Talk about Travel

May 12, 2014

Talk about Travel is here to help at 2 p.m. Mondays.
Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section's editors and writers are at your service.
Past Talk about Travel chats

Greeting and salutations. Thanks for joining us today. Hope that Sunday's section got you in the mood to talk travel--and visit Roman ruins in Spain and eat N'ville chowchow.

For the topic du jour: Memorial Day weekend is within a beach ball's throw. Share with us your plans for the official start of summer. Best idea wins a round object.

We went to Cancun a few months ago after booking an all-inclusive (including flight) trip with The whole experience was wonderful. Can you name some other all-inclusive sites which include airfare?

Take a look at Vacation Express, Apple Vacations & Funjet Vacations.  Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity also offer vacation packages.  If you have chosen a hotel, look at its Web site, as all-inclusives often have packages that include airfare. 

Good afternoon, my husband and I will be spending 3 days in Raleigh later this week. Neither of us is familiar with the area. Any ideas on sightseeing, activities, cheap eats? I do have UNC & Duke on the to-do list especially the Duke Gardens. Thank you!

What perfect timing! I just spent a very jolly weekend in Raleigh.

My favorites: the (free!) N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences (make sure to check out the new research wing), the North Carolina Museum of History (also free), City Market (great Turkish restaurant called Troy Mezze), Artspace (similar to our Torpedo Factory with artists working like elves in their studios). For bars and restaurants, stroll Fayetteville Street. For a free ride around downtown, hop on the R line. It will take you to the Warehouse District and  Glenwood area, both up-and-coming districts. For music, the Hive has a bluegrass jam, and Tir Na Nog holds Celtic jams on Sundays and a monthly event called Beer and Hymns.

Outside downtown, visit the North Carolina Art Museum, which has an impressive sculpture garden and Rodin collection.

I am spending a long weekend in LA in August for a Sunday wedding (arrive Thursday morning.) I do not want to spend time in Hollywood or LA proper. Do you have day trip recommendations either along the coast or further inland? Something "must see" since I don't plan to get out to this area again?

Depends how far you want to drive. The beach community of Santa Monica,  just outside Los Angeles proper, is very nice. If you want to drive a little more, Laguna Beach is another neat beach town about an hour south of Los Angeles. Santa Catalina Island is a ferry ride from Long Beach. And Santa Barbara is less than two hours north of Los Angeles.  I'd stick to the coast rather than heading inland. 

Hi Crew! I'm doing the classic Italian trifecta in July (Rome - Florence - Venice) and have everything reserved, from hotels on down to pre-purchased tix to the Uffizi gallery and a 3-day Venice boat pass. The only thing I haven't bought is train tix between the three cities -- mostly because I'm just not sure down to the minute what time of day we'll want to travel, and also because service seems frequent enough between those major hubs not to worry about it. Is this a mistake? Should I be reserving trains as well right now? thank you!

Hey, you should definitely check out the piece I recently wrote on trains in Europe. I can see why you're torn. Trains are frequent between those cities. But Italian trains are popular and can sell out, especially during peak season. I'm more of a planner, so I'd lean toward making a decision now, but if you have true flexibility, you might be OK. Insight from others with experience?

How do I connect so I can hear you?

You can ask your neighbor to come over and read it aloud. Otherwise, we are a silent chat!

I'll be in Nairobi by myself for 2.5 days in August prior to my safari. Can you recommend what to do and safe places to stay. I'm a 65 year old single woman.

Chatters, I think we will need your input here. Suggestions?

I enjoyed the story about the Romans in Spain. I did a trip in a similar vein last summer to some of the Roman sites in Germany. It was a fantastic trip too.

Yes, I'm a history nut, so that story really resonated with me, too. Glad you enjoyed it -- and your German trip. One could probably do that sort of trip in any number of European countries.

Does anyone have any experience with gotravel123 or I found them through momondo and they seem to have the least expensive flights.

