I just read about this product that sits inside your luggage and uses a chip to track its location, so you can always tell where your luggage is during air travel. I was wondering if anyone has used it. (I'm the chatter who has 14 flights during one month in an upcoming trip to Australia/NZ. Might be nice to have this technology.)
My wife and I next summer will be in Innsbruck again and want to see great scenery and other things as well as sleep in northern Italy (Brenner pass area) and other South Austria areas. What are your favorite places to stay and see?
We are flying out tonight (10pm) from Dulles heading to Europe. Any idea about what we should expect on the roads getting to IAD, as well as at the airport? Thanks so much!
There are any number of good deals, airfare-wise, to L.A. from the Washington area. But, then it gets complicated and expensive to get from L.A. to Palm Springs. Short of renting a car, are there bus or other reasonably priced options to get from L.A. to Palm Springs?
You can actually take Amtrak between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Here's a list of other ground transportation options.
Hi, I'll be traveling to Miami next month with 4 year old daughter. We're staying in downtown Miami. Do you have any recommendations for kid friendly restaurants or activities in the city? Thanks.
Do you have any tips for getting a good deal on a room in one of the swankier hotels in Las Vegas? There will be three of us, all coming from different parts in the country, and we'd like to have a nice room in which to hang out and catch up. None of us has ever been to Vegas before. Thanks.
If you have a large-ish group, you can call and try to get a group rate. Or try a discounted third-party hotel site, such as Priceline and Hotwire. Some casino resorts also offer members (sign up for free) deals. You can also find deals if you book a package with air. Vegas. com also lists specials.
Just a warning: Prices in Vegas flucuate a lot. On a slow week, you can pay piddly for a room; but if a big event is in town, the rate skyrockets. If possible, pick a time when there is no big to-do, such as an awards show. Weekdays are also cheaper.
My daughter and I would like to take a relaxing/fun time away the first two weeks of January. We would prefer warmth, not too expensive and in USA /or elsewhere. My husband passed away in October after fighting cancer for four months. Any suggestions would be great as I know the time is getting close.
I'm sorry for your loss. How warm do you need it to be? I'm thinking you two might enjoy a Southern California excursion between Los Angeles and San Diego. Or you could do something totally different and go to South America -- Peru, Argentina, whatever interests you.
Hi Intrepid Travel Guides, I've been fortunate enough to visit 42 of the 50 states, annd my goal is to get to them all. I know what to do in Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii, but do you have any suggestions for Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Idaho? Thanks!
So close to 50! Good for you. Here are some suggestions outside of the obvious (Omaha, Little Rock, Boise, etc.):
Nebraska: Chimney Rock Historic Site; Lewis and Clark Trail
Arkansas: Mountain View (so-called folk music capital of the world), Hot Springs
Mississippi: Clarksdale, home of Morgan Freeman's blues club, plus other amazing music venues and history; Vicksburg, for Civil War history
Idaho: Sun Valley; Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Kansas: Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center; Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum; World's Largest Ball of Twine
Last week, someone posted about a trip to Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice in particular) asking about which airport to fly into. I recall the suggestion was made to fly into Florence or Pisa. I have another idea. Fly into Rome (DaVinci Airport has easy train access to central Rome); take the train to Florence and then on to Venice; and finally, depart from Venice Airport. (I used exactly this route in 2003.) Of course, one could do it the other way around. I think streamlining the itinerary and eliminating the need to backtrack might well be worth it, even though the original poster expressed concerns about "big airports."
It's a thought, thanks! This is for you, if you're out there, Italy traveler.
Re: Flight schedule changes due to the AA-USAirways merger. I'll need to book April flights to/from Boston on (what used to be) USAirways in February. How much of a risk do you anticipate there'll be that flights booked in February will be significantly rescheduled -- or worse, cancelled -- by mid-April? I'm flying to/from Europe out of Boston, so need to make sure I have plenty of time to get from the assigned domestic terminal to Logan's International Terminal (E).
