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Talk about Travel

The Pitons on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia (AP/Scott Sady).
Mar 20, 2017

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.
Past Talk about Travel chats

Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel. In this week's special issue on Europe, we highlighted Slovakia, which our writer felt was unjustly maligned as "the West Virginia of Europe." Have a favorite less-traveled European destination? Tell us about it below. Recommender of the most unjustly maligned locale gets a copy of Rachel Felder's lavishly illustrated "Insider London." On to your questions. 

Would you be able to assist me or recommend a company or individual who can assist me with planning a vacation, possibly for one (1) to Ronda, Spain; sometime in the summer/fall of 2018? A fully escorted or partially escorted tour would work best for me potentially traveling solo. My name is Ronda, and I would love to visit a town that shares the same name as myself. It certainly would make life easy when I get souvenirs for friends and family. They would instantly remember where I went and who secured their trinkets. A trip of 9-10 days in Spain is ideal. It's my understanding I should visit Gibraltar, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona and Madrid. I am open to taking the high speed train. Ideally, 2 days at least in Ronda would be great. Any advice or direction would be appreciated.

I think you need an expert travel agent for this trip. I would start with the American Society of Travel Agents' agent finder.  You can search for agents by expertise, including their country.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Sarajevo this summer. What are some must-sees while we're there? (We're also open to a day trip outside of the city if it makes sense).

Unfortunately, we don't have too many Travel stories about Sarajevo. But I found this one from 2011.

Chatters, can you fill in the big blanks?

How does one do a search to find Washington Post travel articles about a particular place, e.g., France? I'd like to check articles from the last 5 years or so. Thank you.

We addressed this issue last week, but just for the record, your best bet is Googling "Washington Post Travel [Place Name]" and taking it from there. We lost the capacity to offer indexed archives when we switched to a new content management system some years ago.

You were so helpful to me in recommending the Hotel Austria in Vienna last month (It was a great hotel by the way), that I would like to solicit your opinion with respect to hotels in Zurich. If you have never been to Zurich but stayed at another hotel in Switzerland, that would suffice as well.

So glad you enjoyed Hotel Austria. We apparently have similar taste! I will leave it to one of my colleagues to recommend a hotel in Zurich, although I have heard good things about Hotel Adler. 

I usually am a big Southwest Airlines fan but recently had an awful experience. Despite having booked "early bird check in" four months in advance of my DAL-BWI trip, the "early bird" feature on my return trip of a recent flight was inexplicably ignored. I discovered this when printing my boarding pass the night before and getting a B- 50something slot. I called Southwest and they couldn't figure out why the early boarding feature wasn't honored as it was on my reservation. The agent offered to refund the $15 that I paid for the feature on that portion of the trip but I felt that was totally insufficient as I wanted the better boarding slot, not the money. She said all the boarding slots had been assigned so there was nothing she could do. I asked about getting an upgrade to the priority boarding (A1-A15) but she said that was a different "product" and that she had no authority to do that and suggested I call a different phone number that she gave me in the morning. The next morning I spent awhile on hold before finally getting to speak to a "supervisor". She reiterated the prior agent's bit about the A1-A15 boarding being a different "product" and told me there was nothing she could do despite confirming the "early bird" feature was booked on my ticket but not honored. My flight ended up totally full as another scheduled flight was delayed and those with transfers were moved to our flight. Is the airline obligated to do anything beyond refunding the $15?

I'm sorry to hear about you losing your Early Bird status. Here are a few Southwest Airlines executive contacts -- I would recommend a brief, polite appeal in writing. I'm sure the airline will do the right thing. And if it doesn't, you know where to find me.

