Auto Load Responses: 
Font Size: 

June 4, 2012

12:01
P.M.

Talk about Travel

Total Responses: 68

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.

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.

Zofia Smardz :

Hi chatters, and welcome back. Hope you didn't miss us too, too much last week. We had a nice restful holiday and are now raring to answer all your travel questions, so bring them on! And in honor of our lovely following-in-the-footsteps-of-Rousseau story from this week, I'd love to hear about any trips you may have taken to follow in the footsteps of a favorite literary of historical figure, here or abroad. As ever most fascinating story, wins a prize. Perhaps something literary? We'll see. Now, let's chat!

Q.

Traveling to Copenhagen

Hey Travel gurus - I'm going to Copenhagen for a week, and I'll have a few days to myself. I've done some basic research, but is there something cool/off the beaten path that is a must see there? I'm staying in the central downtown near the waterfront. Also, as a secondary question, I usually bring back some kind of native awesome food or liquor/wine from my travels - what's Denmark's speciality that people might want to eat or drink? For example, from Germany I brought back some Trollinger wine, and from Austria I brought back both wine and coffee, and from the UK I often bring back tea or whiskey that doesn't seem to be exported. But what's Denmark's thing?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Be sure to visit the Tivoli Gardens. Rosenborg Castle and the King's Garden are also beautiful. And of course, there's the Little Mermaid. Apparently she's recently been joined by Han, the statue of a little boy placed nearby. Haven't seen that yet! There are also some great museums -- the National Museum, the National Gallery, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

As for Danish specialities, well, there's beer of course! Carlsberg is one of the oldest brews around. Also Danish butter cookies, and Danish pastries. Their chocolate is also very good, and I believe Danish licorice is supposed to be fantastic, if you're inclined that way (I am!).

Other thoughts, folks?

– June 04, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Following footsteps

Would like to follow in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri in Paradiso, not so much Inferno. But, I don't mind waiting a bit to get that journey started.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Funny!

– June 04, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

From two weeks ago: "travel insurance on vacations paid for with miles

Perhaps I don't understand the problem, but in my experience the miles used for airline tickets that were canceled go back into the account that they came from. My experience has only been with Star Alliance, not AA, so the rules may be different. There is usually a penalty of several hundred dollars for doing this, but with a comprehensive insurance policy, these are covered. Since the questioner seems to be only paying for meals, rental car, and activities, why buy insurance at all? The cost of the insurance is likely to be a large percentage of what seems to me to be the minimal costs of the trip..
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Insurance covers more than cancellations. It can help with a medical emergency/evacuation, trip interruptions, and repatriation of remains (which hopefully you'll never have to file a claim on). So there are many other reasons to insure your trip beyond recovering your miles or the cost of a flight.

– June 04, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

Barcelona hotel

Hello, We plan to take a cruise (Carnival Breeze) from Barcelona and wonder which hotel we should stay so we can get to the Breeze easily. Also what should we do in Barcelona if we just have half a day there. Thank you very much and we enjoy your chats very much.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Have not taken a cruise from Barcelona, but perhaps some chatters have? Any help you can give this traveler, folks?

– June 04, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Paris

I am going to Paris for the first time in April 2013. We will stay in Paris for 6 days, cruise the Seine for 7 days. What would be the best way to spend those days in Paris? I have researched the museum opening times, Paris pass, and so forth, but I was looking for some special places to see that might be off the beaten path and away from the touristy places. Any suggestions?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

May I say once again -- Malmaison. Empress Josephine's palace. Love it. Love it.

Also Musee de la vie romantique -- Museum of the Romantics. Small and pretty, with a lovely garden. After I wrote about Malmaison, a reader wrote to recommend the Musee Nissim de Camondo, on 63 rue de Monceau. I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds lovely.

I would also take a boat ride on the Seine.

Other ideas, chatters?

– June 04, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Barcelona Cruise

Hi - we're doing the same cruise from Barcelona in October and our travel agent recommended the Fira Palace Hotel in Barcelona. The price included free transfers to the ship.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks!

