We have a flight out of DCA at 11:00 AM on Christmas morning. What time do you recommend we arrive at the airport? Are airports busy on Christmas day? We will be traveling with our 4 and 7 year old kids and checking luggage. Thanks!
Airports are usually quiet on Christmas Day. With small children & luggage to check, I'd get there at least 90 minutes ahead of flight time.
My husband and I are in desperate need of a weekend away. Unfortunately, it can only be this coming weekend 12/28-12/30. It has to be within in driving distance. We need some time to reconnect after several very stressful months on our marriage. Nightlife or sites don't matter. It could be in Springfield for all I care. The only things I ask for are a clean room with a king bed... oh, I would also love to have a room that has a large jacuzzi tub. Any suggestions?
I will be traveling to Thailand in early January. I was assigned to the US Embassy in the early 1980s and recall that Thai immigration allowed US citizens to enter without a visa when staying for less than thirty days. Proof of onward travel was required and return tickets were the most common form of proof. I know the Thai authorities now seldom ask for such proof, but they have done so on occasion. I have round trip electronic tickets, but cannot print my return tickets until 24 hours of departure. What does one use in these days of paperless tickets to show proof on onward travel? Will United Airlines provide such documentation? Will a print out of my reservations with the confirmation code work?
Thai immigration officials would be the ones asking for proof of onward travel. According to a UK government travel site and several other sources I consulted, a return or onward ticket should be sufficient. A printout of your itinerary with your reservation number and record locator ought to work. All of your reservations have to be made before you leave.
... but my week in St. Thomas starts tomorrow. Hard to concentrate at work at today, or stop smiling. Merry Christmas everyone! :0)
My friend is part of a holiday show in Brooklyn. I went to New York for the weekend to see the show and spend some time with friend and some of the other people I know who are also involved with the show. My friend gave me the name of the hotel where he was staying and I booked a room. I really wish the hotel had posted something indicating that parking was limited. The hotel had just over 100 rooms (based on a sign in the hotel) but only 20 parking spaces. My friend had told me the hotel charged $25/night to park, but was equally surprised to find the lot full. I was forced to drive around looking for a parking spot on the street. Shouldn't a hotel have some obligation to make sure guests know about parking options/limitations before they book a room. I would have booked a parking spot for my car had I been given a chance to ensure a place to park.
Yes, absolutely. Poorly disclosed parking fees are a never-ending source of reader complaints, and I agree with you that hotels should be obligated to disclose the parking situation prominently when you book. The same goes for mandatory "resort" fees that allegedly cover "free" in-room Wi-Fi, exercise facilities and towels. Don't even get me started on those.
You can make a fairly educated guess about parking fees for future stays. Urban hotels, like the one you were visiting, are notorious parking-fee offenders. Large hotels in densely-populated resort areas are known to charge extra for parking, too. If you're staying at one of these hotels, and driving, I would call to find out if there's a parking fee.
Experts! We are in the early phases of planning a trip to Machu Picchu. We would like to hike to Machu Picchu. After doing a preliminary search, I noticed that the treks can be from 2 days to 7 days for the Inca Trail. Have any of you travel gurus done it? How much "roughin' it" do you really do? I am not exactly the super outdoorsy type, and not that athletic (although we do a little cycling and running). And how many days do you suggest we lock down for hiking? Anything we should be aware of? And what would be the best time to go (in terms of weather and crowds)? Thanks!
Let's throw this one out to the chatters, because I know some of them have done Machu Picchu and none of us have. Folks?
My hometown is the tourist trap laid out by the Inn at Little Washington. That business has purchased a large chunk of the town. I grew up walking to Skippy's, an old fashioned general store. But I left in 2001. Going back just makes me feel sad.
We are on a cruise in March 2015 departing from Hong Kong to Singapore. We would like to do a land tour of key sights (Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Shanghai) of Mainland China before our departure. Would you know of a firm that might assist us with our arrangements? I have had no success with package deals that could meet our cruise departure date (March 15, 2015).
