Talk about Travel

Aug 29, 2011

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. This week we'll talk about the results of our annual photo contest. What did you think of the winners?

Welcome to the post-Irene Travel chat. Hope everyone is safe and does not have too much debris in their yards. Now, let's talk about what really matters: travel!

As the travel industry struggles to right itself after the weekend hurricane, we want to hear about your own tussles with storms. Have you ever been traveling when a big storm (snow, wind, rain, tsunami) hit? Were you ever forced to reschedule or cancel or depart the destination earlier than planned? Share with us, and the most harrowing or hilarious story wins a prize.

I'm visiting a relative in Seattle next week, and I'm looking for something fun to do between noon, when my plane arrives, and 6pm, when my hosts get off work. I'll be alone but will have a car, and it will be my first time in Seattle. I'm assuming we'll do the normal touristy stuff the next day when my boyfriend arrives, so maybe not something so mainstream. Happy to walk a lot, and I wouldn't mind seeing some neat shops before the man arrives. Also not opposed to a cool walking tour or something. Any ideas? Thanks!

You could take the edgy Seattle Underground Tour, which crawls through the underbelly of the city. Or hit up Pike Place Market. You will probably go again with your boyfriend, but you might want to tour it solo, so you can linger over the food stands and great boutiques in and around the marketplace. If the weather is nice, you could take a sightseeing tour with Argosy Cruises. Or hit Volunteer Park, home to a conservatory and the Asian art museum. And for something really fringe, check out the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

We returned from San Jose CA last Friday on Delta. Boarding at 5:50 am. The gate attendants make an announcement that the flight is full and all roller bags must be gate checked! So although there were three of us and only one wheeled bag, we allowed them to gate check the bag. (It contained cameras and all of our Rx.) We take our seats and notice that everyone else carried on not one but often two large carry-ons. Why didn't the airline make everyone else check these bags as they announced? Fair is fair!

I've had this happen to me. Infuriates me. They make an announcement, I play by the rules, and then others don't. And then I'm left having to wait for my bag at baggage claim. The last time it happened, on US Air, I complained, nicely, to the flight attendant, and she brought me free food and drink and escorted me to a better seat, too. But still -- I think if they make a decision to gate check roller bags, they shouldn't let any of them past.

Tom didn't answer my question...going to Bethany Beach for a long weekend. We want to do lunches out. Bethany, Rehobeth and other areas near bethany: Where would you suggest we do lunch. We will be out there for Friday, Saturday and Sunday...also, one night may go out to celebrate a birthday with dinner...best dinner location?

For lunch, try Matt's Fish Camp in North Bethany or the recently opened Just Hooked in Fenwick (no Web page yet, but phone number is 302-581-0047). For dinner, Salt Air Kitchen in Rehoboth.

We are traveling from Amsterdam to Vienna in starting in three weeks. Ideally we'd like to stay in touch with family and friends without lugging a laptap or paying hundreds to Verizon for overseas charges on my Droid. Any advice?

Andrea delved into the up- and downsides of various options in this piece. Seems to me you're best off looking into setting up an international SIM card before you go.

How early is too early to search? Bing Travel won't even give me a forecast yet, and I signed up for FareCompare but I'm not actually getting any alerts for the flight i'm tracking. Should I expect more details in a week or two? If the details matter: roundtrip National or Dulles flight to Lambert, leaving around 12/17 and coming back around 1/1 (I have some flexibility on both dates, but nonstop is decidedly preferred).

I don't rely on those forecasts. They aren't as reliable as I'd like, and they don't allow me to fine-tune my requirements. If you're intent on getting the best deal, especially on a nonstop, keep checking yourself. Go to a site such as Kayak or Bing, but also go directly to the airlines. For four years, when my daughter was at WUSTL, I planned plenty of air trips between WAS and STL, and American out of DCA was often cheapest, most convenient. But also look into taking Southwest out of BWI. 

Patsy's in Bethany was WONDERFUL!

Hoping that you will answer my question:) Has anyone flown on the Air France Airbus A380 ? I will be traveling alone with a child and am hoping that it is more comfortable than another plane- can anyone share their experience? Thanks!

Chatters, anybody experienced with this plane? I did look it up here on Seatguru.com, and the seats are rated as pretty comfy.

Boyfriend and I were on the Cape and totally underestimated how bad it would be. Had lunch in Chatham and proceeded to try to walk down to the beach. After I was literally almost blown away, we decided to drive back to our B&B in Dennis. All roads blocked as trees were falling everywhere (we had a soft top convertible). Completely shaken we returned to the Chatham restaurant, which was now closed. We banged and banged on the door and the owner said "We're closed until after the storm passes." Unbelievable. Finally he understood we needed shelter and let us in. Luckily I'm older and smarter now.

Pretty scary! Glad you found shelter from the storm.

I know lots of people had trouble with Antrak during this hurricane season, Yet, I went to Amtrak on Saturday to pick up my ticket. The machine did not work and told me to go to the ticket agent, The agents then printed out my tickets and then shut down the ticket office for half an hour for a break. I then realized I didn't have the tickets for all legs of my journey. I waited for half an hour for the window to report, I was then informed that this was because that part of the journey had been cancelled. I was told I could travel part of the way and then wait there until Tuesday to travel further since all trains were cancelled and booked until then. I then asked why I wasn't told this initially twhich would have been helpful a half hour earlier. I decided against traveling on Saturday to be stuck in a city where I don;t know anyone and have nowhere to go during a hurricane. I have to ask what the ticket agent was thinking and also to suggest to Amtrak, especially on days of emergency travel, that maybe they keep their ticket agents more aware and at their jobs longer.

I'm sorry you had trouble with Amtrak. You might want to send a quick note to Amtrak, letting them know of your disappointment. If they don't respond, please let me know. Here's my email address.

My girlfriends and I are hoping for an all-inclusive long weekend in February in Jamaica. None of us have ever been there. My question is which part of the island should we focus on: Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios or somewhere else? Any specific all-inclusive resorts you would recommend? Thanks!

We have a piece planned for our Caribbean section in October on an all-inclusive in Jamaica that the writer, a veteran of such places, says is one of the best he's ever experienced. It's the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril

Hi Gurus - Any idea where I can go for advice on best practices when having to take long flights when pregnant? I've got two trips for work - both with 6+ hour flights. I'll be 5 months for one, and very early in my 7th month for the other. My doctors have given me clearance for both. Thanks!

Glad you got the green light from your doctors. They will have the best information on how you should handle any symptoms or distress. Ask them for a detailed list of what you need to do in case of certain pains, twinges, etc. The Mayo Clinic has some good info on its Web site. I would not trust blogs and Web sites written by non-professionals. Also, research nearby hospitals close to your hotel or ask your doctors if they have any recommendations of ob-gyns away from home.

Hi there, just returned from three weeks in Norway, Denmark, Iceland. I would highly suggest having your pin number ready. It was most difficult in Denmark and Norway where MANY transactions required a pin because cashiers did not know how to override the request for a pin and were very reluctant to find out, especially with a line of customers waiting. In Iceland, if the cashier was asked prior to ringing the sale to please ring it as "signature", there was no problem. Happy travels! Susan, Portland, Maine

Thanks!