– June 04, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Summer weekend getaway trip

Looking for ideas for a late July weekend trip from DC area leaving Friday afternoon and coming back late Sunday for a family of four (ages 52, 51, 21, 18). I have considered Ocean City and resorts like Homestead, but am interested in other options. "Kids" are not interested in historical/educational trips. Cost is not too much of a concern as this will be the only vacation this year. We are willing to fly nonstop or drive for several hours. Thanks.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

It'd be helpful to know what your family enjoys doing. Do you want to relax on a beach, or hike in the mountains, or play golf, or take advantage of the amenities of a big city?

– June 04, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

IAD, Worst immigration service on planet?

OK I just returned from a two week business trip which required that clear immigration 11 times, in six countries (including 4 times in PRC) I can say that IAD has the worst customer service of any of them. I arrived from Tokyo at 3:30 PM, when all the international flights arrive, massive backup, less than half the booths staffed. What did they not expect heavy traffic at that time. The time I spent in the immigration line at IAD was longer than the time from plane door open to taxi line at any other airport. I would say, "when did we become a a developing country?" but most of the countries I visited were developing countries.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I'm sorry to hear about that. There's more than one immigration line, as I'm sure you noticed when you arrived at IAD. If you travel internationally on a regular basis, you might want to consider joining a program like Global Entry, which lets you cut the line.

– June 04, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Swiss travels with Rousseau

Fascinating article on traveling with Rousseau in Switzerland, and brought back fond memories of taking the ferry boat across the Murten See (Lac de Morat) to Murten, and traveling along the Bieler See (Lac de Bienne). But, why suggest to readers that they take Turkish Airlines to Geneva, which requires a change of planes, and several hours extra travel time, when United has a nonstop IAD-GVA, which saves several hours. Also, most of the people on the IAD-GVA flight tend to be upgraders to business/first (bankers, naturally), leaving room to spread out in economy. And, what is most ridiculous is that flying on Turkish Airlines requires you to go from IAD to Istanbul (!) and then backtrack nearly 1,200 miles to Geneva. Why would anyone want to do it that way?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Because it's much, much cheaper. The direct flights to Geneva are nearly $1,500, unless you're lucky and find a sale. We try to suggest the least expensive way to get somewhere.

– June 04, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Drinking Espresso in Italy

Great job these past few issues! I'm a few weeks late, but I wanted to send a belated thank-you for this article, which was one of my favorites in a long while. I also really enjoyed this past Sunday's article on Rousseau in Switzerland. I had no idea of the connection, and I appreciated being able to learn a little history along with the gorgeous descriptions of the landscapes.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Well, thank you so kindly! It makes my toes tingle to know that we're making readers happy! :-)

– June 04, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

Rousseau

I loved the article on following Rousseau's footsteps -- literally -- in yesterday's Travel section. During my junior year abroad at a German university, I sought to see as much of the continent as cheaply as possible, which meant signing up for some interesting student tours, i.e.tour the Skoda factory in the Czech Republic with business majors? Why not! All excursions were great but the trip to Geneva was my favorite, despite the ten-hour bus trip each way. In addition to my great surprise at the lovely Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) -- growing up in Virginia, I had never seen a pristine glacial lake before! -- I happily stumbled across Rousseau's birth house museum. My favorite unit in 10th grade history was on Enlightenment philosophers, so I guess you could say that seeing Rousseau's home was for me what seeing Graceland is for huge Elvis fans. In any case, I learned a lot of facts, including the shocker that he, so often considered the father of modern pedagogy, and his partner essentially abandoned all their biological children. It appears that the Espace Rousseau has had some issues with staying open but I do recommend it to fellow travelers. As for me, I plan to explore his 'Wanderwege' the next time I'm in Switzerland. Thanks!

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thank *you*!

– June 04, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Jetblue to San Juan

Do you all know when Jetblue starts its new service from National to San Juan, PR?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Aug. 23.

– June 04, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Argentina Airfare

I will be traveling to Mendoza, Argentina via Santiago, Chile in late Februay staying 3 weeks. Current RT fares are about $1,200 through Miami. Should I buy now, or wait until later?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

As we try to tell you folks week after week, the only thing we can advise is to buy when you see a price that you can afford. That said, February is still quite a ways away, so you can probably wait a bit and see whether fares go down, or whether there's a sale that you can grab. Track your airline, and sign up for sale alerts.

– June 04, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Zurich

Hi there: We recently visited Zurich for the first time and LOVED the physical location -- rivers, lakes, mountains -- it had it all. Is there a location in the States that has features like that? Fresh air, room to paddle, space to walk, and not as isolated as Alaska or as hot/humid as this region? Thanks!

