three states left before I can say I've visited all 50. Memorial Day weekend I will be traveling to Oklahoma for #49 and am wondering if there is anything that is a "must see" in the state?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

How very patriotic of you (dying to know what the last two are).

I have been trying to get out to Oklahoma to check  out the new Cherokee Compass program, a Cherokee-themed driving tour of the state. Oklahoma City also has some interesting attractions, such as the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the American Banjo Museum and a memorial and musuem related to the  1995 bombing. For wildlife, check out the buffalo in America's first wildlife preserve, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, and the mini-vampires at the Selman Bat Cave.

You can also travel into the heart of OK along more than 400 miles of Route 66.

– March 26, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Low Budget Safaris

Last week someone asked about low-budget safaris to Tanzania and Kenya. They absolutely exist. We went in 2007 and prices have surely increased since then, but we were able to do 6 days/5 nights in Tanzania (Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorogoro, and 2.5 days in the Serengeti) for $1250 per person with our own Land Cruiser, driver, and cook. Much of that amount goes to park fees; they are surprisingly yet appropriately high. We camped, in regular old tents with sleeping bags, and there was nothing fancy or luxurious about it--one of our campsites only had cold water, and even that wasn't available the nights we were there. I am not a camper--I'd never slept in a tent before we went--but we couldn't have afforded it otherwise and the experience was absolutely worth it! There are even cheaper options in which you're with a larger group on a tour bus-type vehicle. Checking the Lonely Planet website or books for reputable safari companies is a must. Some are not entirely above-board--but note that it is very common to have to wire a 50% deposit when you book from abroad. Booking in person might be less expensive, but you're taking a chance on availability and going where you want. I highly recommend a safari, by whatever means you can get there--we're counting down the years until our kids will be old enough to appreciate it because we're both dying to go back.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks for the info and for sharing!

– March 26, 2012 12:13 PM
Q.

web site

for a while now, I have had trouble finding your column - used to be the most recent one showed up when I clicked on the title - now I have to go to archives and, more recently, I don't even see a link for archives and can't find it at all
A.
Becky Krystal :

Sorry for the confusion. I'm not sure where you're looking, but our archives are always listed toward the bottom of the Travel home page at "Talk About Travel chat archive." Here's the link to those archives. The most recent chat is available there and for a day or two after Monday in the "Live Discussions" box on the right side of our page toward the bottom. Then it's replaced with the coming week's chat to allow for early question submission.

– March 26, 2012 12:13 PM
Q.

Travel

Planning on doing the Santiago de Compestela walk (France to Spain). Can you recommend travel firms that book this Walk?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Ah, yes, I think interest in this path spiked with the release of the Emilio Estevez film "The Way" (starring his dad Martin Sheen). Has anyone done this?

We don't appear to have written about it, but here's a story from the Guardian with at least one suggested company.

– March 26, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Madrid Layover

Submitting early. I will be landing in Madrid at 10:40 on a weekday morning and not taking off for the States until 4:50 pm. Is that enough time to leave the airport to see a slice of Madrid? Any suggestions for what to see are appreciated. Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

You definitely could, if you go with a plan and move quickly. Set aside at least two hours for transportation to the city and back to the airport, and at least 90 minutes for immigration and security (make sure you are checked in for your U.S. flight before you leave the airport). You can catch a cab or public train from the airport to the city center.

Now select an attraction, such as Puerta del Sol/ Plaza Mayor (shops and restaurants and people-watching),  Prado Museum or the Royal Palace.

 

– March 26, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Norway Fjords

I'm going to Norway next month, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the fjords. How do you recommend that we go see them--on our own, with a tour?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Haven't done the fjords in Norway, but I'd probably lean toward a cruise as the best way to see them. Or you could do what this traveler did, and take a hike to the top of a cliff for some really spectacular fjord-viewing. Chatters, need your advice!

– March 26, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Flights to Mexico

I'm getting married in Mexico in June but the flights are outrageous! My fiance and I got our flights in February for under 500 but the same flights are now 800+. I feel so bad for my guests. Any tips for those booking now? Do you think they'll continue to go up? or hopefully down?

A.
Carol Sottili :

Having spent $900 a pop for my family of four to travel to the Dominican Republic for my niece's wedding last summer, I feel your guests' pain. Are you flying to Cancun? I'm seeing fares on United out of Dulles of less than $400 round trip right now, which I would jump on.  

– March 26, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Senior discounts?

We are going to Germany and Austria in May. Are there typically senior discounts (we are both 65) at museums, concerts, etc.?
A.
Becky Krystal :

I don't know of across-the-board policies in either country (if anyone does, please chime in!), but having fact-checked many of those "if you go" boxes for our stories, I can tell you that many European attractions offer discounted admission for seniors, children, etc. Always worth checking ahead on their web sites if you have specific ones you'd like to see.

– March 26, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Italy 2012

I am planning a 2 week trip with 6 women (ages 30-49) to Italy with a short stop over in Athens and Santorini. Does the travel crew have any suggestions and travel tips on the best way to get around? What is your one "must see and cant miss" locations?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

I would probably do trains within Italy and fly to Athens, then take the ferry to Santorini, as described in this story we ran. Italy is too beautiful for me to be able to pick just one must-see. You must see Florence, and Assissi, and Verona, and Rome and Padua, andandand. . . But a lot depends on your interests, too. Chatters, weigh in here.

– March 26, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Affordable but nice beach rentals

We were looking at single-family August beach-front rentals in the Outer Banks but put off by the prices for the nicer, newer homes. Can you recommend other beach-front locations with nice rentals but more affordable prices?
A.
Carol Sottili :

The farther south you go in the Outer Banks, the less expensive it gets. Avon is cheaper than Duck. But any new/nicer oceanfront place that's within a five-hour or so drive of Washington is going to be expensive. You might try renting directly through an owner at Homeaway or VRBO, but prices won't be much cheaper. Consider a house that's not quite oceanfront. Or head farther south to the Wilmington/Myrtle Beach area.   