Have not used these, I fear. Chatters, anyone have experience with these sites?

have read such wonderful things about it in book....but can't figure out how to get there via public transportation. Ideas? Found one charter service $60 o/w -- I can rent a car for less. Other hiking recommendations in Victoria, BC for a day hike? Ideas for a shorter hike while my husband visits the bug museum? ;-)

You mean the park? Here's a shuttle bus option. You could also definitely just spend the day strolling around Victoria, which is quite picturesque. For a wonderful day, though, I'd head to Butchart Gardens. It's fantastic. You can get there by public transit or shuttle.

If you had to choose your favorite way to travel from DC to NY, what would it be (plane, train, car bus)? Would it change your answer if I said on Fridays in the summer to Long Island with a toddler? Thanks!

Last time I drove to Long Island on a Friday in summer, it took me 10 hours to get from Northern Virginia to Massapequa Park. My family lives there, so I make this trip very often. For eastern Nassau County or Suffolk County, flying into Islip is the way to go, especially with a toddler. US Airways is no longer going to fly nonstop flight from DCA to Islip, but there are rumors that American is going to pick up that route. Or fly nonstop from BWI via Southwest to Islip. My second choice would be to take Amtrak to Penn Station and then transfer to the LIRR. The downside is that you'll have to get through Penn Station with a toddler, but the LIRR will likely get you very close to your final destination. You could also take one of the express buses (Bolt, MegaBus, etc.), which drop you off close to Penn Station and then hop on the LIRR -- this is the cheapest way to go. Whatever you do, don't drive. 

We want to take a winter break in January or February in the Caribbean. We like one part hiking/nature/wildlife to one part relaxing. We’ve enjoyed Puerto Rico, Dominica and Trinidad. Do you have any suggestions on other islands that would fit?

You might consider Barbados, which is a major hiking island. The Barbadians hike the way other people take a Sunday stroll. Plus, it's gorgeous. 

When I visited Venice and Florence, I waited until I was in Venice to reserve my train tickets to Florence. I reserved a couple of days before I traveled (this was in early April). I think it's fine to wait - especially since strikes are not uncommon and you may end up making new plans on the fly.

Thanks for the tip!

I was wondering if the articles that you print from non-staff writers are things that people submit after they take a trip or if they are stories from free-lance travel writers who have pitched the story to you in advance. Or are there other ways you get your stories?

The short answer is both. Many freelancers will pitch in advance, but sometimes they don't know till after a trip what kind of angle they want to take on a story. We also occasionally pick stories out of the slush pile, but that is rare.

Can you suggest any way I can solve this problem for my parents? My parents are visiting me from China and several months ago I booked us on a Norwegian Cruise Line trip to Alaska leaving from Seattle May 25th. It turns out that we dock for six hours one night in Victoria, British Columbia. So a month ago I got on the Canadian immigration web site and followed their instructions to file for a visa for my parents for the cruise. It ended up in the transit category because I told them we would dock in Canada for only six hours. A month later the Canadian Immigration office tells me I need to apply for a visitors visa. But with the trip only 2.5 weeks away I worried that I couldn’t get this visa for a port stop for six hours in time. This morning I braved 2.5 hours in traffic to go to the Canadian Embassy to try and get a visa for my parents. I asked if there was any way (we would pay anything) to expedite getting the visa in time or someone we could call to discuss this any get the visa. The Canadian Embassy people said they could do nothing – they can only help diplomats. They also said it would be too late to get this visa in time for the trip. I called Norwegian Cruise Lines and they told me they could not help and my parents could not board the cruise ship in Seattle without this visa. Never mind that they weren’t planning to disembark in Victoria anyway. Norwegian responded that they would not be able to rebook us later and could not give us a refund. I planned for this trip for over a year and my parents and I were really looking forward to it. No refunds will be given and I will have lost nearly $2000 not being able to take a trip we had worked hard to work out. The Canadian Embassy won’t help. Norwegian Cruise Lines won’t help. My parents are in their 80’s and don’t need to visit Victoria anyway. But we are denied our trip for want of a simple form that would permit them to board the Norwegian Pearl in Seattle and returning to Seattle because Norwegian can’t handle a way with the Canadian immigration office for people staying on board for a few hours without even entering Canada. Can anyone help me?

I've had a few cases similar to this, and I'm sorry to say, most did not end well. But you still have a little time. If you email me I'd be happy to contact the Canadian embassy on your parents' behalf. 