A.
Jane Touzalin :

It can get crowded at times, but Lake Tahoe comes to mind. Chatters? I'm sure you've got suggestions.

– June 04, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Missed you last week

Please take this as an affectionate wish, not a complaint. A loyal chat reader, I really miss you on 3-day weekends when the Monday chat is cancelled. I know this has been addressed before, when you've said you deserve a day off (yes...we all do,) but other regular chats are re-scheduled when a holiday intervenes. For example, last week Monday was Memorial Day, so Tom Boswell and Dear Prudence moved their regular Monday chats to Tuesday...and they do their chats solo whereas the travel chats feature a team. I would think at least some of the travel team could re-schedule a chat for another day when a holiday cancels the regularly scheduled travel chat. Please consider. Thank you.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

We'll consider, but I can't make any promises. :-)

– June 04, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

tourist philosophy

The question about Copenhagen prompts one from me, not about travel logistics but travel philosophy. Years ago I visited Copenhagen and asked a friend who had lived there for a couple years for suggestions of places to visit. He recommended AGAINST Tivoli Gardens because "that's a tourist thing." Well, I WAS a tourist! And I've heard others talk condenscendingly about seeing, for example, the Eiffel Tower or Louvre (both of which I was darn sure not going to miss). I know seeing a new place from a bus with a guide pointing things out as you rush past is not the best way to travel, but is it really so bad to want to see the "tourist things"? They're iconic for a reason, right?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Absolutely. I agree with you 100 percent. When you're a tourist, embrace it!

– June 04, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

Cross Country Driving Move

Later this summer my brother is moving from Columbus, OH to Reno, NV, and I'm the lucky one who gets to make the drive with him. He'll be shipping most of his belongings, but we will have some boxes/items in the vehicle with us. Other than just tossing a blanket over them, do you have any suggestions what we can do to keep the items safe/out of sight while parked in hotel parking lots overnight? He has an SUV, so no trunk.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Obviously, bring the most valuable items into your room, even if it requires lugging. If the goods are bulging under the blankets, you might want to just bare the packages to show any wandering eyes that they are merely pots and pans and clothes.  Nothing to steal here, folks.

 

If possible, choose hotels with secure lots, preferably with a guard or gate. Ask the hotel for a ground level room and park in the spot that backs up to the back door or window. Keep your curtains open and any patio lights on. Also make sure that your belongings are insured. For example, my home insurance covered my goods when they were stolen from a rental car in St. Martin.

– June 04, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Flying with a child

This is a dumb question, but I don't know the answer. I may be flying with my 4-year-old for the first time. What kind of ID do I need for her- birth certificate? Letter from my husband stating that I'm not abducting her?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

It's always a good idea to fly with a birth certificate, especially if your last name and the child's last name are different. Also, check with your airline to see if they have any ID requirements that are separate from the TSA. If you are traveling internationally, your four-year-old will need a passport.

– June 04, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

What's new in Paris?

I'm off to Paris a week from today: a week on a river cruise, then four days in Paris. While my traveling companions have never been to Paris before, and are eager to do the Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay, etc., etc., etc., this will be my 12th or 13th time there. So...while the standard Parisian museums and sights are great, I've pretty much done all the majors at least twice. But it's been about five years since my last trip...are there any new and/or off-the-beaten track things to see or do that I may not have done previously? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated...

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Please see my reply to an earlier Paris question, above.

– June 04, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Lakes districts in US

" Hi there: We recently visited Zurich for the first time and LOVED the physical location -- rivers, lakes, mountains -- it had it all. Is there a location in the States that has features like that? Fresh air, room to paddle, space to walk, and not as isolated as Alaska or as hot/humid as this region? Thanks!" --  Try the Finger Lakes, other areas in the Adirondacks, and the area around Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.

Q.

Chinatown buses suspended

What's the latest on those bargain Chinatown bus lines that were just suspended for safety reasons by the DOT?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

We have not heard any updates, but honestly, these bus lines are like cockroaches. They don't go away easily. But to be honest, you should not be riding them anyway. Bolt, Megabus, DC2NY, etc., all travel the same DC-NY route and cost about the same--but have much better safety records.