I am VERY excited that I am about to book a trip to the Galapagos. We're booking early to take advantage of special offers, but the trip won't actually be until August or September 2014 (We haven't quite decided which week we'll go, yet.) Right now, round-trip airfare from PHX is roughly $1,100 per person across combinations of carriers. That doesn't actually sound too bad to me - should we snap this up, or is there likely to be a better time to buy?
Are you doing a tour or cruise of the Galapagos? If so, I'd check with the tour company first to see if they can arrange airfare, and, if so, compare the cost to a ticket purchased separately. When you say it's a combination of carriers, are you booking it one ticket? I'd be careful about booking individual tickets, as it could get messy if one of your flights is canceled. $1,100 out of Phoenix sounds about right. If you track it for a bit, you'll get a better idea of average prices.
Not my 'hometown' per se, but living in Arizona sometimes means taking out-of-town visitors to see the Grand Canyon. I always, always get a thrill from seeing it through their eyes - the gasps, the ooohs, and one friend from Germany got teary-eyed just looking at the magnificence. Living in Arizona, one sometimes gets immune to the natural beauty. But sharing the experience with friends from far away never fails to rekindle the flame. :)
Yes! I can see that.
Perfect timing for this chat - my best friend is in CA, and we want to meet up for New Year's Eve. Last year we went to Paris, but we're both so overworked that we can only get away for 3 days this year. Any tips on somewhere warm in the middle(ish) to meet? We're considering Austin...thoughts? Thank you!
Love the Austin idea. You might also consider New Orleans or Nashville, both of which will be crazy-fun on New Year's Eve. For a coastal getaway, you might consider South Padre Island in Texas. Temps this week are in the 60s-70s. And for R&R in the red rocks, stay at a spa resort in Sedona.
Just wanted to say thanks for the recommendation of Hotel Therese in Paris. I just got back from a work trip, and they were great, great, great. Staff was universally friendly, they were super helpful with dinner recommendations, the hotel is lovely, rooms are thoughtful, albeit euro-small, and if you make your reservation through their Facebook page, breakfast is included. And the location was great (4 minute walk to Louvre). Thanks again!
So glad to hear my recommendation worked out! I did love it there.
Submitting this in advance, hoping to solicit advice. My wife and I have taken several trips "down south" from Juneau, AK, this year, largely centered around family (obli-cations). I realized while trying to reserve a rental car for our upcoming January trip that we've rented 6 cars in the past year in different locations. Previously, I've generally had decent luck bidding on a rental cars through sites like Priceline. It seems like prices have gone up over the past year or year and half, and I'm starting to wonder -- given the frequency of our rentals -- if choosing one rental car company would be a better bet. So far, I think I've narrowed it down to three: National (Emerald Club), Enterprise (pricier but good experiences and some rewards), and Budget (discounts based on volume of rentals). I'm not too concerned about the benefit of "not standing in line," because after flying from Alaska to the Northeast, 15 minutes in line isn't really a hardship to us. Also, not too impressed with Budget's 50 Alaska Airlines miles per day (50 miles? Sheesh.) Looking mostly for cheaper prices and good service. Airport pickup is pretty key, although I know that it's more expensive. We generally go with economy/compact and don't really need any cars that are bigger than mid-size at the most. Any advice or experience with rental car bonuses/perks/loyalty programs?
It's true that car rental prices are edging higher, but my advice is a little bit counter-intuitive. Now, more than ever, you should consider shopping around to find the best car rental deal.
The problem with giving your loyalty to one car rental company -- which is different than being a passive participant in a program -- is that you might overlook a terrific deal from a competing car rental company. So cast a wide net. At a minimum, sign up to participate in the Avis, Hertz and Enterprise loyalty programs (if nothing else, it'll make the rental process smoother). But shop hard.
Also, you can really save money by renting off-airport, so I would not limit yourself to strictly on-airport locations. A 10-minute taxi ride could save you a few dollars.