A friend and I are celebrating her birthday by meeting for a long weekend in Quebec City. I was last there 15 years ago and while I'm guessing the famous sights haven't changed much, I'm not sure about the restaurant scene. Any editors or chatters have suggestions? We are omnivores. Merci!

I ate pretty well in Quebec a few years ago. SSS was good. For a classic, somewhat kitschy, but still fun meal, check out Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens. Paillard is quick, tasty and casual. Go for crepes at Casse-crepe Breton. You can also put together a picnic with local food from the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec. If you have the time or inclination to get out of town, eat your way through the Ile d'Orleans (cheese, chocolate, wine etc.) or take the ferry to Levis for amazing, chocolate-dipped soft-serve ice cream at Les Chocolats Favoris.

I have added Nashville to my list of "places to see in America" - Tom Sietsema's Postcard was inspiring. What are some must-see attractions there, other than the obvious (Grand Ol Opry, etc)?

I spent the day with Callie Khouri, the creator of the show "Nashville. Here are her suggestions. My favorite experience during that visit was attending a show at the Bluebird Cafe, a forum for songwriters. The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum also just opened its expansion.

I've never been (although hope to some day) but my daughter still raves about the giraffe center.


I'll be off to sunny San Diego Memorial Day weekend for 1 week of work and 1 week of fun. It's my first trip out to the west coast, so I am super excited, especially since my brother moved out there 6 years ago and I've been dying to visit!

Lucky you! Mostly likely you will never come back. We will be happy to send your things.

If the poster doesn't need beaches, Saba ( would be a great choice. It has beautiful scenery, great (and varied) hiking, and some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean. It also boasts the highest point in the kingdom of the Netherlands!

Great idea! Thanks.

Roman sites in Europe are everywhere! There are some cool places in Macedonia and in eastern Austria (maybe other parts of Austria too). In fact, a travel guide to Roman Europe would be fascinating - must consult Amazon to see if it has been written.

Good to know. Thanks!

A friend and I are considering a trip to Iceland. We're torn between going in the winter to see the northern lights (hopefully) and the general amazingness of Iceland in winter, or going in spring or summer so that we can take advantage of the gorgeous hikes. Any advice?

It is really up to your wind-chill factor tolerance.

I prefer lots of light, warmth and outdoor time, so I would choose the summer.

Iceland also is not the only place where you can see the Northern Light; I viewed them in Manitoba. But if you don't mind dressing like a bear, then you should go in the winter. Plus, flights should be cheaper off-season.

Can anyone recommend a reasonably-priced B&B centrally located for exploring the Cotswolds? We are thinking of 3 nights each in two places, with no definite itinerary planned (yet or maybe at all). With luck the couple who wrote about their trip last year will be chatting today. Thanks for any suggestions.

I actually have a story coming about staying at a farm-style B&B in the Cotswolds, but alas it isn't in yet, so that's no use to you, is it? Let's throw this out to the chatters. Has anybody stayed in the Cotswolds?

Although the problem was different, I have had very good luck in getting assistance with a travel document issue by contacting my representative's office (Van Hollen in my case). As your parents are Chinese, a call to the Chinese Embassy may be more useful, as they might be able to facilitate between the embassies.

Thank you so much for the advice.

Best DC Memorial Day event is always the Marine Corps Band concert at Wolftrap followed by superior fireworks in a field right next to the music venue (and preceeded by picnicking on the grounds). I have friends that just moved to DC this year and I hope to introduce them to the tradition this year. By the way, visiting Roman ruins is a great idea no matter where you are traveling in Europe as long as the Romans got there. Some friends of mine and I had a great time hiking along Hadrian's Wall and visiting the fort at Vindolanda. They had heated bathroom floors and the museum has one of the oldest examples of writing in Latin by a woman - and invitation to a friend to come to her birthday party.

Inspirational ideas on all counts-- thanks!

Hi, Any suggestions for where a middle-aged couple can go for a summer vacation? We want to drive, and would like to be near water, shop, and have a little night life. a. unfortunately I do not drive over the Bay Bridge ; b. like Va. Beach but it is pricey in the summer; c. need a group to defray the cost of an Outer Banks house rental and it is just 2 of us. Thanks for any help!

We're a little stumped, especially given your parameters. If Virginia Beach is too expensive, it seems like a lot of our local beaches would be outside of your budget. Don't know how long of a trip you're talking about or how much "night life" you're looking, but Havre de Grace is cute. Or maybe Annapolis or Baltimore?

I've made it a habit to buy my onward train ticket the day I ARRIVE in a city. If arriving by another mode, it just makes me comfortable to 1) know how to get to the train station, 2) have the ticket in hand in advance. When arriving by train this is also convenient - just stop by the counter before heading to your hotel. I do the same when traveling in Mexico by bus - seats can sell out around holidays and with the ticket in hand, you don't have to arrive early to buy before boarding time. Those ticket lines always seem to move slower when you are cutting it close to departure time...

That's a reasonable idea. In advance but not too far in advance.

You might try contacting your member of congress. Maybe he/she could intervene with the Canadian authorites? A long shot, but maybe worth a try.

Best to try every avenue. Thanks!

This summer I will be spending exactly one weekend in NYC, and I've never been before. I'm overwhelmed with choices of what to do! Priority: Food > Culture > History. What would you recommend?

For your first time, I suggest you go the ultra-tourist route: Visit the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Met, MoMA, Bryant Park, Times Square--everyone has to do it once. But don't overdo it. Just pick a few landmarks.

For events and special activities, check Time Out NYC.  For a real taste of NYC, walk  from the Financial District on up. You will wander into some great neighborhoods, like Little Italy and Chinatown.

The city also has a slew of specialized tours, such as the Harlem Is Home Tour, the Hip-Hop Look at New York, and many TV/film site tours.

Can you suggest a good trip for new parents to bring along their infant? Our son is 9 months old and I was thinking of a few days at a beach, preferably one with a boardwalk. My husband and I grew up going to the Jersey shore so it's not our first choice since we live in the DC area. He's never been to OC, Maryland and it's been ages since I've been and I heard mixed reviews. If not a beach, other options? Thanks! We're okay with traveling during the week too.

You can get great deals at the Delmarva beaches -- Ocean City, Fenwick, Bethany, Dewey, Rehoboth & Lewes -- if you're not constrained by school-age children. The first two weeks in June and the first couple of weeks in September are much cheaper than the July-August high seasons.  Most condos demand a one-week minimum in July and August, but they'll do shorter stays in early June and September. And if you don't require a weekend, you may get even cheaper rates. Planned communities that are kid friendly include Sea Colony in Bethany and Sunset Island in Ocean City (disclaimer: I own property there).  If you decide on Ocean City in early June, stay north of Route 90 to avoid the "June bugs," which is what locals call the high school grads who come to celebrate during that time.  

My husband and I will be traveling with a group by bus to the Normandy area, Paris, and Cologne, Germany, and need to know what is the most efficient and cheapest way to get Euros for the trip: (1) Get a small amount at Dulles airport before we leave and the remainder at DeGaulle airport when we arrive, (2) Buy the entire amount at Dulles before we leave, or (3) Buy the entire amount at a bank in the Washington area? We have a credit card that does not charge for foreign transactions. Thank you.

You'll probably need a small amount of cash, which you can get from an ATM after you arrive in Paris. Stay away from those currency exchange booths -- they usually don't offer a favorable exchange rate. For major purchases, I would use your credit card, but be aware that it might not work everywhere if it doesn't use chip-and-pin technology. You probably won't need a lot of cash if you're on a tour, where most meals and activities are included, but it's a safe idea to have at least 100 euros handy in smaller denominations, just in case you require an espresso to stay awake or you must visit a boulangerie or bäckerei.

Bolt and Mega and possibly a few of the others have moved their pick up/drop off points in NYC to be several looong blocks from Penn Station. Vamoose is still close and I am sure that a few others are still close, but be sure to recheck the info on their websites. It doesn't matter that much if the weather is good, you have a few extra minutes and you don't have much luggage. It was a little annoying this winter when I had a rolling suitcase, plenty of time and there was slush on the ground. It might be very difficult with a toddler and the stuff you need to travel with a toddler.

Great to know. Thanks!

I was wondering about that too-couldn't hear a thing..:)

I was partly to blame, because I forgot to press the On Button. Hence our late start. But I was sorta confused by that too!

Regarding the visitor to Nairobi, I would think the best source of information would be the tour operator who is running her safari. If they are unwilling or unable to advise one of their own customers, that would raise alarm bells in my mind. Also, the State Dept. has posted a travel warning: "U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. "

Great advice. Thanks!

We have 2 days to explore Pittsburgh. What's something great to see in the city itself? And on the way there from Maryland? We have enjoyed Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob - is the other Frank Lloyd Wright house in the area worth a visit? Or do you have another favorite stop on the way?

There's a lot to see in Pittsburgh, so it's hard to pick one thing. Definitely try to ride one of the inclines. You could also explore the Strip District. Attractions to consider: Phipps Conservatory, Heinz History Center and Andy Warhol Museum. On the way, you could take a slight detour off I-70 and explore lovely Berkeley Springs. Anyone have insight on Frank Lloyd Wright or other suggestions?

To provide another side of the story to last week's topic....I flew to Miami on an 8 pm flight out of DCA with my 6 year old nephew. I attempted several times to assign us seats on American before the flight which never happened. I then arrived 2 hours early and the only options were two middle seats in the same row. I hate the middle seat, like most, so I didn't want to suggest switching. I set him up with water and since this was only his second flight he was very quiet during takeoff. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, I was ready to set him up with a movie but when I looked over, he was passed out on the girl's shoulder next to him. She had propped his head up with her coat and just gave me the thumbs up sign when I whispered an apology.

Awww, thanks for sharing your story. It's nice to know good manners and compassion can still be found in the air.

We're fortunate enough to spend a week on Oahu around New Years. We've been to every Hawaiian island, and admittedly, Oahu is not exactly our favorite. We prefer the nature and seclusion of some of Kaui and the Big Island. BUT, getting to spend a week with family in a beautiful place is an opportunity we couldn't pass up. What are some not so touristy things to do on Oahu? We will likely be skipping Waikiki, and have already seen Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural center. Where should we go to see the *real* island lifestyle? We enjoy most outdoor activities and nature. Any help you can offer would be MUCH appreciated. Love your columns!

I haven't been there in years, but we had so much fun renting a motorcycle and driving around the island, stopping at roadside stands and beaches along the way.  Haleiwa on the North Shore is a great place to watch surfers. Oahu offers lots of hiking options and outfitters that lead trips: Check out Bike Hawaii for ideas.  Chatters want to chime in here?

can you recommend how to get from Victoria BC to Vancouver? Seems like the bus or bus/ferry takes 4 hours....ISO a shorter option that won't break the bank.....

Well, since Victoria is on an island, you have the ferry or flying. Or, um, swimming. The ferry crossing itself is only 1 1/2 hours, but you'll have to factor in the time to get to/from the terminals, which are not in either downtown. Is that how you got 4 hours?

I always try to get advantage of holiday weekends to get to travel to a new destination. I wanted to go back again to Iceland as I did on memorial weekend of 2012 but they had no “good deals” this year. Do I have still a chance to get to go somewhere during memorial weekend (Friday-Tuesday) preferably outside of the US? I want to stay around $800 pp including flights. I saw a couple of good deals to Cancun and Puerto Rico within our budget but we’ve been there already. We love nature, culture, archaeology and good food; a beach will be a plus.

I don't think you can get very far on a holiday weekend on that tight budget. You can check travel booking sites with last-minute deals, such as Travel Zoo and Apple Vacations. You might find a deal in Jamaica or the Bahamas. Or consider staying domestic and head to Boston or Nashville.

sorry..should have given more details. Yes, the park. I found that shuttle bus, too....$60 each way. I can rent a car for $40. Other plans include Butchart, downtown -- especially the castle and just strolling. Wanted to get a wilderness fix....

Then the park sounds like a fine bet. 

Members of Canada's Parliament can intervene on visas and sponsor the person. Perhaps a professional courtesy between a Congressperson and a member of Parliament can be the answer. Long shot......

Yes, that's also worth a try. Thanks.

I, too, will be traveling soon to Europe - unfortunately to both UK and France, so will need pounds and euros. Why does it always seem to be recommended to use ATMs instead of getting money here in the states from one's bank? Do ATMs have a better exchange rate?