I have four days...gaspe peninsula or acadia national park?

I vote for Gaspe Peninsula. Acadia is gorgeous, but I think Gaspe will offer a richer experience -- you get nature and culture and French-Canadian accents.

Blue Coast Seafood just north of Bethany Beach, Kingston Grill in Bethany

Looking for suggestions for a 3-4 day solo get away within driving distance of DC to celebrate the end of a difficult work assignment. I would like to travel the 1st week in January. Open to history, museums, shopping, spas not really into outdoor activities like skiing. I will be traveling later in the spring to Charleston and Savannah so they are out of the picture and I have recently traveled to NYC and Philadelphia. Any suggestions?

If I were in your shoes, I'd think about Pittsburgh. That's because I've never really spent any time there, have been intrigued, and think it could easily fill up 3-4 days. There's the Carnegie Museum, lots of spas, plenty of shopping. Check out this recent Post Mag piece for inspiration.

At least on Singapore Airlines, it was great - a massive amount of video options and nice seating.

My sister just returned from a one-week trip in Guatemala. On her Delta flight from BWI last Saturday, she had an hour and a half layover in ATL. After boarding, they were told that the plane weighed 100 pounds too much and they had to remove some cargo. She sat on the plane for more than 3 hours. Due to missing her connection, she called Delta while waiting on the plane to see what they could do. They told her she could either deplane & take the flight on Sunday or she could change planes in ATL, again in SLC, and a third time in LAX, arriving in GUA around 7am Sunday. My sister needed to be there for her godchild's baptism early Sunday so the first option was not viable. As a diabetic, nearly 24 hours of travel also was not an option. I arranged for her (through a Delta phone agent) to switch to American Airlines in ATL, change planes once in DFW and arrive in GUA Saturday night. For all this, Delta gave her one $6 food voucher in ATL after my sister asked them for some sort of compensation. On her return this past Saturday, the TSA agent in GUA told her she was not allowed to carry on a toddler fork & spoon set that she had brought from home to give her grandson in ATL during her 19-hour layover even though she had no problem taking it TO Guatemala. She was also told she could not bring a roasting pan her godchild's parents had given her as a gift (although both items had been IN her carry-on luggage). She went back to the Delta ticketing agent as directed to put the items in her checked luggage but was told they could not retrieve it for her, nor did they have a box in which she could put it so the items could be checked. She asked the agent if she could leave it at the ticket counter for another family member to pick up within 24 hours so that person could place it in her checked luggage for her Sunday flight. She was told she could and left the items with the person's name on them. When her sister-in-law went to the counter on Sunday, she was told there was no package for her. To make matters even worse, my sister's checked luggage was misplaced and she still has not received it. Obviously, she is very upset with the airline and the entire situation. Does she have any recourse for reimbursement for the items Delta "lost" in Guatemala? Her godchild's parents there already filed a complaint with the Guatemalan Delta ticketing agent, to no avail.

Yikes! Talk about a bad flight. OK, in addition to the luggage claim you've filed, you may also want to keep these contacts handy as a backup. I just wrote a Navigator column on compensation for lost and misplaced luggage, which might be useful. If Delta can't help, send me an email.

Avoid all Grotto pizzas! Try instead Mio Fratello Italian Steakhouse on Rt 54 west of Fenwick Island. Looks like a dive in a strip mall, but great food.

Hi there! I'm looking for a pair of black pants to wear in Turkey that are stylish (I'm a female in my twenties) and that will work for general walking around, a nice evening out, and if possible, hiking. Easily washable/dryable would be great, since we will probably do laundry at least once while we are there. Any thoughts on where to find a pair? Thanks!

Check out TravelSmith or LL Bean. Or consider the most comfy black pants of all: yoga pants and leggings. Pair them with ballet flats and you will look very Audrey; hiking boots, you'll very Grizzly Girl. Try Lulumon or even Filene's.

Just back from a two-week trip through Utah's stunning national parks, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and LA. Thanks to all the chatters for great advice. Only one minor disappointment : there were very few Americans in the Parks compared to Europeans, but the reverse was true in Las Vegas. So it's not a matter of money. I'm wondering why people from other countries seem to appreciate our parks more than we do!

Glad you had a great trip! And yes, I don't know why more Americans don't go to see their national parks. There are some gorgeous ones out there. I just got back from Glacier National Park. One of the best trips I've ever taken.

We flew Frontier and Alaska Airlines this month. Both require fees for checked luggage. I know that my luggage is a standard carry-on size, but the frame they require the bags to fit in is the size of a small toaster oven. Seems pretty slimy to me!

I agree. Those luggage "templates" are ridiculously small, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say they were shrinking. As I said in yesterday's Navigator, airlines shouldn't be charging luggage fees at all; then you could simply check the bag and be done with it.

A group of about 15 friends (all single, late 20s) and I are looking to get away this year for New Year's Eve, mostly because we need a vacation but also b/c the holiday itself is usually a let down. We were considering Puerto Rico and found good hotel rates, but flights are around $700 which is a little too steep. We're open to pretty much anywhere (fly or drive), will probably end up at a club on the actual night, but for the other days would like somewhere with activities or sight-seeing. Other cities that were tossed around were Nashville, Austin and Toronto. Would prefer not to do NYC, Atlantic City or Vegas, as we've done them before. Any suggestions?

Nashville, Austin and Toronto are all great ideas. I've been to all three. Nashville and Austin would probably be cheaper to get to, and they are both pretty fun party towns. I especially like the honky tonks in Nashville. I spent a night at Robert's Western World and met some interesting characters that ended up in my story about road tripping through Tennessee. I would also consider New Orleans or Miami. I think those would be some fun NYE destinations.

I vote Austin, natch. Here are some ideas from my recent travels there. If you decide to go there, check back w/us and I'll give you more thoughts on fun things to do, places to eat, etc.

Hello can you give me advice on how to find travel group packages or guided tours for paris. Thanks.

Just about every major tour operator includes Paris in its line-up. I'd start with the United States Tour Operators Association (I'm having trouble with the Web site right now). As for day tours, Viator is one option.

I visit Seattle every couple of years and love walking around Fremont (www.fremont.com). There are great shops, cafes and restaurants. It's also home to the Fremont Troll! (don't worry, it's just a statue)

Hi crew, I live a few miles from the airport in Boston and we are very lucky that we were spared any major damage. I know that hindsight is 20/20 and it's better to be safe than sorry, but I feel like the airlines jumped the gun. By 8am Sat morning the airline I was traveling with had already canceled all their Sun flights. Maybe the airlines were working off information we didn't have, but it didn't seem like Boston was going to get hit hard (cases of water that were on sale were still on grocery store shelves). Just frustrating that when my weather -canceled flight should have been taking off there were kids playing in the park across from my house.

The airlines are looking at the big picture, not just what's happening in Boston but also flights in Florida, North Carolina. etc.-- the whole interconnected web. The carriers might have also grounded planes in safer destinations, to minimize damage to their fleet.  It is hard to find that balance of between over- and undersafe.

