Talk about Travel

The Pitons on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia (AP/Scott Sady).
Jul 09, 2018

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Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel. In this week's section, we explored the riches of Oahu, Hawaii's most-visited island. Have a favorite Hawaiian island? Tell us which one and why below. Most compelling answer gets a copy of Ben Holbrook's "Barcelona Precincts: A Curated Guide to the City's Best Shops, Eateries, Bars and Other Hangouts." On to your questions!

Can you tell me which is the most popular beach rental agencies for the various NC beach communities? I would also like to know when they post their next season prices for August and September. It seems that the current postings only go up to mid-June 2019.

Different agencies specialize in different areas of OBX. For example, Village Realty does mostly Nags Head and points north to Corolla. while Hatteras Realty does areas to the south, such as Rodanthe and Avon (and, of course, Hatteras). Resort Realty is a big one that covers lots of area. A good place to start your research is the Outer Banks tourism site. As for when prices are released for next summer, that depends on the owner and the agency. Some owners won't offer high-season rentals for next season until this season  has ended. 

Once a year or so I visit family who live in an area where my particular cell phone provider is not prevalent. When I'm in the house, I rely solely on wifi, but when I'm out and about I can't call or text and I can't access navigation apps. Do you or the chatters encounter this issue? Should I just get a burner phone when I visit and forward my number to it or is there an alternative? Thanks.

Yes, that's happened to me. Last summer, in Anchorage, the data on my Google Fi phone didn't work. I relied on the wireless connection in my hotel and I spent a lot of time in coffee shops. Chatters, I'd love to hear your suggestions for staying connected.

Just this morning I got an email from friends planning a cruise to Alaska. They claim to have a good deal (for next summer) and have invited us to join them. I haven’t priced these trips recently and so am curious if anyone can assist with: price knowledge, the reliability of this travel company, comments of this particular ship, and pros/cons of this itinerary. At first glance, it's exactly what I've been wanting, in that we do inland touring first and then can relax for the cruise back. Briefly the specifics are – Alaska Cruises.com, Royal Princess ship, departure June 2019 for 11 days, begins in Fairbanks (Denali Nat'l Park, Tundra Wilderness tour, Denali Express to Whittier to board ship), cruising past or stopping one day each in Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and ending in Vancouver. The price pp with balcony is $3321.77 ($350 less if departing in Aug). The last time I priced this trip was a few years ago for a last minute deal (w/in 3 mo of departure) and the prices were closer to $1000, no balcony. Obviously I am shell-shocked with the price today. Can anyone help? Is this a good deal or might better ones come along? Many thanks for the help.

You can research this by going to Princess Cruises' site and pricing out a cruise/tour that includes these land options. Princess is well-known and reputable company. As for Alaskacruises.com, I am not familiar with them, but check reviews, how long they've been in business, whether they belong to associated membership organizations and rating on the Better Business Bureau. You could also put this trip into a Web site such as CruiseCompete to see how other agencies price it. This is a fairly common itinerary for visiting Alaska via a cruisetour, and I think it hits the highlights. 

Hi - This might be outside your expertise, but do you have any advice for convincing credit card companies to honor the travel benefits they offered for opening a new account, or for reporting them when they don't? I opened a Chase credit card based on their offer of 50,000 Southwest Rewards Points, but they gave me 10,000 points and insisted that that was the offer I'd signed up for. There's no way to for me to prove what the offer was when I opened the account (Chase admitted they don't document anything when account is opened, so they apparently can't prove what they say they offered me, either - they couldn't or wouldn't even tell me how they "knew" my offer was for 10,000 points). I've gotten nowhere with Chase's customer service people and I'm not sure how I can escalate this issue.\ Thanks for any help you can give me!

I can help. Please contact me and I'll look into this for you.

I'm the person who first posed the question about wearing shorts and sneakers in Europe. I spent 5 days in Berlin, and quite a few people were wearing shorts, and lots were wearing sneakers (but usually with pants) and lots were wearing sandals. Very few people people were dressed up, also very few wearing T-shirts with slogans on them. As a tourist, my smart phone with Google maps was a godsend, telling me which bus or subway to take. And everybody is staring at the phones, not just the tourists. I only saw one person looking at a map. One day my phone was down to 8% of battery charge by the end of the day, so I'm going to get a backup battery pack before my next trip. I highly recommend Berlin, it's got a lot of interesting stuff to see, and you can navigate quite well without speaking German.

Thanks for the report. Berlin is a young city, so not as dressy as other spots in Europe. But blending in to me is not about casual vs. dressy. It's more about how you do casual. For example, a fitted black v-neck t-shirt looks very different than a t-shirt you'd wear to the gym. 

I just wanted to pass along our experience after traveling to Canada during the second half of June. My adult son's passport expiration date is (was) July 8, 2018. (He's autistic and still lives with my wife and me.) He and I flew from the East Coast to MSP on June 15 and rented a car the next morning (in Bloomington through Costco Travel for less than half the cost of one at the airport). I then drove north and then west - through International Falls all the way to Saskatoon, before turning back through Regina and points in ND and MN. We flew back to the East Coast on July 1. There were no issues from TSA at the airports or from the Canadian and US border guards. We actually went through the Canadian border twice - once crossing at Int'l Falls (where the toll bridge was $7 !!) and then again after visiting the International Peace Garden while driving from Winnipeg to Brandon, Manitoba (it was WELL worth the time and extra km on the road). I realize that most other foreign countries require months of valid time on a passport, but Canada only cares that it's valid at time of entry. Since we only average one foreign trip a year (usually in summer) we can wait until winter to renew his passport so the next one will last a year longer.

Thank you for sharing your story.

I am planning some indefinite traveling. I do not need travel insurance, or health insurance, but I would like emergency evacuation coverage and, morbidly enough, repatriation of my remains (heaven forbid, but I like to be prepared). Insurance seems incredibly complicated if you are just looking for some specific coverage let alone insurance in general which seems equally complex. Any insights? Guidance?

If you're just interested in medical evacuation, you might consider a service like Medjet, which will arrange medical transportation to a home-country hospital of your choice. You can also consider a medical insurance only travel insurance plan through a company like HTH. If you need guidance, I would consult with a knowledgeable travel advisor. I'd love to hear your thoughts on medical-only coverage, chatters. What do you use?

I've often noted discussion in this discussion forum on what to or not to wear when traveling in foreign countries. I never travel with the assumption that I will "pass" as a local, and so I don't make a special attempt to try to fit in. I do make it a point not to stand out, though, and I do not wear clothes, hats, accessories with team names, country ID, etc. I recently traveled in Norway (wonderful trip, by the way), and I saw people from all parts of the world in all manner of casual, business casual and dressy clothes everywhere we went. The casual attire (shorts, t-shirt, sneakers) was NOT limited to people from the US. To my mind, the people who stood out the most as tourists were middle-aged men wearing those zip-off safari pants. I don't have a question - just an observation that everyone will know you're a tourist, so why try to pretend that you aren't? I wore jeans, button-up shirts and casual shoes in Norway - and was many times the most dressed-up person.

This has been a popular topic on the chat, with everyone having a different view of what tourists should or should not wear. No right answer here. To each his/her own. 

I was traveling in Europe last month, and there were several days when my cellphone said it was "offline" for no apparent reason. But I had previously downloaded the maps of the areas I was visiting (I also downloaded the Google Translate dictionaries for those countries' languages). The GPS feature still worked, so the map would show me where I was, though it wouldn't give me directions. It was still very reassuring to know where I was and which direction I was going.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Something to be said for paper maps, right?

We are a family of four with two recent college graduates. We would like to take the kids with us on a weeklong vacation in early December. We would like to go south to a place were we will reliably have beach weather (80's), good food, some things to do besides going to the beach. We like the beach the beach but don't want to spend 5 days there. I would also like a place where we can drink the water and avoid malaria, yellow fever, etc. We are budgeting roughly $5,000 to $8,000 for 4, hoping that prices will be a little lower in early December. I would appreciate any suggestions, I'm not sure where to start.

Have you narrowed it down at all? Caribbean? Mexico?Florida? Hawaii? All-inclusive or not? If all-inclusive sounds good, Jamaica, Dominican Republic or Cancun (and points south) are possibilities. In Cancun, you can visit ruins and do other excursions. In Jamaica, there's Dunn River Falls, a bioluminescent bay and catamaran rides.  Golf is available everywhere. In Florida, you'll need to go to the southern part of state to get a better chance of warm weather, perhaps Sanibel Island or Naples or Key West. Hawaii may be too far for a seven-day trip, but lots to offer. 

My wife and I are traveling to Switzerland and Austria for two weeks. We travel by train. I am a Sound of Music fan and am in awe of the Matterhorn. Do you have suggestions for us on those areas? Also upscale hotels, restaurants and bars in those cities?

Trains are an efficient method for traveling around Austria. The Sound of Music tours are based in Salzburg (funny aside -- Austrians good-naturedly think we're all a little wacky with this fixation on the Sound of Music, but they offer plenty of tours for Americans). I haven't stayed overnight in Salzburg (we do day trips there from my cousin's house in Krenglbach) so can't help with hotels. And I haven't been to the Matterhorn in many years. Chatters? 

Besides travel documents, cell phone, and prescription medication, what "must-have" items do you all routinely carry? Heading to the UK, so not worried about OTC meds, etc. Just curious. Thanks!

A lightweight rain jacket/hat, good walking shoes, a Kindle and snacks are on my short list. 

My family of four took a trip to Spain on United two weeks ago. After taking off on time and then returning to IAD an hour later due to mechanical errors, we waited another 5 hours to get in the air again. They pulled another plane that also was unrepairable, and finally a third that we were able to board after another lengthy delay as the ground crew searched for the pilots. As a result, we missed our separately ticketed Iberia flight from Madrid to Grenada - scheduled to take off 5 hours after our flight was supposed to have landed. We lost 1200 on the tickets and spent another 400 renting a car. I've reached out to United but not heard back. Are we entitled to any compensation for the lengthy delay caused by United's inability to maintain their equipment? If so, how should we go about securing it? Thanks

You might have a case under EU 261, the European airline consumer protection regulation. I would have to look at your itinerary to see if you qualify. Basically, if your flight is on United but operated by a European carrier, you might be entitled to some compensation. Otherwise, probably. not. Please get in touch with me and I'll find out for you.

Hi fellow travelers. I was flying from SFO to Dulles on June 30, the day that TSA had anticipated a crush of travlers nationwide (pre-July 4 weekend). I do not have Global Entry or Pre-Check. All the travelers in my (non-Pre-Check) lane were being directed to place their luggage on the x-ray belt and not remove shoes, liquids, laptops etc. We were then directed to walk through the scanner. At least for me, the experience was quick and organized. So much better than pulling stuff out and then shoving it back in. This was around 8:30 in the morning SF time. I'm curious whether any other flyers had a similar experience.

Thank you for sharing your story. Chatters, how were your holiday TSA experiences? Did any agents help themselves to your snacks?

Today's code is TT6072. It expires at midnight, so be sure to enter it on Monday to get credit for participating.

Unless your job or something else is life or death while you're away from wifi, enjoy the break from the phone.

Good advice. After all, it's your vacation!

We bought a Glocal universal modem which has a broad range of data plans for every country and region on the globe. It works as a wifi hotspot and can be refreshed with new plans as needed. It was very useful when there were no wifi providers we could log on to.

Great answer! Thanks.

Airport maps, ear plugs w/ case, audio buds, plastic bags, napkins (in case the toilet doesn't have toilet paper), spare underwear in a baggie (you never know when you'll have a messy personal plumbing emergency), reading material, pen, some of you own country's currency in case you want to buy something while waiting for your flight, and maps and info on the place(s) you'll be in the first day before you can get your suitcase opened.

I have never even thought of some of these! 

I always bring my toiletries and a day of clothes in case they lose my luggage. Figure they'll find it by the next day and I can at least take a shower and have fresh clothes until then.

And I am always looking for an excuse to go shopping. 

My preferred type of overseas vacation is walking long-distance trails in the UK. I have found that many people on those trails do like to advertise where they are from, through flags on jackets or backpacks. It's a lot of fun to to see the variety of people walking, and to look around for other Americans in pubs or B&Bs. The locals also seem to enjoy knowing about the variety of people visiting their little towns. I can see not wanting to stand out in big cities, but the type of travel you do can make a difference.

Good point. 

Thinking of taking a European vacation around Thanksgiving (my family doesn't do holidays). I'd rather go somewhere slightly warmer than DC but not looking for a beach vacation. I was looking at Rome and possibly Sorrento, but will it be too rainy? Where else should I consider?

It will likely be cool and rainy in Italy at that time of year. I'd likely head to Spain. Valencia is nice in November. 

Hi - what's the latest on the best bus service between the two cities? The Post's comparison seems a bit out of date. The reviews are a lot of horror stories , but also some good ones. I'm traveling with my two tween boys, so I need something fairly dependable. We're actually taking the train to NYC this time, but want to try the bus coming home. We're in Silver Spring, so the Union Station bus stop is probably easiest but can also go to Bethesda. Thanks!

How fun! A few weeks ago, we published a handy DC to NYC bus comparison chart, which includes all of the District's latest low-fare bus lines. Since you're based in Silver Spring, you might want to consider BestBus and Greyhound Bus. Both companies have stops at the Silver Spring Bus Station and Union Station. 

I'm planning on a solo trip to Paris to celebrate a milestone birthday. It'll be in the first few months of 2019, and probably 7-10 days long. Any thoughts on where else I should visit while in Paris (I assume 7 days is a bit long to spend in Paris itself - but I've never been, so let me know if that's wrong!). Nothing is booked yet, but I'm anticipating coming and going from Paris, and taking a train to another European city for a few days in the middle of the trip. Or should I leave and return to the US from different airports? How many cities could I reasonably travel to and enjoy in a 7-10 day time span? I'm fairly adventurous, but have only been to Europe twice and have never traveled alone. I want to keep the cost low and make sure I'm going somewhere safe for a woman alone. I'm thinking maybe Amsterdam, London, Brussels, or trying to ski a day in the Alps? Where else should I be thinking about, and what issues should be on my radar?

I could easily spend a week in Paris. But if you want to head to another city from there, I'd opt for either London or Amsterdam. Taking a train a ski resort in the Alps will be more complicated, but Courcheval is likely the easiest. 

I tried booking the Key West hotel mentioned in yesterday's "Deals" for New Year's. They are not running that deal around then; in fact, the total for just 3 nights was over $2,000!!!

Shoot us an email at travel@washpost.com and we'll figure out what happened.

I'm taking a family vacation to Italy with 16 people, ages 2-68 with the majority in their 20s and 30s. Our base is Bologna, but of Florence, Venice, Milan and Rome, which should be our priorities for day trips, considering the size of the group? We do have rental cars, but should we be relying on the trains more?

Not Milan. Definitely Venice and Florence. Maybe Rome, although it's not as close. And yes, trains are a good idea, although if you're already paying for rental cars, may be cheaper to go that route with so many people. 

I am planning a 3-week trip in 2019, departing the DMV area (BWI or Dulles) en route to Beijing where we'll spend a few days then take a cruise. Our trip ends in Singapore, where we'll spend a few days before flying back home. It's a little too early to book flights today, but doing some advance homework to find out who flies to/from both destinations, sample routes, and current pricing. Any suggestions, especially non-stop choices. Is 330 days out the best time to book for the best rates? Thanks much.

Most airlines publish schedules and allow booking about 330 days out, but that doesn't mean you'll find the best fares then. Get familiar with the going price and book when the fare goes down. As for how to figure out who flies there, go to the airport Web sites for flight guides. You won't find much out of BWI. I know that United flies nonstop from Dulles to Beijing, but I don't believe there are any nonstop flights from Singapore. 

I'm planning to take a trip there later this year with a few friends. We're thinking volcano and beach, but also want a good chunk of nature stuff thrown in to really explore the flora and fauna in the country. While I know group travel tours are an option, especially for the nature stuff, I'm wondering if we could just rent a car and tour the country on our own. Do you know if there are tour companies that operate in the various parks so we could sign up for tours on our own, instead of having to book with lodging and transportation included with a group travel tour?

You can do it on your own, but rent a 4-wheel-drive car, as the roads can get iffy, especially in the interior. You may be better off flying to Liberia instead of San Jose. as it's closer to the more touristed areas. 

If you travel to remote regions or internationally a lot, consider purchasing a dual-SIM phone that allows you to both have your normal USA-based service and also add a second SIM card suitable to whatever region you are travelling. Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus all make very good dual-SIM phones. If the second SIM is a pay-as-you-go plan, you don't have to worry about adding another monthly bill as you only use it when you need it.

Thank you!

My cheapo cell phone and plan don't work outside of the USA. I will be touring central Europe for 13 days, visiting Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria. I would like to have a phone that I can use in all of these countries, for both local calls and calls back to the states. What kind of phone do I need, and would I need a different SIM card for each country? Thanks.

We're having a great discussion about cell phones that don't always work when you travel. You might want to consider a pay-as-you-go SIM card from a company like Lebara while you're in Europe.

I don't do medical-only coverage. After waiting too long to get travel insurance for a big international trip a few years ago, Christopher Elliott's Forum members advised me to go for an annual policy. It was a great solution to the problem then, and I have stuck with it. It covers for the things I selected, and now it is just a matter of renewing without having to do lots of research every time. Cost-wise, it is about the same as buying insurance for a few trips a year. Worth it in my book. Thanks to Forum for their help, and the Crew for directing me there in the first place.

Thanks. I also have an annual travel insurance policy, which I've used on many occasions. Hat tip to my forum advocates who helped you. 

I recently visited Northern Ireland and Scotland and reserved a car in Dublin through Europcar which I've used twice before. At the counter I was told there was 30 euro surcharge for going to Northern Ireland and that the car was not allowed into Scotland. Their 'solution' was to turn in my car in Belfast and get a new rental from their Great Britain affiliate. Only when I got there they didn't have any cars available. So I rented with a different company for a car I could take to Scotland and drop off in Dublin. This was about double my original budget but I was over a barrel. To add insult to injury, when I finally got back to Dublin, I checked the bill with Europcar and they had charged me a 130 euro drop-off fee just for going from Dublin to Belfast only to not get a car. None of these geographic restrictions were obvious when I rented the car through their website. What should I have done different then or anywhere along the way?

I checked on the fee since this is the first I've heard of it. Sure enough, my friends at Auto Europe, who I consider the experts on Europe rentals, report car rental companies charge fees for driving to Northern Ireland. These extras should have been disclosed to you, as well as the drop-off fee. If you feel they weren't, please contact me directly and I'll do my best to help you.

We're flying in and out of LA in December, but not staying there. For our own convenience, we're likely to drive back to LA and fly out the next day. We've done the obvious tourist spots in the past (Disney, etc), so is there something low key to do during our maybe ten hours to kill?

I'd likely head up to Venice/Santa Monica and rent bikes or take a long walk along the water and go out for a nice meal. You can get there from LAX via bus if you don't want to rent a car. 

One December we took our college-aged children on a cruise. It was great because there was a different location everyday (or a relaxing day on the ship). At the various ports (Western Caribbean), we did a small group catamaran snorkel trip in Honduras, an excursion on a river to ancient ruins in Belize and a day on a great beach in Mexico. On days at sea, we were off doing our own things and then got together at dinner to share our day’s experiences. We enjoyed the variety that the cruise provided and the opportunity to have family and non-family time.

Cruises can work in these situations. 

Has to be Maui, though I've only been to four of them. Sunrise on Haleakalah is worth it - a lot of sunrise tourist things just aren't. Watching the microclimates change on the road to Hana would make that trip worth it, but then you get to places like Wailua Falls and the Seven Sacred Pools. Iao Valley is like a natural cathedral. And there is a great little museum near the entrance. The snorkeling is fantastic. I'm always skeptical when people tell me what I might see at just snorkeling depths, but a turtle practically swam into me at one point and I found a moray eel hunkering down under a rock. I think the best thing about Maui is that they somehow managed to make even the touristy areas not feel all that touristy. Something Oahu has not managed. I think the Big Island would come in second, but Maui is first.

A vote for Maui!

We were recently in several European countries for two weeks. Very few people were in shorts. They were easily identifiable as being from the US. Some other take aways: get google translate and download the dictionaries you need prior to traveling. If you use the camera feature it's like you're Harry Potter - the words translate to English (or whatever is selected) before you eyes. Truly magic. Also, get change to carry around for toilets. England was okay, but elsewhere there always seemed to be a charge for the toilets.

Cities in Europe vary greatly, as do styles. I was surprised when visiting Sicily at how fashionably everyone dressed. 

My husband and I have done two trips around Switzerland by train, the more recent one was this past May. It’s a great way to travel; there are a lot of very nice mid-priced ( for Switzerland)/hotels within a block or two of major train stations ( check TripAdvisor). We did go to Zermatt on this trip - you can’t actually go up the Matterhorn unless you climb it, but you can see it from several areas in town and from a couple of nearby peaks that are accessible by cable car or cog railway. We only went to Zermatt to take the Glacier Express, which is a scenic train to the St. Moritz/Davos area - beautiful scenery all the way. Switzerland has a lot of pre-paid rail passes that give you significant discounts on trains, boats and lots of other forms of transportation - check out the Swiss Rail website.

Thanks!

We were returning from Ireland and had previously been happy with their method of clearing customs at the Dublin airport. Only this day it was a complete nightmare. After clearing Dublin Airport security there was an hour line to clear "TSA" security before going to the gate. And then the Global Entry kiosks had been down for a long time causing huge backups at customs. All flights that day were up to three hours delayed as the airlines waited for passengers to clear. Our flight was lucky and was only one hour late get everybody on board. They did pass out free water bottles for people stuck in the multiple bottlenecks.

I would have wished for free wine instead of water. 

I was in Paris this past April and the fashion look was all about sneakers! Especially high-end like Balenciaga, Gucci and Yeezy. Everyone checking out each others sneakers especially if waiting in on of the many amazing sites in Paris. Basically it was tourists checking out tourists.

What, no Keds? 

How can I search for airfares that are comparable in terms of baggage fees. In other words, if I want to go from City A to City B with a Carry On, I can't go into Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. and get comparable fares. Why won't these sites adapt to the new way of charging passengers or am I missing some technique I should know?

I don't think there is a site that includes all the fees, as some airlines charge for everything (how about $5 for printing your boarding pass at the airport)? Kayak is likely your best bet. 

We got an airfare-hotel package through KLM that flew direct into Amsterdam for three days, then flew us to Paris for three days. From there you fly back to the US, connecting back in Amsterdam. You miss the pretty train ride but it's a great way to hit both cities.

Thanks.

For me, it's Kaua'i. What I like most about it is that it is relatively secluded and there are not tourists everywhere. Plus, Waimea Canyon is crazy beautiful. When we visited Kaua'i, there was a rainbow approximately every couple of hours. It's everything you think of when you think of Hawaii.

A minimum-tourists and maximum-rainbows island sounds good.

I agree with the earlier poster that you don't need to worry about basics (like Advil) when traveling to Europe -- except that I always carry a small tube of antibiotic ointment. I am prone to minor mishaps, and the dry-skin problem with traveling (hotel soaps, etc.) sometimes makes a minor cut stubbornly refuse to heal. Turns out, antibiotic ointments require a prescription in the UK and France, at least. So I always take my own Neosporin.

Thanks!

I have the same family make-up. Don't know if my suggestions will work in Dec but last summer we went to Puerto Rico. Were lucky to be there just prior to the hurricanes, so don't know what it would be like now, but there was a lot to do besides the beach. The summer before we went to Myrtle Beach. Each time we rented from AirBnB. It was perfect housing for less than 2 hotel rooms , and on the beach with a water view.

Thanks for the ideas. 

We had a little bit of everything in our Thanksgiving trip to Maui in 2016. Opened with scouring for vegetarian food on nearly empty streets on Thanksgiving day. We shopped at a Walmart 30 miles away and ended up cooking Indian food with basic cookware for most of our meals. We enjoyed most of these meals out on the ocean facing lanai inn our rented condo-stay at Aston Mahana. Spent a couple of hours worrying about a diver who went diving in front of us and did not reappear for a very long time. We had some good Thai food and shaved ice at Lahaina downtown. Spent a day on the scary roads to Hana but absolutely loved every bit of it, especially Kaenae peninsula. We marveled at a sunset viewing of Haleakala but the drive up there and the hikes were more spectacular. I am not a swimmer but took some classes before the trip and thought I could conquer the ocean with a few hours of pool swimming. Attempted snorkeling and failed spectacularly since I did not account for waves. There are no waves in an indoor kiddie pool I learnt at. I was not confident in-spite of wearing every possible life-saving apparatus they had. Ended up bruising my knee since I was scared to even come back on the boat. Husband had a jolly good time gazing at turtles and I spent my time people-watching and cheering other divers. On the last day, we realized we had a vegan restaurant a mile from our resort. But no complaints. We will return in a heartbeat if our new son allows us to.

I love the big island for its diversity. In one vacation, we experienced lush hiking in the Waipio Valley, frigid temps atop Kauna Kea, beach relaxation in Kona, trips back in time at the volcanic craters, and scuba diving to rival the marine ecosystems of much more distant Pacific destinations. All this with a time difference that still allows for listening to live baseball over breakfast of the freshest tropical fruit possible. I can't wait to go back.

I am the beach person and my husband the "do-it" person. How w've stayed married, I don't know! But that is why we enjoyed the Big Island most -- It had everything for both of us to be happy.

And one more!

I spent a week in Germany with family but one day we went over to France and as soon as we crossed the border BOOM all the women were suddenly stylish. Amazing how you just cross a line in the dirt and you're in a whole other country.

Perfect parting thought, thanks!

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

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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