– June 04, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

Kenya travels

Do you have recommendations for moderately priced accommodations in the Kenyan NP - Ambelei, Tsavo, Masai Mara and Sumburo. Thanks for your help.

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Whoa. This is definitely one for the chatters. Kenya travelers, anyone?

– June 04, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

And now for something literary

This isn't exactly following in the footsteps of a particular figure, and I've never been a huge fan of James Joyce, but once while roaming through Galway City, I stumbled upon the childhood home of his muse and (after a long time) wife, Norah Barnacle. The house is verrrrrrrry small, and Norah lived there with her mother and numerous siblings (five, six, seven, I forget; her father left the family fairly early on). Touring the house took minutes, but I talked to the docent for about two hours or so. I learned all about Joyce, Norah, their children and grandchild (who was named Steven after one of his grandfather's famous characters), what inspired Ulysses and Joyce's other works. Our discussion led the two of us to read to each other from Joyce's books. The words "hole in the wall" don't begin to do justice to the size of that space, but it was one of the best travel experiences I've had. And all because of a kind docent who shared his passion for Joyce and Norah. In part because of that experience, Galway is my favorite Irish city.

A.
Zofia Smardz :

What a nice story! Thanks for sharing.

– June 04, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

Driving the Pacific Coast Hwy

We are debating whether to drive or fly south from Monterey, CA to San Diego this summer. How long does the drive take -- and is it worth it? Two of our four travelers are prone to motion sickness.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

The drive down PCH is quite possibly one of the most beautiful in the world. I would drive at least part of the way down, maybe from Monterey to Cayucos, which is just over two hours, and then cut down the 101. You'll be on the road a full day, but you'll never forget the drive.

– June 04, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

Use miles, or buy?

Thanks for taking my question. I need two r/t tickets from San Francisco to Boston in August. I can get tickets for 50,000 miles each, or purchase for $540 each. Is it worth using miles? Usually I get a better deal with miles, but this is prime time. Advice appreciated...thank you.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Use the miles.

– June 04, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Weekend getaway

Hi, My husband and I really want to get away for the weekend. We were thinking of Charlottesville but can't seem to pick a good place to stay - should we stay at a bed and breakfast/inn or a hotel? What would be an affordable inn? Some of these are expensive. We would like something more low-key - thinking of visiting Monticello. We aren't big wine drinkers. Any guide or link you can provide for things to do in or around Charlottesville? We will drive so we will have our own mode of transportation. Thanks!
A.
Jane Touzalin :

Charlottesville's downtown mall is a great place to hang out, so I'd pick a B&B that's close in. It has been several years since I stayed at the 200 South Street Inn but I liked the ambiance and the location, just a couple blocks off the mall. Prices were reasonable. If you like a more modern setting, the Omni Charlottesville anchors one end of the mall. The best place to learn about what to do in and around Charlottesville is VisitCharlottesville.org. Look under Visitors -- Things to Do. There's also a calendar of events that will help.

– June 04, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Central America

I will travel to Mexico City and Panama City in September. Can anyone tell me how to get from Mexico City to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Also, can someone recommend a tour operator who transits the Panama Canal?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

I'm throwing the Panama Canal question out to the chatters.

For Our Lady of Guadelupe, here's some information from the shrine's Web site:

Take the No. 3 metro line from downtown to Deportivo 18 de Marzo. Here, change to line No. 6 in the direction Martin Carrera, getting off at the Villa-Basílica stop.

– June 04, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Small museum in Paris

Last summer I went to the Musee Malliol because there were signs advertising a Calder exhibit all over the metro. I ended up being more impressed by the gorgeous scupltures that Malliol did than by the special exhibit. He sculpted real women, who look like women, not nymphs.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks for the recommendation.

– June 04, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Zurich in the USA

Unless the mountains are key, I suggest the boundary waters in northern Minnesota.

Q.