I'm sure you'll get lots of travel woes today- here's mine. A friend and I are at MHT hoping to fly standby on Southwest. We had tickets for a morning flight that was cancelled Saturday and couldn't rebook til Wed morning. Looked into train, Amtrak wasn't running; MegaBus either wasn't running or was sold out. Bought pricey ($93) tickets on Greyhound. Thought we were golden since storm would be gone Monday. Last night found out that Greyhound was suspending service after all- we had missed the barely- advertised and extremely vaguely worded notice on their website. Extra annoyed because as of last night they were still selling tickets for Monday buses they knew were going nowhere. Anyway, we're crossing our fingers for standby along with, obviously, many others. Meanwhile, I'm not familiar enough with Greyhound- is there any way to get our money back if we manage to get a plane today? If we don't, we'll be shuttle busing it to Boston tonight to try for a Greyhound tomorrow. hey, at least we're safe and dry; it could be worse!

When an airline cancels a flight, you're entitled to a full refund. Same for Greyhound. If the buses don't operate, you get a refund. If you have trouble getting your money back, dispute the credit card charges or email yours truly.

 

May I tell you my hurricane story? OK, since you asked. My family and I were driving our aging Honda Accord from the Catskill Mountains up to Montreal. Our car was nearly washed away by a flooded creek, we came within inches of being hit by a falling tree and a mudslide closed our road, forcing a two-hour detour. We feel lucky to be alive today! 

Normally I'd never travel on Labor Day weekend, but I've got a Living Social coupon to Linden Row that I have to use. We're going down from Alexandria on Sunday morning, coming back Monday. Other than the art museum, any suggestions on what to do? And, more importantly, how awful is traffic coming back going to be? What if we leave right after breakfast?

I just spend a day in Richmond with my family. We visited the Virginia State Capitol, which is open on Sunday afternoon, and we also checked out the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Alas, the Tredegar appears to be closed after the hurricane -- hopefully it will reopen soon. We were very impressed by the capitol and the new visitors' complex. (Plus, it's free.)

We're starting to price out a trip for our family of four (mom and dad, and a 6 and 1-year-old) to LA for Christmas. Will fares potentially come down a little once, say, school is back in session? Also, any tips for bargains? We can fly from dulles or national- no BWI, sitting in the car for an hour and a half and then on the plane for 6 hours is too much for the little ones- and flying into any of the LA airports is okay.

Unfortunately, BWI is often the cheapest way to Los Angeles, especially if Southwest is having a sale. But Dulles also has discount airlines operating to Los Angeles, including Virgin America and JetBlue. Christmas, however, is peak travel time, and the only sales we typically see then are last-minute ones if empty seats remain. School in session has nothing to do with airline pricing -- it's all about load factors and competition. If you're willing to fly on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, that might be cheaper, but I'd expect to pay about $450 to $500 each. And I'd buy sooner rather than later.

a while back I put my tent in checked luggage...one of the poles broke in flight so I'm leery of doing that again. Recently I flew with my tent and used a sturdy poster tube and took the poles as carry-on. It worked okay....TSA wasn't too bothered, but it was cumbersome especially when changing flights. I wonder what others do? Posters....help me out. Thanks!

Can you put the pole in the poster tube and pack it in your checked luggage?

 

chatters, any suggestions?

Planning to travel for Christmas up to Buffalo. I was going to fly from BWI to Buffalo on Southwest. Buffalo got hammered with a 5 day snow storm that shut down the city. First problem was there had been flight delays/cancellations priorto us traveling. When we going to travel they had to cancel the flight so we stayed in a BWI hotel (kiving in Falls Church at the time..(.not interested in driving home then coming back in the AM). Then BWI went into chaos the next morning. There was a water main break on one of the main roads into the airport which froze over causing the aiport to delay because crew and passangers couldnt get to the airport. When I finally get to the airport I see the southwest check in line and I am never seen anything so bad before or since. Think of a line that stretched through half the check in part of the airport. It would have easily taken 3 hrs just to check into the flight before even knowing if my flight would even leave because of Buffalo airport closure. I was talking on the foot with a southwest rep and she told me about the credit option with the flight. We ended up taking that and said forget it and instead travelled over MLK weekend.

Smart move: Walk away from the chaos!

years ago, while honeymooning in Cabo San Lucas, our sun was blocked half the week by Tropical Depression "Bud." It was still pleasant enough to sit outside and enjoy the beachside view, but the waves were too rough for enjoying the water, and a nice suntan was elusive! One cab driver suggested we were lucky to be there during the tropical depression, as we got to witness the only few days a year it rains there!

That's a nice sliver lining to a tropical depression cloud.

Hello! Planning a trip to Mexico in late November. Originally wanted to go to the Southern or Pacific regions, but higher flight prices ($500-700) are making me rethink this. Fare this high would almost assure the trip would fall outside my budget of $600. I'm now thinking about flying into Cancun and staying somewhere in the Yucatan area. Lots of history in the area, beautiful beaches, etc. Problem is, I'm very nervous about having a vacation overrun by tourists and all-inclusive spring break types. Can you (or your readers) suggest some cities in the Yucatan area that would allow me to have a rich Mexican cultural experience while largely avoiding the planned resort areas that seem to be all over Mexico, especially this region? I was thinking Tulum, but have heard mixed reports about whether or not it's a tourist resort destination. Thanks!

Cancun and Riviera Maya are busy, and there are lots of all-inclusives. The farther south you go, the less touristy it gets. I'd look for off-beat lodging that won't draw the all-you-can-eat-and-drink crowd. Take a look at villa accommodations, such as  Casa de las Olas in Tulum, or a small hotel, such as Piedra Escondida.

Hello! Thanks for taking my question. My British expat husband is going nuts over the absence of nearby vistas. We need to find a place where we can look out over valleys and hills - yes, a bit like England - but with views unencumbered by trees. We've gone hiking at all the local places - in the trees. The Shenandoah are wonderful, but there aren't really a lot of of "vistas" because you're stuck in the trees. (We love trees, but are feeling a bit claustrophobic.) We need vistas! Can you help? With 1) anything close enough for a day trip, and 2) something good for a long weekend? Thanks so much - I want him to be happy here!

A while back, I traveled about 80 miles of the Blue Ride Parkway and  stumbled upon some beautiful scenic overlooks. I think some of them might fit what you are looking for. I remember a great view from the Linn Cove Viaduct, at Milepost 304.4. There was also a pretty vista near Cumberland Knob at milepost 217. Traveling along the parkway would make a lovely weekend getaway.

I love when the photos show me places I'd never heard of! I'm now intrigued by both Kolmannskop and Uchisar.

Great!

Can anyone recommend lodging in the Florida Keys for a couple looking for a quiet, relaxing stay? B&Bs and smaller hotels are preferred, especially on the water or with a water view. Thanks.

I visited Key West a few years ago for a big piece we did on the Keys and put together this list of hotels with charm. My favorite was the Speakeasy Inn, home of a cigar impresario.

For other attractions and hotels in the Keys, here is the full story.

And if any chatters have suggestions, please pipe up.

My husband races cars for a hobby. I think he'd love to drive the Amalfi Coast. He's driven the Road to Hana without incident and liked it. Could you or the chatters advise - how much more difficult is it? What would traffic be like in late October? How and where would we rent a car to do this if we wanted to stay the rest of the week without a car? And most importantly, can we do the drive going east to west, so I don't have to be sitting on the outside. Thanks!