– March 26, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Riverboat/cruiseships in Northern Europe

Hi, I'm trying to help my older parents to plan a trip and they think a cruise might be better because they won't have to move luggage around with them as they travel. I've found the major cruiselines that offer, for example, North Sea tours, and I've heard good things about Viking. I've also seen Uniworld cruises, but I don't know anything about them. Do you know of any good cruiselines that tour Northern Europe (Rhine, Danube, North Sea)?
A.
Carol Sottili :

Both Viking and Uniworld are top-notch cruise lines. But these are river cruise companies -- they don't do the North Sea, but they offer lots of Rhine/Danube interaries. Another excellent company offering European river cruises is Avalon -- I did a Rhine River cruise last year on the Avalon Panorama , and it was lovely. I think your parents would enjoy that type cruise, rather than a cruise on a more traditional line that traverses the North Sea. 

– March 26, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Electronics on Planes

Hello - On two recent flights, I sat next to people who did not turn off electronic devices when asked to do so, they just put them away (in sleep mode - one was a laptop and she was int he middle seat so I know she did not turn it off). I realize that this must actually happen all the time and the airlines/FAA must know that this happens as well. Of course attendants can't possibly police everyone, that would get out of hand and would be time consuming. My question, then, is this: If airlines/FAA know this happens and allows it to happen, then why are we supposed to turn electronics off to begin with? If it really isn't such a threat (I've never been on a flight where a known instrumentation issue has occured, although I doubt they would tell us), I'm not sure I understand the rationale. Thanks for any light you can shed on this issue!
A.
Christopher Elliott :

No one is really sure if these electronics can interfere with an aircraft's navigational systems or not anymore. The government is reportedly looking at the rules, and may revise them soon. Until then, I would advise you to keep your electonics turned off when the flight crew asks you. You're right, they can't police the whole cabin, nor should they have to.

– March 26, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Pre-paying for hotels

Must one always prepay for a hotel/motel stay? It seems to me that in the past one only needed to make a reservation, holding it with a credit card number. Now it seems one must actually book the room. If one must then cancel, the payment has already been made. Am I correct that this is how things are currently done?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Often the cheapest rates are pre-pay, but I try to never do that. Many hotels still offer the traditional option of canceling within 24 hours or a few days with no penalty. It will just be more expensive than the pay-in-advance options.

– March 26, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Lost and found story

We arrived in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) at night, and took a cab to our extremely cheap hotel, in the hostel district. I managed to leave my purse in the cab, which took off before we could stop it, and the purse contained not just cash but my passport, credit cards, etc. The hotel manager tried to call the cab company (he claimed to have seen the name, which we hadn't done), with little success. We ended up taking another cab back to the airport to talk with the taxi line person. I kept my eyes peeled for the first taxi while we were driving back to the airport, once even leaping out of the cab when I thought I saw it (bad idea, if you have any idea of Saigon traffic). Happy ending story -- the taxi line person had gotten a call from our cabbie, who had found the purse and was waiting for us at the hotel. He insisted we make sure everything was still there, including cash. Needless to say, we compensated him well for his trouble and his honesty. The very strange woman who ran the hotel (appeared to be the manager's mother) wagged her finger at me and told me I was a "very lucky" person!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Glad you had a happy, lucky ending.

– March 26, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

College visits

Regarding the article about college campus visits, I recall when I did mine: during the winter of 1976. Sometimes my Mom and I visited visited various campuses in NJ, PA, MD and DE. Sometimes, my sister came with us when we visited campuses in PA, NJ and NY. The only time the whole family went was for a visit to Western Maryland College. The only PA school that didn't get visited was Susquehanna University. Most of the schools I had applied to I got admitted to, especially before I visited the campus. The only school I stayed overnight in a dorm was Wagner College on Staten Island. Then, the only school that got a second visit was the one I chose: Wilkes College (now Wilkes University) in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I enrolled there, stayed there all 4 years, and graduated from there in 1980 w/my BA in Political Science. Bottom line: College visits are great tools to get a good look at the school beyond the catalog or web site. To put things in perspective between back in the day versus now: In 1976, there were no cell phones, no Internet, no smart phones/PDAs, and no PCs/laptops. Everything was done via either landline phone, by snail mail, dead tree, and paper map navigation. Nowadays, we have the aforementioned electronic gadgets, and I appreciate the advance of technology that much more. I can also appreciate what we had before for the advent of tech vs. present-day tech. Just my two-cent perspective on college visits circa late 20th century!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Wow, sounds like you visited a LOT of colleges! I applied to one early decision, got in and that was it. Not sure that was the best way to go, but it worked for me. :-)

– March 26, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Dulles

It's been a while since I have flown out of IAD; last time I was there security lines moved rather quickly -- is that still generally the case? Two hours is plenty to budget, correct? (In terms of getting to the airport that much time beforehand.)
A.
Becky Krystal :

Unless it's a holiday then, yes, two hours should be plenty. But here's some helpful info from FareCompare.

– March 26, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Travel videos

Besides libraries there's this thing called YouTube that probably has about 1 billion videos. It's searchable by just about any keyword you can imagine.
A.
Becky Krystal :

True!

– March 26, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Japan

I'm thinking about going to Japan this summer for a few days as part of a three-legged trip. Do you think it's worth the short trip? (Under a week.) I've never been and always wanted to go but am concerned about the price of hotels/hostels, to say nothing of airfare. Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Japan is amazing, and  you can  hunker down in, say, Tokyo or Kyoto and never run out of things to see, do and eat. That said, it can be pricey (not sure where you are flying in from), but you can find cheap digs outside the city. Look for guesthouses and small inns. For dining, I loved eating in the markets and the food emporiums of malls.  And take public transporation. It is so efficient and speedy.

– March 26, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

Airfare to Europe this fall

Help! We're starting to plan 2 weeks this fall in southern England and northern France. We were hoping to fly into Paris and out of London (or vice versa) and take the chunnel in between. But the cheapest airfare I can find is $2200 each. We'll wait to buy tickets of course, but can you give any hints on how to book this sort of trip most cheaply? Any particular days better, any particular order? Anything? If we have to spend $5K on airfare alone we'll rethink the trip. :-(
A.
Carol Sottili :

It will be cheaper to fly round trip from one city or the other. If you're willing to connect, fares out of Washington to London in October are about $850 round trip on Icelandair. Then you could take the train and/or discount flights between the two cities. But I'm also seeing fares of about $1,100 round trip using your itinerary. Are you considering only nonstop flights? 