On the travel chat

If you moved the chat to Wednesdays you would (1)avoid the holidays, (2) im assuming most people would be at work...both you guys...and the readers....and (3) people would be thinking about the weekend and possiblly doing something that weekend.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Unfortunately, Wednesdays are too busy for us to devote a couple of hours to the chat. We close the section on Thursdays, so by Wednesday, it's getting very hectic with all the editing, layout, etc., that needs to be done. Thanks for your suggestion, though. :-)

– June 04, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Insurance Question

I generally just buy the insurance that's offered by the company I'm booking with (e.g., at the end of the transaction, they ask if I want insurance and if its a big trip I mark yes and they tack on about $200 to the cost). Is that a bad idea? Do I really need to be researching this independenlty? Thanks.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I strongly recommend conducting a little independent research before deciding which insurance to buy, or whether you need any insurance at all. The optional insurance offered at the end of your booking can be a sound purchase, but there are at least two times when it probably isn't. Tour operators, which sometimes self-insure, wouldn't be protected if they file for bankruptcy (because they're self-insured). And insurance offered by cruise lines is often filled with clauses that make it difficult, if not impossible, to file a claim. So those would be two times when more research is definitely called for.

– June 04, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

Portugal, Greece, Ireland

With the exchange rate for the Euro down to its lowest in some years, is this year a good time to visit Portugal, Greece, Ireland, whose economies I imagine would benefit from tourism? Any drawbacks you could foresee (assuming no strikes)?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes, yes, yes! Go. The only drawbacks I could foresee would be strikes, so let's assume there won't be any. :-)

– June 04, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Solo traveler and security

I often travel solo and have a question about where I should keep valuable while I'm going through security. Should I take my money and credit cards out of my hand bag and lock them in my carry on luggage? Thanks for any suggestions.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Theft does happen in security, but as long as you are vigilant, your items should be safe. (I also travel solo and have had my wallet stolen once in security, because I sent it through the tray.) First, don't travel with wads of cash or pricey jewels. Keep all of your belongs in your carry-on bag (lock it if you want; just don't throw your wallet in a tray) and be sure to watch your items as they go into the X-Ray machine and out. If you are called over for a pat-down, make sure your items are within your view. If they aren't, tell the officer.

If something seems amiss, don't leave the secure area. Call for a supervisor.

– June 04, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Customs lines at Dulles

Thank Congress. The Customs Service is woefully understaffed throughout the country: airports and land crossings at both borders. If Congress gave them adequate funding, they could hire more officers.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Thank you, Congress.

– June 04, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Copenhagen

The person headed to Copenhagen should consider day trips to Fredericksborg castle and perhaps Roskilde as well. Both easily reachable by public transport.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– June 04, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Booking plane tickets

Hi Crew, I'm hoping for your insights on this: I'm a new traveler, and am starting to book flights for a trip to Tampa. My dates are pretty flexible, but most of the sites that I am looking on (Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, as well as airline home sites) all are showing tickets that are in the 400-600 range for round trips. Is it better to book closer to my expected trip, or do you think the price of fuel/tickets will go down, and I should hold off on booking. What are your thoughts? Thanks!
A.
Christopher Elliott :

If you see a fare you can afford, book now. Here's why.

– June 04, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Montreal was great

Thanks to all those with Montreal tips. Montreal was wonderful with its food, parks, and even the protesters were cool. Do not let them stop you from going to Montreal. You might even learn something on your vacation, besides a little French.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Glad it was a success!

– June 04, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Rude TSA Staff

I am elderly and use Depends. I carry a couple extra in my flight bag. A couple weeks ago I took a late evening flight from BWI. One of the TSA staff chortled and said loudly, hey everyone, she wears diapers! I jept my composure and said Yes I have a medical condition that requires them. I was afraid to say more for fear of not being allowed to board or getting arrested, but some other passengers came to my defense w/out further incident. I do have partial names and badge numbers and would recognize them if I saw them again. Do you think I should take this further?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Absolutely! That was terrible treatment and the culprits should be punished. To file a complaint, follow these instructions. Follow up if you don't hear back. Also, next time you are at the airport, ask to see a TSA supervisor and report the infraction in person.  Face-to-face has a much bigger impact. We applaude you for your courage!

– June 04, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Cape Cod/Nantucket area in August

Is there still time to find nice accommodations for a family of four (two parents, two teens) in the Cape Cod/Nantucket area in late August? We have never been to the area, so we would appreciate recommendations for both towns and specific hotels/B&Bs/rentals. We would love beachfront but are flexible.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Here's a story we did a couple of years ago about renting a family place on Cape Cod. Check it out. Beyond that, let's ask the chatters for their advice on this. Good recommendations for the Cape, people?

– June 04, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Copenhagen Day Trip

I highly recommend the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humelbaek - less than an hour by train, in a lovely setting by the sea, across the straits from Sweden. Learn what Danish Modern is all about, as well as a comprehensive collection of 20th century European painting and sculpture. It is a hidden gem.
Q.