Thanks for taking my question. We go on vacation every summer (this will be our 7th year!) with another family -- typically we go to the beach in Delaware and rent a house for the first week in July - the kids love it, its great for them to have lifelong memories with their cousins, but it's a lot of work for the parents. Both moms have major work deadlines immediately before and after our planned vacation week, and we haven't booked our house yet because we are dreading a week of cooking, dishes, laundry, schlepping the kids back and forth from the beach, and managing 8 people - and it's not a cheap vacation. This year, we're rebellious, and want to do something different. We were thinking of trying to find a resort or an all inclusive, but have no idea where to start (though we have been doing a lot of google searching), and are hoping for suggestions or pointers. We are 8 total, 4 adults, 3 7 year old boys, and 1 5 year old girl, one half in NYC and one in the MD suburbs. Everyone has a passport and all the kids are good on planes. The kids just want each other, a week long sleepover, a pool, and the beach. The parents want a kids club or a reputable sitter service for at least a little time (like those blessed kid-free dinners), a beach, a good wifi signal and some relaxation - and preferably good food and especially coffee options. All 4 adults need to work on the trip so a cruise is out. A set up where the kids can sleep separately (even connecting rooms) would be great. We can sacrifice on length of vacation if necessary. Our total budget (including airfare) is $10,000. Any ideas? In the past, the two moms have taken the 4 kids on short (long weekend, school break) trips that were driving distance from one or the other location. At least half the kids have done Williamsburg, Hershey Park, and Disney. Both sets have taken more culturally significant international vacations, but honestly, we're exhausted, and want a break.

I think an all-inclusive resort would fit your needs, although many resorts in the Caribbean have spotty WiFi. Some, such as Paradisus, which has all-inclusive resorts in DR and Mexico, offer ethernet connections in addition to WiFi. I'd probably head to Riviera Maya in Mexico, which is easier to get to than Jamaica or DR (these two islands also offer lots of all-inclusives). Also, look into Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Is there a site where I can search for best flight or package deals from WAS during a window of time without specifying a destination up front? I'm open to many destinations (domestic and foreign); my limiting factor is usually date (school vacations) and cost. For example, vacations of 5-9 days duration that begin and end within a specified 10 day window and don't exceed a specified price. (e.g., from WAS-Balt area 4/6/17-4/16/17, under $1200?) Thanks.

Thanks for taking my question. I am booking my first international flight in almost a decade, and the landscape has obviously changed much since then. How much time would you recommend between my return flights connecting at Chicago Midway, given the need to go through customs? Also, does TSA Precheck work on the first leg of my departing flight, which would be a domestic layover?

Airlines calculate minimum connect times and factor them into your itinerary. You might want to check out my Navigator column on the topic from a few years ago, which has a lot of useful pointers on how the system works. When you return to the country and go through customers, you'll have to get screened by the TSA again for your next flight.

Hi all, Four friends (two east coast, two west coast) want to spend a weekend together to celebrate a big birthday. I don't see direct flights to Quebec City. Are there? Would we waste too much time in transit/customs, compared to meeting in Chicago/other central location? Thank you!

If you mean a nonstop flight (direct flight means you stop at least once but don't change planes), then no: You will have to connect. Most airlines stop in Toronto from the East Coast and in NYC from the West -- though it all depends on the airline and departure city.

Customs isn't much of an issue but your West Coast friends will need two days for travel --- not the best use of time when you only have a weekend. You can reach Chicago much faster on a nonstop flight.

Is CBP trying to put itself out of business? More and more stories keep coming to light of citizens being detained for no reason and even worse having their phones searched or confiscated for no reason. Apparently there's already been a significant drop in foreign arrivals. Once they make it too much trouble for Americans to travel abroad there won't be anything for CBP officers to do.

Funny you should mention that. I'm neck-deep in research on the new border-crossing protocols. We'd had so many questions about the most efficient ways of getting through customs, it was begging to be turned into column. I hope people don't stop visiting America, but I suspect many will feel unwelcome because of our new policies.

Today's code is TT9679. It expires at midnight, so be sure to enter it on Monday to get credit for participating. 

Chatters weigh in with their favorite less-visited European destinations:

Because my grandparents hailed from there, I love visiting the Azores Islands (part of Portugal, in the North Atlantic), and try to go at least once every couple of years in order to see relatives as well as to enjoy the local scenery, culture and fresh food. Not many Americans who aren't of Portuguese descent seem to visit there, which is a shame, because plenty of English is spoken there now, and the islands are still quite unspoiled and untouristy.