– March 26, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

Lost & Found!

It was slgihtly under 20 years ago, but my teddy bear once flew on without me... and then came back! I loved my stuffed animals and had dedicated traveling buddies. One time I accidently left my bear on the plane after we arrived home on a very delayed flight- so delayed that we spent the prior night on an airport floor due to mechanical issues grounding us halfway to our destination. My parents told the airline before we left the airport, but I was told that my bear probably wouldn't return and I should imaine it's adventures. Well, it turns out that the hear was turned over to the airline and put on a flight back to my town. A neighbor was picking up someone at the airport and asked about the bear just to see if anything had shown up in lost and found. My bear was there and the airline gave it to her to ferry back to me. It was a very happy reunion and one of the only things I've lost or left behind while traveling that has ever been returned to me. And yes, I still have my traveling bear.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Love your found bear tale. Do you remember the airline? If so, message me at sachsa@washpost.com and let's talk!

– March 26, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

I brought on a cruise my tux for the fancy dinner night. Not wanting to have to lug it around before we boarded, I put a tag on it to be delivered to my room. Lo and behold, it didn't show. So I went to the concierge and said that it was missing. She said, "Are you the White House person? I really wanted to meet you!" Yes, my bag has an emblem from the White House Air Operations office on it, but no, I don't work for the White House. The rest of the cruise, however, I was "the White House guy" on the ship. It seemed like everyone knew me. I didn't complain...just meant I got better service.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Did you get the bag back, too, or just the tux?

– March 26, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

RE: travel videos

Rick Steves!! He has an extensive & well-produced series of DVDs about anywhere in Europe you might want to go. Have fun!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Duh, of course! I'm sure his stuff's at the library. Also, if you're a local, his shows are on WETA Create each weekday morning at 7:30 a.m. Not that I turn it on every day as I get ready for work... ahem.

– March 26, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Oklahoma City

After a visit to the memorial to the 1995 bombing area/museum be certain to visit the state museum of history--it's relative new. There's Bricktown in OKC which has good restaurants and a river walk/boat ride. Also behind the Bass Pro area is a scene depicting the land rush (where Sooners gets the name)--this is also new and has a walk along it. I've been to the Cowboy Museum and really like the history museum more. There's a botanical gardens downtown. Also Norman is the home of the Sooners and has a nice art musuem. The zoo is good too as it has species not at the National. I've relatives in OKC so we have hit all of these spots. Near Tulsa is the Will Rogers Museum. If you go west from OKC, there's several Route 66 museums. Just avoid Oklahoma in the summer!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

PS: Oklahoma--There are almost no rest areas

Oklahoma has picnic areas but most have no restrooms!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

And one more: thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

Portugal

Love your chats! Have you written anything on Portugal recently? I'm headed there in May and am looking for hotel recommendations (Lisbon, Obidos, Porto) and advice on the best way to travel between those places (bus vs. train, will not be renting a car). Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Nothing very recent. Here's our archive. Anyone have tips?

– March 26, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

Lost and found

I left my wallet, which contained a few credit cards and several hundred Euros in cash, in the lobby of a hotel in Paphos, Cyprus. I didn't realize it until late in the day and assumed it must have been picked up by that point, either by a thief or good samaritan who turned it in to the front desk. When we finally made it back to the hotel I almost died of shock when I saw my wallet on a bench in the lobby, everything intact, exactly where I left it almost 8 hours earlier.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Wow! The prize should go to the honest folks of Cyprus.

– March 26, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

Travel Videos

I've borrowed some from my local library (Howard County) so that may be another source.
Q.

Napa Wine Tours from Downtown SF

Travel gurus - the wife and I are planning an anniversary trip to San Francisco and would like to do a day in Napa. We won't have a car and thus are looking into day trips sponsored by tour companies. There are so many out there and any insight you could give into your own experiences or tours that you'd recommend would be very helpful! We'd especially love a tour that includes a ferry ride from San Francisco to Sonoma County (most seem to include this on either the outgoing or returning leg)
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Anybody done one of these tours, chatters?

– March 26, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

Places in England

One city in England that is often overlooked is Bristol. It's a mid size city, with plenty of restaurants and attractions. Plus, it's a train hub, so it's easy to get from Bristol to other places in southwest England, like Bath, Salisbury (Stonehenge is just outside of Salisbury), and Cornwall. Plus, it's only a 40 minute train ride to Cardiff, Wales, which is also great place to visit.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Sounds interesting, thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

low-budget safari

Could this poster tell us which tour company they went with or more details? They direct chatter to LP but then state that not all companies listed their are above-board so more information about which company worked for them would be most helpful. thanks
A.
Becky Krystal :

Chatter, are you around?

– March 26, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Norway Fjords

We saw the fjords via a portion of the Norway in a Nutshell tour--train from Bergen, change at Myrdal, train to Flam (spectacular!!), small boat around to the head of the next fjord with lunch at a hotel named at one point as one of the most beautiful in the world by Travel & Leisure. Bus back to the train, return to Bergen. It was all day. We'd also done the Newcastle to Bergen ferry via Sravangar, so saw fjords that way. What'd I'd do next time is find out about the ferry system from Stravanger to Tronheim. The topography is so rugged that there are few roads, so the ferry along the coast is how Norewegians get around--as does the freight and mail.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks for this!

– March 26, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

3 L&F stories

First.....went to Hawaii and left the zip pocket folder that had my memory cards for my camera. I was returning at night with a car with black interior and the folder was black. I got it back when I called the next day and they had it and mailed it back to me. Second...I left an object at the TSA checkpoint. Then they send it to the airport L&F. I got it shortly after. I am going blank on the object but it was something that wasnt worth that much and was replaceable. Third...I traveled to LA last year. I brought a monopod with me. I left it somewhere. Either at a hotel or in the rental car. I called them all and nobody claimed they found it.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

You are  a very experienced lost and finder.  Can you email me at sachsa@washpost.com so we can discuss further. Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

"White House guy"

Got the tux and the bag back!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Great to hear. Sounded like they were drooling over that bag of yours.