Hounded by parking tickets after a trip to Italy

More than one year after a family vacation to Italy, we are being pursued by a credit company on behalf of the Municipal Police in Arezzo informing us that our rental car "crossed a limited traffic area outside of authorized hours". They are asking us to make an on line payment of 118 euros. I was wondering if you have heard of this happening to other visitors to Italy. Do we have to pay it? What do you suppose will happen if we don't? Will we become international outlaws? Thanks in advance for your answer.

A.
Christopher Elliott :

I wrote about this in a recent Navigator. If you don't pay, I've been assured you won't be stopped at the border if you decide to visit Italy again. But if your car rental company is forced to pay the fine, you might end up on a "do not rent" list, which could limit your ability to rent a vehicle in the United States.

– June 04, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

Driving on Skye

Good Afternoon travelers! I'll be visiting Skye this summer and was wondering if there was any advice on traveling. I plan on taking a train and then either renting a car or relying on public transportation/taxis. Does anyone have experience driving there? I'm fairly inexperienced when it comes to driving on the left, and I'm concerned that it will be difficult if there are mountains along any of my intended routes (I'll be driving to and from the Three Chimneys). Is it relatively easy or should I just spend the money for a taxi?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Need your help on this one, too, chatters. Anybody driven on Skye?

– June 04, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

Iceland!

Just want to say that I went to Iceland last week for 5 days with an Iceland air package from Dulles: What a Fantastic Country! I'm sorry it took me so long to discover this treasure. We went to different geothermal lagoons/pools/rivers, from sophisticated (blue lagoon) to rustic (Seljavallalaug & Hveragerdi {my favorite}). Visited Reykjavik, did a whale watching tour (take motion sickness pills!), rented a car and visited the golden circle main sites and vent all the way to Vik to see the magnificent Reynisfjara beach. The air is so pure, the weather was better than exppected, lots of hours of sunshine and Icelandic people are really friendly. Yes, it was expensive but I didn't go there for shopping so my main expense was in food which is always justify. I'm looking forward to go back and see the northern lights!

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Sounds like a great trip. Iceland is beautiful, for sure.

– June 04, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Flights to Savannah GA

Will be visiting Hilton Head SC in July and meeting up with Mom who will flying out of Philly. She purchased her ticket on Friday for $275, Phil-Savannah RT. I went to check fares from BWI, DCA and Dulles and they were at LEAST $200 more!! $470!! My question, do i gamble and wait to see if they drop, or do I just drive up to philly and fly out with mom? Even with gas and tolls, it's cheaper, but that's 5 hrs total drive time added to trip. Thanks for your advice.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

Not sure what your dates are, but I'm checking US Airways fares for mid-July and finding $356, which isn't bad, especially for a nonstop flight.

– June 04, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Traveling with baby for first time

Hi Travel Gurus, Love your chats! We are excited to go to San Diego soon but nervous about the first plane ride with our baby. Any advice for flying cross country with a 9-month old? Also, what should we do about car seats and rental cars (bring our own or rent)?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

You can travel with the little one as a lap baby or purchase a seat and secure your baby in a car seat (make sure it is FAA-approved). Ask the flight attendant for help with the straps. I would suggest bringing one stroller ensemble with a seat that you can remove and use for the plane ride and rental car. It will ensure your baby's safety and bring you peace of mind.

For the plane ride,  carry loads of distractions, including nibbles, cuddly items, books, toys, etc. (For info on baby-related liquids allowed through TSA security, read this.)  Don't forget extra diapers and baby wipes. Also be aware of the pressure change in baby's ears. A bottle, pacifier or other suck-able item can help alleviate the pressure.

If you are worried about any of the procedures, inform the flight crew that this is your first time flying with your child. They are pros and know all the tricks to help nervous babies and parents.

 

– June 04, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

What to do with 15-year-old grandson

Our 15-year-old grandson from California will be visiting us for a week or so this summer. He's been here several times and has seen the major tourist spots in DC and some in VA (where we live). This year, we thought we'd try white water rafting, Hershey Park, a tour of the Harley Davidson plant, the National Building Museum, maybe the Newseum. Your thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

A.
Andrea Sachs :

Those all sound great to us and our inner teenager. You might also consider a Nationals baseball game, a ranger-led bike ride tour of the monuments and a visit to the battleship and naval museum at Navy Yard.