Wales is great. It's small but encompasses many things. It has a beautiful coastline/scenery and Snowdonia - which has one of the highest peaks in Britain - and some lovely cultural stuff including Dylan Thomas' Lighthouse. The grub and beer is good too - and the natives even speak English.

Slovenia (sometimes confused with Slovakia) has Adriatic coast, Alps & alpine lakes, a quaint countryside, several wine areas, and a historic/hip/green capital in Ljubljana. All in a country about the size of New Jersey, so it never takes much time to get from one end of the country to the other. Workers in the tourism industry usually speak very good English. It's an EU member and part of the Schengen area, for more convenient travel. I've been twice and look forward to my next trip.

Where to start? The capital city Riga is historical, from old churches and fortifications to the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world. The food is exceptional, whether it's farm-hearty fare (schnitzel-type preparations abound), molecular gastronomy, or a gazillion ways to eat mushrooms. Just a small ways out of town, birders can find bogs/swamps right on migration paths, and storks nests on every telephone pole in the countryside. (OK, not every telephone pole. But an awful lot of them.) The beaches are wonderful, whether on the Baltic or on the Gulf of Riga - the latter has a stretch of resorts. An outdoor art museum, Pedvale, is close to a charming town called Kuldiga, which is on the widest waterfall in Europe. Note I didn't say tallest. But it is the widest. Nearby is the northernmost commercial vinyard in Europe. In the opposite direction from Riga are what passes for mountains in Latvia - they're not high, but the surrounding forests and rivers make for wonderful relaxation. There is a castle in Cesis, a palace in Rundale, and a basilica in Aglona. And if you can make it at the summer solstice, or to the song festival held every 5 years, you will hear singing like nowhere else.

Lofoten, that little "arm" on the west side of Norway is my favorite spot. Mountains, ocean, and the colored building - usually dark red. We went to see the Maelstrom but there were no tours that year. We did by a curled wave pendant denoting the Maelstrom to remember the trip by.

When many people go to the south of France, they choose Marseille or the Riviera. But I've fallen in love with Cassis, a port town a bit east of Marseille. So scenic (waterfront and overlooks alike!), not too busy out-of-season, and lots of great restaurants.

I'm a 25-yo female who's headed to SE Asia on a DIY solo trip for 3 weeks in July. It'll be my first time in the region, and I'd love to pick one country to explore (off the main tourist path if possible). It seems like both have a lot to offer in terms of what I'm looking for -- food, cultural sites, markets, beautiful landscapes, and quiet beaches. Any thoughts on which I should start with? For context: I'm on a fairly tight budget and lived in India before (so perhaps not as easily fazed as other first-timers).

I'm not sure if you're asking which of the two countries to explore for all three weeks or if you're planning to see both. I recently traveled to both countries in October (I'm 26-yo female and traveled with another 26-yo female) and if it's between the two, I would pick Thailand over Vietnam for the three weeks (make sure to schedule in at least 3-4 days in Chiang Mai.) If you want to divvy up your time, I would schedule a week or a week and a half in Vietnam (visit Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Ha Long) and then spend the rest of your time in Thailand. 

Hi gurus! I am thinking about going to Argentina with my boyfriend, maybe in October? I have never been to South America - been to Europe a bunch of times and was recently in Thailand. I will only have 8 or 9 days (mostly due to using up vacation days for said trip to Thailand) - is that enough to see some highlights? We will probably fly into Buenos Aires from DC. I would like to see Mendoza (or another wine region if it's easier to get to). Interests are the beach, short hikes (couple of hours), steak, wine, shopping for little trinkets, and snacking/drinking at cafes. Does anyone have any experience with LATAM, Copa, or Avianca? I like to fly the flag carrier if possible, but I'm not sure how good South American airlines are. It looks like Delta has a one stop flight (Atlanta) and American has a one stop flight (Miami). Also, how safe is Argentina? Is it normal "you're in a city, watch your purse and use common sense" dangerous, or are violent robberies/other crimes common? Any and all thoughts on this are welcomed. Thank you!

I can answer some of this but not all. Hopefully the chatters can help with the rest.