– March 26, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Port Canaveral

I'm going on my first cruise and am slightly- no, very, disappointed in the quality of accommodations in the Port Canaveral area where we embark on the cruise. Does anyone have an idea of a nice place to stay somewhere between Orlando and Port Canaveral? Not 3 star- 4 or 5 star accommodations. I have looked in Cocoa beach, not good. For those experienced cruisers...I would welcome your expertise.
A.
Carol Sottili :

Are you leaving from an airport that doesn't have frequent flights to Orlando? Because, if you're leaving from D.C., you could easily leave the day of cruise departure. I book the earliest flight, so that even if it is cancelled, I can get there. I know that flights are going out booked and you do take a small chance, but there are more than a dozen flights from our three airports that would get you there in time. If you are nervous about doing this, Hampton Inns are usually nice, and there is one in Cocoa Beach. 

– March 26, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

seattle

what 2-3 day hikes would you reco when we travel to seattle this May?
A.
Becky Krystal :

You could visit Mount Rainier or Olympic national parks. Victoria, British Columbia, is another option, as are the San Juan Islands.

– March 26, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

A beach vacation

My husband and I will be trekking in Nepal next spring for about 3 weeks. When we're done in mid-April, we'd like to go somewhere sunny (on that 'side' of the world) to relax on the beach for 4 or 5 days before making our way back home. Do you have any recommendations? We've heard that the beaches in Thailand are beautiful, and we've always had an interest in visiting the Maldives. We love to snorkel and simply be in, on, or near the water, and we enjoy nice restaurants. Our preference is a small, quiet boutique hotel on the beach, and we'd like to stay at around $300 per night for the room.
A.
Becky Krystal :

How about Cambodia? Here's a cool article we had on the seaside towns of Kep and Kampot.

Other suggestions, folks?

– March 26, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Lost: Roman Traffic Video

On his only trip to the European Continent, my dad took numerous photos and videos. Most notably, he was very amused by the crazy traffic in Rome, with Vespas weaving in and out of traffic "lanes" and cars. In fact, it seemed the lanes were only a suggestion. Dad kept his camera bag safe and secure through Spain, France and Italy, and our inbound connection at JFK. Only as he was loading luggage into the car at home in Columbus, Ohio did he notice it was just G-O-N-E. Thankfully, I had taken some pics of my own, but far fewer than dad...and no famous video of him narrating during rush hour traffic in Rome. The camera bag and its contents were never found.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

 I wonder where it could've gone. One of life's big mysteries!

– March 26, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Travel Insurance?

Do you think that "insurance", such as that offered by Travelocity, have any real value? I am looking for some coverage or back-up for missed flights, unplanned layovers due to weather issues, things like that. I've tried valiantly to slog thru the here-to-fors and where-as's and exceptions, but got lost... need a PhD in double-speak to follow. Thanks
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Travelocity may offer a the right insurance on its site -- and it might not. It's hard to know without seeing the policy and having a little more information about you. I always recommend shopping around online for the best policy and reading the coverage carefully. I can send you an ebook that answers many common travel insurance quesitons, and I also will be addressing travel insurance in an upcoming Navigator column. Please email me privately and I'll send you the book.

– March 26, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Change Fee Waivers

Do airlines typically give change fee waivers or other exemptions to reservation changes as a result of labor action shutting down an airport? I ask because there are rumblings a major labor organization here in Israel authorizing a strike to affect the transportation network in Israel, including the airport, in the next 2 weeks or so, which would impact the pre-Passover travel plans of many, myself included, and I would like to make sure I make it to visit my parents in the States for the holiday per my plans, as opposed to being stranded here. (The last time there was a strike affecting the airport, a court said they could only strike from 6 AM to noon each day, so I think flights were just rescheduled but they were able to operate.)
A.
Christopher Elliott :

If a flight doesn't operate as scheduled, you are entitled to a full refund. If the airline reschedules you, then you shouldn't have to pay a change fee. If you try to reschedule your flight before an expected work stoppage, your airline may or may not waive the change fees. I think it would depend on the airline, your loyalty status and the country the work stoppage takes place in. (By the way, if you run into any kind of trouble, feel free to contact me directly. I'll help if I can. Here's my email address.)

– March 26, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Teen Travel to Europe

My daugther is going on a group trip to Europe this spring break and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how I should send money with her? Cash she can convert or some sort of prepaid card that I could reload from here? Combination?
A.
Carol Sottili :

Give her some cash, but not enough to really worry about. If you trust her not to overspend, a debit card tied to your bank account would work. Or you could do one of those prepaid Visa or American Express cards, but look at the fees. You should review possible fees no matter what you choose. 

– March 26, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

The most extraordinary Lost and Found actually happened to a friend of mine when we were at Disneland. We were on Thunder Mountain Railroad (I think) when his brand new iphone fell out of his pocket. He only realized this long after we left the ride and were elsewhere in the park. However, when he went back to the ride, they had found it! They say Disneyland is the most magical place on earth, and for my friend and his iphone, it certainly was!!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Mickey is such a stand-up mouse!

– March 26, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Three states left?

Wait, I had thought we were still at just 50 states? Did he mean he's ready to knock off his 48th, instead of his 49th? And I must admit, I'm surprised Oklahoma is one of the last ones! Mine is North Dakota. I'm starting to think it's a mythical state that doesn't exist...
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes, the math is a little strange there. . . :-)

Re North Dakota -- funnily, for the longest time, it was the one state in the union that we had no archived story for. But then we got a really good one, and now Travel can proudly say that we have been to and reported on all 50 states. So head on out to North Dakota. It does exist, and it sounds grand!

– March 26, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Two extra days in Italy?

Hi all, and thanks for taking my question. My family is spending a week in Siena, Italy in early August on a Friday to Friday vacation rental. (None of us has been to Italy before.) Since we get kicked out of our rental on Friday but most of us won't have to return to work until Monday, we were thinking of staying in Italy for two extra days (Friday and Saturday, flight out Sunday). Where should we spend our final two days - Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples, or other ideas? (French Riviera?) Thanks!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Florence is very near Siena, so I imagine you would want to head there during your week to see the sights, as Siena, beautiful as it is, probably won't occupy all your time (we did a day-trip to Siena from Florence last summer). I'd head for Rome if you haven't been (you can get there easily by train). Everyone must see the Eternal City! (Though in two days you may hardly scratch the surface.) Another possibility is to head to the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. Beautiful, and again, you can get there by train. Some of this may depend on your flight arrangements, though. Where are you flying in and out of, for instance? I'd still probably pick Rome. Chatters, what aboutyou?