I have never driven it.

Chatters, can you help this speed demon?

Back in 2002 or 2003 after a big Hurrican I went to Ft. Lauderdale. I was taking a leisurely drive up the A1A to Palm Beach and had to slow down, then drive around an alligator who (I can only imagine) was a little diplaced form the big storm. I was VERY happy to be in a closed vehicle and not taking a leisurely stroll.

I love that story. Thanks for sharing it. Our alligators in Florida normally stay in the swamp, but sometimes they crawl out and eat our pets.

Way back in 1980, I traveled with a friend to Munich. We signed up for a touristy day trip to the Zugspitze peak in the Alps. We went by bus to the foot of the mountain and then took the cog-rail train up to the very top, well above the clouds. It was beautiful up there, but a sudden blizzard struck at lower altitudes, causing them to shut down the cog-rail train. We were trapped up there (of course, there was a nice restaurant and bar up there, so it was no hardship. AFter some hours, we were directed to follow a guide. We hiked on a narrow snowy path for maybe a mile or two. We crossed the Austrian border--there was one official-looking guy standing in a phonebooth-like shelter who stamped our passports! Eventually, we came to a chair ski lift that brought us down the mountain. Our bus driver had to drive around the mountain apparently to pick us up in Austria. Then, we went to Oktoberfest in Munich to drown our sorrows in a Masskrug of beer (or two)! Prosit!

What a cross-cultural adventure. Love it!

Last winter, the Sunday the post-Christmas storm hit the Northeast, I was scheduled on a late afternoon flight from Providence to DCA. Thousands of flights were being cancelled, including pretty much everything going out of Providence, and yet TF Green kept listing my flight as departing on time. Even just getting to the airport was driving at reduced speeds due to the snow accumulating on the highway, and except for a couple of TSA agents the security area of the airport was deserted. Everything in the departure area was shut down, except for a small group of people all waiting to get on my flight. It turns out that all of the planes were being moved out of the area due to the storm, and we were on the last plane that needed to fly out. Incoming flights weren't even able to land due to the wind -- one flight that was incoming that we were supposed to get a plane crew from had to re-direct to Portland, ME -- but our pilot was so determined to get the plane out of the area that he decided to take off anyway. It was a pretty bumpy departure, but since the storm had moved away from DC by then, we got in only a few minutes after our scheduled arrival time. So I was inexplicably able to get back to DC in time for work on Monday, even though thousands of other travelers were delayed for days! My boss was certainly surprised when I showed up in the office the next day.

Lucky, lucky you. Hope you got a bonus!

My husband and I are heading up to a wedding in Portland this weekend and we are looking for a beautiful seaside inn to stay in Sunday night after the wedding. We could travel up to 1.5 hours north or south of Portland,as we have rental car but need to fly out of Portland on Monday. Any ideas?

I don't think you need to go that far: Take a 20-minute boat ride to Peaks Island and stay at this Inn on Peaks Island. Well, except it's probably booked for the holiday weekend. And indeed, I called and they have three weddings there! (Is one of them the one you're going to?)

Another thought: Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor.

I was behind a woman who was told she had to check her bag at the gate and leave it to the side before she got on -- she played along and had it ticketed -- but then she just rolled the bag right on to the airplane. Beginning of a rebellion?

Wow. I would say it's the continuation of one, wouldn't you?

Anyone have any restaurant recommendations for Milwaukee? Mostly looking for Sat/Sun breakfast/brunch/lunch recommendations and places where nice-but-casual clothes are welcome. Thanks!

I just got back from Milwaukee! I loved the restaurant at the Iron Gate Hotel (the hotel was great too). They have a casual outdoor spot called the Yard as well as a fancier indoor restaurant. I also enjoyed the Harbor House next to the Art Museum. Good seafood with tables overlooking the water. Other restaurants recommended to me by a friend who used to travel there a lot for work are: Knick by the lake for brunch, Coquette cafe for French, Elsas for a great burger, Maders for German. This article from the local paper also has some good suggestions.

I vote for a rule that requires all roller bags to be checked, and not put in the overhead bins. The bags add lots of volume, and keeping roller bads out of the overhead bins would prevent somebody like me who has a small bag WITHOUT wheels from being told that there's no place for my bag.

I sense the makings of a storm of opinions on this subject...

If you afford it Goldeneye. After the recent spruce up its one of the top hotels in the Americas. Worth the money and superior to any place in Jamaica.

Some other options.... Do you have interests that your boyfriend doesnt care to much about??? Since you have a car you can explore some other paty of the city like Ballard, Freemont, U-district, Capitol Hill, FT Lawton. There is an Art museum in the heart of downtown. If you are a fan of the discovery show, dealiest catch, many of the boats and cres are based out of Seattle. There is one of the retired boats that is now used for tours in ballard locks. Not far from Ballard locks (about a mile) under the Aurora bridge on the Ballard side of the water is the Troll.

In December 2009, I headed to Costa Rica for surf camp. I flew back with a wrenched shoulder, having caught one wave. But Snowpocalypse conspired to make my vacation worse, leaving me stuck in Houston for the weekend. I asked the customer service agent what there was to do and she had to think a minute before saying "downtown's not bad". While ensconced in my airport hotel, I found a travel Houston channel that really sold the fact that they had a dog track. In a five hour jaunt, I saw pretty much all downtown had to offer. I finally headed home on Monday night, shoulder still in pain, on a full flight in a middle seat, and was glad to get it.

You should've stayed at surf camp!

Grotto Pizza so it isnt the latest yuppified fresh buffalo milk mozzeralla in a brick over with pizzalo claiming he was trained in Naples manning the paddle but it still beats any pizza place in the DC area. Grotto better pizza then anyplace in DC since at least 1968 when my family first went to Rehobeth and stayed in an aprtment above the General Store and gas station. For eating buy some fresh seafood in Bethany then grill it.

Many questions last week about calibrating airport luggage scales. A gallon weighs 8.35 pounds. So 50 pounds is the same as 6 gallon jugs of water. Someone needs to do some investigations with a six-pack of water gallons and report back to us...

Good idea! But don't you think we'd arouse some suspicion?

I know a lot of flights were canceled when the storm looked worse than it turned out to be, but I commend the airlines for being prudent. Had they left cancellations to the last minute, people would have been stranded in air-ports, grounded away from home, etc. Weather forecasts aren't perfect, and it really is better to be safe than sorry.

I just had to share two funny stories: I flew last week to Minneapolis from Reagan... by way of Philadelphia. Almost as soon as we were told we could use portable electronics on the way to Philly we were told to put them away... that made me chuckle. But the funniest thing was hearing the announcement: please turn off all electronics, including your books, as we are in our final descent. Hearing books being described as electronic.... who'd have ever thought 20 years ago we'd be hearing that?

That's funny. I'd like to see them try to turn off my paper book!

Other than flying into Burlington and driving to Montreal, do you recommend any other travel routes which will not be very expensive. Direct flights are exorbitant for late September and we are trying to keep driving time reasonable for our 4 day vacation.