Also check the Post's Going Out Guide for special events around the city. You might find an age-appropriate concert or outdoor movie.

– June 04, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

AAA

from two weeks ago someone wondered what AAA does... 1. roadside assistance 2. maps and tour books 3. travel agents for booking cruises, disney, and foreign travel as well as local travel, hotels, flights, and rental cars. 4. travel assistance with planning your drive with maps. The should know in their system on current road closures/construction so they can warn you on your travel plans. 5. By being a AAA member you are eligible for lower hotel rates and other discounts of around 10% discount.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Yep, we hit all of those points. Thanks!

– June 04, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Historical Figure

I once went to Seneca Falls to visit the house of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It was fascinating to learn about all the radical (for her time) innovations in childrearing (telling the kids to go outside to play!) and time saving housekeeping she implemented to allow her to have time for writing and political organizing while taking care of her large family.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Interesting!

– June 04, 2012 12:57 PM
Q.

Then why not Friday????

.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Ah, you want to know all our internal secrets. :-)

 

– June 04, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

RE: Paris

For the Paris-bound travellers, I highly recommend a visit to the Fontainebleau Palace - as historic, beautiful, and majestic as Versailles but without the crowds, and the town of Fontainebleau itself is a nice little treat.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes, a great idea.

– June 04, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

Passports

My passport photo has me as a brunette but I've gone "natural" and my hair is white. Do I need to get a new passport?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

You're fine, according to the State Department. Your appearance would have to be significantly changed, such as having gender reassignment surgery.

– June 04, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

driving on Skye

A word of caution. STaying to the left is fairly easy to do. However, when there is no traffic for a while and someone is coming towards you on a small road, your instinct will probably be to head over to the right for oncoming traffic, as the less traffic there is, the fewer reminders to keep left you will have. I say this as someone who had no accidents as people in the Hebrides are generally living a slower paced life and obviously have patience for foreigners.
Q.

Repatriation of Remains

I can guarantee that "you" won't be the one filing that claim...
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Unless you can figure out a way to file a claim posthumously. Highly unlikely.

– June 04, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

6AM Flight: Check in time?

Submitted in advance. Lucky us! Traveling to China. BUT our flight to Chicago O'Hare departs at 6:00AM. What time should we arrive at airport? Do we go to international or domestic departures. Have clicked here, at airline site, at Google, at Dulles Airport site, etc. Thanks in advance for your help! LOVE the Monday chats and all the information shared. Especially appreciate the transcripts since I rarely am able to join in when you are live.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

If your final destination is China, then check in at the international desk. (You can still check in online 24 hours before departure and drop your bags off when you get to the airport.) You should be at Dulles at least two hours in advance and at the gate at least 45 minutes in advance.  I would call the airline to find out what time the counter opens.

– June 04, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

For Solo traveler and security

When I go through airport security (and have to remove my shoes), I shove my wallet as far as possible down into a shoe, so it's not visible. I also put my other metal pocket items in the shoe.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

Works for only some of us. Clearly you don't fly wearing open-toe shoes or sandals!

– June 04, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

Greece / Euro: Good time to travel

For a real-time,a real Greek perspective, I highly recommend Trip Advisor. The people responding to questions about the Euro and the Greek Economy often live and work in Greece. The common reply is: the reports of demonstrations are greatly exaggerated. Yeah there are strikes, but they are announced in advance. And, even if Greece leaves the Euro, it won't happen overnight. I'm going to Greece the end of September. Greece needs all the tourist dollars it can get.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes it does. So I tell everyone -- go.

– June 04, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

Driving in Skye

We found it was pretty easy to drive in Skye. There is very little traffic; you will often have the road to yourself (if you don't count sheep as traffic). Many roads are single-tracks, meaning that if another car comes, you or the other driver will have to pull into a layby. It's much easier than it sounds.
Q.

Storing luggage at Penn Stn, NYC

Can I store my luggage temporarily at Amtrak in Penn Stn? I've heard you need to present an Amtrak or NJT ticket to use this service...is this correct? Many thanks.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

This what Amtrak says on its site:

Baggage storage offers passengers to store their bags in the baggage room, equivalent to "left luggage" in Europe.  A storage fee may apply.