– March 26, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Alaska

What would you recommend for an itinerary for a trip to Alaska in the summer? I don't like cruises, but am otherwise up for anything. Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I don't like cruises much either, so I am hoping to explore Alaska by state ferry. The boats have sleeping quarters and I imagine quite a cast of characters. For routes, see here.

If you prefer train, check out the rail routes.

– March 26, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

For city dweller with kids

You may be better off renting a car for a weekend rather than buying three Amtrak tickets (even with gas prices what they are now). Also, there is always the cheap bus to NYC option...
A.
Becky Krystal :

Fair points.

– March 26, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

How long should we allow for a visit to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks? And is August a good time to visit? We are not hard-core hikers but would like half-day hikes, float trips, nature excursions, etc.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

I spent three days in Zion and found that to be enough. Did a different hike every day, but didn't do the strenuous ones or the really, really scary one (Angel's Landing -- yikes). It was also fun just to chill and watch other, more daring people scale the sheer rock cliffs. Maybe other chatters can let you know about Bryce?

– March 26, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Beach vacation in Asia

For the Nepal trekkers -- Goa, Vietnam.
Q.

St Lucia in April

I'm heading to St Lucia (Sandals resort) at the end of April. We'll have really only 3 full days for excursions - what do you suggest? Any good must see things?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

A few suggestions to get you started:

Anse-la-Raye Friday Night Fish Fry

Gros Piton trek

Sulpher Springs

Our Planet

Reduit Beach

Pigeon Island National Park

– March 26, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Brussels and Bruges

Heading there this week; anyone have off-the-beaten path recommendations? Or wish to emphatically stress the need to experience "must-see" sights? (And any links to WaPo articles on either appreciated.)
A.
Becky Krystal :

Well, here's our Belgium archive. Recommendations from the chatters?

– March 26, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

I was once seated in the very last row of an aircraft. When I got off the plane a friend I was traveling with asked us to stop for some coffee (not something I would normally do) and when I reached in my bag my wallet was gone. It had rolled out onto the floor in the last row. Because it had been only a minute or two since we got off they let me go back and grab it. Good thing for a friends coffee craving!
A.
Jane Touzalin :

You were lucky they let you go back. Doesn't always happen that way! As I know from experience.

– March 26, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Norway fjords

We took a boat ride on the Hurtigruten - 2 nights, 2-ish days ran about $800 for the 4 of us (inside cabin, no food - we stopped at a supermarket before). The scenery is spectacular - we left from Bergen and went up to Trondheim, and most people were sailing for longer durations. Friends of ours did the Norway in a Nutshell and said it was great, if a little long and tiring. If you are in Oslo, you can go up to the top of Holmenkollen and get a gorgeous view of the Oslo fjord - not as spectacular as the western coast, but nice nonetheless.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

And more Norway, thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Norway and the Fjords

Try www.visitnorway.com. Lots of excellent information. Norway in a Nutshell is the most popular trip, a little farther north than the article and can be booked as a tour. I had looked at booking all the pieces ourselve, which we did, but went farther north again (Lofoten, Geiranger). Easy to do yourself, easy to travel on your own. Fior hotels, look for ones that provide a buffet breakfast (usually cold cuts, cheese, pickles + what we consider to be breakfast foods), waffles in the late afternoon. Really helps cut down on the cost of food and really good.

A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

College Campus trips

Many colleges have programs with student volunteers who host potential students for a night and show them around campus. I was a volunteer when I was a freshman. It gives you a better feel of how the college is. Parents can stay at a local hotel...student stays on campus. Pay attention to school calendars. You could visit during spring break so you dont have a good feel of what college life is like. Also during this time staff availability could be limited for meetings. As for the road trip.....I did this myself for grad school. My first solo trip. I was living in WNY at the time and visited colleges near Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and Cleveland. i spent about a day on campus for each location.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Good to know, thanks for sharing!

– March 26, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Camino de Santiago

Anyone who wants to make the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago should read "Travels with my Donkey," a book about a pilgrim doing it the old fashioned way, pilgrimo con burro. It's a laugh riot, including a hallucinating donkey.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Thanks for the suggested reading.

– March 26, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Cruises

Carol - NO NO NO! You never leave day of departure. CruiseCritic.com is filled with stories of people who thought they could make it and ended up missing the cruise. One day's hotel is worth the peace of mind.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Sound advice.  Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:50 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

While I have never lost an item - I do have a tip that someone gave me and I did this while on a cruise. Since most cameras are digital cameras - the first thing I did with both my camera and my video camera was take a picture of a note I had written. On the note was my first initial and my last name along with the cabin number and deck we would be staying on. That way if it was ever lost and then found, they would know who to return it to. Even if it was returned to the crew, they would know who to give it to. I saw this on a website a long time ago and feel it's better to be safe than sorry.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

That's a brilliant idea. You could also take a photo of your business card or a note saying, "If lost, please return to . . . "

– March 26, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Vacation for City Dwelling Mom

If she can afford it isnt either the Homestead or Greenbrier Amtrak accessible. I cant remember which
A.
Becky Krystal :

Indeed, you can take the train to White Sulphur Springs, near the Greenbrier.

– March 26, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Oklahoma

The Gilcrease museum in Tulsa is well worth seeing. Focus on American art, a lot of Western things.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

San Diego

I noticed in last weeks chat you said you're from San Diego. I will be visiting with my 13 year old son this summer. What is the best time to go? And is there a must see? We're doing Sea World (have passes) and the Zoo (will get passes) but we are also on a fairly small budget. I will be renting a car and the hotel really doesn't matter since we will only be sleeping there. Thanks!
A.
Carol Sottili :

I was not born and raised in San Diego, but I lived there for 10 years. I'd avoid going in May and June, as the fog sometimes rolls in and stays put along the coast for several hours during the day (called June gloom). But July and August are fine. You definitely need to see the San Diego Zoo. There are some discounts - AAA members, for example, get 10 percent off. There are many  free and cheap things to do. Take your son to see the wild seals/sea lions in La Jolla, hike at Torrey Pines or rent bikes and take a ride along the beachfront in Pacific Beach and Mission Bay. Cheaper, but convenient hotels are located in the Mission Valley area.  Take a look at the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau for more ideas. 

