Talk about Travel

The Pitons on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia (AP/Scott Sady).
Jun 04, 2018

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Past Talk about Travel chats

Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel. In this week's section, we took a look at various ways that countries around the world are cutting back on single-use plastic. Have you seen any signs of this in your travels? Tell us about them below. Most compelling answer gets a copy of Dave Hoekstra's "The Camper Book: A Celebration of a Moveable American Dream." On to your questions! 

My daughter is traveling to London in August. The trip is paid for. Is it too late to buy travel insurance? I went online to one travel insurance site that would not provide a quote because the final payment of the trip was outside their parameters. Thanks!

Usually you have to buy travel insurance within a couple weeks of making first payment only in order to cover pre-existing conditions. Try InsureMyTrip or SquareMouth or QuoteWright for options.  

Chris/You wrote you wouldn’t let the volcano keep you away from the Big Island, but what about Kauai? I thought access to the main road in the north was wiped out because of the severe April rains?

Interesting question. My advocacy team just helped someone with a Kauai question related to the storms. I would still go, but maybe to a drier part of the island. Kauai is one of my favorite of the Hawaiian islands, but it also tends to be a little rainy.

I am a fan of staying overnight close to Dulles as I live 70+miles away. Eliminates same-day travel to the airport issues . But, there are very few hotels that offer early or late enough transfers. Having to add taxi/Uber costs to hotel costs makes me more likely to take a chance on just driving in. I've been doing this for nearly 10 years, and it seems more hotels are restricting their hours. Given the number of people and vans I see at the pick-up areas, seems like a poor business decision. Any hotels managers reading this chat?

I can tell you that Washington Dulles Airport Marriott has a shuttle that runs from 4:30 a.m. till 1 a.m. and the Westin Washington Dulles Airport's shuttle runs 24 hours. 

I'll be travelling to Salt Lake City for Thanksgiving. I am planning on leaving Tuesday mid-day and returning Monday. Thing is, I'm not familiar with the usual price for flights out west. Any idea what a good price for them is, and when is best to buy the tickets? I'd prefer to go on Southwest since I should have points for at least one of the flights, but I'm flexible.

Thanksgiving week is one of the most expensive times to fly, as everyone is traveling to see family, and the time frame is concentrated. The cheapest nonstop I see right now is close to $500 round trip; Southwest is even more expensive. A week earlier, nonstops are less than $300. Buy sooner rather than later. 

My husband and I are flying overseas and won't be able to check in to our airbnb until the afternoon so I booked a hotel room for a few hours so we can take a nap when we arrive in the morning. The idea of having that option is great, but it also seems sketchy! Mainly bc the site offered to keep all the details private. Have you ever used this kind of service? What was your experience like?

I need more details to help you: What is your destination, what kind of lodging did you book?  I have stayed at several hotels that charge by the hour, but all have been at or near the airport and catered to travelers with long layovers or after-midnight departures. The privacy clause could be part of the current trend of transparency: More companies these days are informing travelers that they won't share their personal info (hotels never do, by the way). However, some hourly hotels do offer couples, including cheating spouses, love nests. Hence, the need for discretion.

... from two weeks ago, who talked about troubles with park rangers taking her learning-disabled son seriously. Former park ranger here, and I'm sorry that you've been treated unfairly. I agree that you should try to talk to the ranger ahead of time. Can you son participate in other ways, such as chatting with the ranger about his answers or expressing his thoughts in a different way? If I had kids that were too young to write answers, or were unable to, I'd often ask them about their experience or pick a page and ask the questions on it. Many books include spots for artwork, or you could bring extra paper for that purpose, if he's more able to sketch a response than write it. I'd encourage you to continue to have him participate at the level that's appropriate for him. If rangers give you trouble, ask to speak to a supervisor. Lastly, there are a TON of books he can complete at home, and you can send away for a patch or badge on topics like fishing, bats, caves, fossils, and more. Visit the Junior Ranger Program website for more details.

Thank you so much for your caring and insightful response. I hope the parent of the Junior Ranger has joined us today!

My sister and I are taking a cruise to the Greek island with Celestyal in late June. Am wondering about how dressy the cruise line is, also the wisdom of getting off the boat in Kudasai Turkey - safety wise - which I think should be fine... Also other recommendations for the trip from anyone who has traveled with this line before. Thanks!

According to Cruise Critic, dress is informal. Sundresses are the norm for women at dinner. The ship is old, but was completely refurbished just a few years ago. If you're worried about going off the ship in Turkey, stick to a shore excursion offered by the ship rather than striking out alone. 

To celebrate my mom's birthday this fall we'd like to go visit one of the national parks in the west/southwest, but I'm having trouble knowing which one. It will likely be for about 4 days mid-September to mid-October. She is not athletic, so we're looking for a place where there are some flat, easy walking trails or it's possible to drive to the fun stuff. I'd kind of like to go to Yosemite or Yellowstone, but not sure if fall is a good time to visit. Since we've limited time I'd say less than a 6 hour drive from an airport. Thoughts?

All of the major national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and the Mighty Five in Utah, offer nice flat areas where you can walk. September and October can still be brutally hot, even in Utah. You'll want to plan your excursions for the morning or evening. But is there one best national park? I'm gonna punt on that one. My fellow chat friends, heeeeelp!

You could also check out Travel's essential guide to all 59 U.S. National Parks.

I really enjoy planning travel for other people, and I've made a bit of a hobby of it for my family and friends. I'm thinking some day I'd like to do it professionally, but don't actually know what it takes become a travel agent. Is there specific training or certifications that you need? My google results seem to be pushing various paid training programs, and I don't know if those are legit or not.

Congratulations. Being a travel agent can be a rewarding job. If you love to travel, it's also a great way to pursue your passion while also earning a living. I outlined the certifications in this recent Navigator column. If you want to do this legit, I would at least pursue the CTA, or Certified Travel Associate, designation. Stay away from card mills.

Everyone tells me when booking a cruise to use a travel agent. Every time I try, it seems I get better deals doing it on my own. Yes sometimes more perks with travel agent but you pay a higher price to get them. Whats the deal?

Not sure why everyone would tell you to book via a travel agent. Sometimes they do have better deals, but it's not a given. And if the agency does large volume with the line, it can often negotiate freebies or upgrades. Have you tried a site such as CruiseCompete, which compares prices from multiple travel agencies? 

Love the chats. We are considering taking a tour in August or Sept. either to Ireland or Norway. We had a VERY soggy tour in the Sorrento, IT area in March and would like to avoid another, as it became very depressing. In large measure, that area’s charm is its outdoor beauty and sites; if there had been more to do inside it wouldn’t have been so bad. So I’m wondering whether Ireland or Norway would be better choices.

Ireland and Norway are drier in September than August. Oslo is not as rainy, but you can still expect a 50-50 chance of rain in September. In Ireland, expect showers. 

I will be traveling to Anchorage Alaska next May (first week) for a meeting on a Tuesday. I am planning on bringing my daughter (who will be turning 10 that week) and husband. We would like to spend about a week, arriving on the Saturday before the meeting and leaving the following Saturday (or Sunday, depending on flights, etc). Should we plan on day trips from Anchorage prior to the meeting and then head to Denali via train or bus (both of which seem to be options)? Or is there enough to see in Anchorage for those couple of days? If we do day trips, do we need to rent a car? Where do we go? Do we stay in the park, or outside? Can you recommend a tour company that could help map this all out? Ideally, we would like to take a cruise, however, because of the dates for this trip, and the fact that I have to be in Anchorage that Tuesday, that doesn't seem to be an option (unless there are smaller cruise operators that I didn't find on my initial search).

I spent about five weeks in Anchorage with my kids last summer. We rented a car and drove up to Denali, and then down to Alyeska and Whittier, and took the train to Seward. I would recommend renting a car. The train up to Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that might work if you plan to only visit the park and then stay in Anchorage for the rest of your stay. It's a great walking town unless you want to cook your own meals. The Fred Meyer is a bit of a drive. Chatters, do you have any recommendations for Alaska?

We were hoping to visit Vancouver this summer but we'll hold that for another year due to expenses. Now, we are looking to do a week-long road trip this summer to visit Hershey (from DC). Any other recommendations for other things to do in that general direction?

On your drive, you will pass by some very cute towns and interesting sites worth a visit. Depending on your route, you could check out Frederick and Gettysburg, or York, Pa. From Hershey, you can explore Amish Country and several snack food factories, which offer tours and samples. This area also has great biking trails, including one route that encompasses nearly 30 covered bridges. You can also drink your way from vineyard to brewery to distillery, or hit the outlets. To relax, go tubing down Pequea Creek.

Today's code is TT3931. It expires at midnight, so be sure to enter it on Monday to get credit for participating. 

The Dulles Aloft has a shuttle. We have taken it several times.

Thanks. Its shuttle operates 24 hours daily. 

Looking for suggestions for museums / galleries etc that aren't on the usual tourist trail. I've done the usual suspects so looking for something a little more local or eclectic

If you like contemporary art, check out Hauser & Wirth's galleries in New York (full disclosure, my daughter works for them in Los Angeles). Chatters have any favorite spots? And if you want to get outside at all, check out the Central Park Conservancy's calendar of events

Here's a piece Travel did about NYC's oddest museums.

Hi. Yesterday I changed the profile of our joint Air B&B account to just my information, so I can surprise hubby with a trip. When I tried to message a host, the site requested I upload a copy of my drivers license to verify ID. I'm not about to do that, and didn't, and the message still went through. Plus that doesn't verify ID--it could be a fake! Any word from Air B&B on this procedure?

The same thing happened to me! That appears to be some sort of fraud detection algorithm working overtime. I send Airbnb my license. Then I canceled my account. Long story. Maybe I'll provide a few details in an upcoming Navigator column.

I, too, have missed the early deadline to get travel insurance for an overseas trip. This is when I discovered such a thing as annual travel insurance policies. And I have not looked back. We just renew every year. One less thing to worry about. And as we travel overseas a couple of times a year, it's about equal in price to buying an individual policy for each trip. Something to consider.

Not sure that would pencil out unless you're taking multiple trips, but the sites I mentioned earlier, such as InsureMyTrip, have info on the annual policies. 

It's hard to choose the best park, but I will say the south rim of the Grand Canyon has a long, essentially flat trail right along the rim that goes for a few miles. Plus you are not too far from Sedona if you want to take a day to see the art galleries. I really liked Zion, but not a lot of flat trails. Rocky Mountain NP has a lot of trails, some not too steep, and pretty drives.

Thank you. I'm in Fort Collins now and plan to explore Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. Will share some pictures next Monday.

Hello, I'm thinking of taking my wife and I to Maui for my 40th birthday. It would be a 5-6 day trip. What are the essentials to cover while there? We'd do some hiking, maybe sailing, and of course the beach. We've been to Hawaii before, but not Maui. Anything else we definitely need to know re: location, lodging, time of the year? Thanks.

Maui is one of my favorite Hawaiian islands. (OK, I like 'em all, even the one with the volcano.) Here's the official list of things to do in Maui. I'm a huge fan of national parks, so I wouldn't miss the sunrise at Haleakalā National Park. Also, check out the Maui Ocean Center and maybe make the drive out to Hana and to Waimoku Falls. Be sure you have the right car and that your rental company allows you to drive on those roads, which can be a little rough. Chatters, where would you go on Maui?

Hi, We would like to retire in about 5 years, and, potentially leave NoVA where we both grew up. We were thinking that staying at a long-term hotel might work, but, do you think there are better options? FWIW, we are considering Charleston S.C. Thanks

I'm a bit confused by your question. Do you mean you'd lodge in an extended-stay hotel while exploring the Charleston area? You'd likely be better off renting an Airbnb. 

I was looking at a tour with Smithsonian Journeys to Scandinavia and then I saw the exact same trip in the Odyssey Unlimited catalog but considerably cheaper. Do you have any insights on this? I understand Odyssey puts together tours for educational institutions but also sells tours directly to the public. Is the only difference whether you have an educator as a tour guide?

I believe Odyssey Unlimited is one of Smithsonian's travel partners, so not sure why there would be such a gap in pricing. Have you compared apples to apples? Are accommodations similar? OU, which specializes in tours for small groups, has a good rep. 

A group of four is planning on flying from IAD to Vancouver, BC (YVR), driving across to Calgary and then fly from Calgary (YYC) back to IAD. We are planning on traveling in September for ~10 days. We plan on visiting Squamish, Glacier National Park of Canada, Lake Louise, Banff, and Canmore. Should we add any other destinations along the way? Do we need an International Driver's Permit? How much cash is recommended if we have credit cards without foreign transaction fees? Would you recommend either traveler's and/or international medical insurance? Thank you!

You can use your U.S. driver's license, and I don't know how much cash you will need, since it all depends on how much you plan to spend and your budget. I typically travel with about $100, mainly for small purchases and tips. (I tend to book most of my big ticket items in advance.) You can charge most purchases and can most likely find an ATM if you run low on cash.

Insurance is also a personal choice. If you have medical issues or worry that you might have to cancel your trip, then purchase insurance. When I was in Canada, I came down with a lung infection, but my HMO reimbursed me for all of the medical costs. So check with your health provider and credit card company before you invest in a policy.

Late September is a GREAT time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. The weather is still nice, but can get (pleasantly) chilly early morning and after sunset. Kids are back in school, so it is a little less crazy.

Thank you. It's one of my favorite times to visit, too. Fewer tourists and generally, better weather. Right on.

I love Yosemite; I'm about to go on my 5th trip there in a couple of weeks. It is beautiful. In mid-September to October, the crowds will be gone, but before mid-October, it will be hard (impossible?) to get reservations in the Valley. The town of Mariposa is a lovely alternative, but you will have to drive in 45 minutes each way without traffic every day. I recommend waiting until mid-October when you can get a hotel reservation in Yosemite Valley. That said, at that time of year, the falls will be dried up; only a few of the major ones, like Vernal and Nevada Falls, will be flowing. The views are still amazing. For the nonathletic, I recommend the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, driving up to Glacier Point for the view, a walk to Mirror Meadow (it's a lake in the spring), and just walking around the flat valley. There are shuttle buses to take you from place to place. There are two relatively flat hikes from the Tioga Road to May Lake and to Lukens Lake, but those are at altitude (8000-9000 feet) so that may be a bit much for your mom.

Oh yes! Yosemite is awesome. So are your recommendations. Thank you.

We arranged a home rental in St. Croix and they canceled on us 3 weeks before the trip, due to the house not being repaired after Hurricane Maria. We were refunded that money and able to find another house. The owner of the house we are renting says everything is fine. Has anyone been to St. Croix recently? How is the island recovering? Should we go? Thanks!

I was in St. Croix in November and the island was definitely on the fast track to recovery. Only a few places were closed. So I imagine months later, it is in even better condition. (St. John, by comparison, is not as far along.) Here is my piece. For a good source of info, including open attractions, see GoToSt.Croix.com.

National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg PA is great fun if you like trains (and who doesn't like trains?). Per the Googler it's about 45 minutes from Hershey.

Thanks for the tip!

I am a 64-year-old woman who will be visiting Paris and Berlin for two weeks in June-July with family members. We will be doing a lot of walking. If I am wearing shorts and sneakers, will that clothing scream "TOURIST" to everyone?

In a word, yes. Ditch the sneakers for some comfy walking shoes, and wear lightweight slacks, a skirt or a dress instead of shorts. 

I recently had to provide a photo of my id in order to confirm a few AirBnB Experiences I booked in Paris for last week. I assumed it was because I hadn't used Experiences before. On mine, it required the ID to be confirmed before a certain date in order to confirm the bookings.

Thank you for sharing. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

I love off-Broadway shows. So many options! For a crazy evening, Ted Greenberg's "The Complete Performer" stand-up show is definitely unique. He is an Emmy-winning writer, formerly for David Letterman show. Besides a fun show, he has a hack license and his own NYC yellow cab. At the end of the evening someone gets a ride home in his cab, with Ted at the wheel.

Thanks for the review!

I've been in Yosemite in the autumn and the weather was great - you'll want a jacket in the evening but that's it.

Thank you. Spring is nice, too.

As a part of an upcoming vacation, I will be driving to Charleston, and I allowed for a number of days to return to DC. Would you have any recommendations for something to see/do on my way back - I'm willing to meander quite a bit off the direct route home. There are no children involved, and I'm not much of a beach person - otherwise I'm open to most interesting things a moderately fit middle-aged person could do. I was considering a stop at the Great Dismal Swamp, because what a name!

The beaches and beach communities between these two places are really nice, but if it's not your thing, maybe head inland and hit Winston-Salem and Roanoke? Great Dismal Swamp is cool if you like bird-watching. 

It can be seriously snowing there even as early as just after Labor Day. One year we tried to drive there, after visiting the Grand Tetons, and the roads into Yellowstone were all closed for several days (and unplowed).

We haven't talked about Yellowstone yet. I'm glad you brought that up. Yeah, West Yellowstone pretty much shuts down after Labor Day. I know because I was there just before everyone left for the season. I would plan my visit to Yellowstone between maybe late April and early September, just to see most of the park. But to get back to our original chatters' question, there are a lot of flat, short hikes just off the road.

We did Maui with a rental 15-passenger van! Originally, the trip was to be a delayed honeymoon with my wife and I, but family members kept wanting to come until the trip was 12-person strong! Needless to say, the driving up Haleakalā as well as the road to Hana was harrowing in such a long vehicle. At Haleakala, the park ranger did ask for my ID and rental agreement because he thought we were a commercial tour operator (they are prohibit by entering the park until a certain time after the sunrise). Anyways, I'd add Molokini snorkel to the recommendation, although be prepared for sea sickness if you're inclined. Lastly, start EARLY if you're driving to Hana, and leave plenty of time for Kipahulu Park at the end. We got there way too late to fully explore the park there.

Thank you for sharing your experience. You are brave, driving to Hana in a 15-passenger van. That must have been an adventure.

In Europe only children wear shorts ... .

And tourists

When we looked into annual travel insurance we were told that only six weeks per year of travel would be covered. Is that usually the case?

No, an annual travel insurance policy covers you for a year.

I have been there a few times. I would definitely rent a car, as the trains are on a pretty specific schedule and they may not be one going your way until the next day. I drove to North Denali and South to Seward. On the trip South, there is Portage Glacier (the boat most likely won't be running on the lake but there is a visitor's center), there is another glacier on the way, but to get there will depend on the snow melt and if you have good hiking boots, and don't miss the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. In early May driving in Denali, you may be able to go farther in a car as they usually don't restrict car traffic until the end of May. This would be one side trip where the train makes sense.

Thank you!

We had a great time in Sedona in September and took a day trip to the Grand Canyon but I would not say they were close. 1.5-2 hours each way.

Right, they are not close. I'm planning to rent a place in Sedona in December and I think we might make it to the canyon once. There's too much excellent hiking right there in Sedona, and the rocks are so beautiful.

Do hotels offer discounts for extended stays? If so, how long is the minimum -- a week, a month, two months, etc.?

There are hotels that bill themselves as specializing in extended stays. Most others do not negotiate rates based on length of stay, but you can always call and ask. 

I'm taking a quick trip to Chicago this weekend for a baby shower, but lucked out and got tickets to a concert at this venue, which I'll attend with a friend I haven't seen in many years. She'll be making an almost three-hour long drive up from outside the city, so I'd like to meet her at the venue. Does Chicago's train system get anywhere near this venue, or will I need to cab it the whole way?

The venue is about 30 miles south of Chicago. You can take public transportation, but you will have to cobble together a bus and a train ride, plus the trip will take at least two hours one way. Perhaps you could rent a car for the day? Or sign up for a car-share program, like Zipcar (the company currently has a free 30-day trial)? Or maybe the host of the baby shower has a friend who is also going and could give you a ride?

Also, don't wear a T-shirt with any sort of American message on it (like, say, your favorite team or band or...). DO, however, wear all or part black outfits, which is très chic!

There are some band t-shirts that would work in Europe. 

Don't forget the Bronx Botanical Garden. For offbeat museums The Morgan Library is great if that's your kind of thing. I'm into fashion and style and love rummaging about the garment district. Mainly avoid touristy areas and explore. NYC has such great vibes.

Thanks!

Well, but you *are* a tourist. I think of it more as a matter of respect: wearing clothing that would be considered sloppy in the local culture is disrespectful.

Not sure I would go that far, but why would you want to stand out as someone who doesn't belong? 

Just so there is no confusion...you also need a passport to fly to Canada. Passport card won't cut it.

Thanks for the reminder!

On travel and plastic: 

In London a few years ago, nearly every place I visited had inexpensive tote bags for sale. London was just about to switch to charging for plastic bags and the museums, theaters and other visitor locations were definitely looking to make a few pounds on the reusable ones. I picked up a bunch of them in various places from the Barbican to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Cheaper and more useful than t-shirts and hats (and I really don't need any more t-shirts) but lighter weight and easier to pack than anything that isn't made of cloth. And I can "virtue signal" as loudly or softly as I choose. Ok, that is a little obnoxious, but you can't always carry around the lovely lace fan that you picked up at Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath after the curator reminded the three of us on his tour that they weren't allowed to charge, but still had to keep up the place. The tote from the all day marathon of English history Shakespeare plays is much more versatile.

I haven't seen signs of cutting plastic during my travels yet, but in my town (Ottawa in Canada) it was announced that all the summer festivals would be cutting plastic use for meals and drinks (no straw, no plastic plate or ustensil, only biodegradable plates and glasses).

I looked up flights last night to Aruba for Feb/Mar/April 2019 and things seemed very high (for both direct and non-direct flights). Is it possible more will be added between now and then? Maybe it's that SW doesn't have the pricing available yet, but I wasn't seeing anything under $550 with a connection, or nearly $800 direct. I figured it was worth seeing if you all have any advice. Thanks!

I would wait to book as long as you have flexibility. Fares may go down. Just keep checking. You can sign up for alerts on just about every booking Web site and app. 

How about Lassen?

Read more about Lassen Volcanic National Park in California here

I'm running into having TOO much information on getting a VISA. I can't quite figure out which site is reputable and won't cost an arm and a leg. I can't do an E-Visa as I'm not traveling into the country via a normal point of entry (I'm taking a river cruise from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh).

I have used VisaHQ several times, and the agents there are great. To avoid the service fee, you can also apply directly through the embassy -- in person, online or by email. Here is the info.

Cottages by the Sea in St. Croix is amazing. I have stayed there 8 times and highly recommend it. Many of its customers are repeat travelers.

St. Thanks!

Oh, and not sure what led to cancelling your account, but I can't rave enough about the Experiences feature! It was my first time in Paris, and I was travelling solo. I had three great Experiences that gave me a perspective of the city and local culture that I would never have gotten with a regular tour. Super easy to book and keep track of and fairly economical too.

Thanks for the recommendation -- Travel wrote about these in December.

many policies will only cover you for trips of certain lengths so my policy no trip can be longer than 31 days other than that there is no restriction on number of trips or total lengths of trips. Though of course it depends on the insurer and their individual policies It didn't cover me for being on a year long trip.

That's why it's a good idea to research on one of the Web sites I mentioned earlier so you can decide based on individual needs. 

My sister is going on a (really cool) cross country road trip this summer that will involve some light camping (as in, close to the road, established campsites sort of stuff) and a ferry up to Alaska as the cherry on top. Can you think of any basic camping supplies or road trip essentials that would make a good gift? So far I've walked around REI but not found anything worth buying.

A few off the top of my head: A head lamp or solar lights; a Hydro Flask stainless-steel bottle for hot and cold beverages; road snacks; star chart; guidebook to wildlife/flowers/attractions.

My closest friend in Britain and I were talking about the US tendency to default to disposable cups etc. We even had an animated chat about differences across the pond with cup accouterments like those stirrers that fit in to the lid (they don't exist in the UK). Mind you, in the UK there is usually and extra charge to eat in - to cover the added cost of china. How did we get to a place where disposable costs so little?

Ah yes, the "splash pick."

The truth is that most people look like tourists no matter what they wear when they're on international vacation. Culturally, we walk and talk and hold ourselves a bit differently. Even when I lived in a country and all my clothes were from there, people picked out that I was North American just by how I comported myself (and not like an annoying tourist, but things like I walk fast, etc).

Very good point!

To the comment about t-shirts. Ha! I was just returned from 3 weeks in Italy and Spain and saw all kinds of odd "American" t-shirts being worn by locals (granted mostly teens). Including t-shirts for Cleveland, Ohio and Scranton, PA and various not-so-well know US sports teams. Seems to be a trend? Maybe Europeans don't wear shorts in their home towns, but Germans are sporting shorts and ugly sandals all over Southern Europe. So, at worst, people in Paris might think you are a German tourist. Sneakers... everyone wears sneakers nowadays. Just find some that are reasonably fashionable.

The dressing tips just keep on coming!

Casual sneakers are thankfully now more and more on-trend - think Adidas Superstars. Though someone above 50 might have a harder time pulling them off, it's at least something to keep in mind for younger European travelers.

One more for the road.

Looks like our time is up -- thanks for chatting today, everyone. Bag-buyer, please drop us a line at travel@washpost.com to claim your prize. And join us again next week for more Talk About Travel. 

To tie up this thread to travel agents, this is where a travel agent can be very helpful. Go to a travel agent in an area with many Vietnamese businesses (Eden Center in Northern Virginia). They book SO many tickets to Vietnam and can handle the visa application pretty seamlessly. Also, they can get great prices, cheaper than what I've seen on Kayak, Expedia, etc. This is an example where booking an airline ticket is easier and less frustrating with a person than online.

Slipping this one in under the wire -- thanks for the advice!

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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