It's difficult to say. If you'd asked me the same question last week, I would have said your April flights are safe. But the merger is moving faster than I expected, and there will be some route consolidation. If your flight is canceled, the "new" American will either offer a full refund or a flight of its choosing. Unfortunately, that's all it's required to do.
My wife and I are headed to NOLA for a NYE without the kids. Any age appropriate (mid to late 30's) suggestions for bar/clubs or restaurants?
I would stay away from Bourboun Street (partayyy) and head for the Frenchman Street area. Find yourself a jazz club to trumpet in the new year. Suggestions: Vaso, the Spotted Cat and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. For dining: Three Muses or Adolfo's.
Check in advance for reservation requirements.
Hi, toward the end of last week's chat someone mentioned shrink-wrapped luggage. Tightly wrapping checked bags in thin plastic film is a very common practice at many airports; Dubai comes to mind. The wrap is similar in texture to the shrink-wrap we use in this country for covering food dishes. The purpose is to protect your luggage from nefarious types who might cut it open to steal stuff, or slip contraband into it to for smuggling purposes. As to the OP's question about what TSA does when they see the shrink-wrapped luggage come into the US from outside -- they don't do anything, because TSA doesn't look at your checked luggage when it comes out of the airplane. You pick it up from baggage claim, and you remove the shrink-wrap before proceeding to Customs.
Very good to know. Thanks for the inside info!
Any nice but not too expensive B&B's or small hotels near areas with cross country skiing? We'd like to take a 3 day weekend, drive somewhere and get away. Bonus points if there are other things to do in the area. Thanks for any suggestions.
Hi! I'm thinking of taking my 60-something parents to Germany next yea, but both have trouble walking, though they're still mobile. Are there tour companies that would be good to look into? One hitch would be that my father is a VERY picky eater and would probably not want to eat what/where the rest of the group would eat....
We ran a story just a few months ago about a son who took his 70-something father with some mobility issues on a river cruise through Hungary, Austria and Germany. It sounds like just the thing for you and your parents -- you could cruise up the Rhine; Viking is the premier company, although there are others, such as Ama Waterways, recommended in the article above. The one hitch is that your picky eater father would be stuck eating everything that everybody else would be eating on the ship. Cruises do offer a wide variety of food, though, including buffets, so surely there would be something that would satisfy Dad! The other possibility is to check out Road Scholars (formerly Elderhostel), which provides tours geared to the older set. Chatters, do you have other recommendations? Let's hear them!
I think kids would get a kick from (and adults will be impressed with) the crazy architecture at Coral Castle, south of Miami near Homestead.
My husband is 83 and I am 68. We would love to take a safari to Africa. What company or specific safari would you recommend given our ages. We are both in reasonably good health and physical condition and have a reasonable amount of disposable income.
We don't typically recommend specific tour operators. I am guessing you would prefer a luxury tented safari experience, which is more common in Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia are in this group) . Any chatters have specific recommendations?
It might not help you this time, but seriously consider joining one of the rewards programs that the casinos offer. I've stayed at NYNY for a few comped nights, and other times for $30/night. Also had comped/reduced rates at Aria and Luxor because of my status in the MLife program. And no, I'm NOT a high roller. Usually play penny slots... At the end of your stay, stop by the MLife desk and ask to check your points; they may comp you the resort fees at least!
I always join the casino rewards programs too, even though I am a terrible gambler. You get some starter gambling money, plus other perks.
In the early 1980s, when I worked for a major airline, I could fly for nothing (or almost nothing, depending on whether I went Economy or First). I used to make annual weekend shopping trips from New York -- one to London, one to Paris -- and canvass my friends who had kids beforehand to find out what they wanted to get for their kids. London was more for grown-up stuff at Harrods (which was still British-owned back then), but Galeries Lafayette in Paris had an astounding selection of children's clothes -- I would just ask the moms for their kids' height and weight in inches and pounds, then I would convert them to centimeters and kilograms, and voilÃ , perfect fit!