– March 26, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Oklahoma

If you go to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge (highly recommend--you see buffalo up close and its the most beautiful land in Oklahoma) stop in nearby Meers for lunch. The Meers Store is local color with the best burger in OK.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

I traveled with at least three or four stuffed animals. About eight years ago I left "Treos" at the hotel in Killarney but did not discover her absence until Tramore when I unpacked and counted only two of my Little Buddies. Being OCD/methodical, I knew what room number I stayed at in Killarney, Ireland. The tour director said he called the hotel, but Treos never caught up with me during the tour. So when I got home, I made a series of phone calls, and learned that the hotel maid had turned in Treos to the L&F. The hotel kindly FedExd Treos back to me--along with the clothes I had purposely left in the trash can. They all got baths. Oh I did have to correct the supervisor: Treos is a dog, not bear, thank you very much. Now that I have my own real life little buddy (Ritz, a feline fur ball) I don't travel with my pack of dogs quite so much.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

What a happy reunion. Can you email me at sachsa@washpost.com, so that I can hear more?

– March 26, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

Seattle hikes...

I live in Seattle. This year is a La Nina year. In May Mt Rainier could still be snow covered except for the low elevations on the outer fringes of the park. Last year was a La Nina year and MT Rainier still had snow cover until August. It basically pushed the seasons 6 weeks later. Because of the snow...which will also effect North Cascades National Park with the elevations. For hikes I would look at Olympic National Park because it has more low elevation hikes. There are also many state parks on along the coast line, in the San Juan Islands, and on other islands. It just depends on the snowpack because one year Mt Rainier could be 2 feet or more deep in snow while directly east of Seattle in the Cascades there there isnt much snow pack left for the various trails along US 2 through the mountains to Leavenworth area.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Thanks for the local expert advice.

– March 26, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

Hiking near Seatlle

I've done everything Becky recommends except San Juan Islands; they're all great but I say Olympic peninsula. Stay at Crescent Lake Lodge, an old-timey park lodge.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Good to know my educated guess was somewhat on target.

– March 26, 2012 12:54 PM
Q.

City dweller

That woman has done an admirable thing! I'm very impressed.
Q.

Lost

This wasn't my own loss, but I still remember the young student who came up to us in Piazza San Marco in Venice about 15 years ago and asked if we had seen her backpack. She has put it down and gone off to do something else, and when she came back, it was gone...with her passport, money, and other possessions...I hope that the American embassy and her travelling companions were able to help her out. It's probably a good travelling story by this time.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

How heartbreaking. I never, ever set down my items, even when my muscles are screaming in pain.

– March 26, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Spain vs. France

Good Afternoon! My husband and I will be in the UK in July for a wedding and wanted to add another leg to the trip. We're interested in food and wine, and were debating between Spain and France. Can you help tip the scales? I was thinking it might be cheaper to go to Spain, but that may not be the case and they both have their merits. We would have a week.
A.
Carol Sottili :

Both have their charms, and I'm sure some of my colleagues will disagree with my choice of Spain. When w visited London a few years back, we grabbed a discount flight from Stansted to Alicante and then we got in a car and drove north along the coast over the course of several days to Valencia, stopping at the many little fishing villages along the way. Great meals and wine -- simple fare, but delicious and reasonably priced. 

– March 26, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Cherry Blossoms and kids from last week

We always took great photos of our children in the Kenwood neighborhood of Bethesda rather than the crowds of downtown. They bloom a bit later than downtown so might still be there now.
Q.

Puerto Rico planning help

Hello travel team, I hope you can help me with some travel planning. I am going to Puerto Rico for a conference, and decided to make a little trip out of it. I am flying in on Friday afternoon, and am moving into my conference hotel on Sunday night. I'd like to go to El Yunque and to Vieques to bum around the beaches and go to the bio-bay. I am booked at the Gran Melia for Friday night, and am thinking this: - Rent a car at the airport to drive to the Gran Melia - Spend Saturday morning at El Yunque - Drive back to SJU airport, return the car, and fly to Vieques Saturday afternoon - Take a tour of biobay - Stay in Vieques (where?) overnight - Spend Sunday at the beaches and then fly back in the afternoon Here are my questions: - Can I take a suitcase on the charter flights to Vieques? Otherwise, where could I leave my luggage? I am concerned about this because I will have a laptop with me. - Can I book flights to Vieques in advance? How? On kayak there is only one airline, with very inflated prices. - Recommendations on where to stay and how to get around in Vieques? I know renting a car is advisable, but I'd rather not for just one day. Thank you!!!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Sounds like a good itinerary.

For Vieques, the planes are small, but you can take on your bags. Just pack light (not like you need heavy clothes).

You don't really have many options in term of price. The airlines have a monopoly on the route. You can book the flight in advance or when you get to San Juan. Either way works. As an alternative, you can take the ferry. Cheaper but you need to catch a cab or rent a car to the ferry port.

For lodging, I would recommend Hix Island House, Fajardo Inn or the new W.

I would rent a car on Vieques, since public transportation options are limited. Or you can bike or hike around.

 

– March 26, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Canal du Midi

Four couples are planning a self-guided boat trip from Castlenaudary to Homps on Canal du Midi, France, for the last week of September. We are interested in wineries in the area. Could you recommend a resource for us?
A.
Jane Touzalin :

Our wine guru Dave McIntyre suggests you check out http://www.languedoc-wines.com/english.

– March 26, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

I was devastated to find that I had left my camera (with 1,000 photos on it) on an express inter-city bus the night before we were to leave Ireland to go back to the US. We called the company, but I didn't have high hopes since we were leaving the country early the next morning. Much to my joy, they not only found the camera the next day, they mailed it back to us in the US at no charge! Galway Tour Company, you are amazing!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Cameras seem to be a pretty common lost item, based on all your experiences. I'll never forget the time I was a kid when my dad forgot ours was on the roof of the car. Never saw that one again.