Generally, yes. Banks and exchange booths often charge fees and/or have a less competitive exchange rate. I have an entire chapter on cash and international trips in my latest book, and would be happy to send it to you. It might help. Here's my email address.

If you had six days to do the PCH from SF to LA, how would you divide up your time? Any hotel or other recommendations? Thank you so much!

I'd likely split it between  Santa Cruz; the Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel area; Morro Bay; and Santa Barbara.  Last time I did this trip, I stayed in small B&Bs and I don't remember their names. Chatters have suggestions? 

I was scheduled to fly from D.C. to Burlington in July. The airline canceled my flight and put me on a new flight that leaves five hours earlier. This really puts a wrench in my plans since I had arranged for someone to watch my kids. What recourse do I have? If I want to change the time of my return flight can I do so without being charged?

Normally, you can either ask for a full refund or you have to accept a replacement flight of the airline's choosing. But you can always ask for a specific flight, and I've seen airlines accommodate passenger requests of that nature.

I took the red line from Bethesda to Shady Grove and the ICC 201 bus to BWI on Friday. It worked very well and not having to traverse the interior of the Metro system or worry about heavy traffic in the bus portion helped calm down any jitters about not controlling my schedule. Ended up using the B30 on the return trip because it got there moments after I got to the curb with my luggage. I think that with three different options (B30 bus, MARC and the ICC bus) that BWI is now easier to get to than Dulles by public transportation. At least until the metro can take you all the way to Dulles. I might even trust the ICC bus plus red line on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Thanks for the insight -- and the reminder that MARC now runs a limited schedule to BWI on the weekends. Also depends when you're coming from. I live in Arlington, not directly on a Metro line, and while I've done the public transportation thing, it's usually easier and faster for me to drive to BWI, rather than connecting two or three times. Which is why I prefer DCA!

Travelling to San Francisco this weekend. Is there anything besides the major tourist attractions I should check out?

Well, I always recommend the staircases. Check out the piece I wrote about them. And then there's this: The last time I was there I had fun going to a couple of urban wineries: Donkey and Goat in Berkeley and Bluxome Street in SOMA. Those are certainly unique, fun -- and NOT major tourist attractions.

What are the best websites to check the weather for an out of town wedding? Should I search their local paper,, etc.? I know nothing can be perfect, but I'd still like to track it with some confidence.

My husband, who's a weather nut, always checks whenever we take a trip. He pretty much swears by it. There's also the National Weather Service ( which also gives information for weather all over the country and is less commercial, just-the-facts, ma'am. He likes that one, too. Both are fairly reliable, but as you note, nothing's perfect. Especially in the longer-range forecast, there's always a good chance of some surprises, so be aware, and always have an umbrella on hand!

You could drive to non-Outer Banks beaches in NC, Topsail Island, Carolina Beach ( perhaps. Or if you don't mind several hours of driving, head to Myrtle Beach, SC. So many lodging choices there, you're bound to find something within your budget.

All great ideas. I am a big fan of the N.C. beaches around Wilmington.

Atlantic City?

Ding-ding-ding. Good one!

You often, just now in fact, give advise about the DC to New York buses. They are a great, easy, cheap way to travel. But I have been disappointed that none of them, as far as I can tell, have a late bus leaving New York to return to D.C. Is it possible to do a day trip to New York (museum, dinner, show) and catch a bus back around midnight?

Greyhound has buses that leave after midnight.

I'm planning for next spring and would like to visit someplace surrounded by bath-water warm water. Tahiti has that, but it's too far away. Anything closer that would be super-warm in March? Thanks.

Not sure high 70s is going to be warm enough for you, but that's the average water temperature in the Southern Caribbean. 

A friend and I went to an all-inclusive resort last fall in Cancun. We had a great time and really enjoyed the rest and relaxation. After a few trips that have been more action-packed, we're each looking forward to another lazy beach vacation in the fall. Any suggestions about where we could go that might be safe enough for us to leave the resort/hotel beach? That was a concern about some of the destinations we investigated last time.

The other islands known for all-inclusive resorts are Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and neither one of them feel as friendly as the Cancun area. Look at Aruba and Grand Cayman -- they offer some all inclusives and resorts with meal plans, and you'll feel comfortable wandering around.  

My summer starts out with a visit to the nearby seafood restaurant and a waterside table with the Chesapeake trifecta: hardshell crabs, A softshell Crab sandwich and an Oyster shooter. Then I'm ready for whatever summer wants to throw at me!

Seafood = Summer = Yum.

My Brother and I are going to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Chicago this summer. What's a good way of renting a car more cheaply? Also, can your posters reccommend some unusual sights to see along the way?

Well, one thing you can do is look at picking up the rental car at a location downtown, not at the airport. I'm not sure where you're leaving from, but when I ran a quick check of Detroit rentals on Orbitz, for instance, choosing a 3-week timeframe, the cheapest at-airport rental was Dollar for $208/week or $730 total (including $140 in taxes and fees). If you rent from off-site, the cheapest is Budget in Dearborn; the price drops to $179/week and the total is $637 (including a lower amount of about $100 in taxes and fees).

Now, is it worth it to get to the off-site location? You have to be the judge of that, and factor it into your planning and itinerary. If you're depending on taxi to get your from airport to rental car office, this would probably be hard to justify as you'd spend $45 each way on that ride, thereby evaporating almost all the savings. But don't give up yet! If you're determined to penny pinch you could take two buses, and about 1 1/2 hours, to get to Dearborn.

That's just using Detroit as an example, of course. And assuming that you're flying there, and then renting. You could do this same sort of figuring based on other departure spots if you have flexibility.

Another option is good old Rent-a-Wreck. The downside is that it's not located everywhere, but when you can find one the savings can be considerable. There are a couple of R-a-W offices near the Detroit airport, and when I searched the one in Warren I came up with $143/week for a total of just $456 (partly because there's just $25 in taxes included, not all those other fees). Would that be worth your while given the same scenario as I started with? It's farther than Dearborn from the Detroit airport, so if you're traveling by taxi, you're going to spend an estimated $90 each way to make that 35-minute drive -- making it competitive with the Budget/Dearborn option of earlier. (Or it'll take you almost 2 1/2 hours by bus  -- or, I should say, buses.)


I agree with advice to check with Tour Operator. If they are not equipped for day trip support, they should be able to refer the traveler to a trusted tour company that will escort the visitor to the sights around the area. You definitely want to transportation support while in Nairobi.

My husband and I flew back from Punta Cana Saturday and our connection to Salisbury through Charlotte was canceled. The next flight was the following day so we had to book a hotel room and spend the night. Don't the airlines help with hotel costs anymore? We were told that because the delay was weather related, tough luck.

Yes, if the cancellation is weather related, the airline is not responsible for accommodations. But sometimes you can find a sympathetic agent.

Due to an airline's failure to get us to our destination more than 24 hours later, we lost our $200 a night reservation for 1 night. When questioned about the airline reimbusing us, we were told "yes, just submit a claim." We did, and were denied the reimbursement but offered us 12,000 miles on another trip. By the way, the delay was not weather related but the airline's problem! What to do next? Thanks

Unfortunately, airlines don't reimburse their passengers for missed hotel reservations. The 12,000 miles were more likely a gesture of "goodwill" which, from the sounds of it, didn't have their intended effect. You can appeal this in writing to someone higher up, but the best you can hope for is more worthless miles. I wish I had better news.

My husband and I went on a walking tour in the Cotswolds with HF Holidays, where the house in Bourton-on-the-Water from which the walks are based is often mistaken for a Stately Home. You can choose a week-long tour or a half-week tour, and the walks are fabulous for quickly resetting your internal clock to minimize jet lag.


yes -- getting to/from the ferry terminals are about an hour on each end, thus a 4 hour trip total. Flying....about $200....(ferry/bus = $60) -- big difference! Are there any discount airlines which make the flight? Harbor Air is all I've found, so far. Can get it down to $150 if I fly south of the city and take a train 50 min.

Here are the air services listed on the Vancouver tourism site. You'll have to do the additional research yourself with our time waning.

You can get around downtown for free:  My brother lives near the Vanderbilt campus. Actually they had contact with someone from the production of the show Nashville about using their house. they would have made some nice extra cash. It was one of the finalists but they opted for a different house. They could be contacted later on in the series. as for the restauarnts there are many others that were not listed. their is a site called Nashville Originals that are locally owned restaurants.

Love the behind-the-scenes story. Thanks for the tip, too!

sounds to me like this person's question didn't really get answered....sound like he/she is looking for a low cost, easy to get to wilderness fix. The park mentioned requires a rental car to be affordable.....sounds like the question is, are there any other, somewhat comparable parks or day hikes?

And by "this person," I know you mean you! Chatters, other suggestions for hikes? You could also try calling the Vancouver Island tourism office -- 250-754-3500. They, of course, are the experts on that location.

Oahu is great. Rent a car and get around. There are beaches that are not on Waikiki that are family oriented. North side of the Island has lava rock and the big waves loved by surfers. There are other hotel/resorts that are outside of Honolulu. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a state park. Great for snorkeling and is a short drive from city limits of Honolulu. .

Thanks for tips.

I can totally relate. From reading last week's chat, it seems many travelers don't realize how hard it actually is for parents flying with small children to get everyone seated together. We flew in and out of DCA last weekend and on both flights had to ask passengers around us to move. Believe me, it wasn't for lack of trying ahead of time. (I've been flying my whole life and have lifetime elite status.) The airlines simply don't care. They're much happier passing the aggravation onto the passengers and letting them sort it out once you're all on the plane. The last thing I or my wife want is for our toddler to be stuck sitting next to only strangers.

How frustrating! As travelers, we should always help out families and give up our seat so they can sit together.

And that's your PSA for the day.

I thought the response was a great one as to how to allocate PCH time. For a cute Inn in Carmel, consider Tickle Pink (and with a name like that, who can resist?)

We are tickled pink with your answer!

I thought the response was a great one as to how to allocate PCH time. For a cute Inn in Carmel, consider Tickle Pink (and with a name like that, who can resist?)

Thanks! It's a great trip. Thanks for the lodging recommendation. 

Members of Canada's Parliament can NOT intervene on visas and CANNOT sponsor the person. He/she can be approached and he/she can approach Canadian Immigration on your behalf, but the decision to issue a visa rests with the visa officer. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration can, however, override the visa official's decision by issuing a Minister's Permit.

Thanks for clearing that up for us. It's a confusing world out there.

I'm attending a Vegas wedding on Saturday May 31, so we are heading there for a whole week, and going to see Bryce and Zion for a few days, and then driving down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon on the way back to Vegas! (okay, it's a little out of the way, but I love driving in that part of the country -- everything is so gorgeous and desolate.)

What a great way to spend the holiday -- love, Elvis, national parks, nature.

A local college (Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA) always hosts a Folk Music Weekend on Memorial Day weekend. You can take workshops for voice or instrument, learn different styles of folk music, and jam with fellow musicians into the wee hours. I've always wanted to do this, as it seems a perfect way to begin a summer of folk music concerts.

Love that idea -- 2015, maybe?

We are taking train from Germany to Paris this August. Can you recommend a place to stay for 3 people in Paris?

Not sure what you're after, but I have recently stayed at the Hotel Joyce and the Hotel Therese, and loved them both.

....include the Serena (very elegant and know for security--Africa's version of the Four Seasons), Tribe Hotel (5 mins from US Embassy and UN complex in Nairobi, very modern, attached to the shopping center that saw some action last fall), and Palacina Suites. There is also a Hilton downtown. Out of downtown you could try Safari Park Hotel or Windsor Golf and Country Club. Enjoy!


Since the traveler is going in the fall, I would check out Cabo - not as humid or hurricane-prone as the Caribbean - lots of all-inclusive options, but you can get into town for more variety.

Whoosh-- there goes the hour. Thanks everyone for joining us!

Today's winner is the traveler who is headed to Vegas and the national parks. Those destinations seem to encapsulate America and the excitement of summer. Please send me your contact info at

Have a great week and come back next Monday for more Travel talk.

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Travel editor.
Zofia Smardz
Zofia Smardz is the deputy editor of Travel.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column, clearing the way through the fog of consumer travel issues. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
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