Great idea, and foreign department stores are wonderful. They feel much more exotic than, say, Macy's.
We bought our December airline tickets in August, and United refused to give us seating. We leave in a week. I am getting very nervous because we are flying with two small boys, and needless to say, I can't be separated from them on a 5 hour flight. What should my strategy be to get us seats together? Thanks!!
When you are within 24 hours of your departure day/time, call to reserve seating, or go online, check in and secure your seats. If you can't get four or two seats together, arrive early at the airport on your departure day and speak with an agent at the check-in counter. If all else fails, inform the flight crew when you board of your seating needs. The flight attendant will ask a kindly soul to give up his or her seat so that your sons can sit with a parent. From my experience, travelers always step up and offer their seats to families.
I have read great reviews on Interlaken, Switzerland. Can you recommend any special places to see and stay in and around Interlaken next summer?
Haven't been to Interlaken in a while, but it is definitely gorgeous. The Hotel Metropole is well-known; it's the tallest building in town. But I haven't personally stayed there so am not necessarily recommending it. You must go to the top of the Jungfrau mountain if you can, of course, and take a boat tour on Thun and Brienzer lakes, visit the St. Beatus caves. What else, chatters? And where should they stay?
I was told there was an article concerning rising air fares to Europe. I can't seem to find it. Can you point me to it. Note for your tech people.The WaPo has the absolute worst search capabilities of any site I have ever been on.
We haven't run such an article in the Travel section. Perhaps you're referring to the EU's efforts to tax carriers flying into Europe for carbon emissions. This adds yet another charge to airline tickets to Europe, raising prices, although not all that significantly per ticket. Here's a news story on the subject. That would be the only thing I can think of that you might be referring to. And as to your comment about our Web site and its search capabilities -- we totally agree. Don't think the Web folks haven't heard about it, ad nauseam.
I recommend Thomson Safari, based in Watertown, Mass., and Tanzania.
Don't forget there is a Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Yep, Clinton's. I recently went and saw a good exhibit on on MLK and the March on Washington.
Thank you for your advice on solo travel last week. I went ahead and booked 4 nights at an all-inclusive in Jamaica. Looking forward to the time to myself and time to relax. Will bring the Hunger Games trilogy, and also have my Kindle app on my phone if I run out of reading material! Can't wait for February!
Lucky you! We are seriously jealous.
A chatter last week asked about staying in Casablanca versus traveling to Marrakech or Fez. The chatter should definitely take the time to see one (or both) of these fantastic cities. The history, architecture, and culture of both of these places make them a much richer travel experience than Casablanca. However, Marrakech and especially Fez are away from the coast and in the beginnings of the Atlas Mountains, and will get cold in the wintertime.
Right, that's what we told them, too. Thanks!
We are hoping to go on a 3 day safari that leaves from and returns to Johannesburg. We found interesting itineraries from Detour Africa and African Budget Safaris, but very few reviews. Do you have any suggestions on where to book? Safety and not being in a dorm is our main preference (tents are fine, as long as it is the two of us and no one else), but price also plays a role.
Also used to be done in India, not sure if it still is.
I am lucky enough to be tagging along on a business trip to Berlin at the end of January. We're going to be extending the trip to do some traveling on our own for 7-10 days and I'm wondering what direction you would recommend! Do we head west to Paris/London (I've been to both, he's been to Paris), up to the Netherlands and Denmark? Over to Prague and Austria? I don't even know where to start (nice problem to have!) and time is of the essence!
It's going to be cold in Europe at the end of January, no matter where you go! But since you've each been to either London or Paris, I'd suggest you head toward Austria and Prague. Maybe travel down to Prague, then hop over to Vienna. If you have time, you could hit a couple of other Austrian high pointsa -- Innsbruck, Salzburg -- then wind up in Munich, and head home from there. That's what I'd do. Chatters, you?