Hmm. I don't know that you're going to find anything easier/better than that Burlington option. The drive is very easy, nice, and quick. The only thing much cheaper is taking Amtrak, which you can do for about $200, but that'll eat up two entire days of your trip.

If you are looking to travel cross country you should book next month. IF you are traveling strictly on one side or the other then wait till November. Since fuel prices are dropping, airfares should start to drop. Between Labor Day and Columbus Day airlines start having Christmas sales.

Many years ago I traveled with my then boyfriend to our first trip away to Okracoke Island. We're there 1 day we get there than we get a hurricane warning to evacuate. Driving back, near Norfolk, the only part of the trip that I'm driving, we go into a skid on 95 with the car spinning around and are hit by another car totalling my boyfriend's car but mercifully giving us nothing more than some bruises. The kicker is that the car was found by the state police to have bald tires and I was given a citation for reckless driving and forced to appear in court the next day. Luckily, the judge took pity on me and I walked away after paying a fine for "failure to signal before making a turn." I guess my boyfriend took pity on me too because he's been my husband for almost 30 years.

yikes! but so glad your story ends with . and they lived happily ever after.

Several years ago, I was dead-set on spending my 21st birthday with my brother, who was stationed in Pensacola at the time. My mom and I planned our 15-hour roadtrip to go visit him and after a (very) long day of driving on my actual birthday, we arrived at his house only to learn that Pensacola was being evacuated (for a hurricane that everyone had thought would just be a tropical storm). We spent exactly 2 hours at my brother's place before driving up to the mountains of Georgia where we had family. One small problem -- it was in a dry county! My brother decided that we couldn't let the storm ruin my birthday, so he then drove me to Chattanooga so I could have my first legal drink!

Cheers to that!

On several occasions, you have mentioned a Website that notifies you about good airfares when they come up. I swear, this time I will bookmark. I think that they email you whenever a good deal to anywhere pops up. Or something like that. Thanks!

You may be referring to Airfarewatchdog.

I hope this doesnt get lost by posting early! My wife wants to take me out for my birthday in later October (October 22nd weekend). We have two kids under 2, so my in-laws will be watching them while we get a *rare* overnight (24 hours!) in DC. We want to get a nice hotel room in the city. We plan to take a walk in the evening, go to a nice dinner (trying to score rezzies for Komi or Obelisk although we have to call a month ahead), a nice evening spent in our room relaxing, sleeping in and either breakfast in bed or brunch somewhere nice. The room has to be nice (king sized bed!) but we dont want to break the bank. Something 200 dollarish would be okay, but much more than that is difficult to justify. Gaylord isn't walkable to the city (shuttles/driving would be annoying). We like Kimpton hotels, but the Palomar is $300+. Help crew! (or audience.) There are days where the prospect of sleeping in past 7am without changing diapers is the only thing that gets me through the day..

Great idea! I hope you get into Komi. I really like the Dupont Hotel. I stayed there once. The room was a decent size and had a window seat that I liked because it's right on Dupont Circle, so you have a view of all the restaurants, cafes, shops, and the park. It also had a nice bathroom. And the bar is one of my favorites in the city. The restaurant has great French food and a wonderful brunch. Looks like you can get a room with a King-sized bed for less than $300. But if you want to splurge, they have a private floor called Level Nine, which is basically a hotel within a hotel. Other hotels I've liked are: Hotel Rouge, Helix Hotel, Hay Adams Hotel, the Madison, and the Mayflower. My favorite is the Ritz Carlton Georgetown but that might require a real splurge. 

I was at a Girl Scout camp in Connecticut during Hurricane Bob in 1991. We had to shelter under A-frames--about 2 feet of clearance from the ground. One group of girls apparently encountered a raccoon who was distinctly displeased to have his nest disturbed, but thankfully no one got bitten. The few buildings at camp that normally had electricity were dark, and two were too damaged for us to use. I still admire our camp staff for dealing with a bunch of terrified 9- to 13-year-olds in that situation.

A good test of Girl Scouts racoon skills and not freaking out.

In June 1972 we were scheduled to drive from DC to the Midwest. Then Hurricane Agnes was forecast to hit the DC area, and track along the East Coast up to New England, so we decided to postpone our departure and wait to leave till the big storm had passed through DC. Unfortunately, hurricane-predicting was less reliable 39 years ago than it is now, so right after we hit the road that afternoon, Agnes took an unexpected northwestward lurch directly over our itinerary. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was deadly scary that evening, with 18-wheelers splashing our car to the point of blinding our view of the road, and hydroplaning a problem at times. We were lucky enough to find a seedy motel in Belle Vernon (where the Turnpike crosses the Monongahela River in Western PA.), where we spent the night. The next day it rained all the way across Ohio, and the clouds from the western front of the Hurricane extended all the way to Indianapolis; we could still see that cloud front even in eastern Illinois. On the news that night, they showed satellite images of the storm having stretched way out into the Atlantic on its eastern front -- it was a HUGE storm! If we'd known earlier that Agnes would turn inland, we'd have left sooner, ahead of it.

Whoa!

For Solo in Seattle - head to Tacoma for the day! Great museums, especially if you like Chihuly art glass, funky university town and super easy to get to (30 mins from Sea-Tac) and navigate the two main streets of museums, shops and cafes.

I vote for Acadia. Our National Parks need all the love and support they can get these days; given the way budgets are going, you might very well not be able to get into them (closed), hike in them (trails cannot be maintained for lack of $), or even have them (repeated proposals to sell them off and privatize--don't laugh). We have to show the gov't how valuable we find them or we will lose them. While i am at it, buy a Park Pass! (no, I am not a gov't worker of any kind, just a huge Nat Park and nature fan). They are treasures and we have taken them for granted far too long. If you think I am nuts, look at the proposed funding (none) for land acquisition or maintenance n the latest House budget proposal. And check out this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_and_Water_Conservation_Fund to see where funding comes from in large part.

If you want sunny Mexico but fear crowds and crime, head to Playa Del Carmen (90 mins south of Cancun). Plenty to do, espeially recommend Xel-ha for reef snorkeling and Hidden Worlds for cenote (cave) snorkeling, zip lines and other fun.

The Gettysburg battlefield has the hill and valley views you are looking for and some historical interest too.

You can also see if the Valentine Musuem (which is interesting) has any walking tours. They're great and inexpensive. richmondhistorycenter.com

I think the rule should be: if you can't lift it over your head into the compartment without nearly dropping it on your fellow passengers, it is not a carry-on bag.

Just say "can you give me the weight of these jugs so I can compare it with my scale at home?" It's the truth, right?

Just took a trip through the Keys a few months ago. The Speakeasy Inn looks fabulous. There is a bar in the downstairs portion that is run by Bahama Bob. He makes the most amazing rum cocktails. It's on Duval, but towards the quieter southern portion and the bar isn't a nice quiet place for great conversation over superb tropical drinks. Can't speak to the lodging, but would love to stay there just on the ambience of the bar. I did stay at the Heron House which was very nice and quiet (1 block off Duval on Simonton so could walk to everything), they have a small pool, but doesn't quiet meet the on the water/ water view requirements.