I have flown LATAM and love the airline. No joke, the pilots could land on a the wing of a hummingbird if necessary. I have heard good things about Avianca. Some passengers complain about Copa's service, but you need to take such complaints with a grain of salt.

The new president has been working hard to make the  country more attractive to tourists. It recently waived its VAT on hotels and eliminated the visa fee. Safety is still an issue, but the crimes are typical of this region of the world. Street smarts will keep you safe. Stay alert on public transportation, for example, and keep your phone or other valuables out of sight. Express kidnappings have happened, so don't travel with your debit card. And alert your credit card companies about your upcoming trip, so they can flag any suspicious transactions. Read the State Department's background on the country, as well as Canada's.

 

We finally have a consensus month for perhaps a last big family vacation (parents mid 60s and 2 mid 20s daughters). Unfortunately because of everyone's job issues, it's gotta be soon - preferably June. I know. That's already in the high cost season. 1) Do you have any recommendations for cruise-lines and/or specific ships for a family trip to Alaska - 7 days that goes a bit inland would be nice. Probably a one way trip would allow us to see the most. 2) Also best way to find a good priced last minute deal - online site or directly thru cruise company? Do you recommend Sherman's or Vacations2Go online sites? Many thanks for suggestions from anyone and also best ports not to miss.

Just about every cruise line offers Alaska cruises, although most of the seven-night itineraries travel round trip from Vancouver or Seattle. I'm fairly certain, however, that Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Holland America offer one-way itineraries. Airfare will be pricey for those type trips.  Won't be huge price differences between those lines. I'd consider the age/type of ship as much as the line. Look at Cruise Critic and Cruise Compete for pricing. And compare to the cruise line's offers. And remember that weather may be cold, especially in early June. 

9-10 days is not enough time to visit all of those places listed. I spent about 17 days and saw Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba and Toledo (as a day trip from Madrid). I didn't go to Ronda since it seemed a little more difficult to get to, but I suspect there are buses that go there. I traveled by train and bus without any issues. There are actually some quite nice buses. I took the "Supra" bus from Seville to Granada and Granada to Cordoba and it was cheap (about 10 euros each) and more comfortable 1-2 seating. Some friends of mine are headed over there in May with a bit more compressed schedule and plans to see too many places, but they will get a car and drive most of it themselves.

Thank you.

I'm planning a trip to Hawaii this summer, and I came across Costco travel. Do you have an experience with this site?

I use Costco for rental cars, and it's always worked out fine. But I've not used it to book a vacation package. You need to be a member, which costs $55 a year. Any chatters have good/bad experience?

I had already tried to Google method mentioned last week and it was not a meaningful search method for France (although it worked for Paris, and it worked for 2010 or earlier). Please ask your tech folks to bring this feature back. You write excellent articles -- but a reader can't find them. The technology certainly exists as other papers have this capability. Thanks much.

I see the old archive is still live: read it here. Meanwhile, our most recent features about France are this one from yesterday, about camping on the French Mediterranean, and this one from January, about the 13th arrondissement.

For the Ronda, Spain visitor - it's a lovely spot - not reachable by train. I would recommend renting a car for that region of Spain as so many of the places are smaller towns or beaches that might be harder to reach by public transportation. The high-speed train is great for getting between larger cities. I also would say that trying to see all of those places is too much for 8-to-10 days. One could easily spend 4-5 days in each of Barcelona and Madrid. I'd skip Gibraltar and at least one other city for that timeframe. Although Barcelona is my favorite city, given you will definitely be in Andalucia to visit Ronda, Barcelona is the furthest from places you are going. A few suggestions: Fly into Sevilla or Malaga and rent a car - head to Ronda, possibly Granada (or skip Granada) and then to Sevilla, where you return the car. Sevilla is about 1 hour 45 minutes driving from Ronda, Granada just over 2 hours, and Malaga 1 1/2 hours. From either Sevilla or Malaga you can get a high-speed train to Madrid in 2 1/2 hours. After seeing Madrid, Barcelona is 2 1/2 hours by high-speed train. Fly out of there. Depending on your preferences and what you most want to see (e.g. the Prado and Reina Sofia Museums in Madrid, Gaudi architecture and the great Catalan cuisine in Barcelona, the Alhambra in Granada), skip one of the cities. You can also fly from Sevilla or Granada to Barcelona if you decide to skip Madrid. They're all wonderful places, just too much to do in that amount of time!

Thanks for the tips!

Considering a family trip to San Francisco, maybe Yosemite or Sequoia National Park and Los Angeles. I'm not too concerned about driving a rental car in the first two but have no interest in driving in LA. Can I get down the coast by train or should we fly? Should we stay in downtown LA and use their limited light rail?

I edited your question to add the word "interest" between on and in, and hope that's what you intended. The Coast Starlight, from Oakland to Los Angeles, takes about 12 hours and costs about $51. A flight from SFO to LAX costs about $70 and takes about 75 minutes. But, as you noted, Los Angeles's light rail system is limited. This city is best seen by car. Even though the traffic is bad, it's easy to drive there. Maybe fly or take a train to Los Angeles and then rent a car once you get there? 

Dallas is a "hometown hub" for Southwest, so it's entirely possible that the EBC was added to your ticket, but that there were so many A listers, you simply fell into that boarding position. Before I made A list myself, I had similar B boarding passes coming from just about anywhere in Texas, California, or Denver, even with EBC. I do agree that the passenger should complain, as Southwest should really suspend EBC sales once the A group is filled, in my opinion.

Good point!

I suspect that they couldn't give you A boarding because at they point they'd all been assigned. Perhaps asking now - or at the time - for a voucher to help with your next flight, to make up for the mistake, might get good results. Or just ask what they suggest. It pays to be strategic in these negotiations and think through what they are actually physically able to give you and what else you would like. Sometimes you have to get creative to get any joy at all.

That may be true. Thank you for the comment.

So about 3 weeks ago, I overslept and missed a 6 am flight for a vacation. I found another flight for 2 days later. The original itinerary consisted of two one way flights. The first, Jetblue, charged me $150 for essentially a "reshelving fee", while the other flight, Southwest, charged me nothing. Does anyone know which airlnies are the best and worst in regards to policies with missed flights, cancellations, and getting some of the money back? Thanks!

Southwest is the only carrier that does not charge a change fee, which is essentially what you did. However, it all depends on who answers the phone. A sympathetic agent might rebook without the charge. But the policy is explained on every reservation, so you don't have much leverage. You might have better luck at the airport. The agent could possibly place you on the next flight. But you might have to pay a stand-by fee.

Still more of your less-traveled destinations:

We also loved Slovenia for the qualities listed, and would add the ease of travel. For example, it was 1/2 hour from wheels down on our flight to sitting in our rental car ready to go.

While many tourists visiting Lisbon stay in the popular region down by the Tagus River -- which is scenic, and worth a visit -- we like to stay in the area up by the Praça do Marquês de Pombal [Marquess of Pombal Square], a major traffic circle uphill from there a couple of miles. The neighborhood is pleasant and with fewer tourists (except where the hop-on, hop-off buses gather), with cafés the locals eat at. Above the circle is the King Edward VII Park (named in honor of the British monarch's visit), and it's a fairly short taxi ride to the Gulbenkian Museum and several other attractions.

My son spent three years studying in Lille, France, near the Belgian border, and we visited him a lot. A beautiful city, small enough to be manageable, relatively inexpensive, and a lovely combination of the best of France and Belgium. I had the best meal I have ever eaten at a small restaurant at the Place aux Oignons--for 20 euro total. Very walkable city, and it's on the Eurostar between London and Paris.

Wherever the furthest part of the public transport line ends is my somewhat less traveled spot. Leave in the morning follow one line to its absolute end and get off to see what's there. Sometimes its a fun little town..sometimes it's a little dull but it's always an adventure

I don't actually know how popular Serbia is as a travel destination, but it was certainly nowhere on MY list of places to visit until I realized that a long layover in Belgrade would make my flight from China to France a whole lot cheaper, and that I had a friend to stay with in the city. However, after three days in Belgrade, I was totally and completely in love! There are more gardens there than anywhere else I have ever been, which made the bus tour and walks around town equally delightful. The food was amazing, and the historical landmarks very interesting. There was even an outdoor photography exhibit at Belgrade Fortress where you could compare and contrast your surroundings with other European countries. For dinner one night my friend took me to a traditional Serbian restaurant where we sat outside, ate great local food, and were serenaded by groups of roaming musicians. It was simply magical. On my last day we went to the lake district (which you can easily get to by city bus) where locals and tourists alike were sunbathing, swimming, doing water sports, eating local "beach" treats, visiting the zoo, and more. It's been a couple of years since my trip, but I'm still trying to convince my family to take a trip to Belgrade!

I rarely repeat a vacation destination but I've found myself drawn back to Iceland time and again. It seems to be getting more popular but it's still not overrun with tourists. The eerie landscapes, delicious seafood, friendly people, and ever present hot springs make it a perfect vacation! I went snorkeling in Silfra Fissure- the tectonic plates that divide Europe from North America and it was otherworldly. I felt like I was hanging in space, the water was so clear.

Am thinking about a trip within a short flight (an hour +/-) or 6-7 hour drive from DC for the July 4th weekend. Have already been to Philly, New York, Boston, Richmond, Pittsburgh. Thinking about Roanoke/Asheville/Knoxville, but happy to go in any direction. Where would be the most fun for 2-4 adults traveling together? Thanks!

Asheville is great, but book your hotel in NOW. The city is super popular.  I would also recommend Birmingham (see our new feature about the city) or Nashville. For other N.C. ideas: Raleigh-Durham or the Crystal Coast/Wilmington.

Hello. I had the same issue of paying for early seat assignment with Southwest. We traveled in May 2016 and had booked travel with early bird in January - or whatever the time slot when reservations were first available. The agent at the airport let us board between group A & B probable to get me away from the counter. Our seat assignments were "C". I actually complained in this chat last May or June but I did not follow up. I just wonder about people that don't know about the Travel chat at Wapo. Could this be like roaches - you see two....... Thank you.

Interesting thought. I travel with three kids and we are often allowed to squeeze in between the A and B group.

I am joining a river cruise in Amsterdam late July, but will arrive 2 days early to see sights on my own. What besides Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum should I not miss during my 2 days on my own? Thanks! Stephanie

I recently did a river cruise that offered a full day and overnight in Amsterdam. Favorites included wandering around Vondelpark, a visit to Stedelijk Museum (if you like contemporary art)  and a canal boat cruise. 

HI--We will be spending 5 nights in Budapest and 6 nights in Vienna next month. We would like to do some day trips, and we're wondering what our best options are--- rent a car, book a tour, take a train----to get outside of the cities. We are staying on Castle Hill in Budapest and near the Stephansplatz in Vienna. Also, any favorite destinations or recommendations for day trips? This is our first visit to the area.

Can't help with Budapest, but take a look at my recent story about visiting lesser-known destinations within striking distance of Vienna. Train service from Vienna is very easy -- definitely the way to go. 

Hi. My family of 4 is going on a Caribbean cruise in mid-April. I think we can fit everything into carry-on bags, but then I guess we buy all of our sunscreen and the 4 bottles of wine we can bring in Florida before we depart? What do people usually do - just check 1 bag with liquids and carry on whatever they can? I don't want to pay to check bags and I'm worried that they will get delayed and our swimsuits wouldn't make the ship. Thanks!

If you're taking a cab from the airport to the cruise ship, you can always get the driver to stop somewhere to buy sunscreen and wine. That may be a better option that checking wine unless you are bringing in boxed stuff or you have packaging specific for protecting bottles. 

What about resorts at Hilton Head, Amelia Island, or other southern US locations?

Nice, but if they're flying, likely pricey as everything is a la carte. 

Depending on where the chatter is flying from, might they go through Customs at their point of departure rather than upon arrival at Midway? The few times that I've flown back from Canada, we did US Customs on the Canadian side. And last summer on a trip to BC (flew to Seattle and drove), when we returned to Washington on the ferry from Victoria, we did US Customs in dock before we boarded the boat for Post Angeles.

That's an excellent point. If you're flying out of Canada, chances are you'll be getting pre-clearance and not having to worry about customs when you arrive in the States. Here's a list of pre-clearance locations.

I only used them to book a small trip to Las Vegas, but they are fine. They only do specific things, and I always go to their website to price out the trip to Hawaii *sigh*. For something like Hawaii (and most of the travel) -- they give you extra 'perks' (when I went to LV I got a per day stipend for food in the room). For Hawaii they give you something like breakfast or a spa credit or whatever. But I love everything Costco. I would, also, recommend doing their higher level membership because you would get so much more typically (maybe even a costco gift card) for a trip you book with them.

Thanks for the input!

Are there any WWII bases preserved in the area about 40 miles NE of London? Otherwise Museums I could visit instead?

Visit England has a wealth of information on visiting military sites and museums. You can refine your search by clicking on North East England, which lists 11 attractions. See here for ideas.

If a lakeside beach is acceptable, what about Woodloch Resort in the Poconos or Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid? They have children's programs, meal plans, and large houses with multiple bedrooms that could accommodate your family. Your kids are the perfect age for canoeing and short hikes through the mountains.

Great advice. Thanks!

Hyde Park, New York. The FDR home plus Val-Kill (Eleanor's small place), Vanderbilt Mansion, casual and fine dining at the various student restaurants of the Culinary Institute of America (plus a great gift/book shop for foodies).

Thanks!

My wife and I were be traveling from Dulles to Frankfurt Germany arriving at 6AM on 28 April. Our next flight does not depart Frankfurt until 3:10PM that day---28 April. Is there anything that we should see in Frankfurt during the layover? Also, do you know a travel agent either there or here that can help us during our layover?

You have enough time to spend a few hours in the city. But make sure you get back early enough to get through security: Frankfurt is a very busy airport. If you want to do an escorted trip, take a look at Viator's layover tours. Or just take the S-Bahn and do it yourself. I enjoyed the Cathedral and Goethe House. 

We used them for a trip to Oahu and Maui. We priced out everything on our own (airfare, hotel, transfers, rental car) and found we couldn't beat the Costco price! Go for it!

Good to know. Thanks!

Years ago a friend dropped us off in the morning at IAD for a BA flight to London. This is the only time I have ever missed a flight - I had it in mind it was a different time and didn't check. We got on the standby list for the two later flights. Called my friend, spent the day at Tysons and got on the next flight standby - in Business!! Don't know how we managed that but somehow we were rewarded for missing our flight. Yes, when you miss your flight through your own fault - best to try and re-book at the airport ... .

Nice to hear a missed-flight story with a happy ending.

I flew on Copa recently to Cartagena and liked them a lot. Connecting in Panama City was a breeze - I only had an hour and it was fine. Copa was MUCH nicer than United which I took on the second leg return.

Good to know -- thanks!

So how bad is it? I'm going with a group that has read us the riot act about the possibility of getting mugged, getting your bags slashed, and as a woman, getting rude comments if not assaulted. Frankly, I'm not looking so forward to this trip anymore (and I've traveled elsewhere in Europe and Asia so I'm not a newbie traveler). Truly, it sounds as if I will be spending the entire trip focusing entirely on my person and not looking around, which sounds unbelievably stressful and not so much of a holiday.

It is not that terrible. Just be smart about how you carry your money (wear a crossbody bag under jacket or a traveler's pouch) and be hyper-aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist venues and on public transportation. You are in a group, so you have comfort in numbers. Ignore the cat calls.

Lyme Regis, England. Lyme is part of the 90+ miles long Jurassic Coast of England, so named because it contains fossils from the Jurassic (and other) periods. A superb book, Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier, documents the life of Mary Anning, a fossilist (died 1847) who lived and made great discoveries there. If you ever go, you must read the book first, and do a fossil walk with the guides from the museum. I want to retire there, walking the beach every day. I can only hope.

And one more for good measure!

Looks like our time is up -- thanks for chatting, all. Latvia fan, drop us a line at travel@washpost.com to claim your prize!

In This Chat
Nicole Arthur
Nicole Arthur is the Travel editor.
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
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