Suggestion for the parent of kids on the 5 hour flight - if you can select seats, but not seats together, grab as many aisle seats as you can, and put one person in each. Chances are whoever is in the middle seat in one of the rows will be more than happy to switch on the day of for an aisle. Then you take the middle seat next to your child (or vice versa :)). If you can't get aisles, then go for windows. The person in the middle will likely be happier with a window than a middle seat. You want to make what you have to "trade" as attractive as possible, as some of the people on the plane have paid extra for the seat assignment that the flight attendant is now going to ask them to trade (on your behalf).
Excellent strategy. Thanks!
Actually, DC is a great holiday shopping destination, with all the museum gift shops. The National Building Museum has a fantastic gift shop, with lots of design-related home gifts (and other quirky things).
So true. Really any museum shop is a trove of gift ideas. And if you can't make it to the institution, you can likely shop their store online.
Hi Travel Gurus, I love your weekly chats! My family wants to try something new-renting a home rather than a hotel for our 1 week stay in San Diego. I'm a little hesitant about using sites like vrbo and would prefer to find a local agent to help me. What is the best way to do this?
Our daughter is being married in July in South Carolina. Any suggestions for a one-week honeymoon for about $3000 to $4000? He wants to go to a resort and she wants to see some sites, too; neither is interested in a Caribbean cruise. She has traveled widely in Europe.
If they want to stay in the United States, maybe San Diego or the Napa Valley/San Francisco? We need a little bit more info to share ideas.
We are hoping to hook up with our daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren, ages 5 and 7 on the Dalmatian Coast for a week next August. What options can you suggest, cruises, vacation rentals, etc. to keep the kids happy---they love to swim, and also allow some sight-seeing opportunities for all of us?
In Omaha: College World Series (June), Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting (May), Henry Doorly Zoo (year-round) Outside of Omaha: Fort Robinson, Oregon Trail/Mormon Trail sites, annual sandhill crane migration (March)
The traveler might have to do Nebraska twice.
Hotel du Lac is a lovely, small family hotel. Get a map and take a light hike, or a longer one, whatever works for you. Also walk through Brienze and Brienze-West. Along the entire route there are cemeteries, which are nothing like the cemeteries in the US. Really beautiful and something to see! Enjoy
Nice suggestions, thanks!
also in Arkansas -- Crystal Bridges Art Museum -- gorgeous and free admission -- in Bentonville.
Forgot Bentonville! And don't overlook the Walmart visitors center. I also recommend the 21c Museum Hotel. The lower level is a contemporary art museum.
My wife and I are planning a week-long trip to Budapest next spring (late April/early May) and are thinking of also including a few days in Berlin. And advice on how to combine? Or if not Berlin, and advice on how to arrive in Budapest -- by air? Rail? Danube cruise? Thank you.
Budapest is fabulous -- lately, it's making many travel publications' Top 10 travel lists. We had this fun story about the city just a little while ago. Berlin is pretty far from Budapest, so you'd have to fly there. Plus, it's a huge city with so much to explore -- it seems you'd be giving it short shrift if you only have a week to spend in both places. If I were you, I'd stick to Budapest and maybe take a couple of day trips outside the city, to Szentendre, for instance, or Lake Balaton. Not sure what you mean about arriving? I'd fly, of course. One-stop flights on Lufthansa from Dulles) are going for about $900 right now -- not a bad price at all.
My family first experienced the European-style holiday market in Chicago, of all places. It was bitter cold, snowy and beautiful - the Christkindlmarket. We cherish the ornaments (ornate fabric carousel horses) we bought there when our kids were very young. We've been to other markets since then, here and in Europe, but Chicago will always have a special place in my holiday heart because of the special market there.
That sounds so lovely -- for once Chicago's cold is an attribute.
A couple of months ago I was in Guadalajara for a conference, and had lunch with my colleagues early in the trip in a town with lots of shops and restaurants. I took photos as we browsed through the shops and put a selection up on Facebook back at the hotel. My mom went so nuts for one of the photos (of embroidered cushions) I made sure to go back out to the shopping area and get some before I left (covers only, so very packable!).
Can you add me to the list too?
I was travelling in southern Africa last winter, and bought presents then, including these adorable blown glass ornaments that look like lions, giraffes, wildebeast, etc. I have had them hidden away all year and am looking forward to finally giving them as gifts! And for the person looking for a safari trip, I recommend Kruger national park in South Africa. We drove around on our own and stayed in the park, but there are plenty of outfits that will take you from Joburg to the park and arrange lodging and drives.
Thanks for the Africa answers and insights!
Another suggestion for Arkansas: The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (built by a Walmart heiress).
Yep, just added that. Thanks!
Yes, this is another option.
So, the program starts and is only available at Indianapolis Airport? Did the TSA want to make sure that they worked out all the kinks before expanding to Washington, DC and NYC?
I second the notion to grab aisle or window seats with the hope a traveler will give up a middle seat for an aisle. On a flight last week cross country, a dad asked me to give up my aisle seat--for a middle seat. Just wasn't going to happen, especially when I looked at the configuration and figured the granddad at the window could as easily have given up his seat, but didn't. Oh the joys.
isn't it pathetic that parents NEED a strategy to sit next to their young children? Outside of an airline situation, this would be called abandonment and social services would be sent......
So sad and so true.
I was lucky enough to snag a great cyber Monday deal on Cathay: Chicago to Singapore for less than $975 at the end of March! Now, where to go? I'm looking at places Tiger Air, Firefly or Asia Air fly to. I have been to most of the popular destinations in the region; Bali, Java, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sabah Borneo & Northern Vietnam. I'm thinking Malaysia: 5 nights in Langkawi or at the Hyatt Kuantan, and then 2 nights in Kuala Lumpur which I've been to before, but always enjoy. I'll be on my own, and just enjoy independent travel; I'll be content just being away from Chicago's cold, but enjoy finding sights and experiences that are unique to my destination. Any suggestions?
I like Malaysia, and of all the Southeast Asian countries, it seems to me to be the one least traveled to, or at least the least written about! I say go for your plan; it sounds great to me. Have not been to Langkawi, but it sounds beautiful.
Thanks for the advice for our daughter's honeymoon. They are happy to stay in the United States, but might want to try an island like Grand Cayman. He wants all inclusive, but we told them to be somewhat leery of the "couples only" resorts in Jamaica and the Bahamas. If they want to go to Europe, is that out for $3000-$4000 given the high airfares?
It all depends on when they go to Europe and the destination. Off-season,they might be able to find a sale fare for less than $1,000 --say, to London or Rome. Check airlines' Web sites and our What's the Deal? column for sales.
As for all-inclusives in the Caribbean: If he wants to laze around, sure, head for the resort. But the food is usually bad and the company loud. They aren't, however, scandalous (though Hedonism is a bit R-rated.) I would encourage them to be a bit more creative -- consider maybe Turkey or Morocco.
I first saw a shrink-wrapping kiosk for luggage this spring at the airport in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, in the Azores. A family with several large pieces of luggage used it, at a charge of 8 euros per bag. An attendant came over to show them how to use the dispenser, and basically did most of the work for them. There were so many layers of cellophane going round and round each bag that there's no way anyone could have finessed the stuff in order to remove or add anything to the luggage. This is of course strictly for checked bags that are going to be scanned.
Very interesting, thanks.
We used 2Afrika, which is run by Kenneth Heiber. There is also a company called "Go2Africa" so please do not confuse them. We loved 2Afrika--a safari week in Zimbabwe and Botswana. It was a fabulous tour, the people were wonderful, we saw so many wonderful places. 2Afrika was also extremely helpful with our other plans around southern Africa. I can't wait to go back! Highly recommended.