Hi there - trying to convince my husband to go on a 4 - 5 night trip to the Caribbean - he agreed if I can find a non-stop location and a beautiful small resort. So if you have any unique suggestions, please let me know.. We like rustique but with a bit of luxury, on the beach - either DC airport is fine, DCA and IAD preferred. To your question: about 7 years ago my husband was on a business trip on the Aleutian Islands - he called me to tell me not to worry but there was going to be a tsunami, and that they all had been handed hard hats and flashlights and were going into a basement; then he had to hang up - fortunately I was able to check the NOAA website and saw about 15 minutes later that the tsunami threat had ended. Very scary

I would suggest Puerto Rico. Head west to the surfing towns or fly or ferry over to Vieques. The island is lovely! I love the Hix Island House, but the W also recently opened there as well.

I feel terrible for this person, but I have to say that people's huge "carry ons" and yes, sadly, American weight issues guaranteed this. In the 1960s and 70s people weighed 40-50 lbs less, at least. Planes were designed for 160 lb men. People also carried far fewer and smaller bags. We need to stop thinking we can have everything we want with no sacrifice.

For last week's poster whose husband wants to visit Alaska but not take a cruise. The poster was concerned that Alaska is too large and overwhelming. Alaska is large but roads only cover a small part of the state. Having formerly lived in Alaska, I have some suggestions. Fly into Anchorage and rent a car. Drive south toward Seward. On the way you can explore Alyeska Ski Resort and take a ride in the ski lift which operates for tours in the summer. Visit Alyeska Glacier. Continue on to Seward and visit Kenai Fjords National Park. The drive south from Anchorage is breathtaking. You'll find plenty along the way that you want to stop and look at. If you have more time and want to visit Denali, drive north from Anchorage. Just keep in mind that it's about a 300 mile trip to Denali and personal auto access is limited by regulation in the park. You'll have to park your car and take a bus into the interior of the park. You may also find that due to cloud cover you can't even see the mountain. Summer whether in Alaska can be wet, dreary and chilly. Be prepared.

Thanks for the tips!

We don't need a brick oven, buffalo mozz or a Napoli-trained chef. We DO like pizza that isn't a grease puddle on top of a limp saltine. STAY AWAY FROM GROTTO

Hi Crew -- Just returned from two weeks in Alaska. Week one was Denali National Park where we saw it all, from grizzlies to an unobstructed view of Mt. McKinley. Second week was a cruise with outstanding shore excursions, especially the sight of a breaching humpback whale. Your years of Alaska features inspured us an we can't wait to return. So thank you!

You're welcome!

In the summer and especially August (which in europe is their vacation time) the southwest draws many travelers from europe because of its unique terrain. Places like Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, and mMonument Valley. There isnt stuff like that in Europe. In Euope they have the Alps and mountain national parks like we do so they arent coming over to see that. Las Vegas is the international flight launching pad where you can fly from Europe direct to Las Vegas. I remember one visit to one of the parks one cashier talked to me like English wasnt my native language when she told me this was a nickel.

In college, a group was returning to U Maryland - College Park from Atlanta in 1994. We had planned to stop at a friend's parents' house in North Carolina for the night, but they said an ice storm was coming and to keep driving. We made it back to College Park at 4 AM, beating the 1994 MLK weekend ice storm by 3 hours. At least we were iced in for a week on campus rather than someone's parents' house.

The plus-side of getting stuck at the parents': laundery and homecooked  meals. But glad you got back safely.

Another option to get easily to Montreal is to fly to Albany NY. Southwest has cheap flights from BWI and it is a straight shot up I-87 (the Northway) to Montreal. I think maybe 4 hours -- maybe less.

Were airlines a little late on the waiving change fees due to Irene or is it typical to only post them 24 hours in advance (most didn't make a decision until Thursday afternoon for cities that were going to be impacted on Friday night). Was wondering if they were hoping to keep as much of the change revenue as possible or were they thinking the forecast would change dramatically?

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but in this case, I think the arirlines were just betting the storm would turn away and they wouldn't have to cancel any flights. 

Don't forget to check Alaska Air - direct flights to LA from National.

Yup, although not typically cheap. $473 is cheapest you'll get around Christmas, and that's departing Christmas Day and coming home New Year's Eve.

I'm traveling to London for a conference next month. I was planning a day to acclimate (arrive Saturday for a Sunday meeting) - but plans have changed so I have to leave Saturday night on the redeye. How much pain will I be in on Sunday afternoon sitting through presentations?

Hmmm, that's going to be tough. The flight will be about seven to eight hours long. If you take some melatonin right away and get a window seat, you might be able to sleep through most of it. That's the best case scenario. If you're lucky and can sleep on planes (I have a hard time), then you should be able to get through Sunday without too much pain.

Go to REI or their website...they are having their Labor Day sale. I would avoid leggings or yoga pants if you want to wear them hiking, as you would be better served with quick drying, performance fabrics. (And tight leggings are not appropriate in religious sites like a mosque, or in more conservative rural communities.)

I've also been able to find good, comfy, washable black pants at the Gap that I often travel with.

The last "big park" that my husband and I visited was Yellowstone. We went in late September, and while most of the tourists were older than us (and American, to boot), most of the waitstaff in the various eateries were foreign college students, whose school year didn't start until late October. They were interesting to talk to, and for the most part enjoyed living in Yellowstone for nearly 4 months. Who wouldn't?

Fun job! I loved Yellowstone too.

Gurus, My husband and I want to take a 5-8 day Mediteranean cruise leaving from Rome. Due to our time constraints, the two choices appear to be on one of those Royal Carribean behemoths or a smaller Costa Cruise line ship. We've never cruised and we don't feel we need a climbing wall and ice rink to see the Mediteranean, yet reviews of the Costa Cruise line seem to be negative. Any suggestions?

Wow -- just looked at the page for the Costa Concordia on Cruise Critic, and yowsah, mixed is right. The overall is four out of five, but they're so extreme! Chatters, any thoughts about this? Personally, I loved the only cruise I've ever taken, on the Star Clippers line -- the boat was just gorgeous -- but theirs out of Rome are longer than you want, aren't they?

I have flown in all three of my pregnancies. This last one I was furthest along (about 30 weeks). I found wearing support stockings to be really helpful. I also carried a note from my doctor that stated when my due date was, since most airlines have a limit as to when in your pregnancy you can fly.

I have traveled with tents numerous times with no problem. What I use is a larger duffel bag to put the tent equipement and sleeping bags et all in. If push comes to shove, I also have a ski bag I could use.

My first year out of college, I had to fly back 2 days after Christmas to get back to work because I didn't have the right to take vacation yet. So my parents drove with me to the Buffalo airport and flew off to beautiful, sunny Florida. My flight was scheduled to take off 30 minutes later, but Southwest informed all of us that there were no flights taking off for the rest of the day AND all flights were sold out for the rest of the year. This meant I was stuck at the airport for 5 days (until I could get a flight) without cash, access to a car (I didn't have keys to my parents car), or a way to get another form of transit (I was under 25 and couldn't rent a car). Needless to say, I hightailed it to the car rental counter and made friends with a group of 4 other stranded DC residents and drove the 8 hours back to Arlington. Southwest did not compensate us and we had to struggle to get them to refund the ticket.

Great Plan B.

We were driving to Illinois from Buffalo in late December one year, got caught in a white-out on the Interstate heading toward Cleveland. It was so blinding that we unwittingly wound up AHEAD of the snow-plow -- talk about terrible road conditions!!! Eventually we turned south to Ashland, Ohio, by which point we were so exhausted we decided to quit driving for the day, so spent the night there; next AM it was sunny, although bitter cold, and we safely completed our drive.

Two come immediately to mind. Last January, I had award travel booked for Egypt. I woke up early (around 5:00 am) and saw that with the approach of what became Snowmaggedan, getting out of DC on my evening flight to Frankfurt was going to be a problem. I phoned United and was told I could reroute through Chicago -- but only if I could make it to National in time for the 6:00 am flight, which was the only one that had seats. Fortunately I lived in Pentagon City and made it - but just barely. Several years ago, I had to spend 2 extra days in London when DC had another snow event. Fun, but expensive. And with everything closed, I didn't have to take any extra vacation days! Oh, and I had no problem flying back into Dulles from Los Angeles yesterday.

I liked the article about giving kids cameras to stem their whining while on tours. Specifically, I noted that the particular tour was taken in mid-2000, two years before Italy converted from using liras to Euros. Did the author's kids learn about how to handle money while touring? Did they learn that pasta was a separate course while dining? What contrada--Siena neighborhoods--did they like best?

Author Peter Lemos says:

We did let the kids have a little cash, though mostly we used cards to ensure the best exchange rates.  They loved the idea of walking around with 5000 Lira in their pockets, even though they understood that it was only worth about  US $2.50 at the time.  They also ate a lot of pasta of all varieties and flavors everywhere we went, and for the most part remained blissfully unaware of the intricacies of the Italy menu.  I must say the restaurants were usually extremely kid-friendly.  All of the B-movie cliches of Italians doting on children proved to be delightfully true, right down to the frequent cheek-pinching.  During our rather quick stopover in Siena, we didn't have a lot of time to explore the differences between the many contrada there. The kids were draw mostly to the Duomo and the Pizza del Campo, and were especially intrigued by the Italian tradition of the afternoon siesta, which was was being faithfully observed during our visit to Siena, limiting the number of places we could visit.

Flying back to Arlington from London during the blizzard of '96; had no idea there was a storm. Showed up to check in at Heathrow, we were routed to another long line of stranded passengers. We managed to snag seats via JFK the next day, so quickly booked one of the last available Heathrow hotel rooms. When we arrived at JFK, our flight to DCA was canceled, so we called Amtrak, took a cab through the snow and squeaked on a train (doors closed right behind us) to DC. The snow on the tracks outside of Baltimore caused another delay, which caused us to arrive after Metro closed for the night. By the time we got to Union Station there were several hundred people waiting for cabs, so we hiked to the Dubliner with many suitcases in tow, and had a pint while we called Arlington Red Top. Red Top's dispatcher laughed and said they were not leaving Virginia. Resigned to wait in the long line for cabs, we started crossing back over to Union Station and managed to flag down an available Diamond Cab! Getting home required a lot of patience, flexibility, luck and quick thinking.

You needed a vacation after that vacation, as they say.

Back in 2003, I was a freshman in college, and it was my first time on the east coast (originally from Colorado). As a present before classes started, my parents took me to NYC for the first time. We hit all the major attractions, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, etc. When we were in the Empire State Building, on the holding floor waiting for the elevator to take us to the observation decks all of the lights went out, and the emergency lights kicked on. Of course being in NYC in 2003 in a major tourist attraction, everyone thought it was a terrorist attack. After about 45 minutes they told us the entire block was without power, and it wouldn't be on for a while, so we could leave and our tickets would be good for another day. As we left the building we could see people streaming out of MSG, and we realized that this was much larger than just our block. The pedestrians took over 8th Avenue, and we started walking up to our hotel at 86th. We stopped in Central Park on the way and spent several hours exploring the park. As we were walking around the park we saw people grilling burgers at what looked like an outdoor patio, and investigated. We couldn't figure out what this building was, and someone finally told us, "this is Tavern on the Green!" So we ended up having much nicer dinner than we thought we would have in a blackout! The next day a good chunk of the city still didn't have power, but Broadway did, so we went to the TKTS booth and got half price tickets for matinee and evening shows! I've been back to NYC many times since, but that first visit is still my most memorable.

I love New York City, lights on or off. What a wonderful story.

I was flying to Vermont (1994) on a tiny plane from Boston, rocky, rocky flight. At the rental car desk, the woman said "glad you are here, now I can go home. You are the last flight to be allowed to land. Gave your car to a guy from CNN. Upgraded you to ABS. There is an ice scraper in the car. You are to phone your mother. Jocelyn (admin back home) rebooked your room, you're spending the night in Burlington, just down the street. Phone Donna, she will tell you where you are staying tomorrow. Good luck.". There was an ice storm and the river in Montpelier had ice jams and flooded the downtown area. Our building formed part of the bank of the river, the basement flooded, but nothing else. It was several days before we could get to the offices, various inspections needed. My house back home had just gone up for sale, it sold just after we got the power back and could use the fax. The whole thing started just as I was leaving home, but it was pre-cell phone days so I had NO idea what I was flying into!

Hello! My husband and I weren't able to take a trip to celebrate our first anniversary last year, but we can this year. Do you have recommendations on a beautiful, relaxing trip (possibly with wineries or beer tastings!) within 2-4 hours of DC one of the first two weekends of October? We were thinking Charlottesville, but literally all of the bed and breakfasts I've checked are already full. Do you have recommendations for affordable places to stay (preferably less than $150/night) or alternative but similar locations? Much appreciated!

Easton or St. Michaels on Maryland's Eastern Shore are lovely, but you may have trouble finding something for less than $150 a night.  Take a look at Staunton, Va. -- take a look at a Going Our Way I wrote last year.

Cape Cod for Christmas with my husband's family. Flight from LA was fine, drive down to the cape was lovely, we had a perfect dusting of snow Christmas Eve, and then, the blizzard struck Christmas night. We couldn't get from the in-laws back to our hotel so all us grown-ups slept in the kiddie bunk beds in the basement. Two days later, we're leaving, we allow plenty of time to get back to Boston because we weren't sure if all the roads would be plowed, so we're 2 hours early to the airport. Our plane takes a mechanical in Chicago, so AA is giving us vague promises of when we might depart. We consider seeing if we can get on the San Diego flight and getting a rental car back to LA, we're so skeptical. 4 pm flight finally departs at 9 pm (remember, we've been at the airport since 2). Bad storms in the western U.S. have them strapping us in and doing the final pre-landing check *over Denver* so the flight attendants can be seated the rest of the flight, so we're seat-backs-up-no-electronics-no-beverages for the remaining what was supposed to be 2 hours, on the bumpiest flight I've ever been on. We make our final approach into LAX, over the water (backwards from the usual, those storms) and we're about 100 feet from the runway when the pilot pulls up - the wind direction has changed and we have to circle and come back the other way. So we do, and we finally land at about 1 am. The plane taxis for a while and I look out the window - no terminal. No landscape that I actually recognize, and I fly into LAX all the time. They'd parked us way out because with the reverse of directions, all the planes waiting to take off had to taxi to the other end of the airport and we had to wait for that and for a gate to clear. At this point, I just want off the plane and am thinking seriously about the emergency slide. My car service guy is calling and saying, "where are you?" and I'm going, "I have no idea." We finally get to the gate at 2 am, and staggered out to our waiting car - I'd always thought it was a luxury but that night it was a necessity, the only good thing in a hellish travel day. By the time I got home and to bed, I'd been up for 24 hours, and traveling for 19 on what should have been maybe an 8 hour trip door-to-door.

In May, 2008 I went to Roatan, Honduras and got my scuba certification. The last day was rainy and we learned that the Pacific tropical storm Alma had crossed central america, and was now an Atlantic tropical storm named Arthur, and was about 50 miles off shore. It was the first storm in either ocean that year, so it go both "A" names. Our flight out on Sunday was ok - to TACA's hub in San Salvador. Things just went plain wacky after that. After boarding the flight to Chicago, we were told to de-plane and board a waiting aircraft at another gate due to mechanical issues. We flew to Guatamala, where we did a touch-and-go near-landing in turbulant pounding rain. The pilot said conditions were bad - and so we returned to San Salvador. After a 2-hour wait in the terminal, they announced we would go straight to Chicago with no stop in Guatamala, but we had to wait so our arrival would not be before Immigration opened at 6:00 am. With the Guatamala-bound passengers left behind, everyone on the plane had 3 seats to sleep across. I actually got to work by 9:00 am on Monday.

In Burlinton mid septemeber-early october is the fall color season so fares will be higher. The other option is to fly into Albany on southwest. The drive will be about 2 extra hours.

Right. Someone mentioned the Albany possibility, thanks. I'll have to try that myself sometime. But as for Burlington, I'm seeing flights of around $219 on Bing the last week in September.

At the time of Isabel I was looking to move to Virginia Beach. My sister had already had plans on coming to visit. We went down to Virginia Beach and went to the beach. The next weekend on the news she saw the beach and the piers and released she was there last weekend...so she was able to put things to scale.

In the first year of my marriage my husband had to live in Florida, while I lived in DC. We decided to road trip together to our family reunion in Atlanta. I left DC without checking the weather in Florida, just in Atlanta. I should havve realized something was wrong when the only people on the plane with me were the CNN weather crew. The flight attendant pushed extra mini-water bottles and cookies on me, making me promise to be safe. Bewildered I realized I'd flown into the middle of hurricane Frances! The normal 5 hour drive to Atlanta became a 17 hour ordeal, with everyone in the state evacuating and more than a little road rage. Most of the gas stations we tried to stop at were closed or had bare shelves. As I get ready for this years reunion, I'm glad Irene came through before Labor Day.

Or Tropical Storm Agnes by the time she hit DC. My brothers both delivered the Post. The morning of the worst of it, the distributor didn't have enough carriers so drafted my two sisters and I to help with a reward of Montgomery Donuts at the end. (in the days of unlocked doors, he used to walk in to wake my brothers up if they were late). To this day, I remember walking through the streets of Silver Spring in barefeet, with a rain slicker over my pajamas, flinging the paper onto wet porches! What a girl will do for a donut!

You are hero!

My favorite restaurant is Di Febo's in Bethany. My family vacations there and we go every year. It is on Rt. 26 about a mile west of the beach. Great italian food.

Hi Team, I know Morocco is kind of popular these days and we've been considering going over Thanksgiving this year. Our main interests would be eating delicious food, seeing beautiful things, and hoteling somewhere pretty nice, but still authentic. I have been assuming we would start in Marrakesh, and I think we'd like to go to Casablanca, but other than that I'm not sure where to start. Any ideas for must-sees? Are there any day trips we can take? Thanks!

Alas, I've never been to Morocco. Any chatters want to offer their tips?

If WHO can't lift it? I'm an elderly lady and I can't lift a darn thing into an overhead compartment any more. Does that mean I'm not allowed a carry-on bag?

Go out to the U District, walk up and down the Ave, enjoy the funky shops and eateries. Same for Capitol Hill, and in West Seattle (a place unto itself) go to the Junction, walk California Ave, eat steak at Circa.

My boyfriend and I are headed to the Amalfi Coast in September and need a hotel room in Rome for two nights -- one night when we arrive in Italy and one for the night before we depart.Any suggestions for neighborhoods in which to base ourselves? We'd like to spend less than $200 per night, so were looking at spots near the Termini, but I'm hearing conflicting reports on the safety of this neighborhood. We'll be arriving late on Sunday the 18th from Ciampino, so late check in is important. Also, do you know if the Termini has luggage lockers? Ideally, we'd catch a sight or two before catching the train to Naples (we've both been to Rome, but I still need to check in on the Coliseum!). If we stay nearby, we'd like to be able to ditch our luggage someplace safe while we do our quickie Rome tour. Thanks!

I can half-answer half your question: The airport does have lockers, from reports I am reading (might want to double check with Italy tourism office). Maybe a chatter can help with the neighborhood portion of the question.

I agree that the Alaska cruise is a mixed bag. We just disembarked on Friday from cruising the inside passage on Celebrity Millennium. It was rainy and dreary much of the time which means that the outside areas of the ship are not useable and therefore all other spaces are that much more crowded. Think about this if you are traveling with kids. Make sure your ship has an indoor pool that allows kids (Millennium does not). That said, the excursions are fantastic rain or shine and the opportunity for true adventure is unlimited. As for driving, take the train from Anchorage to Denali. The Alaska Railroad has special "glass-domed" cars for excellent viewing of incredible scenery. It even has open-air platforms for photography. Way better than driving. Gas is quite pricey in Alaska!

A friend of mine travelled from NJ to DC to visit us this weekend. Because there was no ticket agent available at her departure station, she went to the kiosk, where the machine printed BOTH her tickets to and from DC -- it offered no option to print only one-way at a time. Last night, when she was discovered that trains north of Philly were still canceled for today, she called to cancel the return trip reservation. After a 35 minute wait, friend was told that since she had already printed the ticket they would not reimburse her for it until she presented it in-person in Newark (NOT her final destination). . Even though they canceled the train (so it's not as if she could have pulled a fast one and canceled but still used the ticket somehow), they would not credit her credit card. When she complained, the customer service rep hung up on her. What's the best way to deal with this??

That makes no sense! Tell her to call again and ask for a manager. And make sure she tells them how the agent hung up on her.

Good Afternoon! My friend and I are planning a trip to Argentina and Brazil. When is the best time to go weather wise and price wise? Thanks so much!

Their winter is July to October. Spring is from then to about December. That would be the best bet weather wise. High season tends  to be December to February, so that would be the most expensive time to go.

Thanks everyone for braving the post-hurricane to be with us.

The winner of the Best Stormaggedon is the Buffalo traveler who avoided a five-night stay in the airport by car pooling with strangers. E-mail me at sachsa@washpost.com for your prize.

We are off for Labor Day but will see you the following Monday. Safe travels!

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The Washington Post Travel section is your source for narrative tales and practical advice about journeys far and wide -- from weekend trips to the Eastern Shore, to two-week jaunts to the Far East -- plus consumer news, penny-pinching strategies and deals galore.
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