– March 26, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

Zion and Bryce

August will be hotter. But with elevation it will be a tad cooler. For Zion...there are two parts..the Valley where you need to take a bus into and Kolob Canyon part which you can drive into. For the valley you could do it in an entire day. For Bryce...I say 2 days. You need to see this place at sunrise and sunset. For float trips...you need to go to Glen Canyon and Page, AZ. Also in page you have antelope canyon to see.
Q.

Bruges

See the Belfry--it'll give you a nice view of the town. Warning: You will get claustrophobic going up the stairs (narrow, no windows, no railing--1000 years old!) but worth it. Also take a cruise in the canals. And make sure you nibble on the chocolate that is sold everywhere!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Belgium traveler, here you are.

– March 26, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

in israel

I was just walking along the beach in Tel Aviv, and some guy handed me some earrings, while he was running, and said: these are a gift from israel. It was very strange, but I figured maybe he had stolen them? I had no idea, and they were lovely. But Israel has um, quite a few security procedures, so I was kinda nervous when they asked at the airport: has anyone given you anything to put in your bags? or something like that. Got them home though...
A.
Becky Krystal :

Weird.

– March 26, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

Potentially lost... and found!

I was flying from Vientienne, Laos to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and forgot that I had a small multi-tool (with a blade) in my carry-on. We had plenty of time when approaching security, so they suggested (through hand gestures and pointing) that I take the knife back to baggage check and have it checked with my luggage. I made my way back to the baggage area just as a large tour-bus unloaded, but luckily one of the desk clerks recognized that I had already been through the line and called me up ahead (standing a head taller than everyone else in line must have helped!) The clerk happily took my knife and told me they would locate my bag and put it in the bag for me. I had strong doubts that I would ever see the knife again, knowing that there was no way for me to verify that it ever got to my bag. Well, upon arrival in Vietnam, I checked all the pockets of my bag, and lo and behold, my knife made it. I was so happy as it had traveled all over the world with me, and I was thrilled with the service from the Laotian baggage agents!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Wow. That is personalized packing service.

– March 26, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Lost but, alas, never found

My sister went to Guatemala last summer and had arranged her return trip with an overnight in Atlanta so she could visit her son, daughter-in-law and new grandson. While in Guatemala, friends of hers gave her a great vegetable roasting pan, which was able to fit in her carry-on luggage. She had taken a baby gift (1st spoon & fork set) for her grandson with her from DC, but kept them (unwrapped) in her suitcase while in Guatemala. However, when she was returning back to the States, the people at the airport in Guatemala told her she could not take the roasting pan and, for some reason, also said she could not take the spoon & fork set. As her friend was leaving Guatemala the next day, my sister asked them to hold the two items for her so her friend could put them in her checked luggage (my sister's checked luggage had already gone through and was irretrievable). However, the next day, her friend was told that they no longer had either item there. My sister was especially upset because the fork & spoon set that made it from DC had been so cute that the agent at the airport actually commented on how sweet it was... before she took it out & said it was not allowed in the carry-on! My sister never saw either item again.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Now, if this had been in Cyprus, we might have a different ending . . . .

– March 26, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

Three states left

I thought it was funny math until I guessed that he'll visit #48 between now and Mem. day weekend, so then OK will be #49.
A.
Becky Krystal :

There's that possibility too.

– March 26, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

Santiago de Compostela walk from France to Spain

You can also do this walk on your own as a friend and I did in 1996. The route is very well-marked, there are plenty of inexpensive pilgrim "refugios" (hostel-like lodgings) to stay in along the way, and you meet plenty of interesting people! There are also more expensive, hotel-like accomodations if you wish. Just a suggestion - it was a wonderful walk and I would love to do it again!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Thanks for the first-hand report.

– March 26, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

Mediterranean Cruise

My husband and I just booked a Mediterranean cruise for October. We leave Barcelona with stops in Monaco, Naples, Florence/Pisa, Rome, Dubrovnik and Venice. We're not doing the ship excursions and wonder what, besides the obvious tourist stops, not to miss in the limited time we have for each port. We like museums, local restaurants and shops and want to take a gondola ride in Venice. We also have an extra day in Barcelona before our cruise but, unfortunately, only one day in Rome. If anyone has restaurant recommendations, those would be appreciated as well. Thanks!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

It would be helpful to know how much time you have in each of these ports. I'd bet that it's limited enough that you should just stick with the "obvious tourist stops." A few suggestions:

Monaco -- the Monte Carlo casino and just walk around town and maybe hit the beach.

Florence/Pisa -- you're probably actually stopping in Pisa, so of course you must see the Leaning Tower, plus all the other beautiful buildings on the Piazza del Duomo. Most people never see much beyond the Leaning Tower, but you could spend a full day just wandering around visiting Pisa's many beautiful churches. If you have more than a day here, then head to Florence on the train. Hit the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, the Academmia to see Michelangelo's David. There's tons more there, hard to list it all.

Rome -- Well, you know. St. Peter's, the Vatican museums, the catacombs, the Colosseum, and on and on.

Dubrovnik -- Just wander around the Old Town, which is lovely with its Baroque and Renaissance buildings. Hit a beach.

Venice -- The gondola rides are overrated and tourist, but if it's what you want to do. . . See the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and the Doge's Palace. Visit some of the fabulous churches, maybe a glass factory on Murano. There's so much, you'll never be at a loss.

That's just skimming the surface. For more recommendations, check out this Conde Nast article from last month that offers some further ideas for places like Rome and Monaco.

 

– March 26, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

Road Trip from San Antonio to San Diego - worth it?

Can you recommend a driving itinerary with accompanying sights and stops between San Antonio and San Diego/LA? We are traveling in August with two teenagers and are considering a road trip instead of flying. We could spend up to a week making the trip. Is there enough to see and do along the way?
A.
Carol Sottili :

I've driven sections of that stretch, and it's pretty much desert. Some beautiful rock formations, but lots of open, arid land. It's not something I'd do with two teenagers, but my teens were not all that happy with driving through hours of landscapes with mom and dad. If anyone has a different opinion, please share, although it is getting late here, so we may not post till next week.  