I shop throughout the year during all trips I take. I particularly look for Christmas cards when I am overseas. The year I went to Italy, my family and friends received "Buon Natale" cards. This year, because I went to Paris, everything is French. I still have pretty cards that I bought in England. The scenes are always so different than our typical commercial themes in the U.S. I also buy myself an Advent calendar and at least one ornament. My tree this year has a moose in a canoe with a Santa hat (Alaska), light-wrapped Eiffel Tower, etc.
Love that idea. And you also save yourself from the stress of last-minute shopping -- a gift for yourself.
Grand Central in NYC has a holiday market that was quite nice - I was only there once, I believe in 2008, but it was fun to wander through. Best Christmas market buy - a handpainted glass ornament from Poland bought at the Bratislava market. The glass was amazingly thin and delicate - too thin and delicate, as a friend accidentally put her stiletto heel through it.
Hi, I booked airline tickets through American Airlines' website last week. When I got the email confirmation of the tickets, the first name of one of the passengers was cut off. When i log into AA's website and look at my reservation there, however, it shows the full name. Do I need to worry? I tried to call AA to confirm, but the customer service automated message said I'd be on hold for 45-50 min before being put through to a representative. Thanks!
No, you don't need to worry. Your name is correct -- it's AA's technology that's coming up short. If your boarding pass prints out incorrectly, then I would head to the airport early to clear things up. The airline should not charge you to fix your ticket.
I'll be travelling to Honolulu at some point this winter for work, and want to take a couple days after the work trip to explore. I previously did a two-day whirlwind tour of the "hot spots" in Oahu and was thinking of venturing further afield this time if inter-island airfares are reasonable- any suggestions? Maybe Kauai or the Big Island? I'll be solo if that makes a difference.
Both are amazing places in their own right, but Kauai is closer and easier to see in a short amount of time. If I only had a few days, that's where I'd go. If you have a week, I'd do the Big Island.
SO, I decided to use my miles before UA makes them worthless to book a trip for next fall. I will start out in Singapore and return from Bali. But I have about 3.5 weeks to fill in between. I've been to most of mainland SE Asia (except Malaysia) but have not been to Indonesia. I'm not really a beach person. More into culture, history, nature and great photo ops. I've read enough bad things about Jakarta to make be disinclined to go there. But any other Indonesia faves? Yogyakarta maybe?
Yogyakarta is really really interesting, if you're into culture and history. Plus great photo ops. It's not far from there to Borobudur and Prambanan. Don't discount Jakarta, though. The Old Town is great and there are good museums.
My best friend in middle school moved to the UK when we were in eighth grade. My uncle gifted me miles so I could go visit her.
Is your uncle really Santa?
Thanks for the reply and suggestions. Sorry I was unclear: A week (or maybe somewhat more for Budapest), after which -- or maybe before Hungary -- tack on up to a week in Berlin? So the question is whether there's an itinerary you'd suggest from Berlin to Budapest (or vice versa) via rail, Danube...or just skip everything in between and fly? Thanks again.
Ah, I see. Again, if I were you, I'd just fly and maximize my time in Berlin, which is huge and fascinating and where you could easily fill out a week with no trouble. But if you want to see more of Germany/Europe, you could maybe train/drive down through Dresden, Prague, Vienna to Budapest. It would be just quick hits in each of those places, but they are all stunning cities.
Even though you'd have to travel inland to get there, Plitvice Lakes is a must- it's like something out of Jurassic Park and all the kids we saw there seemed to be having a blast. Depending on where you're flying in/out of, it's a good stopping point between Zagreb and the coast- perhaps ~2 hrs from Zadar or ~4 from Split. Both Split and Dubrovnik are good points to venture to the islands and for daytrips. Not sure how much time you have but try not to squeeze TOO many places in. It can be more time consuming to get between places than you'd think. Love Croatia- have a great time.