By the way, I'd be happy to send you a draft chapter about car rentals from my upcoming book, How To Be The World's Smartest Traveler. In fact, I'd be happy to email it to anyone who writes me. Here's my email address.
"You can't buy a round-trip ticket with no return date. If you get a round-trip ticket, you'll have to pay the penalty for changing the return date, which will be steep, plus the difference in airfare." actually....the higher fares have no change fee, and are completely refundable. Businesspeople with volatile schedules often buy these, to save the hassle of change fees, credit from unused tix, etc. But the OP will probably do best by buying the cheapest roundtrip ticket and being resigned to paying change fee and (if applicable) fare differential...just make sure that the fare does even allow changes, because some don't!
She was looking for the cheaper fares, which is why I did not go into the refundable fares, which are often four or five times more expensive. But, yes, refundable tickets are available.
Hello, I am planning a trip to Montreal in the spring. I am thinking late May or early June. Could suggest a few nice hotels in historic Old Montreal?
I've enjoyed stays at the Hotel Nelligan, Le St.-Sulpice, Hotel Gault and Auberge du Vieux-Port. All nice, all in the Old Port, but slightly different personalities. Gault is the sleekest and most modern, Auberge is perhaps the most classic, while Nelligan and St.-Sulpice strike a balance between the two.
This summer, my Dad (76 years old), my daughter (10 years) and me (45) plan to take a week to go biking in Germany. My Dad and I have both lived in Germany (over 15 years ago) and speak German, but it will be my daughter's first time out of the country. We are all in pretty good shape (my Dad bikes and runs regularly), but really hope to enjoy the country again and hopefully see old friends in Kassel. Any suggestions on how to research bike companies and plan a trip we can all enjoy? A brief search online looks like biking on the Rhine river might be best. Thanks!
Crew: My home town is NYC - Brooklyn to be exact and it's always a joy to return there during the Christmas season. The minute I smell the hot chestnuts and pretzels sold by the street vendors, I know that I'm home. Seeing all the department store windows (yes, some are gone...), going to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and the Christmas Show, the Plaza hotel lobby all decorated - do they pump in a smell of gingerbread? - these are memories that stay the same for me ever since I was a kid in the late 1950's. Nice to have traditions that remain.
Few places are like NYC at Christmastime!
My parents are taking the extended family on a cruise to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Breakaway. While I anticipate that we will be having fun aboard the ship, what activities would be good for a 13 and 11 year old ashore on Bermuda. Any suggestions would be more than welcome! I was there once for a cross-country meet over a Thanksgiving weekend in 1989 so didn't get around much but I do remember it's lovely.
There's no shortage of things for kids/teenagers to do in Bermuda. Snorkeling has got to be at the top of the list, right? If they're swimmers, of course. There's also Crystal and Fantasy Caves for underground fun; the Aquarium, Museum and Zoo; and what the owners call the "world's finest" miniature golf course, Bermuda Fun Golf.
We are traveling in late May to visit the sites in Southern Utah; Zion, Arches, etc. And in Arizona the Grand Canyon. I have found, to my dismay, lodging in the Grand Canyon park is full. Lodging near the North rim is a problem. Trip Advisor and other helpful booking sites have local owned motels that are basic or worse and receive below average reviews. I am willing to drive 50 miles to find a hotel comparable to a Hampton inn or some other chain. Can you offer some recommendations or advice?
My wife and I are going to a wedding in late April near Dallas/Fort Worth. What are your favorite things to do and see in the area? We have seen all the JFK related things before. We love outdoor things to do. Thanks.
I typically visit friends in Fort Worth when I'm in the area, so I'm more familiar with things around there, and say: Get to the Fort Worth Cultural District. The Kimbell and the Modern are world-class, and well worth seeing, and the Cowgirl Museum is a hoot. (There's also the Stockyards district, which is fascinating, with lots to do.)
In Dallas, there's an arts district, too, which I haven't seen, but one of our freelance writers raved about a weekend there. It's not "outdoors" in the classic sense of the word, but he spent lots of time walking around among the attractions, many of which are indeed out under the big Texas sky.
I'm from Chicago, and until 3 years ago when I moved to DC I fully expected to live out my adult life there. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed showing visiting friends the city, mixing in the history, the architecture, the changes I'd seen over 40 years, the personal anecdotes, as well as the really odd things that happen in any city that the residents know about. (Like the glass-heavy State of Illinois building that nearly broiled its tenants the first summer it was open, and pointing out the grated Chicago River bridge over which the Dave Matthews' Band's tourbus driver, deciding to save money and time, opened up the bus's septic tanks. Unfortunately just as a Chicago architectural tour ferry - with people sitting on deck - was going under...) I may have some sad memories of the past, and it was melancholy when favorite places disappeared, but I was there living it, so the changes were gradual, and the city itself is so large and diverse and fascinating that I had no problem separating the sad. Which generally was not in areas I'd show tourists anyway. (P.S. - now that I think of it, it could just be that I like showing people around... I've started pointing out to visitors here the few things I know about this area as well!)
You sound like a guide at heart! Thanks.
My family is planning to drive along the US West Coast this August. I'm thinking Seattle to LA. Should we drive north to south? Will two weeks be enough time? What are some must-dos? Kids are 14 and 18. Thank you!
That's an amazing trip--the entire West Coast of the United States. You can drive either way, though I might suggest north to south, since it's summertime and LA is hot.
I'd need the whole hour to list all of the great places from Seattle to Portland, San Fran to LA. Best to get some guidebooks and start circling attractions; or contact the tourism off ice of each state for info.
We are thinking about going to Myrtle Beach just to get out of town after Christmas. Temps will be in the 50's. What can we do with our 7 and 9 yr old kids?
Myrtle Beach will be relatively quiet at that this time of year. Indoor attractions that would appeal to kids include WonderWorks and the Children's Museum of South Carolina. They might also enjoy the Medieval Times holiday show or the holiday exhibit at Brookgreen Gardens. And there are several holiday events scheduled to take place on the boardwalk on Dec. 28.
I know the Savage River Lodge is pet friendly and I'm looking for other options. The Iris Inn pet friendly cabins are already booked for this week. I have a small dog. Thank you.
When I do my summer trip to visit family back east, the airport always has really high prices like $60+ for cars per day. I instead use one of the rental locations off airport (usually near dealership strips or car repair locattions) at a more reasonable rate of <$20/day. The only constraint is that they usually operate more 8-5 type of hours so the return must be done during that time.
Yes, a Galapagos boat tour through Ecoventura, which has been recommended on this chat several times. it doesn't look like they'll book the international airfare, just the hop to San Cristobal. I can double check. I am sure that I can book all the way through on a single ticket, so I'll make sure I do it that way. Thanks for the advice.
I think it's worth contacting Ecoventura for their advice re: airfare.
We're planning a trip to Britain in June (after kids are out of school). Should I go ahead and get tickets now? Fares are outrageous, but will they just keep going up from now on?
It's difficult to say now whether there will be sales. Some airlines show you how many seats are available on the flight before you pay for the ticket. If you can check several flights on the days you want to travel and almost every seat is open, there could very well be a sale. But if a good number of seats are already booked, the price will only go up. There is competition to London, which means more seats. That said, I've gambled, and I've lost more often than won. Flexibility is critical. If you need to travel on specific dates, buy sooner rather than later.
A friend of mine hiked up to Machu Picchu. It is strenuous, and it's high altitude. I haven't been there, but I've been on group hikes where some of the participants are not strong enough to keep up, and they become a real drag on the group. I suggest the chatter join a gym and start getting in shape now, or sign up for a Machu Picchu trip that doesn't require hiking up the mountain. Why would you sign up for a 2 - 7 day hike if you're not into hiking?
So I'm sorry to submit the question, but here it is. I've been stalking airfare from WAS to Prague like a fox stalking a badger and still don't know what's 'reasonable' for a mid-April 2014 departure. The historic low is like $700....for February. Fares with less than 24 hours travel time (I'm looking at you, Turkish Airlines) are coming up at $1200. Buy or wait?
If Turkish Airlines offers flights with decent connections, wait. It's been offering fairly regular sales. In nature, a badger is likely to turn around and kill the fox, so strike quickly when you find a lower fare.
The poster wasnt so much about talking of the fees, but of how many parking spaces they have to use. Many hotels are not good at disclosing how many parking spaces they have. I have ran into this at non inner city hotels. But because I arrived late like around 11pm at a hotel just off an interstate, the lot they had was packed so finding a space was difficult. this problems happens often if you are staying at a hotel that shares a lot with a sister property likea Farifield and a Courtyard are next to each other.
Thanks for clarifying that. Like I said, when I get started on fees, it's hard to stop me. But we agree on this point, too. Hotels should disclose the amount of parking they have to their guests.
My (and my mother's!) hometown is Berkeley, California, home of the University of California. In the '60s and '70s there'd be lots of tourists walking along Telegraph Avenue gawking, hogging the coffee shops' outdoor seating, and buying souvenir hand-made jewelry, protest buttons, tie-dye T-shirts and other ephemera of the hippie era that the natives weren't much interested in (mind you, most native Berkeleyans were politically progressive but fairly conventional in their lifestyles). Likewise, after I moved east, when people would find out I was a native Berkeleyan, they react one of two ways: either castigate me because they strenuously disapproved of the political demonstrations etc. there (despite the fact that most of us took little if any part in them) -- or, at the other extreme, say how awesome it must've been to be part of the sex/drugs/rock-'n'-roll and political scene (most of us weren't much, if at all). Then Berkeley's Gourmet Gulch became THE tourist mecca, despite the fact that most hard-working natives can't afford to eat at such places very often (if at all). Basically, what I guess I'm trying to say is that there've long been TWO Berkeleys -- the real one, and the tourist one.
Ah, yes. Sounds like you became expert in both!
Hi! just back in DC from a 2 week work trip to Portland, Oregon (which was just fantastic.) My question...when I asked to add my frequent flier number to my car rental to get mileage credit, I was told that I would be charged a "nominal" amount- about a dollar a day- if I wanted to earn the miles. Is this now common practice?
Yes, they've been doing that for a while. The miles aren't free to the car rental companies, so they are passing part of the cost along to you. I know some travelers who refuse to collect their partner miles because of this.
I was in Savannah this spring for a quick vacation and absolutely loved it. Several friends suggested Charleston as similar in feel and overall experience. What do you think? (I'm very high on tours, museums, photography, and food experiences; very low on nightlife and shopping) Thanks!
Yes, yes, yes -- you must check out Charleston. There are some similarities between the two cities, but I think you'd also enjoy seeing some of the differences.
As a kid growing up on the south coast of Oregon, we used to make a game out of mis-directing tourists. There was one particular point of Highway 101 with no turn-around for at least five miles, which meant about half an hour of travel for an RV when we pointed them in the wrong direction. Now, whenever I go back to visit, I feel guilty, and always go out of my way to help folks who are passing through!
Let the traveler beware! Too funny.
Thanks for your advice on the rental cars. I will definitely email you about the rental car chapter. My follow-up: is there a reliable website for searching cab fares in different places. You make a good point to not to be too tied to airport pickup, but I've been burned on unexpectedly high cab fares before, and without having that piece of the puzzle it's hard to know if we're actually saving money or just divvying up the same amount -- or more -- between the rental car and a cab.
There are lots of different versions of a hike to Machu Picchu. It ranges from a very intense full Incan Trail campling expedition to some short day hikes around the area while staying in luxury lodges (my preferred version!). Most guide books will have decent summaries about the options so the OP can start to think about how strenuous he or she wants it to be.
A friend and I are traveling to Rome and Florence in February and are planning to take the train between the two. Do we need to book train tickets in advance, and if so, how do we do that? Any other Rome/Florence tips are much appreciated!
You can buy tickets at the station. If you'd prefer buying them in advance, go to the Trenitalia Web site. I have not been to either city in more than a few years, so will leave it up to my colleagues and chatters to share other tips, other than don't miss the catacombs in Rome.
One of driving the Pacific Coast Highway north-to-south is that you'll be on the right side of the road -- literally and figuratively -- for most of the scenic vistas, which makes it easier to access them.
Very important to know! Thanks for the insight.
First off---usually in May there still is some snow in shaded areas.. In a bad winter it could still be closed. As for Lodging the best option is Kanab. There you have some chains (Choice, Holiday Inn, Best western) as well as a few decent private inns and lodging. The drive will be about 90 minutes. the other lodging option is in Marble Canyon areea where there are a few lodges but tthe drive from there is about the same. North Rim is maller than South Rim--far smaller. I always suggest just doing it as a day trip where you are there all day and explore. There is nothing within 50 miles from it. That entire area is rural. There area few camping sites outsie the park but the only lodging is in Kanab or Marble Canyon and places farther.
Thanks for the tips. I did see those chain hotels in Kanab, but definitely not within 50 miles (more like 80).
I wouldn't wait TOO long to buy plane tickets, but you might want to wait a few weeks, until into the New Year, in case there are fare sales. My advice would be to buy in January (February at the latest) for summer 2014.
As good an idea as any. Airfares are very difficult to predict. But I've found that even when there is a sale, the parameters are often very restrictive re: travel dates, days, advance-purchase requirements, etc. International sales, while less frequent, are typically a little bit less restrictive. Flexibility is key.
When going on vacation by car, stopping for gas is hard to avoid. The problem is that not every exit has a gas station and along toll roads, the rest areas and exits are sometimes many miles apart. That assumes the exits even have a gas station close to the road. When going on an unfamiliar route, it is often hard to know how much further you would have to go to get to the next gas station if you don't stop at the first one you pass. But, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will not need a full tank and have to stop again, but waiting might prove to be equally a problem if the next rest area is closed for remodelling or other issues. I really wish I had a service on my GPS that I could give it my destination and how many miles i can travel between gas stops and have it plan good places to stop for gas.
Entrepreneurs, are you reading?
I use Gas buddy to find the cheapest gas along my route. That app could be used for the purposed of the commenter. It is a free app.
Also Road Ninja would work, I think!
How safe is it to roam the streets of a Naples, Italy? Any recommendation for a hotel in a quiet area?
I can't speak from personal experience, though I do have a friend in Naples who said the mafia is still pretty bad there. But he lives freely and has never been attacked to my knowledge. Then again, he is from Naples.
According to a State Department report:
The incidence of violent crime in Naples falls within the medium-low spectrum in comparison to many major U.S. cities. Crime in the southern consular district, and especially Naples, continues to be a persistent problem. Most crimes tend to be non-violent and directed toward obtaining property such as purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and residential, and vehicle break-ins. The Centro Storico (city center) has the highest incidence of these types of crimes. American visitors are generally safe in Italy and are not singled out or targeted based on nationality, but foreigners do tend to be targeted for petty theft because they look like tourists.
In other words: Keep the valuables at home and carry little cash, and hide it deep in clothing far from sticky fingers.
I must second Charleston - so charming and soooooooooooooo much better than Savannah - Savannah was too touristy - the restaurants along the water were awful, and we just had a miserable stay - only redemption was the fabulous Cuban restaurant near downtown!
We could have a Charleston-Savannah debate, I'm sure! I do love the squares of Savannah, but the food is nowhere NEAR as good as in Charleston.