– March 26, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

I think the poster

On visiting states included DC as part of the count which was give 51.....Most people know DC is separate from other states so it's on the bucket list to visit.

A.
Becky Krystal :

Oh, good thought. I was thinking Puerto Rico for some reason, but D.C. makes way more sense!

– March 26, 2012 1:05 PM
Q.

left my purse

in a cab on the way home in Atlanta. It was probably 2 AM. flight had been delayed. The next day I got a call from the cab driver (this was before I had a cell phone) that he had my purse. It was amazing, and I did give him a few dollars, but really he could have taken everything. *whew*
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Three cheers for the cab driver.

– March 26, 2012 1:05 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

went to Rome with girlfriend. Lost her there. Never found her again but did find a hot very rich young lady who lived in Rome. We have lived happily ever after for the last 30 years. Don't know what happened to her and I dont care. Since i was never contacted by her parents or the police I assumed everything was okay.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Hmm, I wonder if her version is .. I lost by boyfriend, met an Italian prince . . . .

– March 26, 2012 1:07 PM
Q.

Lost and Found

I was getting ready to board a plane to Moscow and I realized I didn't have my cell phone with me. I asked the person sitting next to me if I could borrow their phone to call mine. Turns out I had left it at the bookstore where I had purchased the Hunger Games. That will teach me to read YA fiction!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Hilarious, and very clever sleuthing.

– March 26, 2012 1:07 PM
Q.

Lost...and then found!

On the way to my wedding in Mexico, we had gotten upgraded to first class. We kept hearing announcements asking for people to check around their seats for a passport. I was looking under my seat when the flight attendant said that it was someone in coach. Turns out that my then-future-father-in-law, who had his passport checked as he boarded, couldn't find it when he went to fill out the immigration forms. It had somehow slipped in between the seats and it wasn't until one of the flight attendants lifted the seat cushion up and found it stuck between his and the seat next to his.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Nice save!

– March 26, 2012 1:07 PM
Q.

Bryce and Zion

. . . are extremely hot in August. I like the heat, but if I didn't I wouldn't go in August.
Q.

Portugal suggestions

For the person going to Portugal - we stayed at the AC Lisboa in Lisbon; a bit north of the central square, very nice business-oriented (as opposed to tourist-oriented) hotel with very helpful staff. In Porto, we stayed at the Pestana Porto and splurged for a view of the river - I absolutely recommend it. We also stayed in Evora ( a lovely medieval city) at the pousada, which is in a restored monastery with a roman temple just outside the door.
Q.

traveling to FL

I live in GA and would go to FL a lot on business. Was staying in the same hotel for weeks at a time. I would leave articles of clothing or whatever at the hotels (mostly a bathing suit that was drying, but other stuff, I think). I would call the hotel during the weekend, and tell them I would just get it when I checked in - and there it would be waiting for me, I'm sure there were notes with my reservation (all were done by phone, way back when) - and when I checked in they'd say: here you go...
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Funny. Message me, will ya, at sachsa@washpost.com. Would love to know the hotel's name.

– March 26, 2012 1:08 PM
Q.

Re: Oklahoma

If you're interested, Oklahoma City has the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. They have their Marathon a few weeks before Memorial day - but it is a great site with a great Museum. I always start to tear up when visiting, so you may not enjoy the site, but I also feel it's a great example of a community rising above. Also - on Route 66 is the Famous Pops Restaurant as well as the Red Barn, both are open for free and there are a lot of small museums along that route as well. In Oklahoma City - if basketball is your thing (and if they're still playing) check out the NBA Team - the Thunder. Or take a River Cruise down the Oklahoma River. The Oklahoma City Zoo is an award wining Botanical Garden as well as the Oklahoma Science Museum right next door - great for kids of all ages. And the Myriad Botanical Gardens and their grounds - which I'm sure will have some kind of Memorial Day Celebration along with a fireworks show. Oklahoma City is growing city where there is always something new and exciting to do.
Q.

Oklahoma

You can visit Frank Lloyd Wright's only built skyscraper, the Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK. I have not been but saw an exhibit about it at the National Building Museum a couple of years ago. Would like to go see it some time. pricetower.org
Q.

travel for business

I used to travel a bunch for business - so I woudl get my stuff dry cleaned by the hotel. One time they actually LOST my dress! It was one of my favorites! I loved it. They were AWESOME, though, by the end of the week, they said: fill this out, and tell us what we owe you. It wasn't anywhere near a new dress, but they never asked anything when I submitted my idea of its value. It was really great customer service.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Very nice.

– March 26, 2012 1:10 PM
Q.

Kenwood cherry blossoms

Sorry, they're pretty much gone as well (I bike past there on my way to work). Also, I hope the poster is not photographing his/her kids IN the trees ... I was appalled to see fully grown adults happily posing in the tree branches for photos. Not good for the trees, people!
Q.

wow

port canaveral:  I think we ended up at a holiday inn. We picked some hotels from a Web list and just called when we were pulling up. They were all nice-- Marriots, Courtyards, whatever. Most of them allow you to park free if you're staying there. They're all pretty good.

Q.

Zion & Bryce

They're otherworldly places, even if you're used to the desert, and you can spend as much time there as you like the outdoors. But in August, you cannot bring too much water with you. I've had to hydrate many an unaccustomed (and their kids) from my own stash. You'll never feel sweaty, but you'll go through hydration like crazy. So bring lots of water!
Q.

San Diego

Balboa park also has lots of cool museums a boy might like: cars, natural history, science. (Although if you're from DC you might not find it all that great :)
Q.

PR - renting a car

We were able to rent a car directly from our hotel - see if you can do that. The price was reasonable.
Q.

San Diego to San Antonio

Not only is it lots of desert, there are very few places to stop for ANYTHING (restrooms, food, etc.) for long stretches. Hard to do as an adult, wouldn't put myself through that with teens for any reason. Fly.
Q.

Andrea Sachs :

Thanks all for the animated, escapist hour.

Loved the lost and found stories. My heart goes out to the chatter who was reunited with her teddy bear. Please message me with your contact info at sachsa@washpost.com. I think I might have a spare Teddy to send you.

See you next Monday.

Q.

 

A.
Host: