Talk about Travel

Jul 15, 2013

Talk about Travel is here to help at 2 p.m. Mondays.
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.

Greetings, all, and welcome to your travel chat! What's on your itinerary?

We're here to answer your questions. But I have one for you: In keeping with this week's story on the puppet scene in Barcelona, tell us a (short) tale of a trip where you stumbled on a local cultural/arts phenomenon that you hadn't expected to find. (In Maya Kroth's story, it all begins with a mysterious trio carrying a mysterious trio of objects: kazoo, ukulele, suitcase.)

As always, the source of our favorite story will win a little prize.

Let's get this hourlong tour started.

Thanks for the great article on Barcelona, even if the puppets did creep me out a bit! (Kidding. Sort of) I'm actually planning a trip there and was thinking of going in January after the holidays - thoughts on that time of year for a visit? Thanks!

I was in Barcelona the week between Christmas and New Year's several years ago and had a ball. I think it'd be a great time to go! (I hear ya on the puppets' creep factor, too -- especially comes out in still photos, I think, less so in person/action.)

I'm going back to the midwest to visit family but noticed the price of airline tickets is 3 times what it used to be. For a direct flight for 1 person I'm nowing paying $390 where less than 6 months ago that same flight would have been 110. On a different note though why are airlines charging now for you to choose your seat? On the flight that I booked I was given the option to pay an additional $50 for an emergency row exit, $25 to board early and $15 to choose my own seat. I understand checked bagage fee's but doesn't it seem that everything else is a little outrageous now? Before you know it they'll be charging us if we have to use the restroom while in flight.

Ryanair has threatened to put coin-operated restrooms on its aircraft, so that idea is not new. As for seat assignments, many airlines now charge for preferred seats, and some even charge for any advance seat assignment. U.S. airlines collected $6 billion in fees in 2012, so it's no wonder that this struggling industry is always looking for new ways to make a buck. As for airfares going up, that really depends on your route. Some routes, especially to less popular destinations, are seeing fewer flights and competition, which means higher prices. And time of year also plays a part -- summer fares are typically higher to many destinations. 

I have a week off in Aug. I'd like to drive up into the mountains (VA, MD or PA) and rent a cabin (not too rustic) for at least part of that time. Can you offer any advice to help me start my search?

Take a look at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Va. It's always been a popular place for woodsy vacationing. The Virginia state parks also have a good system of cabins and lodging. Check out our story on Fairy Stone State Park; there's lots of info in the details box. Chatters, do you have other suggestions?

We are looking for a fun trip to celebrate a 75th birthday. 4 adults, 3 kids (ages 6-9), within driving distance of DC. Any great suggestions? Disney is too far and expensive, Williamsburg has been done, and done...

Don' know what time of year you're thinking about, but Wintergreen is a nice four-season resort with lots of activities for kids.

Hi, Thanks for the chats! Submitting early as I'll be at work on Monday. I'm in my late 20s, and I made a deal with myself when I turned 20 that I would go on one international trip each year, and I've been lucky enough to be able to keep that promise so far. I recently started a job that is wonderful for me professionally but requires long hours and doesn't pay much at all, and so I'm struggling to plan this year's trip. This is a rather open-ended question, but I have one week in either August, November (Thanksgiving), or December, a very limited budget (hostel-level; nowhere near hotel level), and an intense wanderlust. I like both outdoor activities and cultural activities but couldn't care less about food. I'm a pretty competent independent backpack-style traveler, but it would also be nice to not be super-stressed the entire time (i.e. a developed country with an infrastructure). I know that is a long list of desires and they will likely not all be met, but I'm struggling here. Any suggestions? The budget and time isn't negotiable, unfortunately, but everything else is.

Where are you traveling from? And what kind of budget might you have for airfare? Those two things will make a difference in my suggestions...

hi Travel Gurus & thanks for taking my quesitons. I recently used credit card points to purchase airfare, but then my travel companion backed out. Because the ticket was in his name, HE get the airline credit even though I used my points to buy the ticket. I called both the credit card & airline, but neither would help. Am I just out of luck or can I get the points or credit back? 2nd question. Apparently, I'm (single woman) going to Punta Cana alone next month. I've traveled a bit, but hear there's a lot of crime in the DR. Any advice? thanks!

The easiest way to fix this would be to ask your travel companion to reimburse you for the ticket. Then, your friend can just keep the credit. If that's not possible, you could take the matter up with your airline. I would start a paper trail, and if you  don't get the answer you want, please let me know. I'll do my best to help.  In terms of crime in the DR, the State Department has a few words of warning that I might heed.

Just returned from Sweden and had no trouble (with one exception) using my Am Exp card in both Stockholm and rural areas. I'd be asked if I had a "pin", I'd say no, and they'd ask for an id - my driver's license was good enough. Almost all of these uses were with hand-held portable credit card machines. And no problem using a plain old Visa debit card to get money from an ATM.

Yes, that's generally been my experience, too. Thanks for the report back from the field!

For the chatter who wants a cabin, try Lost River. It is remote, quiet, and has lots of hiking and a nice cold pool. There are some nice shops on Rt 259.

My husband and I have tickets to a 1:30 matinee at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, August 18 and would like to meet some friends for brunch beforehand. Not too pricey, not too noisy, with vegetarian options and near a Metro stop. Any ideas, and what time should we plan to meet?

Wrong chat! You want Tom Sietsema, Wednesday at 11. Here's the link.

Friends, I love art and architecture. Do you know any tour/travel companies that may specialize focusing on tours in the US and Canada? Thanks!

The Archaeological Institute of America has a list of tour operators that offer trips. Archaeological Tours, Far Horizons and Art Trek offer  trips to international destinations. Any chatters have recommendations?

I live in a rural area, but subscribe to several dive shops in metro areas, so that I can go on their trips. You can certainly make sure before going anywhere that the dive shop uses 'real' dive boats! Trip Advisor is great, too, for diver reviews.

Thanks for the added info!

We'll be visiting family mid-August in Western MA. We have a 2 yr-old and would like to find a nice one-night stopover point somewhere between there and DC to extend our trip a bit. It could be a theme park, lake or whatever, as long as it isn't too expensive. Suggestions? Looking at Dutch Wonderland -- any comments on that?

Don't know Dutch Wonderland -- chatters, help us out with that -- but if your little one is at all familiar yet with Sesame Street, I'd think Sesame Place would be the stop for you! Andrea went behind the scenes there, and had a great time. It's a chance for your youngster to meet all those wonderful Sesame Street characters in person. And if you love Big Bird and Oscar and Cookie as much as, ahem, some adults do, you may have a grand time, too! Chatters, your thoughts?

Last week someone asked about Allianz Insurance. I bought that insurance for the air for a trip to India. The actual trip was canceled by the travel organization because the weather and seas for a portion of the trip this winter was dangerous. I fully expected Allianz to honor this reason. "We are unable to honor your claim." It was not a named peril in the insurance agreement. So be aware that except for death, medical emergencies and similar issues, many if not most of the general things that can go wrong are not covered.

Thank you for the warning. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common problem, and it normally can be avoided during the sales process. If you purchased your policy through an agent, you should definitely circle back and ask about the disclosure. Travel insurance usually has to say something is covered (a so-called "named peril") in order for it to work. But you can also buy a "cancel for any reason" policy that pays a percentage of the cost of the trip. Bottom line: Someone should have told you about the named perils before you bought the policy, not after you had to make a claim.

We are a family of 4 (Kids are 12 and 10) and we are currently living in the Netherlands. It's our last full year here and we want to go out with a bang. Tell me the ultimate destination for the Christmas holidays. We've been all over Western Europe so something more out there is in order. We are also up for any kind of holiday. Looking forward to hearing your top picks!

Well, maybe this isn't out there enough, but I immediately thought of Finnish Lapland, Santa's supposed home. Have you been there? Above the Arctic Circle?

Or you could go to Guatemala, where they burn the devil in effigy before Christmas as part of a tradition that may go back to the Mayans. But that might scare the little ones, no?

Actually, farther south in South America could be an interesting choice, because it's warm and some of the countries (like Bolivia) are also celebrating the harvest. So a very different feel.

Wife & I considering 10 days driving to various national parks in the west/southwest. Wife is ambulatory but unable to hike due to health. Which parks (in late Sept/early Oct) would you suggest we consider?

Unless you want to spend a lot of time driving, you should probably limit yourself to one or two parks. The Grand Canyon is a good choice for those with mobility issues. It's accessiblity guide will give you an idea of what is available. Yellowstone also has many accessible attractions, and it's close to Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson.

Don't overlook West Virginia, either. Some parts of the state aren't too far.

I rented a car last week, and the salesperson spent a lot of time and effort trying to sell me insurance that would have cost more than the rental itself. Between my own insurance and my credit card supplement, I resisted successfully, but one thing she said left me wondering. How does "loss of use" work? I understand that if the car is damaged, the company can charge full rental fees while it is out of service. But shouldn't that be contingent on the company renting out every other car it has? If the company has unused cars sitting on its lots, having one in the shop isn't costing it any revenue. Also, what prevents the company from pulling a car out of service for repairs for as long as possible, guaranteeing daily rental payments that it might not get otherwise? A door ding might take a day to repair and cost a couple hundred dollars. But if the company can keep it in the shop for a month, the fees could reach into thousands. Who decides how long it should take to fix minor -- or, for that matter, major -- damage? Do the major insurance companies pay for loss of use? I know that the insurance is a big profit center for the rental companies, but open-ended "loss of use" seems like an invitation to fraud.

I have had long arguments with car rental companies over "loss of use." Basically, rental companies believe they can charge you for the days in which a car was in the repair shop, as if it was rented. This assumes the car would have been rented the entire time and they do not need to prove it. The good news: If you protest a "loss of use" charge, a car rental company will almost always remove it from your repair bill. Actually, I'm thinking of writing a Navigator column about this subject -- if you email me I'll include your question.

hi travel gurus! what type of bag/wallet do you guys use on travel to carry your money and valuables? prior to my 3 week SE asia trip I bought one of those pacsafe sling bags as a "light bag" for my passport/money as we toured all over asia. my husband subsequently made fun of me for it, saying it was over the top. However, i felt perfectly safe with it, without having to worry about getting pickpocketed or snatched. however, it was a little heavy after a while with the cable mesh and the metal buckles, and it was a little inconvenient when i had to pull money out (had to unlock the little lock thing). what do you guys normally recommend as wallets/packs for walking/touring around the country? i like the convenience of fanny packs but always shy away from it because 1) it just doesn't look flattering and 2) i always feel like that makes it even MORE of a target for thieves. I've seen the belt wallet too which does not seem friendly for women (we generally wear tigher or shorter clothing) and those bra wallets don't look that convenient either (who wants to be fishing money out of their bra to purchase something?)

I don't think there's one correct answer to this question. I've spoken with security experts who tell me (as a guy) that I can significantly reduce my chances of being pickpocketed by carrying my wallet in my front pocket. The back pocket is called the "sucker" pocket, in security-speak. I've also seen various kinds of money belts, neckwear and undergarments that purport to protect your valuables. They do. But there are two problems. First, access. Do you have to remove your clothes in order to get your money, jewelry or credit cards. Second is determination. If you're being held at gunpoint, the bad guy will find a way to remove your valuables. One tip I like is carrying a "dummy" wallet or purse, with a little cash and expired credit cards. If the decoy is stolen, no great loss. By the way, I'd be happy to shoot over a draft of a chapter about security from my new book. Just send me an email. I have a few more details in there that might help.

Mom, Sister, and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in the fall. Mom wants a quiet beach. Sister wants hiking trails. I want activities within driving distance. Any single spot in Hawaii that would give all three of us something we want?

Lanai!

OK, that's just what I think based on some Googling. Our resident Hawaii expert, Andrea, is out, unfortunately. But looks like lots of opportunities for quiet beaches and good hiking. Not sure about what you define as "activities," though, so that might be where the recommendation falls apart.

I'm getting antsy to travel somewhere out of the country and have been thinking about extra long weekend ideas for the federal holidays. Ideas are Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and the aforementioned Barcelona, but I've been to the latter two (and most of the other European cities that are easy to get to for a long weekend) and I would like to go somewhere new. Any ideas?

If you haven't been to BA, go to BA! (It's on my short list, too.)

We are sailing on the QE2 in October on a 12 day cruise to New England/Canada roundtrip from New York. We will be driving to New York and sailing out of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Can you recommend the least expensive and least hassle free way of doing this? Thank you

I'd just do the cruise terminal parking. Rates are about what you pay in that neck of the woods -- $23 for first day and then $20 a day.  I was not able to find a nearby hotel that offers cheap rates and free parking for cruise passengers. Anyone know of one?

Have you considered driving up to Montreal and environs? You can stop along the way to camp (or stay at a motel) in the Hudson River Valley, or in Lenox, Massachusetts (home of Tanglewood, where you can probably score lawn seating cheaply).

I love the idea, if the OP has the time. (I recommend Montreal so often I resisted coming out of the gate with it this time!)

We need to take a ferry from Rockland, Maine August 10, and thought to arrive a couple of days early to do some sightseeing - any hotel or B&B ideas for the Rockland/Camden area? We are two adults, two elementary school aged kids.

I've stayed only with friends in the area -- and it's chockablock with B&B's. So throwing this to the chatters to recommend something!

Hello! Hoping I can get some feedback from the crowd. Going to be in San Francisco in the fall and would like to do a Sonoma wine tour for a day (or two), but don't want to rent a car. Does anyone have any suggestions for wine tours or wine tour operators? THANKS!

I'm sure chatters will have other ideas, but a mention in the SF Chronicle caught my eye: It's the Sonoma Wine Trolley! Looks fun.

Good Afternoon: Is there a means to purchase 1 day subway tickets on the Internet? We are not interested in multiday passes. Thanks, Timonium

You can buy the Paris Visite pass from Rail Europe online, with a choice of 1, 2, 3 and 5 days.

We are coming up to the 25th anniversary of the fall of Communism -- old enough for it to be considered "history." Are there any any sites connected to these events that you would recommend visiting?

Head to Berlin and the site of Checkpoint Charlie -- the former crossing point between East and West Berlin -- which is now an open-air museum with exhibits about the years of life with the Wall, and its ultimate fall. There's a replice of the original American guardhouse, the original of which is now at the Allied Museum in the Dahlem neighborhood, also worth a visit for its historical exhibits on the Cold War. There's also the DDR museum in the former East German government district, and the Stasi Museum, in the former headquarters of the East German secret police.

Most of the other formerly occupied countries have their own museums of Communism or museum of occupation. In Poland, the Gdansk Shipyard is still a working yard, but the gate that Lech Walesa scaled to set off the Solidarity movement is a place of pilgrimage. So is the Lennon Wall in Prague, the site of dissident activities under the Communists in the former Czechoslovakia.

Any suggestions on reasonably priced, 3-4 star, hotels/B&B's etc in Nice that will not break the bank?

I haven't stayed there, but the Ibis Nice Centre Gare looks pretty good.

Recommendated learn surf package trips to Costa Rica (CR) and/or Puerto Rico (PR)? My son and I are 31 and 67 years old, novice surfers. THANKS

Costa Rica has more options, but it's easier to travel to Puerto Rico. Once you get to either place, however, you're likely going to face a drive from the airport. Look at the Rincon area of PR; surf camps include Rincon Surf School and Boarding House. Costa Rica Surf Adventures publishes  a fairly comprehensive list of choices in CR.

How difficult is it to take ferries from Vancouver to Victoria to Seattle? Any recommendations for convenient hotel on Victoria for people who won't have a car? Traveling in October.

It's not difficult, just a little confusing to figure out all the options. Here's the upshot: You can take the high-speed Victoria Clipper ferry (three hours each way) from Seattle to Victoria, and a combination of Pacific Coach and BC Ferries from Victoria to Vancouver. (The problem with the latter is that the ferry doesn't go downtown-to-downtown, so Pacific Coach helps by offering a package that includes bus service on either end for those interested in downtowns.)

As for hotel ideas, the classic Fairmont Empress is having a 25 percent off summer sale. Our friends at the Seattle Times have also recommended the Belleville Park and the Ambrosia B&B. I haven't stayed at any of them, but maybe chatters have more ideas?

My husband and I are spending four days in Nashville to celebrate our five-year anniversary. We're both in our late 20s. So far we're planning on going to the Jack Daniels distillery, the Hermitage, as many plantations houses as my husband will let me go to and maybe Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. We're not the biggest country music fans (he isn't at all), but I was wondering if doing one of the backstage tours at either the Grand Ol Oprey or the Ryman Auditorium might be interesting. We like tours that are fun and tell you about things you didn't already know. I'd also love to do some kind of tour of downtown Nashville. Can anyone recommend a good tour guide? I was looking at Echoes of Nasvhille and Walkin' Nasvhille as two possible options. I'd love any other tips for activities that might be fun. Thanks for the help!

Check out Andrea's piece on Nashville from earlier this year. I would definitely do the Ryman tour, even if you're not into country music. It's just interesting to hear how the whole thing got started! For a general Nashville tour, since I don't think Callie Khouri will be available, let's turn to the chatters. Anybody got a good recommendation?

During september, after labor day, are any of the regular summer features (e.g. Jacobs Pillow) still operating in the Berkshires?

Post-Labor Day is an excellent time to visit the Berkshires, as the crowds have lessened, the weather is gorgeous, and there's still beautiful natural scenery, museums, etc. But the incomporable Jacob's Pillow, indeed, is a seasonal dance festival, and this year it runs through the weekend of Aug. 24-25. Tanglewood wraps up with a Boston Pops/Patti Austin concernt Sept. 1. And the Williamstown Theatre Festival runs through Aug. 18.

But there's lots more to do there than just the summer performing-arts festivals...

My family and I (which includes two boys, 5 and 2) will be in Montreal next month. Any suggestions for things to do with the little ones? We've never been there before, but I don't have to see all the "have to see" stuff, either. Just looking for ways to keep them entertained. Thanks!

Well, you can't beat the Espace Pour la Vie (Space for Life) museums for entertaining the little ones: Insectarium, Biodome, Planetarium, Botanical Garden. So I'd put that on the "have to see" list that you, um, actually probably do have to see.

Walking around the Old Port area can be fun w/kids: There are usually face painters, musicians, magicians, etc. If the kiddos have tons of energy, you might take everybody up to the glorious Mount Royal park for outdoor fun and great views.

Might you be there between Aug. 10 and 18? If so, you should take the tykes to the International Balloon Festival in nearby St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It's a 30-minute drive if you have a car, but they're also running daily shuttles. The fireworks festival (a competition/showcase with a different country firing up every time, a couple nights a week) is probably happening too early for your visit -- it started in June and goes through first weekend in August.

Montreal is festival-happy, actually: Lots of them all year round. Check out the tourism board's website to see if anything else might be happening while you're there.

Regarding the travel bag and security, one oft-repeated suggestion is to carry just the cash you expect to need for the day, and maybe one credit card if you plan to use it, in a pocket, and carry most of your cash, your passport, credit cards etc. in a neck pouch or under-the-clothes money belt, or just leave them in the hotel safe. The folks who carry overstuffed fanny packs may as well be wearing signs that say "Steal this."

I agree. Nothing says, "I'm a tourist, rob me!" like an overstuffed fanny pack. I think it makes sense to keep your credit cards and ID or passport separated, too. Thanks for the suggestion.

Hello, I was traveling in June for work in Sulawesi, Indonesia. We had to break up a long 16 hour drive and decided to head to the cultural area of Tana Toraja in the central area of the island. This area is Christian and hold elaborate funerals. I did not want to see a funeral due to the slaughter ritual. We went for a drive down some country roads and came across a community building the unique style boat like houses for a funeral a few months away. The building are fantastic in their display of art and unique architecture and that the entire community volunteers time to build the funeral site. It was a joy to talk with the community about their methods and materials and a beautiful break from a grueling work trip.

Thanks for the story! Sounds amazing.

Mom, Dad and tweenage daughter are going to Dallas in mid-August. Schedule is set for first two days of trip. Will extend trip for an additional 3 days (departing on the 3rd). Mom wants to go to San Antonio, Dad wants to go to Austin. Tweenager happy either way. Can both cities be visited (one night in each city) or should we pick one and spend the last night in Dallas for flight back to DC? If you suggest one city, which one and suggestions for food and attractions? Thank you very much.

I'd go to Austin, staying there for the whole extension, but take a day trip to San Antonio.

I've stayed at the Beloins just north of Camden, ME and LOVED it. The cabins are rustic, but clean. The views are AMAZING. Parts of the movie of Stephen King's Thinner were filmed there.

Thanks!

Thanks for the chats and chat archives. They've gotten me through a touch round of chemo and other treatments. I'm hoping to go to Europe for about a month next year. I'm female, late 40s, very comfortable traveling alone. I think I'll do a week in each of four different cities, renting a small apartment. London and Paris are obvious. What are the other two, and how much, excluding airfare to/from Europe, should I budget? I like history, food, beautiful scenery, and just walking around and looking at stuff. Couldn't care less about nightlife and high end shopping.

First, sorry to hear about your illness, and hope you're doing well. So good to know that our chat has helped in some small way. Regarding your questions -- tough choice! You could go north and do Berlin and Warsaw, or south and do Rome and Vienna, or Rome and Madrid. It really depends on your preference in terms of weather, sights, etc. I can't really answer your budget question, either, not knowing your habits, whether you'd be inclined to eat in or out, how you'd get from place to place. The only thing to keep in mind is that most of Europe continues to be very expensive, euro woes nothwithstanding. You need to figure out the range of apartment rental costs in each city of your choice and determine how much you can afford for that. Once you have your weekly rental figure, I'd add at least $100 a day for food, sightseeing, transportation, incidentals, etc.

You convinced me. Not that it was that hard.... Ideas on what to do for 4 days in BA?

You could see street art!

You're kidding, right? That's an overnight trip, both ways. Even a five-day weekend would be a stretch. Not that B.A. isn't a great destination -- we spent a couple of days there after a cruise, and would love to go back, but not for a long weekend!

It would be tight, yes! OP, are you prepared for the rush?

I live in the PNW---for a 13 day itinerary days 1-4 Portland, Willamette Valley, Columbia Gorge, Mt Hood day 5-6 drive to Cannon Beach/Seaside for a night there. Try to stay a Sun-Thu night. weekends require a 2 night stay. Cannon Beach is more B&B, rental cottages, homes while Seaside has more larger hotels and shopping and other beach/tourist stuff. Day 6...drive up through Astoria and see Cape Disappointment St Park then go up toward MtRainier. Day 7 Mt Rainier. Day 9-10 San Juans For the San Juans...same thing. weekends require 2 nights stay. You really need to plan mid week and do a 2-3 day trip. the night before drive up to anacortes and stay t a hotel there. In the early AM take the ferry to either Friday Harbor/San Juan Island or to Orcas Island. stay 1-2 nights there. Look to include an Orcas whale watching 3-4 hr trip. Day 11-13 Seattle. for Seattle. look to stay in downtown then you dont need the car. If you want to venture elsewhere use public buses or a cab. Parking is a pain and expensive in the city. For wineries...in seattle there are two spots. woodenville has most of the wineries. Mostly they are fronts for the actually places on the east side of the mountains. Yakima Valley and Walla Walla have the wineries. closer to Seattle with some is the area around Sequim. next weekend they actually have an annual Lavender Festival. for Portland its Willameette Valley which runs about 100 between Portland and Eugene.

I'm considering a vacation that would include a few days in Toronto. What is there to do in Toronto for a solo early 40s woman who likes museums, sports, bikeriding, good food and wine and plain old people-watching?

I haven't been to Toronto recently, but can recommend the Hockey Hall of Fame, Royal Ontario Museum, St. Lawrence Market and Casa Loma. Any other ideas chatters?

Just returned from my first trip to Paris and loved it. Our family is considering returning next summer and perhaps renting an apartment to save money (yes, I know it's impossible to save money in Paris). By going commando, we hit all the major museums, Eiffel Tower, etc, so we'd like to spend more leisurely time in Paris but would also like to venture outside the City. Is a day trip by Eurostar to somewhere like Brussels or by local train or with a driver to Bordeaux, Provence, etc doable? Would it be better to stay in one of those places overnight while still keeping my apartment?

What does going commando have to do with your ability to hit all the museums? I guess you save a teensy bit of time when getting dressed? ;-)

Anyway, given what you're paying for the apartment, I'd keep it and make the day trips really day trips. Here are some good ideas from the Guardian. Among the ideas: Provins, Fountainebleu, Giverny.

I agree with using a money belt for passport, large sums, drivers license, etc. But, what I do is keep the equivalent of about $15-20 in local currency in my front pocket. I can pull that out to pay for snacks, postcards, bus fare, and other "sidewalk expenses" without touching the money belt.

Good idea!

How about somewhere in south or central america like Peru or Guatemala? Once you get down there, you can definitely do things on the cheap, and I believe flight costs are typically on par with flights to Europe. Or you could do an Iceland Air long weekend getaway package. I bet they aren't too expensive in November, and you may be able to see the Northern Lights!

All good ideas -- I never heard back from the OP, but hopefully s/he is reading!

Hi. My wife and I plan on travelling to India for ~ two weeks the end of December and beginning of January. Do you have any must-sees? We will be staying with friends in New Delhi but, of course, have no problem going elsewhere for things of interest.

Here are some of our older India travel stories. Take a stroll through and see what jumps out at you!

This is for Chris Elliott: I have had a few run-ins with rental car companies, but so far (knock wood) haven't had a loss-of-use situation. I hope your upcoming article will delve into the legalities -- for example, you mentioned that the rental car company doesn't have to prove that the car would have been rented if it were available. What kind of law governs that sort of thing? Logically it makes no sense that the company shouldn't have to prove actual loss of use. Any elucidation you could provide, either in this forum or in your article, would be appreciated.

Thanks. Yes, I'm going to get into that. Could you please email me with your question? I'd really like to include it in the story, if possible.

we learned this from friends who learned it the hard way: When we travel I carry one credit card and my husband a different one. That way if one of us gets pick-pocketed, we still have a card to use. We each keep the opposite card in the hotel safe. Our friends took two cards to Thailand, but they each carried both cards, so when they had to cancel both, they were stuck at their hotel until a replacement card could be delivered to them.

Thanks, great advice! Really appreicate it.

Other things in Toronto: Ontario Science Centre, Ontario Place, harbor islands, CN Tower.

Hey there! My husband, 8-month-old baby, and I are going to Niagara Falls later this month for a brief vacation. We'll be staying on the Canadian side of the Falls. Any recommendations on things to do there, uh, besides seeing the Falls?

Chatters, let's have your help here!

Don't know where the writer has been going - I can't imagine a 20 foot boat. ANY reputable resort/shop has a dive boat. Check TripAdvisor for recommendations. I've been to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Curacao - all have real boats with real dive ladders. Also, any reputable boat will have at least one crew member who can hand your BCD down to you to don in the water, and take off in the water to hand back up. Just be sure to tip extra for this additional service. I am 60, btw, and do this all the time due to bad knees.

And more for our Scuba diver from last week.

Hi everyone, I just booked a ten-day tour of Morocco for February 2014. This will be my first tour ever. I feel like I can handle the pros and cons of that, but what I cannot find is what the weather will be like. I have checked several guidebooks and they say "cold" but not how cold. I'm look for averages. I even checked a few websites. What am I overlooking? I am wondering if I need a full winter coat, or if a fleece and good sweater will do. We will have time in the mountains, but not be camping. Thanks very much!

You need to be searching on specific cities, I think. For instance, here are charts on average temps for Marrakesh: In February, I'm seeing lows in the upper 40s and highs of almost 70.

Victoria is much easier. You can also do it by seaplane (Kenmore Air is one of a few) Vancouver its mainly Amtrak rail or bus servicce. Victoria there are hotels right near the part so you dont need rental cars. Seattle downtown you dont need a rental car either. there are numerous hotels it just depends on your budget.

Stepsister's wedding. Veteran's Day weekend. Flying out Friday morning and returning anytime Monday. What should I be looking for as an anchor and how long should I wait to get tickets? (DCA preferred but Dulles is an option, if that matters.)

Weekends that include federal holidays are often more expensive. If you want to fly nonstop, which I would recommend for a wedding that you have to get to, it'll be even more expensive -- plan on at least $400 round trip, but likely higher than that. And consider departing from BWI.

Even if you arent a country music fan---still do the bars on 2nd street and broadway. you get a mix of music there. Do a tour of Ryman even if you dont see music played. Its an old historic auditorium.

I thought most of Ontario Place closed down in 2012?

You're right. A chatter suggested that in a list of things to see in Toronto, but there's not that much to see at Ontario Place until revitalization project is complete in a few years.

drive up to niagara on the Lake. On the american side there are a bunch of parks uo the river from the Falls, whirlpool is one. There is old Ft Niagara at the mouth of the river into Lake Ontario. The Canadian side also has a Fort as well.

Well, we've landed. Thanks for the questions, and hope we gave you some good ideas you can use.

The winner of our little prize will be the chatter who wrote in to tell of witnessing the building of boat houses for a funeral in Indonesia. Send your mailing information to Becky at becky.krystal@washpost.com, and she'll get you a little something.

Thanks for chatting, and we'll see you next week!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Travel editor.
Zofia Smardz
Zofia Smardz is the deputy editor of Travel.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for 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.
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
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