According to the Amtrak agent I just called, you can "probably" use it even if you aren't a passenger. I would try it.  As a backup, you can always stash your bags in  museums' coat check rooms.

– June 04, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

One Way Tickets (from two weeks ago)

Is there an issue with security and one way tickets? I know there used to be, both within the US and for onward travel to Europe and Africa. Such a traveler would be pulled aside for extra questioning.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Yes, last I heard, having a one-way ticket (especially if you paid with cash) is an automatic red flag for our friends at the TSA.

– June 04, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

weekend getaway - Charlottesville

Monticello is definitely not particularly low key in the summer - it is packed with tourists!
A.
Jane Touzalin :

Yup, that can be true for weekends.

– June 04, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Pre-booking cruise daytrip excursions

I just called the cruise company and was told that if we pre-book our daytrips, we must cancel 5+ days prior to departure to get a refund. If we book while on the cruise, we can cancel up to 24 hours prior to the trip. Advantages/disadvantages to booking prior to departure?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Pro of pre-booking: You don't have to worry about the trip selling out and won't have to wait in line once on the ship to sign up for the excursion (though some ships let you book in your room using the TV.)

Con:  You won't know the weather report (or the tender state of your sunburn) and might get stuck taking the excursion in undesirable conditions.

– June 04, 2012 1:05 PM
Q.

why not Friday?

Between your chat and Hax's, the Post server would explode if they were both on Friday.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

And now you know our secret. Or part of it, anyway. :-)

– June 04, 2012 1:05 PM
Q.

RE: Driving in Skye

Thanks for the advice! I'm mainly concerned that there will be mountains on some of the routes, and that makes me extremely nervous. I can't seem to find whether this will be the case though, since google maps doesn't show elevations.
Q.

one-way ticket

I recently flew one way from DC to Boston....no extra security, no questions, no problem. You never know.
Q.

miles vs cost

My rule....roughly 25,000 miles= $250 air fare is a good deal (50K=$500). If the fare is less than that then not a good deal.
Q.

Monterey to San Diego

The drive could be done in a very long days drive. Its worth the drive....but it depends on how the two people are in terms of driving and needing to stop and get out of a car. The drive is better suited for a 2 day drive. The Southern part of this drive from Santa Barbara to San Diego you are likely to be driving on expressways.
Q.

For Paris newbie

While I was at a conference in Paris in May 2012, hubby got a 2-day pass for a tour-bus line which stopped at all the major sightseeing spots. He was delighted with getting to see so much without having to find his way around a huge strange city on his own -- although his one regret was not have packed sunscreen, as he's fair-skinned so his face and arms got terribly sunburned.
Q.

Barcelona hotel for Carnival cruisers

Re: Barcelona hotel for Carninval Breeze cruisers, I recommend that these folks ask their travel agent about which hotels Carnival will be using while they stay in town. I also recommend that they choose hotels that are close to many of the sights or the varoious main drags, e.g., Passeig de Gracia and the Ramblas, to reduce taxi fares. The two times I've sailed from Barcelona, I've stayed at the Majestic in 2010 and at the Hotel de Barcelona in 2011. Either of these are good places to stay. Others may include the Gran Havana. But look through the brochure to see which hotels are offered by Carnival, choose the establishment, and sign up to get transfers to and from the hotel to the pier, and from the pier to the airport. As for what to see on a half-day tour, I recommend doing the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour that starts and ends at the Placa Catalunya. There's a ticket booth across the street from the Placa. Other ways to enjoy the city include walking down the Ramblas, visiting the Picasso Museum (next visit!), doing the sky ride to Montjuic (next visit), visiting Poble Espanyol, the pavillion from the 1929 World's Fair, visiting La Boqueria, the huge market that's off the Ramblas (next visit), etc. Happy cruising!
Q.

Zofia Smardz :

Well, that's it for us once again, folks. Thanks for joining us. Apparently my question about following-in-the-footsteps-of travel wasn't especially inspiring, because I only got a handful of responses. I laughed out loud at the Dante response, but I fear I must give the prize to a real trip, so it goes to the person who learned to love Joyce thanks to a friendly Irish docent. So if you'll send your contact info to me at smardzz@washpost.com, I'll ship off a prize. Thanks again, and talk to you next week!

Q.

 

A.
Host: