Q: Is there any way I can go by sea to Fort
to attend an October wedding, perhaps by hopping a cruise ship?F.T., Maplewood,
A: The idea of shuttling between the Northeast and Florida
by ship appeals to many people, but there is no simple ferry
service and the alternatives are complicated, time-consuming,
and expensive. Arriving in time for a particular date could be
another obstacle. But if you are determined, there are a few
possibilities to check.
Your idea of hopping a cruise ship is complicated by a U.S.
law called the Jones Act that prohibits passengers on foreign
flag vessels – and most big cruise ships are registered abroad
– from boarding at one U.S.
port and disembarking at another U.S.
port without stopping first in a foreign destination.
Some itineraries would seem perfectly suited to you,
except for that law. I found a 13-day HollandAmerica
cruise for October that departs from New
York and pauses three days
later in Fort
continuing into the Caribbean
and circling back to conclude in Fort
Lauderdale.You could use that ship to reach Fort
Lauderdale, but only by
staying with it until its final stop. Most people would find
that too much trouble and expense, unless they were looking for
vacation at the same time.
“We are sometimes unable to allow passengers to take
portions or segments of a cruise because it violates the Jones
Act,” an online HollandAmerica
agent wrote. “Our marketing and planning departments do
extensive research in arranging our itineraries to ensure our
ships do not violate this United States Maritime law.”
Occasionally there are ships that leave a port such as New
and stop in Bermuda
before continuing to southern destinations such as Florida,
but you would have to search for such an itinerary at booking
sites or ask a cruise specialist to do that work for you.
Another possibility is a repositioning cruise. These
cruises occur when the cruise seasons
change, and for October travel you may find a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean
that makes a call in New York
or elsewhere in the Northeast before heading south.Last October, for instance, the Norwegian Jewel had an
“Exotic Caribbean” itinerary starting in Philadelphia
and ending in Miami.
Whether you could board one of these depends on whether the line
is willing let passengers book just
segments of the cruise. This can happen if there is space
available, but it depends on the line’s policies for partial
trips and whether the booking complies with the Jones Act.
For a roundup of repositioning cruises, go to www.cruising.org
and find the press releases section. Usually in August there is
a notice that summarizes autumn repositionings.
The cruise lines’ own sites note these, too; search for
sailings in September and October.
Another possibility for moving up and down the Eastern
coastline is aboard a smaller boat plying the Intracoastal
Waterway. Companies such as the American
Canadian Caribbean Line (www.accl-smallships.com)
offer regular voyages with stops at many of the historic port
are not budget trips and often it’s a new port every night for
10 days or more.Also,
the itinerary’s start and finish probably aren’t going to
perfectly suit where you want to start and end, requiring some
land travel at either end.One
14-night ACCL itinerary goes between Warren,
R.I., and Stuart,
Fla. (near Jacksonville).
You can find other possibilities through a site devoted
to small ships, www.smallshipcruises.com.Click on the “U.S.-East” link.
Click on headline to unfold
Oregon's lodge hotels aren't mainstream -- and one even has a
stream running through it (March 2006)
We want to visit three of the big parks in Oregon with old lodge hotels. How can we go about making reservations for these grand lodgings? A.S., Shrewsbury,
That's a fine itinerary - these venerable lodges are a far cry from usual holiday lodging,
and the ones you cite are positioned conveniently in or near three of the state's best attractions: Oregon Caves National Monument, Crater Lake National Park, and Mount Hood National Forest.
Oregon Caves and Crater Lake are in southern Oregon, about 126 miles and almost three hours apart. Mount Hood is in northern Oregon, about 233 miles and five hours from Crater Lake.
The Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument is near the entrance to the park. The rustic and remarkable six-story building opened in 1934, with 23 guest rooms ranging from two-bedroom family suites to an economy room. A stream runs through the main dining room. The Chateau is 20 miles east of Cave Junction and open from late April through late October. Nightly rates range from $80 for one economy double to $135 for a family suite. This and other Oregon lodgings are subject to a 7 percent room tax. For reservations or details, call
541-592-3400 or visit www.oregoncavesoutfitters.com.
The Web site for the national monument is www.nps.gov/orca.
Crater Lake National Park's Crater Lake Lodge - with dining room overlooking the lake's stunning blue waters -- originally opened in 1915 and reopened in 1995 after a major renovation. It has 71 guest rooms and is open from late May to mid-October. There are six types of rooms, with the currently posted 2005 rates ranging from $129 per night for a ground floor room to $248 for a two-bedroom loft. A "premium lakeside" room is $180. The 2006 prices may rise by as much as 3 percent, according to a reservation agent. Reach reservations at
541-830-8700, or visit www.craterlakelodges.com.
The Web site for Crater Lake National Park is www.nps.gov/crla.
Near Mount Hood, about an hour east of Portland, is Timberline Lodge, a 70-room grandiosity completed in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project. It is part of the well-known Timberline ski area. In the 1980 version of the movie The Shining, some outside scenes were filmed here. Five room categories range from $95 to $250 per night. The lodge is open year-round. Contact Timberline at (800) 547-1406, Web site
The national park site is www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood.
If these lodges whet your appetite for similar hostelries, you have plenty of resources. "Great Lodges of the National Parks" was the topic of a PBS series that has a companion book and DVD, and a Web site at
Another good source is
The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges, by David and Kay Scott (Globe Pequot, 4th edition, 2004). The fifth edition is scheduled to be in bookstores in
Amsterdam has plenty of attractions for young visitors while their
folks relish the tulip show
are considering a trip to Amsterdam next spring for
the tulips, but wonder about attractions there suited to children
under 12. Suggestions? C.M., Maplewood, N.J.
Amsterdam has plenty of
attractions for children, including the New Metropolis Center of
Science and Technology, which has hands-oncomputer and other exhibits; the Artis zoo, oldest in Holland, and
the kid-friendly farm at Rembrandtpark.
book Amsterdam Made Easy: The Best Sights & Walks of
Amsterdam, by Andy Herbach (Open Road Publishing, 2005), notes the
Het KinderKookKafe – Kids’ Café – a cooking school just for
children 5 to 12 (www.kinderkookkafe.nl);
TunFun, a huge underground indoor playground with trampoline,
slides, and construction area (www.tunfun.nl);
and the Tropical and Children’s Museum, with re-creations of villages from
around the world (www.tropenmuseum.nl).
Netherlands Board of Tourism site at www.holland.com
has a helpful link at Special interest/Family. You also can call
1-888-464-6552 – where a recording will tell you to go to the
Amsterdam has a Web site atwww.visitamsterdam.nl
and a calendar for locating festivals or other events that appeal
to the family. At the home page, click on Cityguide/Amsterdam
season in Holland begins in late March or
early April and continues through mid- or late May. Mid-April is
often the peak time, depending on the weather.
flower observances take place in April, including the BollenstreekFlower Parade. The parade winds through the bulb region
from Noordwijk to Haarlem, not far from Amsterdam, the Hague and Leiden.A site with a flower calendar is at www.keukenhof.nl.
When the Cote d'Azur beckons, these guidebooks and Web sites have
tested the red carpet
With summer behind us, we’d like to look into traveling along
the Cote d’Azur, stopping for
two or three days in places such as Nice, Cannes and Monaco. Can you suggest
planning sources? D.S., Elizabeth, N.J.
Ah, yes, many of us feel pulled
to the warmth of France’s
Mediterranean coast when the autumn chill kicks in (wink, wink),
and fortunately the guidebook publishers are tuned in to our
longings. Insight Guide: The French Riviera (Langenscheidt,
3rd edition, 2001) does a fine job of putting a photographic face
on our storybook impressions of that storied coastline. Besides
slick come-hither images, the contents are well-organized and the
places most travelers are curious about are easy to find. The
cover-flap index points you straight to nine “perched
villages,” those lovely towns painted onto the hillsides above
the sea. At a glance you can find descriptions of the museums
devoted to Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and other artists
the company that publishes city events guides, also offers the TimeOut:
South of France,
Provence & Cote d’Azur (revised 2004). Besides the
coast, it covers a lot of adjacent inland territory. It doesn’t
have the photo quotient of the Insight Guide, but it excels in the
arts and entertainment category, things to do places to eat,
drink, shop, and frolic.
the petit category, a good choice is the Provence and the Cote d’Azur book from the
Knopf Mapguides series. It’s roughly 5 x 7 inches and just 3/8
inch thick, boiling down much of southeast France to its essence
and offering eight fold-out maps. It fits easily in pocket or
purse, the perfect take-along when lugging a larger guide is
Anchor management: The pros and cons of planning your own shore
tours when your cruise ship is in port
I recently booked a
Mediterranean cruise that visits many ports in Italy
and Greece. The cruise line offers lots of sightseeing
excursions in the $150-$200 range per person. Can you direct
me to sources for arranging cheaper shore excursions,
especially in Livorno,
Monte Carlo, and Naples
in Italy, and Athens
M.G., Parlin, N.J.
Shore excursions arranged by the cruise line are so numerous and
expensive that if you’re not careful, you could end up spending
more on excursions than on the price of the cruise, warns cruise
authority Douglas Ward in Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships (Berlitz,
15th edition, 2005). It
is indeed possible to arrange your own sightseeing – many people
prefer that to group excursions -- but it requires planning.
to the cruise look at the cruise line’s offerings to provide a
base line for cost and what’s covered. In touring on your own,
it will help if you have some partners in crime. Once you board
the ship, try to meet like-minded passengers interested in sharing
the cost of a taxi or van.
cruise guides include descriptions of popular ports and what there
is to see and do during your day there, and places from which
local tours depart.
such book is Insight Guides Mediterranean Cruises (Langenscheidt,
2004), which covers the ports you mention. For each, there is a
list of the typical tours, then details on how to get along on
your own. For instance:
– It’s the gateway to
Florence, Pisa, and the
Tuscan towns of Lucca and Sienna.
The book describes how to reach Pisa by train, a
20-minute ride, noting that “taxi drivers are unwilling to take
cruise visitors the short distance to Pisa unless you agree
to a longer tour of the city or beyond. It is the same story at
the Pisa station. . .
. By afternoon, though, taxi drivers will be happy to take you
back to the ship, either from or Livorno.”
Monte Carlo – “There are frequent trains to Eze, Villefranche,
which are alternatives to the organized tours and considerably
cheaper than taxis.”
Naples – Three top sites are within a 15-minute walk of the
cruise terminal – Castel Nuovo, Palazzo Reale, Teatro San Carlo.
Pompeii and Sorrento can be reached
by taxi or train; HerculaneumCapri is reached by
Athens – Taxis get
stuck in traffic from the port, so the metro rail service is a
good option, and some cruise lines offer a shuttle to the metro
station at little or no charge, with station stops near major
attractions such as the big plazas and the Acropolis. Near the
tourist office in Syntagma you’ll find coach tours to places
such as Corinth and Delphi. “These will
be cheaper than the ships’ tours, but be careful about time;
only consider a full-day tour if your ship is leaving [the AthensPiraeus
late in the evening.”
book with a good self-guided tour tone is Cruising the Mediterranean:
A Guide to the Ports of Call, by Larry H. Ludmer (Hunter Travel,
2002). It nicely covers all the ports you asked about, too, though
its maps are less detailed.
price comparison, a company offering Italy shore excursions
is Avventure Bellissime, Web site www.tours-italy.com.
Look for “private/custom tours.”
a city tour with 50 other people probably won’t be as rewarding
as your own customized tour, there are a few advantages to the
cruise excursions. Besides the ease of booking, if the official
tour bus is delayed, the ship won’t sail without it. Don’t
expect that treatment if your private vehicle gets bogged down in
traffic. The cruise tours also strive to have guides whose English
For a price, these companies will help you avoid the pain of
lugging your own luggage (July 2005)
I have a knee problem and am worried about carrying my luggage to
the West Coast for a cruise. I heard about a way to send one’s
luggage ahead to avoid having to carry it. How can I find out more
about this? V.S., Rockaway, N.J.
Several companies are poised to lend a hand and spare your knee
– or other body parts. And even those without infirmities might
be tempted by this option.
firms tout the convenience of shipping your luggage ahead, and the
airport security hassles of the past few years have been good for
their business. Not only do you avoid having to heave your bags,
but you also needn’t worry about standing in line to check the
bags, or about security inspections of those bags.
companies, like Sports Express, cater to golfers and other
sportspeople who want to ship their equipment, but they generally
handle regular luggage, too. You can also consider parcel services
such as Fedex, Airborne and UPS.In fact, the luggage shippers usually rely on parcel
services to do the shipping, though they may have agents to make
sure all goes well at both ends.
course, you pay a price for that service.
arrange to pick up your bag at home or office and ship it to your
destination, making sure it arrives at a hotel, cruise pier, or
other stopping point. Not all companies deliver to cruise lines;
some deliver only to lines with which they have partnerships.
on weight, number of bags, shipping distance, and how quickly you
want them delivered. In our check for a 25-pound suitcase, one-way
rates for the companies listed here ranged from $60 to $120.Other variables may come into play, such as the pick-up
point’s distance from the airport. One company was adding a fuel
prices may seem costly compared to the free baggage allowance on
most airlines, they are not far from the excess- and
oversize-baggage charges – around $80 per bag -- that many
You could save
yourself some money by dealing directly with a company like
Federal Express, but you still have to consider packaging
requirements. Also, anyone shipping to a hotel should check with
the hotel first to determine its policy on accepting such parcels.
hotels, credit card companies, and cruise lines have partnerships
with one or more of these companies, offering small discounts.
Crystal Cruises has a partnership with Virtual Bellhop. Ask your
cruise line if it has such a partnership.
You can find
partners at the Web sites of the shipping companies.
New York-New Jersey-Connecticut
cruise passengers departing from
, have another, deluxe way to free themselves from the burdens of
Moving & Storage in
, will deliver a “portable closet” for your wardrobe and other
take your time packing, and a day or so before your sailing the
company picks up the loaded wardrobe and delivers it to the cruise
cruise, the company gathers the closet from the ship and returns
it to your home.
base rate is $260. For details, call 631-234-3000, ext. 234, and
ask for Mike.
summer lodging in Montreal, study the residence hall option
at McGill University (June
In early July we will be near Bangor, Maine, and plan to
drive west to Montreal. We’d like to
stay outside the city and take public transportation in for
sightseeing. Can you
offer any suggestions, given our moderate budget? B.G., Summit, N.J.
The idea of staying outside a city -- for less congestion and less
expensive lodging – and relying on public transit is a worthy
one, but in Montreal there is a
summer alternative that might be better.
McGillUniversity has several
residence halls that rent rooms to the public from May 15 to Aug.
15 while students are away.
them are the BishopMountain residences and
the RoyalVictoriaCollege residences. The BishopMountain rooms are a
15-minute walk from downtown at the foot of Mount Royal, a Frederick Law
Olmstead-designed park with trails and other attractions. RoyalVictoriaCollege borders
McGill’s downtown campus.
limited number of double rooms are available at the rate of $390
Canadian per week or $65 Canadian per day, plus 15 percent tax.That totals $459 Canadian and $75 Canadian, which at a
conversion rate of 83 U.S. cents to the Canadian dollar amounts to
about $382 per week/$63 per day. The rate at BishopMountain includes
can reserve by calling 514-398-5200, or writing to McGill
University Residences, Attention: Summer Accommodations, 3935 University
Street, Montreal, QuebecH3A 2B4. Other
university residences are available as well; they are described at
doubles were still available for early July, but anyone who hopes
to take advantage should book soon as the Montreal Jazz Festival
is June 30-July 10 (www.montrealjazzfest.com)
and the rooms always fill up, according to a residence agent.
still can park your car and rely on public transportation. From
the Bishop Mountain Residences buses operate to the Sherbrooke and other metro
stations.The RoyalVictoriaCollege residence is
just steps from the McGill station.A map of the metro system is at www.stm.info/English/metro/a-mapmet.htm.
tourism site for Montreal is at www.tourisme-montreal.org.Click on the link called “Tour the Underground Network”
for a map of the city’s underground passageways, beginning at
the McGill Metro Station. Click
on “Great Parks of Montreal” for a preview of Mount RoyalPark.
site also has a good lodging section, with other campus space as
well as a search function that can sort by neighborhood and other
types of accommodation.
printed guide to visiting Montreal can be obtained
by calling 1-877- 266-5687.
If you have an
Irish pub crawl in mind, these guides will help you plot your
itinerary (Feb. 28, 2005)
Q: For a trip to Ireland, where can find some planning information on pubs and events scheduled during out visit? H.D., Springfield,
A: You can get a good start with your pub itinerary at the Irish Pub Guide site,
which has links to information on pubs with dining, pubs with accommodations, and pubs with traditional Irish music. You can
research pubs based on the counties you'll be visiting. If you want to do some pre-vacation intelligence gathering, you also can locate Irish pubs in the United States through this site.
Another sources is World Food: Ireland (Lonely Planet, 2000), which has a 23-page section on the traditional Irish pub, including an etiquette guide: "The rounds system - the simple custom where someone buys you a drink and you buy one back - is the bedrock of Irish pub culture. It's summed up in the Irish saying, "It's impossible for two men to go to a pub for one drink."
The guide also advises "the best time to introduce yourself to an Irish pub, especially in Dublin, is in the midafternoon, after the lunch hour scramble and before the post-work evening rush."
Baja beckons to
seniors and everyone else who wants to know nature •
Edinburgh can make a short
side trip from London -- if you've got stamina
Q: My 80-year-old father saw a broadcast about Baja California and is hot to vacation there with my mother, 75. I'd like to put together a trip for them - what travel sites I can visit to begin planning? F.C., Philadelphia
A: The Mexican peninsula known as Baja California, or just "Baja," is one of today's hot destinations. Los Cabos, at the southern tip, has been swelling with tourists for the past decade as more resorts have opened.
Fishing and golf are big pastimes. Eco-tourism continues to draw sea life fans along both the Pacific Coastline and the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Baja beckons many young outdoor sports enthusiasts, but the 900-mile-long peninsula also appeals to active seniors, many of whom retire or spend winters there. In early December, San Felipe salutes the arriving RV crowd with its Snowbird Welcome Festival.
Just off the presses is the fourth edition of the guidebook Hidden
Baja, by Richard Harris (Ulysses Press, 4th edition, 2004), which calls attention to Baja's popularity with seniors, noting that "the only real drawback to Baja travel for seniors is the absence of medical facilities in many areas."
Elderhostel, the reasonably priced travel and education program geared to those 55 and older, has several Baja travel programs coming up in January and February. Details are at
or call 1-877-426-8056. Apple Vacations, based in Newtown Square, offers packages to Los Cabos; visit
Among Web sites, Baja.com (www.baja.com) offers news, events, and background. Tour companies can be found through the Activities/tours link at
www.loscabosguide.com. (Los Cabos, "the capes," refers to Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, the tourist corridor in between, and the East Cape.) An interactive map of 24 cities from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas is at
www.bajalife.com, a site affiliated with a slick magazine aimed at visitors. The map leads to many tour operators.
The Los Cabos tourist board site is at www.visitloscabos.org,
where one section describes land tours, bay tours, and eco-tourism. A printed Cabos guide can be ordered by calling 1-866-567-2226.
The guidebook Baja California (Lonely Planet, 5th edition, 2001) notess many special interest tours available, including agriculture, astronomy, biking, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, whale watching, windsurfing, and RV touring. More than 30 tour companies are described. (The 6th edition is due in February under the title Baja & Los Cabos.)
For one man's extensive views of the Baja persona, the book Baja Fever: Journeys Into Mexico's Intriguing Peninsula (Mountain N' Air Books, 1999) is a combination personal travelogue and guide based on the travels of author Greg Niemann over a period of decades, up through the late 1990s.
Q: My wife and I will be spending a week in London and would like to take two days to see Edinburgh. Is this feasible, or too much in a short time? M.K., Newton
A: It's certainly possible to take a two-day side trip to Edinburgh from London, but if your whole trip is just one week, consider a closer side show. (A few suggestions in a moment.)
Still, if you are determined, energetic, and start early and return late, you could get a taste of the Scottish capital and have plenty to talk about when you return home.
Here are recommendations for top things to do from
Visit Edinburgh Castle, watch the sunset on Calton Hill, visit the National Gallery of Scotland, walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens, go to a club or ceilidh, visit the Britannia (a huge royal yacht), drink whisky, go to the theater, and ride a bike.
Still interested? Here are travel options:
* Flying between London and Edinburgh takes about 1 ¼ hours, plus time getting to and from the airports. Many flights are available, including some very low fares thanks to the no-frills airlines. A check of easyJet's site at
www.easyjet.com show many fares available for late May for 13 pounds each way - about $24 - and that's a great deal even with the British pound valued at almost twice the U.S. dollar.
* An express train takes about 4½ hours, departing from London's Kings Cross station. The second-class one-way fare is $162, pricier than it once was owing to the poor exchange rate for those with dollars. BritRail has links on its home page,
www.britrail.com, for day-trip and overnight trip packages to Edinburgh.
* An overnight sleeper train takes about seven hours. This could be a fun option if you're able to sleep easily on a train. If not, you'd be weary for your Edinburgh whirl. Sleeping berths are more costly. The train leaves from London Euston station.
Another option to save yourself effort is to contact a travel agent. Trained agents who specialize in Scotland are listed in a free guide available from VisitBritain, phone
The VisitBritain site, www.travelbritain.org, can steer visitors toward specialized agencies as well. Select "plan your trip" and "contact a travel agent."
As for alternatives to Edinburgh, here are a few spots within a couple hours of London by train that make good day or overnight trips: Bath, Brighton, Greenwich, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Windsor and Eaton, Brighton, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells.
Newark Liberty International Airport to Philadelphia by rail •
Planning a tour of baseball
stadiums in the coming season (Jan. 8, 2005)
A friend from Europe is flying to Newark international airport en route to Philadelphia. What transportation is available between there and Philadelphia? J.B., Ardmore
For your friend or anyone else arriving at Liberty Newark International Airport with scant luggage, one of the easiest ways is AirTrain Newark, the monorail that opened in 2001 and carries travelers about 10 minutes to the airport rail station located on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line. From that station you can catch Amtrak trains to Philadelphia 30th Street Station or, at less cost, New Jersey Transit trains to Trenton, where your friend can transfer to Septa's R7 train. The R7 reaches 30th Street Station after 11 intermediate stops.
For Amtrak trains, tickets can be bought from machines at each terminal's AirTrain station or from machines at the airport station. (There is no separate charge for riding the monorail from the terminals to the airport station.) Amtrak fares may vary depending on timing and type of booking, but typically the Newark Airport-Philadelphia trip takes one hour and costs $54 one-way. AAA and other discounts are available. The schedule with discount information is online at
www.amtrak.com,or call Amtrak at 1-800-872-7245. The Amtrak booking code for the airport station is EWR.
Using NJ Transit is more complicated and time-consuming, but costs less than half the Amtrak method. These tickets also are available through the machines. Newark airport to Trenton takes about one hour and costs $12.65. Travelers should take a nonstop train on the Northeast Corridor Line; about 40 operate each weekeday between the airport and Trenton. (Avoid the NJ Coast Line trains, which would require you to transfer at Rahway in order to reach Trenton and add to travel time.) At Trenton, transfer to the R7 line for the final leg to 30th Street Station; the trip costs $7 and takes about 50 minutes.
AirTrain details can be found through www.airtrainnewark.com.
The Newark airport's number is 1-888-397-4636; press 54 for the AirTrain recording, which does not have fare information. For NJ Transit, call toll-free 1-800-772-2222; press 0 to reach an agent.
Other ways to reach Philadelphia are described at the Newark airport site found at
Click on Liberty Newark then select "Getting to and from" and "transportation options." A short section is devoted to Philadelphia, including van service with Dave's Best Limousine (phone 1-800-255-2378), which costs $50 one
I would like to do a tour of major league baseball stadiums. Where can I get help researching such a trip? A.B., Bala Cynwyd
At least two guidebooks are targeted to fans like you:
* The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League
Stadiums, by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell (Lyons Press, 2004)
* Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballparks Across
America, by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel (Fodor's Travel, 3rd edition, 2002)
Another book you can have fun with is Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America, by Chris Epting (Sporting News, 2003). It features former sites of famous ballparks, baseball museums, baseball plaques, statues of great players, birthplaces, final resting places, and more trivia.
One company that helps organize pilgrimages is Roadtrips, based in Winnipeg, Canada. It arranges three-day trips to any of 30 major league ballparks, as well as multicity, multi-game baseball tours. Call 1-800-465-1765 or visit Web site
The official Major League Baseball site, with links to all the teams, is at
Minnesota doesn't have to mean hefting your own canoe •
Student-friendly Oaxaca and
a superb medical guide to Mexico (Oct. 3, 2004)
Q: We are two couples who want to go canoeing for a week or so in Minnesota. Can you suggest outfitters, guides and other sources for planning such a trip? P.D., Swarthmore,
A: Minnesota is famous among canoeists for its Boundary Waters Canoe Area along the Canadian border and for other lake and river destinations, including the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Scores of outfitters are available to either do most of the guiding and heavy lifting for you or help you plan an independent trip.
Your group of four also could be teamed with a few other travelers - parties are limited to nine for Boundary Waters trips. One outfitter said in such cases, travelers tend to help each other during portages.
A thorough listing of Minnesota operators is at the state's official tourism site,
From the home page, click on Activities/Outdoor activities/Canoe outfitters. Among them is Boundary Waters Canoe Outfitters in Ely, which says it can outfit a trip including food and camping gear starting at $40 per day. Its phone number is 1-866-365-3201, Web site
Another company is Wilderness Inquiry, based in Minneapolis, which offers guide services and package trips in Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Voyageurs National Park, Itasca State Park, Superior National Forest, and elsewhere. Get details by calling 1-800-728-0719 or visiting Web site
Many canoe-trip companies that are based outside Minnesota but offer trips there can be found in the America Outdoors Outfitters Directory and Vacation Guide, available free by calling 865-558-3597, or online at
A guide to Minnesota canoeing packages and outfitters is at www.paddling.net/trips
(select Minnesota in the regional search window).
As for published guides, here are a few:
* Paddling the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park, by James Churchill (Falcon, 2003).
* Paddling Minnesota, by Greg Breining (Falcon, 1999).
* Canoeing the Driftless: A Paddlers Guide for Southeastern Minnesota, by David J. Lind (1stBooks/AuthorHouse, February 2004).
* Boundary Waters Canoe Camping, by Cliff Jacobson (Globe Pequot, 2nd edition, 2000).
My teenage son is going to spend a few months in Oaxaca, Mexico. What safety concerns should we know about?
A: Don't worry. Your son is fortunate to spend an extended time in
Oaxaca, capital of Oaxaca state, 240 miles south of Mexico City, a place free from the tourist hordes of, say, Cancun. In his book Live Better South of the Border, Mexico authority Mike Nelson says of
Oaxaca: "If you want to get away from it all, this almost as far away as you can get. … It has been called the craft capital of Mexico." He compares it to Berkeley, Calif., or Austin Texas - a place where political thought is sometimes expressed in demonstrations. He considers the town very conservative and advises watching your wallet in the markets.
Explain to your son the safety precautions one should observe regardless of destination: avoid wearing flashy jewelry and traveling alone in high-risk areas, being especially vigilant in places such as bus and train stations and tourist zones.
The State Department's consular information sheet does not cite Oaxaca City in its safety warning section, although it does mention occasional demonstrations. You can find the full report online at
You and anyone who wonders about staying healthy in Mexico should know about a new book called
Mexico: Health and Safety Travel Guide, by Robert Page and Curtis Page
(MedToGo, 2004). Many guidebooks pay lip service to such concerns; this guide addresses them to a remarkable extent for destinations all over the country.
The Oaxaca City section bluntly says: "By North American standards Oaxaca's hospital and medical-care system is antiquated and technologically limited. There are sufficient services for the routine treatment of mild to moderate medical problems, however we did not find adequate emergency services . . . . "
The book names the best places to go for medical aid and recommends English-speaking doctors by name. It even shows their photos and provides locator maps to their clinics.
A good online tourist guide is at http://oaxaca-travel.com.
Another can be found through www.visitmexico.com.
Zeroing in on a
reasonably priced hotel near St. Mark's Square in Venice; how to
get a good hotel deal on the road to the Outer Banks. (June 2, 2004)
Q: For a trip to Venice, our tour company is suggesting an outrageously priced hotel near St. Mark's Square. We like the convenience, but are considering finding a less-expensive outlying hotel and shuttling in to Venice each day. Is this a practical idea? L.D., Media,
A: You note that with the dollar weakening against the euro, your trip will cost you 25 percent more than you anticipated. Staying in a cheaper hotel on the periphery is a common tactic for keeping down costs, especially when there is easy, inexpensive transportation such as a rail line.
But I posed the question to Italian lodging expert Margo Classe, who quickly discouraged the idea in the case of Venice. She said she had never spoken to anyone who had used that strategy and was satisfied.
Classe, author of Best Budget Hotels in Italy (Wilson Publishing, 3d edition, 2002), said the last daily train away from Venice leaves relatively early
and that St. Mark's, for instance, is about a 45-minute walk from the train station. So it could be done, but it could mean giving up a large part of your evening in the city and forgoing the carefree nighttime strolls that are the stuff of movies.
Forty-two Venice hotels are reviewed in the book, including nine near St. Mark's Square. From those, Classe recommends you try these favorites of hers, in descending order. Prices vary, but a room for two people for most of these is 130 to 190 euros in high season - about $150 to $225 at an exchange rate of one euro to $1.19. Each of these accepts some major credit cards and English is spoken. (Dialing from here, precede phone numbers with 011-39.)
* Serenissima: Calle Carlo Goldoni 4486, phone 041-5200011; Web site
Thirty-seven rooms, all with toilet and bath or shower.
* San Giorgio: Rio Terà Mandola 3781, phone 041-5235835; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Sixteen rooms, all with toilet and shower.
* Locanda Fiorita: Campiello Nuovo, Santo Stefano 3457/A, phone 041-5234754; Web site
Twenty-one rooms in three buildings, 17 with toilet and shower.
* Ai Do Mori: Calle Larga San Marco 658, phone 041-5204817; Web site
www.hotelaidomori.com. Eleven rooms, nine with toilet and shower.
* Gallini: Calle Verona 3673, phone 041-5204515; e-mail email@example.com. Forty rooms, all with toilet and bath or shower.
Besides hotel reviews, the book has excellent practical advice gleaned from Classe's personal visits. Don't assume a hotel will hold your luggage after you check out; many won't. She also recommends getting a multiday pass for riding the water taxis. And she says the romance of a balconied room wears thin if it overlooks a busy thoroughfare. So take earplugs.
Q: I am traveling to the Outer Banks with three small children and want to
break up the trip. Can you suggest economical places to stay halfway? C.O., Philadelphia
A: If you use I-95 for the bulk of your drive, the distance from Philadelphia to Kitty Hawk, N.C., is 415 miles and Richmond, Va., would be a bit more than half way. You can locate inexpensive lodging in advance through the Web sites of several "interstate exit guide" coupon publications.
One is the Traveler Discount Guide, part of a family of similar publications whose Web site is at
www.roomsaver.com. The site lets you search by state and route, and you can find many of the same deals and print out coupons.
The printed version is available for a few dollars by calling 1-800-332-3948. You also can find the guide free at service stations and interstate rest stops. Once you reach Virginia, you could pick one up, calculate where you want to be at the end of the day, and select a hotel whose price and location is suitable. Rates of $40 to $60 per night are common; the day of week is sometimes a factor.
Since you are traveling with children, also ask about family rates, which some hotels offer. But generally you cannot combine discounts. Top
Brittany, land of rugged coastline and ancient towns; renting a
house for a Grand Canyon holiday.
(May 13, 2004)
Q: For a trip to Brittany, France, in mid-June, can you suggest literature and other information about touring the area? J.S., West Orange,
A: Brittany is located in western France - it's the peninsula southwest of Normandy region. Normandy and Brittany often are paired in travel guides, and you can expect that this summer's 60th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion will send many side-trippers to Brittany as well. (The main D-Day ceremonies are June 5-6;
Brittany is known for its rugged coastline, ancient towns, wooded interior, and islands. It was a Celtic duchy for more than a thousand years before becoming part of France in 1532, and that Celtic history, along with sea, heavily influence its character.
"Its attractions lie most obviously along the coast, which, speckled with offshore islands and islets, makes up over a third of the seaboard of France," says the Rough Guide of Brittany. "In parts of the north, and in the western region of Finistère, the shoreline can be nothing but rocks and cliffs. . . . But elsewhere . . . it is caressed by the gentlest of seas, the sands rambling for kilometers or nestled into coves between steep cliffs."
Among top guides to the region are Brittany and Normandy, by Greg Ward (Rough Guides, 2003);
Brittany (DK Publishing, 2003), part of the Eyewitness Travel Guides series;
Insight Guide Brittany, by Brian Bell (Langenscheidt, 1999); and the
Michelin Green Guide to Brittany (Michelin Travel Publications, 3rd edition, 2002).
Web sites to check are those of the Western France Tourist Board at
the Brittany Tourist Board at www.brittanytourism.com;
and the French Tourist Board site at http://us.franceguide.com.
To find events in June, go to the calendar at the Brittany tourism site. It's tricky to find. At the home page, click on Events/Fetes and Festivals. Then click on another Events link at the left, then Calendar.
This month, there is a big event in Nante, at Brittany's southern edge: A big flower show, the Floralies Internationales, is underway now through May 17. The Floralies is held at five-year intervals and has 25 international sections in the Parc de la Beaujoire. Web site:
To set the literary stage for your visit, consider Legends and Romances of Brittany, by Lewis Spence (Dover Publications, 1997). The author, a folklorist, has compiled stories of sprites and demons, tales of the black arts, Arthurian romances, stories of the saints of Brittany, and more, plus background on the land and people.
Q: My family would like to travel to the Grand Canyon next November. We would like to rent a house. I'm concerned that homes on the Web won't turn out as promised. Is there a reputable agency that rents private homes? J.S., Trenton,
A: Renting a house in the
immediate area of Grand Canyon National Park area is uncommon - there aren't many homes to rent, owing to the lack of development adjacent to the park. Missing are the many condo developments and vacation homes of family vacation hot spots such as
Orlando. What you have instead are many motels, hotels, lodges and campgrounds.
One source that does have a couple of houses about 15 minutes from the South Rim is Arizona Vacation Rental Homes (phone 928-522-8228), whose offerings can be viewed at
One is five bedrooms, the other three. The larger goes for $175 per night, $850 per week during summer.
Owner Trish Meredith said it is best to book well in advance; some people make reservations as far as a year ahead and the schedule is largely filled for this summer. A one-night deposit is required to hold dates. Credit cards are accepted. Meredith said she can provide references from past renters. She also said the houses are close enough to each other that large parties can rent both houses together.
As for rentals in general, there are many reputable agencies that arrange vacation homes in Arizona and elsewhere, and the Web has become the primary way that many brokers and owners publicize their properties. Whether dealing with a company or individual, the key is to be appropriately cautious before sending a check or providing a credit card number. Find out how long a broker has been in business and what trade groups, if any, it belongs to. You also can check for complaints with a local chamber of commerce or better business bureau. For a first-hand report, ask to be put in touch with a prior renter, and inquire about deposit and cancellation policies.
A Web site called VRBO - Vacation Rentals by Owner - has thousands of homes around the country, including additional photos of the two mentioned above. It's at
www.vrbo.com. It has dozens of other Arizona rentals, including a few in Flagstaff, which is a couple of hours south of the Grand Canyon.
Paving the way
for a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela; single travelers have
more resources available than ever.
Q: I am planning a pilgrimage on the Road to Santiago across northern Spain in the summer of 2005. Can you direct me to any travel groups with whom I can hike with or other sources of information on the route?
M.V., Mendham, N.J.
A: Many people regard the pilgrimage to Santiago as one
of the first big moments in mass tourism, originally undertaken in the 11th Century along a network of routes through France and Northern Spain, ending at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. A French monk even wrote a guidebook to places to stay and eat along El Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James or the Pilgrim Route.
With that long history, much information is available for anyone planning to hike or otherwise
tour the 500 miles of the pilgrimage route that are in Spain. At the
Tourist Office of Spain site at www.okspain.org,
click on Special Interest/Routes/Way to St. James. You can also reach the tourist office at its New York branch at 666 Fifth Ave., phone
212-265-8822. The office also has the names of companies that sponsor pilgrimage tours. These companies provide support, including meals and transporting your belongings from point to point.
One such company offering tours for walkers as well as those who prefer wheels is Saranjan Tours, phone
800-858-9594, Web site www.saranjan.com.The company is offering a 14-day Pamplona-Santiago-Madrid trip from June 19 to July 2 for a dozen walkers, priced at $3,550 per person, based on double occupancy. Deluxe tours are scheduled for May 8-21 and Sept. 18-Oct. 1, priced at $4,550 per person, based on double occupancy. Saranjan also can help plan custom trips.
Among guides with good sections on Santiago and the pilgrimage are
The Rough Guide to Spain, by Mark Ellingham and John Fisher (Rough Guides, 10th edition, 2002), and
Spain, by Damien Simonis et al (Lonely Planet, 4th edition, 2003).
Q: I've recently become a single traveler. Are there any reliable sources for agencies that specialize in travel for singles? I am particularly interested in travel within the United States, as well as cruises.
D.L., Plainsboro, N.J.
A: Several organizations, books and Web sites can steer you toward tour companies and other businesses that welcome solo travelers.
One straightforward source called Connecting: Solo Travel Network is a network of travelers interested in finding comfortable and economical ways of traveling alone. Connecting offers a Single-Friendly Travel Directory listing more than 250 travel companies and organizations whose services and pricing are sensitive to those traveling without a partner -- including some that do not charge a single supplement. The directory costs $5 (electronic version) or is free with an annual membership of $45 (or $28 for an online membership) for six issues of a newsletter. A sample issue is $5 from Connecting: Solo Travel Network, 689 Park Rd., Unit 6,
Gibsons, BC V0N 1V7, Canada. Credit card orders:
800-557-1757; Web site www.cstn.org.
The book Traveling Solo: Advice and Ideas for More Than 250 Great Vacations, by Eleanor Berman (Globe Pequot Press, 4th edition, 2003), is packed with suggestions for single travelers and offers many kinds of general advice.
The book Single's Guide to Cruise Vacations, by Jacqueline Simenauer and Margaret Russell (Prima Publishing, 1997) describes which lines appeal to certain types of cruising singles. Although somewhat dated, it remains a good primer.
The Web site IndependentTraveler.com offers a section on single travel.
From the home page at www.independenttraveler.com,
under Travel Resources, select Lifestyles then Solo & Single.
Another online source of resources, including companies offering cruises for singles, is the Travel Alone & Love It site at
It is affiliated with a book of the same name by Sharon B. Wingler (Chicago Spectrum Press, 1996).
a canal boat holiday in Ireland; can you expect to vacation with
mosquitoes in Jamaica?
(April 15, 2004)
recently read about barge vacations in
, I wonder if similar trips are available in
Ireland. J.H., Philadelphia
– Ireland claims to have some of the longest navigable waterways
in that part of the world, and dozens of companies offer
water-borne holidays by barge, houseboat, and cabin cruiser.
Ireland’s main waterways are the River Shannon, the Shannon Erne
Link, the Erne Waterway, the
Grand Canal, and the Barrow Navigation. They connect a network of
canals, lakes, rivers and inlets, and many waterside villages are
available for mooring, day tripping, and nighttime visitation.
You can find a map of the waterways
at the Europe Afloat site, www.europeafloat.com/ir.htm.
The interactive map links to companies that offer barge and
houseboat rentals. Click on the
Grand Canal, and River Barrow portion and up pops a list of 10
Another site to peruse is Waterways
where the “About the waterways” link provides descriptions,
including one for the Shannon Erne Waterway, which has its own
site at www.shannon-erne.com.
An even better site is www.a1.ie,
where the “Boat companies” produces 15 boating firms and a
listing of marinas. The Tourism Ireland site has a good section of
cabin cruising at www.tourismireland.com.
According to Tourism
Ireland, cabin cruisers are generally rented on a weekly basis and
the boats have two, four, six or 10 berths. Costs vary by season,
size and amenities, but the rates range from about $925-$2,800 in
low season, higher during the summer.
Our family will be vacationing in
this summer. On TV, we saw a Jamaican home and the bed was
enclosed in mosquito netting. Besides sunscreen, do we need to
pack mosquito spray? J.C.,
– take along insect repellent and some soothing cream. You may
not need them, but
Jamaica’s climate and topography are right for mosquitoes and
many visitors report encounters, despite resorts’ efforts to
However, the mosquitoes do not pose
a malaria risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention. Visit www.cdc.gov
and click on the Travelers’ Health section for the rundown on
insect-borne illnesses in the
Caribbean. It also has advice on preventing mosquito bites,
including wearing long sleeves during the times of day when
mosquitoes are most active. In
Jamaica, that is usually around dusk.
For first-hand accounts from
Jamaica, visit the TripAdvisor site at www.tripadvisor.com.
Jamaica, then within the results for your resort or the area where
your resort is located.
The challenges of
finding work while spending a summer in Rome; how to pick a cruise
ship that has programs for the whole family. (March
For a summer in Rome, how can I obtain information on finding a job there? D.P., Huntingdon Valley,
Pa. A: Finding work in Italy is no holiday for most visitors. Like many other countries, Italy is not keen on having foreigners take skilled jobs that otherwise would be filled by its own citizens. You can find good advice on what to expect in the Italy chapter of
Work Your Way Around the World: The Authoritative Guide for the Working
Traveler, by Susan Griffith (Vacation Work, 11th edition, 2003).
Being able to speak at least some Italian is almost essential, and if you seek work through legal channels, the red tape is daunting. Still, many others have tried and the book provides examples of failures and successes, including the possibility of teaching English.
If you don't already have friends or relatives there, find some. "Contacts are even more important in Italy than in other countries," writes Griffith. "Many of the people we have heard from who have worked in Italy have got their work through friends."
Another good source is Work Abroad: The Complete Guide to Finding a Job Overseas (4th edition, 2002), published by Transitions Abroad magazine, which also publishes the
Alternative Travel Directory: The Complete Guide to Traveling, Studying and Living Overseas (Transitions Abroad, 7th edition, 2002). You can learn more about the magazine and its publications at
Another source is The Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures: Internships, Extraordinary Experiences, Seasonal Jobs, Volunteering, Work
Abroad, by Michael Landes (Ten Speed Press, 3d edition, 2002).
Q: I am looking for a cruise for my family, including children ages 7, 8 and 10. What are our choices? J.M., Elkins Park,
Pa. A: At least eight major cruise lines offer children's programs: Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean International. The ships' programs for children generally are available for those 2 to 17 years old.
A good source for learning about the programs is the May 2002 issue of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, which focused on family cruising and compares those programs. Although the newsletter stopped publication about a year ago, single copies of the May 2002 issue are available for $5 from Consumer Reports, 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, N.Y. 10703. (If you order, note the cruise article.)
A travel agent experienced in booking family cruises is your best source, especially if you have not cruised before. Locate a good agent by asking friends for recommendations or searching the phone directory under "travel agents" or "cruises." The home page of the Cruise Lines International site,
has a zip code search for finding cruise specialists.
Travel agents have cruise schedules, but you can find them yourself by going to the Web sites of each line.
Here is contact information:
A book that considers the merits of various lines is Cruise Vacations With Kids, by Candyce H. Stapen (Prima Publishing, 2nd edition, 1999).
The cruise lines above are also included in the guide Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004
(Berlitz, 14th edition, 2004), by Douglas Ward, who also recommends specific ships suited to travel with children.
question of safe blood when traveling afar; expedited passport
renewals can indeed be obtained by mail.
My daughter will be spending a semester abroad in Senegal,
West Africa. Is there any way we can guarantee she would receive
disease-free, HIV-negative blood if she needed a transfusion?
Few travelers ever face the need for a transfusion abroad, but
like other health questions it is worth pondering, particularly
when spending time in a place with unsophisticated medical
services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the
limits to what a traveler can do if a blood emergency strikes - it
is not feasible to carry your own blood supply the way you can
carry sterile needles. Still, it's good to have a plan. The CDC
There are no medical indications for travelers to take blood with
them from their home countries.
In case of emergency need for blood, use of plasma expanders and
urgent evacuation home might be the actions of choice.
International travelers should take active steps to minimize the
risk of injury, such as avoiding night driving, employing safe
driving practices, and wearing safety belts whenever possible.
Q: I need to renew my passport within four weeks, but don't
want to go through an "express" renewal agency. Can I do
this by mail?
A: Most routine passport renewals qualify for renewal by mail,
including expedited renewals. For an expedited renewal, you pay
the usual $55 adult renewal fee and a $60 "expedite
fee." When you pay that extra fee, the passport office in
Pittsburgh processes it in three business days. If you send your
material by overnight express and provide an overnight express
envelope for the return - which the passport office suggests --
you can have the new document in a week or so.
what you need to provide:
or money order for $115 ($55 plus $60)
DS-82 renewal form
most recent passport
prepaid overnight express envelope for the return
not under a travel deadline for obtaining a renewal can use
first-class mail. Either way, applications go to:
National Passport Center, P.O. Box 371971, Pittsburgh, PA
or, if you use a delivery service that doesn't allow P.O. boxes,
Passport Services - Lockbox, Attn: Passport Supervisor 371971, 500
Ross Street, Rm. 154-0670, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-9971.
new passport, valid for 10 years, comes back with canceled old
detailed instructions, the DS-82 form, and to see if you qualify
for mail renewal - your old passport can be no more than 15 years
old, for instance - check the State Depar
tment's site at http://travel.state.gov.
Other renewal methods also are described there, or call the
National Passport Information Center's toll-free number,
877-487-2778, which provides recorded information and customer
service representatives available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday
Finding a summer
cottage and playing (with) the ponies in Chincoteague, Va.;
seeking out towns to visit for vacation and possible
relocation. (Jan. 14, 2004)
a summer vacation in Chincoteague, Va., where can we get
information on renting a bungalow? Also, when is the pony roundup
in 2004? L.L., Conshohocken, Pa. A:
Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague are at the
northern end of the 70-mile-long peninsula that separates the
Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean and is known as Virginia's
Eastern Shore. They are reached via Delaware and the Eastern Shore
section of Maryland.
For finding rental homes, contact
Chincoteague Island Vacation Rentals, which offers scores of
properties in many sizes, from one to five bedrooms. For a
brochure with photos of all the properties, call 757-336-1236 or
visit Web site www.igetaway.net
The pony swim - in which wild
ponies are rounded up on Assateague and herded across a bay to a
Chincoteague park for auction - is scheduled for July 28-29. It's
a big tradition - 2004 is the 78th year. It's also a very crowded
time, with tens of thousands of visitors swarming the area. The
Chincoteague Web site, with details of the swim and the revelry
leading up to it, is at www.chincoteaguechamber.com.
The chamber offers a vacation guide called Island Adventure.
Another source of lodging
information is the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission,
phone 757-787-2460; Web site www.esvatourism.org.
I'm thinking of relocating and would like to take a reconnaissance
vacation to the Southwest. What guides can point me toward nice
areas besides the well-known places such as Phoenix? O.G., Drexel
states and cities offer relocation packets that provide the
background and real-estate guidance you seek, often found through
their tourism sites, a list of which can be found at www.towd.com.
A source for researching and
comparing cities for travel and relocation purposes is Places
Rated Almanac, by David Savageau and Geoffrey Loftus (John
Wiley & Sons, 6th edition 2000). A similar book is Retirement
Places Rated, by David Savageau (John Wiley & Sons; 5th
edition, 1999), which covers more than 180 retirement areas
Other guides are America's 100
Best Places to Retire, by Elizabeth Armstrong (Vacation
Publications, 3d edition, 2002), and Making Your Move to One of
America's Best Small Towns, by Norman Crampton (M. Evans &
Other books that could help you
glean a top-10 list are America's Most Charming Towns &
Villages, by Larry Brown (Open Road Publishing, 5th edition,
2003), and The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, by John
Villani (John Muir Publications, 3rd edition, 1998).
lines -- the cheaper way to reach New York, Philadelphia, Boston
and Washington; whale-watching by boat in the Sea of Cortez,
Mexico. (Jan. 7, 2004)
Q: I've heard about inexpensive bus service from Chinatown in Philadelphia to Chinatown in New York. Where can I find this bus? J.L., Philadelphia
A: In recent years a growing low-fare bus network has offered express service between Chinatown sections of Northeast cities. Philadelphia-New York is one route, and others go between New York and Boston, Hartford, and Washington.
Among the bus lines are Today Travel and New Century Travel, which offer multiple trips daily between Philadelphia and New York. Both companies offer online reservations; their recent Philadelphia-New York fares were $12 one way or $20 round trip.
New Century Travel buses board here at 52 North 10th St., near 10th and Arch Streets. Today Travel's buses board at 1041 Race St., near Race and 10th.
In New York, the drop-off/pick-up point for both companies is at 88 East Broadway in Chinatown near the Lower East Side. (New Century also offers a Brooklyn bus.) For those whose ultimate destination in New York is not Chinatown, that location may not be as convenient as the Port Authority Terminal in Midtown, used by Greyhound and other bus lines.
For comparison's sake, undiscounted Greyhound fares are about $20 one way or $40 round trip, and an undiscounted rail fare on Amtrak starts at $48 one way.
New Century Travel's buses can be booked online through www.2000coach.com.
Its phone number is 215-627-2666.
Today Travel's buses can be booked online through www.ivymedia.com.
You also can get information by way of an online chat at that site (click on "contact us"), or by calling 617-354-2101.
The Web sites of both companies show schedules, maps, and service details for other cities. Seats can be purchased at the bus as well, providing there is space available; seats sometimes sell out. One correspondent said he found the Chinese-language action movie shown on his bus to be
An independent Web site with links to Chinatown bus lines serving Philadelphia, Washington and Boston is at
In a few cases, competition among various bus companies has led to more than just low fares, authorities say. On Oct. 31, a man was stabbed to death and another charged with second-degree murder in what New York police said was a dispute over a Chinatown bus business. There have been no reports of passengers being involved in such disputes.
Q: We know the whales visit San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico early in the year. What tour companies have boat-based whale watching trips? S.L., Newton,
A: The Sea of Cortez is located off the western midsection of Mexico's Baja California, and each January California gray whales in the Bering Sea head south to breed in San Ignacio Lagoon, Scammon's Lagoon, and Magdalena Bay, returning north each spring, usually in March and April. The breeding ground is a Mexican national park, and tour-boat access is controlled. In 1999, environmentalists won a big victory when a huge salt-producing company abandoned plans to build a plant to be served by boats would have cut through the breeding ground.
Expect prices to fall between $1,500 and $3,000 per person for a seven to 10-day trip. Among companies offering tours on boats:
* Baja Expeditions, based in San Diego, phone (800) 843-6967, Web site
www.bajaex.com, offers cruises aboard the 16-passenger San Jose.
* Pacific Sea Fari Tours, San Diego, phone (619) 226-1729, Web site
www.hmlanding.com, offers cruises aboard the 30-passenger, 88-foot Spirit of Adventure.
* Searcher Natural History Tours, San Diego, phone (619) 226-2403, Web site
www.bajawhale.com, makes its 8- and 12-day trips aboard the 33-passengers, 95-foot Searcher.
Less-expensive trips are available for those willing to use base camps from which boats go in and out from shore. A good source for finding whale-watching trips in Mexico and elsewhere is The Whale Watcher's Guide, by Patricia Corrigan (NorthWord Press, 3rd edition, 1999). The book includes a month-by-month guide to where whales can be spotted and lists more than a dozen companies offers Sea of Cortez whale watches.
mountain bike to Hawaii will probably cost you $80 each way;
tracking down craft festivals around the country.
Q: We plan to fly to Maui for our honeymoon, and I plan to take my mountain bike. Will I have to pay an extra baggage fee? B.K., Philadelphia
A: Chances are you will have to pay extra to take your bike to Hawaii, probably $80 each way. You'll also have to box it up. Most major airlines sell reusable bike-size boxes (usually $20) at the counter in some, but not all, airports. If you get the box in advance, either at the airport or at a bike or parcel shop, you won't face removing pedals and other dismantling and packing in the terminal - or the possibility of a box being unavailable. In any case, allow extra check-in time.
Despite the airlines' efforts to drive people to their Web sites, most of their sites barely mention bicycle policies. You'll have to call so an agent can look up the policy that applies to your destination and situation.
Since your honeymoon is months away, I suggest you go to the airline's counter the next time you're at the airport. Sometimes the phone agents are uncertain about details such as whether boxes are available at a particular airport.
Here's what reservation agents told us about bike rules for travel within the 50 states; charges for foreign trips may differ.
* US Airways (1-800-428-4322), whose partner United Airlines flies to Hawaii, has an $80 fee each way.
* American Airlines (1-800-433-7300) will allow a bike under the free baggage allowance if it is within 50 pounds and 62 linear inches (box length plus height plus width), but most adult bikes probably will not meet the 62-inch rule. Expect to pay $80.
* United Airlines (1-800-241-6522) charges $80 each way and says expect to sign a limited release form.
* Northwest Airlines (1-800-225-2525) charges $80 each way. Boxes are available in limited supply for $20.
* Continental Airlines (1-800-525-0280) also charges $80 and has rules for disassembly and storage of accessories.
* Delta Air Lines (1-800-221-1212) charges $80 each way. Packing boxes are free, but subject to availability.
I know many bikers are in love with their own bikes and want to take them everywhere, but it may be less expensive to rent since the bike-shipping rate shot up from $30 each way a few years ago. One Maui shop, Island Biker (www.islandbikermaui.com), has mountain bikes starting at $95 per week.
Traveling bikers may be interested in the League of American Bicyclists, where membership includes a bikes-fly-free deal with America West and Frontier Airlines. To take advantage, members must book through a travel agency affiliated with the club, and several conditions apply. Annual memberships start at $30. For details, the Washington-based group's phone number is 202-822-1333, or visit
Click on "Bikes fly free" on the home page.
Q: What publications can direct me to craft shows throughout the United States? J.L., Newark, Del.
A: Craft shows are big business, and some of the most complete guides are those that artists use to help decide where to display - and sell - their works. One such publication is the Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages, published quarterly and available for $13 for one issue or starting at $34 for four issues; for subscriptions, phone 1-888-918-1313; Web site
This site's 10 for the Road often mentions craft shows for weekend getaway planning, and a well-developed Web site hosted by Sunshine Artist magazine has more than 2,000 listings at
www.artandcraftshows.net. A one-year subscription to the magazine costs $34.95, phone 1-800-804-4607, Web site
reassert themselves in Vegas, but plenty of kids' stuff remains;
crossing the Atlantic to northern Europe by freighter. (Nov. 28, 2003)
Q: My husband and I are thinking of taking a 10-day trip to Las Vegas with our daughters ages 9 and 6. We have heard that the city is now child-friendly and offers many things to do. We would also like to fit in Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Are they practical, in terms of distance? M.P., Fairfield,
A: There's good news and not-so-good news for Vegas-bound families with children.
After a decade of touting itself as a family-friendly place, Vegas has changed course and is again selling itself as the city where anything goes. The latest attractions have an adult edge. Cirque du Soleil's new show at New York-New York, "Zumanity," is full of eroticism.
Treasure Island resort's free outdoor pirate battle show has given way to a racier version called "The Sirens of TI." In fact, the resort now calls itself TI.
"Every project on the drawing boards, even the conservative locals' efforts, tout some element of hip, cool, or sexy," town monitor Anthony Curtis wrote recently in his Las Vegas Advisor newsletter.
Now for the good news: Vegas is a place of spectacle, much is available to intrigue and delight children - some of it free -- and they'll be talking about the getaway for years to come.
Kids aren't allowed on the gambling floors, but many resorts have arcades, elaborate rides, side shows, and shopping malls like they've never seen. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, where a sky dome periodically turns stormy, or the mall at the Venetian, with its indoor canal and gondoliers, make you forget where you are. The nighttime neon dazzles, and spectacles like the regular volcano eruptions nightly outside the Mirage can mesmerize children for a short time.
The view from atop the Stratosphere Tower's 109th-floor observation deck is unrivaled, and for those who can take it, there is roller coaster up there. Magic shows, animal exhibits, and even a few museums are available.
You can find plenty of kid-friendly options in the Frommer's Las Vegas with Kids, by Lisa Derrick (Frommer's, 2003), and Fun with the Family in Las Vegas: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids, by Lynn Goya (Globe Pequot, 2002).
As for Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, millions of people take side trips to those sites from Vegas each year. The dam is only 35 miles from Vegas; the canyon 275 miles, about a six-hour drive.
Even if your family travels well by car, the canyon trip would be better done over two or three days. Check the park's trip planning pages on the Web site at www.nps.gov.grca. Insight Guides Las Vegas & the Desert (Langenscheidt, 2003) has sections on the dam and the canyon.
I would like any information on cargo/freight ships that also
accept a limited number of passengers on transatlantic voyages,
particularly from the Eastern seaboard to Europe. B.L., Trenton
You can locate transatlantic cargo ships that accept passengers by
checking with agencies such as Freighter World Cruises, which has
a section on its Web site, www.freighterworld.com,
for ships going from the East Coast to Northern Europe.
On the home page, look for the map and click on
“Transatlantic.” A recent check showed seven ships and their
schedules, including a Senator Line ship offering New
one way, 15 days, for about $1,406, single cabin. Freighter World
Cruises is based in PasadenaCalif.,
booking agencies are TravLtips Cruise & Freighter Travel
phone 800-872-8584, Web site www.travltips.com;
and Maris Freighter Cruises, Westport, Conn.,
phone 800- 996-2747, Web site www.freightercruises.com.
contacting those companies, spend some time with the Internet
Guide to Freighter Travel at www.geocities.com/freighterman.geo.
It is an outstanding primer to freighter travel and notes other
can get a feel for freighter schedules – often these ships make
several port calls before you reach your destination – by
looking at the Electronic Ship Guide at www.shipguide.com/index.html.You can select ports of departure and destination and
indicate a time frame, and the search engine quickly returns a
list of ships going your way and back. But this is a site to try
sooner rather than later -- a note on the home page says the site
will be discontinued at the end of 2003.
Rome to Pompeii: the tour bus vs. hopping on a train; when
families fly, they sometimes can't avoid being broken
up. (Nov. 17, 2003)
Q: For a day trip from Rome to Naples and Pompeii, is it better to go on our own or hook up with a one-day bus tour? What we have in mind is visiting the Archeological Museum in Naples in the morning and the ruins at Pompeii in the afternoon. R. Ross, West Orange,
A: It's quite possible to manage this side trip on your own if you're willing to deal with the logistical effort, which means taking the train from Rome (Roma
Termini station) to Naples (Stazione Centrale), taking the Metro one stop to the Piazza Cavour station near the museum, then returning to the Stazione Centrale and riding the Naples-Sorrento Circumvesuviana line about 40 minutes to the Pompei-Villa dei Misteri stop, which is near one of the volcano-blasted city's two entrances.
For some people, taking a coach tour is the way to go because it's simple and the tour company deals with any complications that arise. The trade-off is that you abide by the schedule and move as a group. The one time I planned to go from Naples to Pompeii, there was rail strike and I never made it - which wouldn't have been a problem had I been on a bus tour.
Still, if you're game to use public transit, go for it. The travel time from the Roma Termine station to Naples' Stazione Centrale is 1 hour 40 minutes and costs about $29 one-way in second class. The rail time from Naples to Pompeii is 25 or 40 minutes, depending on train, and costs just a few dollars.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale, with its top collection of finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum, is located at Piazza Museo and entry is 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, cost is about $7.60 (6.5 euros). Details can be found through the site at
At Pompeii, about 15 miles southeast of Naples, allow at least three hours to explore, though a serious visitor could spend the whole day. You can rent an audio guide in English for about $7 (6 euros), or get a discount for renting a pair. A Pompeii site in Italian is at
At both the museum and Pompeii, expect that certain sections will be unavailable for touring - this is routine.
The guidebook Italy, by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls (Cadogan/Globe Pequot, 1999) has sections on the museum and Pompeii, and valuable details on locating the Circumvesuviana trains in Naples (Around the Bay/Getting Around). The Rough Guide to Italy (Rough Guides, 6th edition, 2003) has an especially good section on visiting the ruins.
Streetwise Maps offers a laminated pocket map, Streetwise Naples, and the Insight Pocket Guide: Bay of Naples includes a pullout map that clearly shows the trains stations.
Q: Our family - with boys 7 and 10 -- was on six flights during a Hawaiian vacation. On three flights, our seats were not together. Do airlines have rules about splitting children from family? Should we check in earlier? K.M., Ambler,
A: It sounds like you may be waiting until you check in to get a seat assignment, which can be a mistake in these days of full flights even if you are traveling alone. You should get seat assignments at the time of booking - whether you do it yourself online, through a travel agent, or by phone with the airline - or you risk having to settle for what's available when you check in.
Of course, you have to pick from what's available in any case, but if you do it early it greatly increases the chance of getting four seats together.
Airlines have a range of policies on young children and children traveling unaccompanied, but generally the attitude toward keeping families together is practical rather than official. An airline isn't going to separate a very young child from an adult, but if a full flight demands it, the airline would probably have no qualms about seating an older child away from an adult.
If you are not satisfied with your seating, take it upon yourself on boarding to approach fellow passengers about exchanging. It's easier to make a swap before everyone has been seated, and often passengers will gladly trade, either because they sympathize or because they covet your aisle seat.
A flight attendant might help, but don't count on it. They have other priorities during boarding, and will appreciate your taking matters into your own hands.
A Web site showing seating layouts for many types of aircraft is www.seatguru.com.
Airline differ on how many seats they save for last-minute assignment, and you may not always be able to get an assignment upon booking. In that case, call the reservation desk from day to day, explaining why you are trying to get seating together. You may well find a sympathetic ear that will provide an idea of what the airline's patterns are, or help you outright.
If all else fails, ask a gate counter agent to try to improve your seating at the last minute.
Where to find
Caribbean cooking lessons in the Caribbean; taking aim at a safari
-- and malaria -- in South Africa. (Nov.
Q: I’d like
to combine a Caribbean vacation with cooking lessons. Where can I
find Caribbean cooking schools? E.B., Philadelphia
resorts in the Caribbean offer occasional cooking classes
featuring the house chef – their Web sites note these – and
several larger programs also are available. Ladera Resort in St.
Lucia will offer a five-day "Island Cuisine Experience"
package in April and October 2004 (www.ladera.com).
More common are quick-hit lessons, as in Anguilla, where the
Cuisinart Resort and Spa presents a weekly 2 ½ hour program of
hands-on instruction followed by lunching on the cuisine just
For package vacations, a reduced rate usually is available for
partners of students who do not attend the lessons.
In Willemstad, Curaçao, Angelique Schoop runs Angelica's
Kitchen, offering classes of a couple days or a whole week in the
kitchen of a 19th-century restored Colonial house. The emphasis is
on Caribbean flavors, with a two-day course $250. A full culinary
vacation costing $2,450 includes lodging and meals. Also offered
are culinary walking tours. Web site www.angelicas-kitchen.com.
In Bridgetown, Barbados, Anne-Marie Whittaker directs
Anne-Marie's Caribbean Kitchen, featuring hot and spicy Caribbean
cuisine. Cost is $2,100, including lodging and activities, $1,200
for those who don’t take part in the cooking classes. Phone
The top source for locating cooking vacations worldwide is The
Guide to Cooking Schools (ShawGuides, 16th edition,
2004). The information is also available at no cost online at www.shawguides.com.
You can scroll down a list of countries to see what’s available
You may also find Caribbean cuisine topics in Caribbean Travel
& Life magazine, whose Web site at www.caribbeantravelmag.com
includes a section of recipes. Click on Life/Kitchen.
Q: For a trip to South Africa, do I need to take malaria pills?
Also, is Kruger National Park the best place for a safari? M.B.,
A: Ask your doctor about the malaria pills, and consult the
travel advisory section of the Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention Web site, which says, "Visitors to Kruger National
Park and other low altitude game parks should take malaria
prophylaxis before arriving and after departure. Only mefloquine (Larium),
doxycycline, or malarone are considered truly effective against
malaria." (The CDC says chloroquine is NOT an effective
antimalarial drug in Southern Africa.)
As for where to safari, Kruger National Park is geared for mass
tourism, but the many private reserves along its western border
tend to offer a better experience. Consult Africa’s Top
Wildlife Countries, by Mark W. Nolting (Global Travel Publishers,
6th edition, 2003), which notes: "In the adjacent
private reserves, day and night game viewing is conducted in open
vehicles, walking is allowed and facilities are excellent. In
other words, visitors have a greater opportunity to experience the
bush in the private reserves than in Kruger. However, a safari to
Kruger National Park using national park camps is considerably
less expensive than a safari of the same length in private
Good general guides with safari sections are The Rough Guide to
South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland (Rough Guides, 3d edition,
2002) and Insight Guides South Africa (Langenscheidt Publishing,
that make hopping around Europe a bargain; finding the
least-expensive way to reach Hawaii in autumn.
(Oct. 21, 2003)
I’ve read about low-cost airlines within European countries. Can
you provide a list of these? C.M., Philadelphia
In recent years the low-fare airline has become a staple of
European travel, and the niche has evolved to the point that some
have already disappeared or been bought by competitors. One
of the newest is SkyEurope Airlines, which started up in February
2002 and flies out of Bratislava, SlovakRepublic, about 60 miles from
Vienna, with round-trip fares from London for less than $100.
in the United States, the presence of a low-fare
airline can compel larger airlines to lower their fares on
competing routes. So it’s good to know the routes for price
shopping purposes. Most do not have reservations numbers in the United States; rely on their Web sites.Among them:
* Ryanair, www.ryanair.com,
based in Dublin, flies from London-Stansted to scores of British and
European destinations, with other bases in Brussels and Frankfurt.It also has some flights from London-Gatwick.Ryanair has been around since 1985 and earlier this year
took over a younger rival called Buzz.
This airline goes to London; Paris; Venice; Split, Zadar and
Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kosice, Slovak Republic; Milan; Zurich;
Berlin, and Stuttgart. It also flies between Budapest and London, Paris, Milan and Zurich.
* EasyJet, www.easyjet.com,
flies from London’s Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports, with
109 routes between 38 key European airports across the United
Kingdom, France, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark,
Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, and Portugal.In August 2002, it merged with a competitor called Go.
* Virgin Express, www.virgin-express.com,
is based in Brussels and has
routes to London and 16
European cities. It’s a sibling of Virgin Atlantic.
When dealing with these airlines, booking online may
get you better prices, as a phone-booking surcharge is sometimes
in place. Also, the low-fare airlines tend to be very no-frills.
If you want even a modest snack you'll have to pay for it. So it
makes sense to take your own munchies and drinks.
Q: My wife and I are going to Kauai a year
from now to celebrate our 20th anniversary. When and how should we buy our airline
tickets to get the best deal? M.R., Philadelphia
A: Usually sale fares are offered
in mid- to late summer for fall travel, then offered again if the
seats aren’t filled. Right now is a good time to start your
fare-watching, but you probably won’t want to buy until next
summer unless you see a fare that suits you before then.
Monitoring fares now will provide
a basis for comparison. Earlier this month, [October 2003] a round
sales popped up, none better than a $299 round-trip deal from Los
on Hawaiian Airlines. This happens often with sales to Hawaii:
The really low fares are from the West Coast.Outbound fares from other cities included $399 from Phoenix
on Hawaiian; $496 from San Francisco
on United; $576 from Phoenix to Maui
on United; $690 from Chicago to Honolulu
on United; and $728 from New York
to Kona on the BigIsland,
on United.From Philadelphia
the best fare I found for a mid-November trip was about $850.
However, if you or your travel
agent were to put together a low-fare cross-country flight with a
deal like Hawaiian Airlines offers, you might save several hundred
dollars. Shopping with a travel agent for a resort/airfare package
could save you money, too.
Enroll in the e-mail programs of
several airlines and travel sites such as Travelocity and
SmarterLiving.com. Some let you designate city pairs to monitor,
and sale fare notices appear constantly.
foliage bicycle touring in Virginia and North Carolina; tracking
down work abroad during a gap year odyssey. (Oct.
My wife and I would like to spend a short vacation
biking through fall foliage in Virginiaor North
Carolina. How can
we locate organized biking trips? M.H., Potomac, Md.
A: Those states are great for
late-in-the-foliage-season biking. According to the organizers of
the thirteenth Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, the
foliage starts turning in the Shenandoah
mid-October, reaching its peak Oct. 20-Nov. 5, with average
daytime highs in the mid 60s, nighttime lows in the mid 40s.
The festival near Staunton, Va., is Oct.
17-19 and offers trails for all ages, skill levels, and bike
types. Both on-road and off-road routes are available, from 10 to
100 miles, including stretches in NaturalChimneysState
Park and GeorgeWashingtonNational
details, call 540-885-2668
or visit Web site www.shenandoahbike.org.
Multiday foliage biking tours offered by tour
companies are more common in Vermont and Maine, but Virginia and North
Carolina have a
range of choices. Many companies will help arrange custom tours,
and local bike shops may offer rentals and transportation for
one-day biking trips. Many delightful trails, B&Bs, and
resources are available for those who want to plan their own
Shenandoah Mountain Touring in Harrisonburg, Va., will
help arrange custom foliage trips on trails in ShenandoahNational
Park.Call 1-877-305-0550, Web site www.mountaintouring.com.
Carolina Tailwinds, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., offers
a variety of trips in North Carolina and Virginia. Call
1-888-251-3206, Web site www.carolinatailwinds.com.
A good site for other North Carolina rides is
Bicycling magazine has a fine Web site with a section
for locating tour companies. Go to www.bicycling.com
and click on the Rides tab. From there you can select a state
under the Tour & Travel section. Among companies listed there
that offer tours in the Shenandoah
Valley, the Blue
northern Virginia is
Old Dominion Bicycle Tours in Powhatan, Va., phone 804-598-1808.
good source for tracking down biking and other outdoors packages
is Gordon’s Guide, www.gordonsguide.com.
Near Washington, a taste of foliage biking can be
found through Bike the Sites, a company best known for tours of
Washington’s monuments and sites. It offers three-hour foliage
rides along the C&OCanal through
October. The company also can arrange trips on the Mount Vernon
Trail along the Potomac
River in Virginia and the
Washington & Old Dominion Trail, a rail trail in Northern Virginia.Visit www.bikethesites.com
or call 202-842-2453.
Q: My son is a 2003 high school graduate who is taking a year off
starting college. He
wants to live and work outside the country for part of the year. Can you suggest any sources where this
can be researched? G.A., Philadelphia
A: A good guide for planning such a trip is
Alternative Travel Directory: The Complete Guide to Traveling,
Studying & Living Overseas (Transitions Abroad Publishing,
seventh edition, 2002), which is compiled by the editors of Transitions
Abroad magazine. One chapter is about volunteering and
A book aimed expressly at travelers like your son is
the Student Travellers’ Handbook: The Definitive Guide to
Planning a “Gap Year,” by Tom Griffiths (Virgin Publishing,
1999). The chapter on finding work abroad is short, but an online
link, www.gapyear.com, has
much more about finding work abroad.
Other titles to consider are Work Your Way Around the
World: The Authoritative Guide for the Working Traveler, by Susan
Griffith (Vacation Work, eleventh edition, 2003), and The Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures: Internships,
Extraordinary Experiences, Seasonal Jobs, Volunteering, Work
Abroad, by Michael Landes (Ten Speed Press, third edition, 1997).
How to deal with
suitcase security when the government urges you not to lock your
bags; how to tour Mount Rushmore without driving or flying (Sept.
We are reluctant to check our bags on a flight
without locking them because of fears of pilfering, yet the
authorities say that if an inspection is required the locks will
be broken. We heard the airport would issue plastic replacement
locks. What can we expect? A.K., Chadds Ford, Pa.
You are entitled to lock your checked luggage, but if
the Transportation Security Administration inspectors decide a bag
needs examined after it has left your hands, they can break the
lock without liability. This may be of little consequence if your
bag has a little padlock, but if the locking mechanism is part of
the bag’s construction, it could be an expensive repair.
What you heard about replacement locks may relates to
this, from the TSA: “If TSA screeners open your bag during the
screening procedure they will close it with a tamper evident seal
and place a notice in your bag alerting you to the fact that TSA
screeners opened your bag for inspection.”
I don’t know of airports passing out those one-use
plastic seals, but they are readily available at luggage and
travel stores (Magellan’s sells one type 20 to a bag for about
$7; www.magellans.com, 1-800-962-4943).
They are a compromise to fully locking your bags, and may be more
acceptable to you if you already practice smart packing, which
means keeping medication, electronic items and valuables in your
For information on TSA procedures, go to its Web site
at www.tsa.gov and search for
“locks.” There the agency says “TSA screeners exercise great
care during the screening process to ensure that your contents are
returned to your bag every time a bag needs to be opened. TSA
will assess on an individual basis any loss or damage claims made
to TSA. You may call the TSAContactCenter
toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 if you have questions.”
For what it’s worth, there is some sentiment in
online bulletin boards that all the attention being given to
security has reduced the chances of pilferage of checked bags.
Another consideration that may make your worries academic: In some
airports, the checked-baggage screening equipment is located in
the check-in hall and you can (or, in some airports, must) stand
there until it clears.
Q: My husband and I would like to visit Mount
Rushmore, but do
not want to drive or fly. What other choices do we have? V.S., Cherry
A: Bus service is available from many cities to Rapid
City, S.D., which
is about half an hour from the national memorial. Most people
would rather avoid a long, multiple-transfer trip in one long
haul, but you could arrange to overnight in cities along the way.
Contact Greyhound at 1-800-229-9424,
Web site www.greyhound.com.
A more comfortable option would be to take Amtrak to Omaha, Neb., or Denver. Omaha is about
8 ½ hours by road from Rapid City; Denver is about
7 ½ hours. You could continue by bus to Rapid City, then
either rent a car or take a Gray Line tour that includes Mount Rushmore. One
all-day tour costing $40 per adult includes Mount Rushmore, the CrazyHorseMonument, Needles
other sights. Check www.grayline.com.
A company called Vacations Made Easy, phone
1-800-987-9852, Web site www.vacationsmadeeasy.com,
books several Rushmore packages out of Rapid
Another possibility is a coach tour package from Omaha or Denver. For
instance, a company called Moostash Joe Tours (www.mjtours.com)
last summer offered a four-day “Great Black Hills” trip from Omaha for $479
per person, double occupancy. A travel agent can help you locate
tour packages to suit your timing.
to Take a Road Trip" and other tips for a cross-country
national parks tour; Swiss road signs speak a universal language. (Sept.
Q: We are planning a two-month cross-country drive with
an emphasis on national parks, scenery and historic sites. Can you
suggest sources for routes and lodging? R.P., Warminster, Pa.
Many others share your dreamy road trip plans, and
many guides can help you prepare – including the recently
published How to Take a Road Trip (Fodor’s, 2003). It’s
a worthy primer for anyone taking a long driving tour for the
first time, touching on route planning, packing, lodging, car
trouble and almost every topic likely to arise on such an
Other guides are available to torment you with the
huge number of itinerary choices. I suggest you select your routes
and highlights, but be prepared to deviate from your plan when the
Great American Drives of the East (Fodor’s,
2002) and its companion book Great American Drives of the West
together offer more than 60 tour routes with maps and descriptions
of sightseeing highlights along the way. Special attention is paid
to national parks.
A book that maps out cross-country routes and
illustrates their highlights with inspiring photography is Insight
on the Road (Langenscheidt, 2001). Equally well-organized but
in a larger, almost coffee-table format, is The Most Scenic
Drives in America:
120 Spectacular Road Trips (Reader’s Digest, 1997).
The Complete Guide to America’s
National Parks (Fodor’s, 11th edition, 2001)
describes all the country’s 380-plus national parks. They also
are detailed on the National Park Service site at www.nps.gov.
You’ll want to get a National Parks Pass for $50. The passes can
be bought at major park gates and visitor centers, or online at https://buy.nationalparks.org.
Those age 62 and older can buy instead the Golden Age Passport for
Q: Our family plans to spend five days driving in Switzerland. Should
we expect different road rules or language problems there? A.S.,
A: You should have no problem driving in Switzerland, where
the road system is modern, you drive on the right, and the road
signs are very similar to those in the United States.
Switzerland Tourism notes: “It is easy to get around by car in Switzerland. . . .
Alpine passes are easy to drive, but reasonable care must be taken
on more narrow, winding roads. Seat belts are mandatory for all
passengers and children under 7 need to be strapped securely into
Some customs stations have an English brochure on
Swiss driving regulations.
Other driving information is online at http://usa.myswitzerland.com.
Click on Travel tips/transportation/by car. The tourist office
phone number is 212-757-5944.
to get tickets for Kitty Hawk gala in December, cultivating
British garden tours, dodging speed traps on the interstate
(Aug. 28, 2003)
Q: What activities are planned for the centennial of
flight celebration in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., in
December? What are the prospects for tickets and lodging? M.G.,
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
A: A huge celebration is planned for Dec. 12-17 in and
around Kitty Hawk, culminating with a reenactment of the Wright brothers’ first flight
on Dec. 17, 1903. Lodging
and event tickets are still available, but the Outer Banks
Visitors Bureau said people have been “booking steadily” and
that the sooner you get required tickets the better.
The National Park Service is officiating with the
help of many other organizations.
On the agenda are speakers, daily flyovers, static
aircraft displays, special flight-related activities, a film
festival, and artistic performances. A centennial pavilion at the
Wright Brothers National Memorial on the edge of Kill Devil Hills
will feature special exhibits.
Tickets are on sale now. Call 1-800-973-7327 (key in
1, then 9) or visit Web site www.wrightbrothers.reserveworld.com. Individual one-day tickets
are $10 per day; a five-day ticket is $25. Children under 12 are
free but require a ticket for admission. For those 62 and older
and those who are disabled, a daily ticket is $5 and the five-day
pass is $20.
A Web link for lodging is on the visitors bureau site
at www.outerbanks.org. A
lodging chart shows hotels and how many rooms are still available.
You can call 1-800-446-6262 for a visitors guide or assistance
from an information agent.
Q: I want to send my parents to England to visit
gardens, but would feel better if they had a guide to help if
problems arise. Where can I find guided tours? D.L.,
A: A good source is The Garden Tourist, available in
East and West editions, by Lois Rosenfeld (Garden Tourist Press,
2000). It focuses on U.S. gardens,
but under the “Far Away Places” section it includes the names
of horticultural groups that sponsor garden tours abroad,
including trips in England.
An excellent source for researching English gardens
is the newly published GreatGardens of Britain & Ireland, part of
the Insight Guides series (Langenscheidt, 2003). Besides
describing and showing pictures of hundreds of gardens, it has a
garden calendar that shows best times of year for seeing certain
types of flora.
Q: While driving on Interstate 81 in steady traffic
near Roanoke, Va., I got my first speeding ticket in 66 years. Can you
warn readers about this speed trap? M.D., Cherry Hill
A: It’s hard to know to what extent out-of-state
plates or a driver’s appearance – you blame your white hair
– figures in highway speeding stops. But over the years a number
of registries have popped up on the Internet that alert motorists
to places where diligent deputies lurk.
One such site is the Speed Trap Exchange at www.speedtrap.org.
It has state-by-state listings of trap reports with comments by
the drivers who post them. A recent check showed four reports for
the Roanoke area,
including one on Interstate 81.
At the home page, click on “speed trap list,”
then select the state you’ll be driving through. The site links
to related topics, including correspondence from law officials,
some of whom berate the site for abetting speeders, others who
figure that speed-trap Web sites help slow down traffic.
stunning national park on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula;
finding introductory rates at new hotels (Aug. 3, 2003)
are interested in traveling to Newfoundland’s Northern
renting a car to drive from DeerLaketo St.
Anthony. Do you have suggestions on how to get there, attractions
to visit, and how many days are needed? T. Avi-Itzhak, Metuchen,
destination is a beautiful region anchored by GrosMorneNational
consider it the most dramatic natural area in eastern Canada. It is
a land of jagged coastlines and icebergs. It is uncrowded, owing
to its location off the beaten path.
ago UNESCO named the park – whose name means “big knoll” --
a World Heritage Site,noting
that it “provides a rare example of the process of continental
drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth's mantle
lie exposed. More recent glacial action has resulted in some
spectacular scenery, with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords,
glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and many pristine
airport at DeerLake(airport
code YDF) gets flights from Halifax, Nova
nonstop service is available between Newark International (EWR)
and Halifax; the flight time is about two hours.The connecting flight from Halifaxto DeerLaketakes
about 1 ½ hours. (Other
flights arrive via St.
Continental Airlines: phone 800-525-0280; www.continental.com;
Air Canada: phone
one-way drive time along the Gulf of
St. Lawrencefrom DeerLaketo St.
Anthony would take up to 10 hours if you did not stop. But of
course you’ll want to stop for hiking, fishing villages, and
sightseeing. Viking history is big here, as are wildlife viewing
and outdoor sports such as kayaking and canoeing. Stunning vistas
can be viewed on boat tours and ferry rides.
park spokeswoman said two or three days is typical for seeing the
park’s highlights, but visitors who camp or use the hiking
trails could be entertained for days longer. She said the drive
from the park’s northern edge to St. Anthony takes about four
best guidebook descriptions I’ve seen for the area are in the
Adventure Guide to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, by Barbara
Radcliffe Rogers and Stillman Rogers (Hunter Travel Guides, 2nd
edition, 2002), which includes a 29-page chapter called The Great
guide that devotes about 20 pages to Newfoundlandis
Traveler’s Eastern Canada Companion, by Laura Purdom and Donald
Carroll (Globe Pequot, 1999). The Rough Guide to Canadahas
seven detailed pages on the peninsula.
number for Tourism Newfoundland & Labrador is (800) 563-6353;
Web site www.gov.nf.ca/tourism.For a good driving guide to the peninsula, at the opening
page select “scenic routes” from the drop-down menu, then
How do I find good deals when a new hotel opens or renovates and
offers introductory rates? A. Flynn, Newark
Many hotels offer introductory rates when they first open, and you
can get the word on new places at a Web site called Hotel News
Click on “categories/openings” and you’ll find hundreds of
notices for hotels worldwide, including properties shifting
ownership or going through some major change.
have to contact the hotel to find out if an introductory offer is
available, but finding a place is usually easy by doing a Web
search by name. Don’t expect $300-a-night rooms to be discounted
to $85, but whatever the discount it seems even better when
you’re in a brand-new room.
way to locate openings is through the tourism or marketing offices
of cities; these offices sometimes keep a running list of new
places, or promote them through news releases, Web sites, or
regular newsletters such as “What’s New in NYC” and “DCUpdate.”
You can find tourism offices and their phone numbers by doing an
online search for, say, “Philadelphiatourism”
Call and ask about new lodgings.
another tactic is to do a Web search using “hotel openings”
and the city you plan to visit. Doing that for Washington, D.C.,
quickly turned up a Washington Business Journal story from January
that began: “ . . . 13 new hotels will open in the D.C. area
this year.” The advantage to finding out well in advance of an
opening is that new hotels usually begin accepting reservations
months in advance, so you may have a better chance of getting an
and newly renovated properties sometimes rely on brokers to help
fill rooms. Check with companies such as Quikbook (www.quikbook.com;
phone 800-789-9887); Hotel Reservation Network (www.hoteldiscounts.com;
phone 800-715-7666); and Accommodations Express (www.accommodationsexpress.com;
Before booking, compare broker rates with the hotel’s own rates,
and be wary of cancellation/change fees.
travel agents often know about new openings. They are notified by
the hotel companies, and trade publications aimed at travel agents
keep tabs on developments.
So many World Heritage Sites,
so little time; traveling with Trek America; catching cruises
from Philadelphia (July 27, 2003)
Where can I locate a
list of World Heritage Sites? Are there any in the United Statesthat I might visit? A.W., Philadelphia
over 750 places have been designated World Heritage Sites
by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
whose mission is to “protect natural
and cultural properties of outstanding universal value
against the threat of damage in a rapidly developing
them are 20 in the United
including Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, and 12
national parks such as Yellowstoneand
year the committee names new sites in natural and cultural
categories. Early this month, [july 2003] 24 sites were
added, including the
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas in China
and the ancient city of Ashurin
Among the new cultural sites are the
White City of Tel-Aviv in Israel
Jewish Quarter and St. Procopius' Basilica in Trebic,
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in Kazakhstan
Southern Little Poland in the Malopolskie district of Poland,
and the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew,
I’m planning to take a multi-week trip in the West with
a company called Trek America.
Is it a reputable company? A.B., Philadelphia
been in business for more than 30 years and is known
especially for camping trips geared to young travelers.
Thirty-two tour programs are offered aimed at people 18 to
38. The trips last one to nine weeks and offer many
activities. The trips are known for being relatively
inexpensive, but there are add-on costs for food and
Western trips, Trek Americaoffers
cross-country tours and packages in other U.S.regions
and in Mexicoand
company also offers a program dubbed Footloose aimed at an
older crowd, with three types of tours “for adults of
all ages and interests.” They are the usual Trek America
camping tours; walking tours for walkers and hikers of all
levels and abilities, and lodging tours for those who
prefer not to camp.
are described on a Web site at www.trekamerica.com
or in brochures available by calling 1-800-221-0596. The
company is based in Rockaway, N.J.
expanded to one more niche: family travel. A Travel Weekly
report said it operated its first family tour in late May
and plans to expand the program for 2004.
I am interested in a cruise from Philadelphia,
but not to Bermuda.
Are there any to New
B.H., Paoli, Pa.
The vast majority of cruises departing from Philadelphiathis
summer and fall go to Bermuda,
but a few head elsewhere. Among them:
The Holland America Line ship Prinsendam is scheduled to
depart Sept. 30 on a 12-day cruise that ends in Montrealafter
calls in Boston,
1-877-724-5425, Web site www.hollandamerica.com.
The Celebrity Cruises ship Horizon is scheduled to depart
Oct. 19 on a 12-night Eastern
that stops in Nassau,
ending in Tampa.
Celebrity at 1-800-722-5941,
Web site www.celebritycruises.com.
The Norwegian Cruise Line ship Norwegian
scheduled to depart Oct. 26 on a 12-day cruise stopping in
about that) before continuing to St.
ending in Houston.
Contact Norwegian at 1-800-327-7030,
Web site www.ncl.com.
camps suitable for a single dad and his son; companies that
cater to single travelers. (July 15,
I am a single dad with a
14-year old son. Do
you know where I could find summer
vacation packages that cater to single
parents and their children?
Also, are there any
camps with activities for both dad
and son? A.C., Westfield, N.J.
Some of the country’s many summer camps are “family
camps,” and you can locate them through the American
Camping Association, Web site www.acacamps.org,
phone (800) 428-2267. At the Web site you can search among
its 2,300 accredited camps; there is a family category
under “find a camp.” You can filter by state, cost,
and length of stay.
searched for one-week family camps in New Jersey
, however, most were
oriented toward religion or some medical disability –
not what you are looking for. Still, if you broaden the
search to the whole Northeast, the number of camps jumps
to nearly 100.
ranches might also appeal to you; upstate New Yorkhas a number of such
ranches, which can be found online at www.ilovenewyork.com.
Three are Silver Springs Ranch (800-258-2624), Haines
Falls, in the Catskills; R & R Dude Ranch
(716-257-5663), Otto, in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region;
and Pinegrove Dude Ranch (800-346-4626), Kerhonkson, in
the Hudson Valley.
strategy is to consult a travel agent who is a single
parent. Such agents will be sympathetic and, if you're
lucky, have ideas of their own to suggest.
authoritative source is The Single Parent Travel Handbook,
by Brenda Elwell of Secaucus, who also runs
SingleParentTravel.net, which has a wide range of
information on single parent and nontraditional family
travel. A monthly newsletter called Single Parent Travel
is available through the site.
company that specializes in single-parent family travel is
Qualitytimetravel.com, based on Long
For information on its packages, call (888) 758-9386 or
based in Kunkletown,
a travel agency that also specializes in family travel.
Its site is at www.vacationkids.com,
or call 610-681-7360.
Are there any organizations or travel agencies that cater
to single travelers --people who travel alone? R.W., RosellePark,
Yes – single travelers have become a niche industry,
though not as big a niche as you might think considering
how many single travelers there are. That’s partly
because of the nature of the beast; single travelers can
be so flexible and fickle that businesses often have
trouble developing a loyal customer base. Over the years,
many agencies and publications have tried to tap into the
solo traveler market, and many have failed.
Connecting: Solo Travel Network is an international
network of travelers interested in finding comfortable and
economical ways of traveling alone. Connecting offers a
Single-Friendly Travel Directory listing more than 240
travel companies and organizations whose services and
pricing are sensitive to those traveling without a partner
-- including some that do not charge a single supplement.
The directory costs $7.95 or is free with an annual
membership of $35 (or $25 online) for six 20-page issues
of a newsletter. A sample issue is $5 from Connecting:
Solo Travel Network, 689
6, Gibsons, BC V0N 1V7, Canada
card orders: (800) 557-1757; Web site www.cstn.org.
Companion Exchange has been catering to solo travelers for
22 years and produces TravelCompanions.com newsletter,
which is full of useful information, including a steady
supply of strategies for avoiding the single supplement
and ways to travel smartly and economically. TCE is not
processing new subscriptions for the summer, but it offers
resources online at www.travelcompanions.com.
The book Traveling Solo: Advice and Ideas for More Than
250 Great Vacations, by Eleanor Berman (Globe Pequot
Press, 2d edition 1999), is packed with suggestions for
single travelers and offers many kinds of general advice,
including strategies for dining alone.
companies that focus on 18-to-35-year-old travelers also
have a strong single clientele – many of their customers
have never been married. Among them areTrekAmerica,
based in Rockaway, phone (800) 221-0596, Web site www.trekamerica.com;and Contiki, phone (888)
266-8454, Web sitewww.contiki.com.
Travel also specializes in students and other young
travelers. Its Web site is www.sta-travel.com.
After Hilton Head, a look at
the Brunswick Islands; and getting a head start on
Berkshires leaf-peeping. (July 6, 2003)
We just returned from Hilton Head, S.C., where we found
lovely scenery, quiet beaches and good restaurants. While
there we heard about the BrunswickIslandsof
can we find more on them? A.M.M., Philadelphia
a name given to a handful of small islands and coastal
communities at the southernmost end of North
coastline, just above the state line with South
an area also known as theCapeFearCoast
.You can find more than 45 miles of beach spread
among six island outposts of BaldHeadIsland
on the mainland are Southport,
Shallotte and Calabash.
offer a mix of settings and degrees of solitude. BaldHeadIsland
instance, can be reached only by private passenger ferry,
and once there the transit is bicycles and golf carts. HoldenBeachhas
a fishing history, but has been a family resort since the
has the biggest population in the islands – about 7,000
-- has plenty of public access for outdoor recreation,
the islands may not have the culinary variety of Hilton
Head, fresh seafood abounds. Calabash has dubbed itself
“seafood capital of the world.”
Web site called CoastalNC.com www.coastalnc.com
has restaurant listings, as well as links to real estate
companies offering vacation homes.
good source is The Insiders'
Southern Coast and Wilmington(Globe
Pequot, 2002). The book, including sections on the BrunswickIslands
online at www.insiders.com/wilmington/main-overview6.htm.
John F. Blair, Publisher, offers many titles covering the Carolinacoast;
find themat www.blairpub.com.
can find more about the BrunswickIslandsonline
or by requesting a visitors guide at 910-755-5517 or
writing to N.C.’s BrunswickIslands
Q:We’d like to go leaf-peeping in the Berkshires
this fall. How can we locate the quaintest towns and
determine the best time to make our reservations? S.K.,
Good for you – planning a foliage trip before the
late-summer rush to reservations begins. Foliage usually
begins changing in the upper reaches of New
the end of September. There’s a good chance you’ll get
a good show if you’re in the Berkshires of western Massachusettsin
Like many states,
puts foliage reports on its tourism Web site at
www.mass-vacation.com. At the “quick links” menu,
click on “fall foliage” to find a projection of when
the color comes. For the Berkshires, Oct. 1-14 is listed
as the peak period.Unfortunately,
you can’t wait till you’re sure about the foliage to
route from the Web site: Follow Rt. 7 North from
to Williamstown. Rt. 8 runs from Sandisfield to
and is a superb route between two state forests. Rt. 183,
from Great Barrington to Lenox, follows the
and passes through small villages. Take
, off Rt. 183, just south of Tanglewood, and stop at the
overlook for views of Stockbridge Bowl and the southern
. Rt. 43 East, off Rt. 7, is the lower road to
Williamstown, and passes through lovely farmland. Rt. 23,
from Great Barrington to
and then right onto
, takes you through the
and eventually to Lee.
Picking the best Mayan ruin on
a cruise, health insurance for the road, snagged by scissors
at security (June 1, 2003)
a cruise that stops at
, I will have a choice of visiting Mayan ruins at San
Gervasio, Xunantunich and Altun Ha. If I want to visit
only one, which should it be? H.Y.,
Opt for Xunantunich, recommends Jeremy Sabloff, an
authority on Mayan culture who is director of the
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology. Sabloff said Xunantunich, located along the
Mopan River in western Belize, is easy to reach by good
road; the structures are easily visible -- its tallest
pyramid, El Castillo, is about 130 feet high – and there
has been much work and reconstruction in recent years by
It was a very
important site in late Mayan times, from about 600 to 800
Sabloff noted that
he did some of the original work on San Gervasio, on
, in the 1970s. “It’s a fascinating site, but
there’s not as much visible on the surface that would be
as spectacular as Xunantunich,” he said. Altun Ha, for
its part, is closer to
The museum has a
long history of Mayan excavation, reflected in its
Meso-america section. The museum’s phone number is
215-898-4000, Web site www.museum.upenn.edu.
describing Mayan ruins is Lonely Planet’s
, Belize & Yucatan: La Ruta Maya, by Sandra Bao, et al
(4th edition, 2001). Mayan sites are mapped and described
Q: For a visit to
Eastern EuropeI am interested
in finding out about health insurance options, as Medicare
will not cover me outside the country. Where can such
coverage be obtained? J.B., Abington
Here are several companies that provide health insurance
for travelers; some provide other insurance, too, as a
package. Rates vary depending on age, deductible, length
of trip, and extent of coverage. Others companies can be
found at the State Department’s “Medical Information
for Americans Traveling Abroad” page at http://travel.state.gov/medical.html.
Q: On three of four
flights, my cosmetic case with round-tip scissors, nail
file and clippers was inspected and cleared at the
carry-on security station. On the fourth, I had to
surrender them. Why can’t passengers be offered the
option of paying to mail such items home?
A: Your experience
is vexing, especially since the items you mention are on
the list of approved carry-on items on the Transportation
Security Administration’s Web site (www.tsatraveltips.us).
Beyond that, your idea for a mail-home option is good, and
it has been adopted by a few airports, including SkyHarborInternationalAirportin Phoenixand BradleyInternationalAirportin Hartford, Conn.
Bradley, for instance, several airport shops will provide
a mailing box for $5, with an address label, protective
packaging, and a $3.85 stamp.
most airports – including Kansas City International --
do not offer this option, travelers who want to take
matters into their own hands could prepare their own
shipping kit, tucking a padded envelope with postage into
their bag before leaving home. In the event of a problem,
it would provide an alternative to surrendering small
using the mail-back service are allowed to return to the
head of the line. If you act on your own, you would have
to try negotiating that, and you’d have to locate a mail
slot, which is time-consuming in some airports. There is a
one-pound limit on mail sent from mailboxes. In the end,
whether it would work depends on how much time you had to
Exploring the 1904 World's Fair
in St. Louis, eluding trouble in Mexico City, cruising with
I plan to be in
and would like explore the 1904 World’s Fair held there.
Is there an archive or museum devoted to this event? R.H.,
As you noted, the fair, formally the Louisiana Purchase
Exposition of 1904, was held in
, where a few fair structures remain. The event’s Fine
Arts Palace houses the
, and a huge walk-through aviary remains a landmark of the
St. Louis Zoo.
the fair’s centennial approaching, several
commemorations are planned for the fair and the Lewis
& Clark Expedition and
, whose 100th anniversaries the fair marked. Viewing
the movie Meet
, Louis, starring Judy Garland, would help set the mood
for your visit, as would playing Scott Joplin ragtime
music. Many accounts say the ice cream cone and iced tea
were introduced at the fair, and a giant Ferris wheel,
brought from the
fair of 1893, was very popular.
restored 1848 Chatillon-DeMenilMansion
houses more than 1,200 pieces of World's Fair memorabilia,
including photographs and souvenirs in excellent
the way, admission is free to the zoo and art museum – a
rarity among such institutions outside of
A St. Louis
visitors guide can be obtained by calling 1-800-916-0092,
or visit Web site www.explorestlouis.com.
My daughter is taking a business trip alone to
and I’m worried about her. What precautions can she
take? A.W., Phoenixville, Pa.
Among the most important measures a visitor to the
– or any other city where crime is a problem – can
take are to avoid traveling alone and be very cautious
using ATMs and taxis. Airports and train and bus terminals
also are problem areas. Descriptions of common crime
situations in Mexican cities can be found on the State
Department Web site at http://travel.state.gov/mexico.html.
also worthwhile to study the experiences of other recent
travelers on sites such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree
forum at http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
You can do a search within the
section for “crime” and find commentaries, including
one that begins “I was robbed today in
We plan to go to
for several months and want to take our two beagles, who
are not good air travelers. Would a cruise ships transport
our dogs? R.B., Turnersville, N.J.
A: The only ship I
know of that accepts dogs is the QE2, which has a kennel.
Owners are not allowed to take their dogs for a walk
around the ship, but can visit them in the kennel area.
The QE2, owned by Cunard Line, makes regular transatlantic
crossings in the summer and a world cruise each year that
includes a stop in
. Early next year,  the new Cunard Line ship Queen
Mary 2 is expected to replace the QE2 on the transatlantic
schedule, and it, too, will have kennel facilities with an
exercise run exclusively for the hounds.
Planning an economical,
island-hopping Hawaiian vacation, search for a stand-by cruise
(April 27, 2003)
For a trip to Hawaii,
our family wants to make ground arrangements separate from
air travel, as we’ll visit multiple islands.Can you recommend any sites or sources for
deals and suggestions for independent visitors can be
found in the Islands of Aloha vacation planner offered by
Visitors and Convention Bureau, Web site www.visit.hawaii.org,
resorts offering discount deals, another option to
consider is condo or B&B lodging. Bed and Breakfast Honolulusays
it represents 400 properties; 1-800-288-4666,
Others that offer bookings statewide are All Islands Bed
& Breakfast, 1-800-542-0344, www.all-islands.com;
and Affordable Accommodations, 1-888-333-9747, www.affordablemaui.com.
guides to help you plan your vacation are the classic
Hidden Hawaii, by Ray Riegert (Ulysses Press, 12th
edition, 2003), Maverick Guide to Hawaii, by Robert Bone
(Pelican Publishing, 21st edition, 2002), and
Hawaii Travel Smart, by Greg Ambrose (Avalon Travel, 3rd
for island hopping, the two biggest airlines are Hawaiian
and Aloha. Hawaiian Airlines filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy
protection last month,[March] but said it expects to
continue flying. Both offer reasonable prices between the
islands, especially if you book well in advance.
recent check showed one-way Interisland SuperSaver fares
$67 each way.Contact
Hawaiian Airlines at 1-800-367-5320, Web site www.hawaiianair.com.
Airlines offers the seven-day IslandPass
for $336 provides unlimited travel within Hawaiion
Aloha Airlines and Island Air for seven consecutive days.
Contact Aloha at 1-800-252-5642 or Web site www.alohaair.com.
can find a list of airlines through the visitors bureau
click on “vacation planning” then “products &
services” for a long listing, with links, of airlines
and lodging choices.
rentals are quite competitive. You might start with Alamo,
using its rates as a benchmark when shopping for the best
price. You should also check with your transpacific
airline; you may be able to get a good rate through its
partnerships. The transportation section of the Maverick
Guide to Hawaiihas
especially good tips and cautions about renting cars.
Q: A few years ago we registered on a standby list for
Cunard Lines. They let us know in advance and the cruise
was a very good deal. Does anyone currently offer this?
Cunard once had a standby program for the QE2 in which
passengers posted a deposit and were notified about three
weeks before sailing whether there was space available.
But that program no longer is available, according to a
last year Crystal Cruises had a standby program, Crystal-on-Call
which certain Alaskan sailings aboard the Crystal Harmony
and Baltic sailings aboard the Crystal Symphony offered
savings for those who plunked down $500 and then were
notified one to two months before the sailing date. They
were mainly for minimum category staterooms. That program
is not in place this year, a spokesman said.
cruise lines have relied simply on lower rates to lure
passengers in what has become a soft market, owing to a
surge of large, new ships during a time when many would-be
passengers are concerned about war, disease and the
economy. Another way some lines are encouraging business
is by offering “kids go free” incentives.”
lines now have specials posted on their Web sites. Links
to most of the big lines can be found at www.cruising.org.
Travel agents with experience booking cruises know where
the deals are for the type of cruise you prefer. Some can
be found through the National Association of Cruise
Oriented Agencies, Web site www.nacoaonline.com,
Renting Italian villas, flying
nonstop into Hawaiian cities besides Honolulu, ATMs in
Australia (March 23, 2003)
We’ve been to Italyseveral times and have had
our fill of duomos and other tourist staples. Now we want
to rent a Tuscan villa for two couples and meet the real
Italians. Can you suggest sources for helping plan such a
trip? L.D., Media, Pa.
A couple years ago I noted sources for villa rentals in
Tuscany and later heard from readers who gave especially
high marks to two area companies, Doorways Ltd., of Bryn
Mawr, phone 1-800-261-4460 or 610-520-0806, Web site www.villavacations.com,
Travel Design in Philadelphia, phone 215-248-2570, Web
local company that might work for you is Untours, of
Media, which has put thousands of independent travelers
into private homes for two-week holidays, including
vacations in Tuscany
phone number is 1-888-868-6871; Web site www.untours.com.
Italia Reservations is a small Californiaagency
that represents about 50 properties in Tuscanyand
510-843-0928, Web site www.italiareservations.com.
other brokers are:
Villas and Apartments Abroad, New
European Connection, Roslyn
good source for planning is
In Italy Online at www.initaly.com.
It also is a source of rentals for villas and farmhouses
in many regions.
Italian Government Travel Office is at phone 212-245-4822;
Web site www.italiantourism.com.
The site has links to regional tourism offices in Italy
regional sources on lodging information.
a trip to Hawaii
, is it possible to fly
straight to the BigIsland
, or must you always change
planes in Honolulu? B.B., Merion, Pa.
vast majority of flights to Hawaiigo into Honolulu
, but a few each day go
nonstop from the mainland to the Big Island of Hawaii and
to Mauiand Kauai. None of those flights
originates on the East Coast. You would have to change,
most likely in Los Angeles
, or Dallas-Ft. Worth. Among
flights that go nonstop to Hawaiian cities other than
United Airlines flies from San Franciscoto Kona on the BigIsland
United and American Airlines fly from Los Angelesto Kona on the BigIsland
United flies from San Franciscoto Lihue on the islandof Kauai
United flies from San Franciscoto Kahului on Maui.
American flies from Los Angelesto Kahului on Maui.
American flies from Los Angelesto Lihue on the islandof Kauai
American flies from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Kahului on Maui.
widely available are ATM machines in Australia? R.S., Philadelphia
Banking machines are common in Australia
, and unless you plan to
spend time in tiny outback towns, your cash reserves
should be easy to tap.
For Australiaand almost every other
country, you can get specific ATM locations by going to
the ATM locator section of Web sites for MasterCard and
whose bank card has a Cirrus logo can go to www.mastercard.com
and click on “ATM locator” on the home page. A search
shows nearly 500 Cirrus ATMs in Sydney
, 26 in Darwin
, and 16 in Alice Springs. Even Coober Pedy, an
outback opal town where a number of residents live in
cavelike dwellings, has one ATM listed.
find currency information on the Australian tourism site, www.australia.com.
Select “plan your trip” and “useful travel
information,” then “currency information.”The site also has a useful “budgeting guide,”
which helps you anticipate expenses for common purchases
such as an opera ticket (60 Australian dollars -- about
$37 -- and up, and a bottle of Australian wine, A$12 –
about $7.30 – and up. Top
Finding a bus tour to Foxwoods
Casino, rail passes for Paris, info on touring Ireland (March
I can get information about group bus trips to the
Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut?
tours from the Philadelphiaarea
to the Foxwoods Casinio in Ledyard,
the nearby Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino are not as
regular or numerous as those to Atlantic City. But a few
are available through regional bus tour companies, and you
also can get there via Amtrak. Foxwoods typically involves
at least an overnight stay because of the distance, about
230 miles from Philadelphia
Tours of Douglasville offers monthly trips to Foxwoods.
The next one scheduled is a two-day trip that leaves from
Exton, King of Prussia, Douglassville, Morgantown, and
Shillington early on Saturday, March 22. It heads back
Sunday, March 23, arriving home about Cost per person, based on double occupancy, is
$190, with one night’s lodging at the Two Trees Inn,
across from Foxwoods. For details, contact Klein
Tours at 610-582-4404, Web site www.kleintransportation.com.
Other Foxwoods trips, most of them three days/two nights,
are scheduled near the end of each month for the rest of
the year, including April 23-25 and May 31-June 1.
Travel Service of Cape May Courthouse has a three-day/two
night Foxwoods trip scheduled for April 30-May 2, with
pickup points in Philadelphia,
The cost is $275 per person, double occupancy, with
lodging at the Great Cedars Hotel. Contact Senior Travel
at 1-800-257-8910, Web site www.seniortravelservice.com.
company, Conestoga Tours of Lancaster, offers Foxwoods
trips departing from Lancaster
, Harrisburgand York
. Call 1-800-538-2222
or visit Web site www.conestogatours.com.
also serves Foxwoods by train and bus. For example, you
can take a train to New London, Conn.
, then transfer to a bus for
a 40-minute ride to the casino, arriving by . An undiscounted round-trip
fare on an unreserved train was quoted at $140.20. Call
Amtrak at 1-800-872-7245 or visit www.amtrak.com.
For a trip to Paris
, where can I find
information on rail passes and transportation in the
region? G.B., Sewell, N.J.
The ParisVisitePassallows passage on most
Paris-area transportation systems and can be bought in
one-, two-, three- and five-day increments. The one-day
pass is $23; the five-day is $63. Children 4 to 11 pay
systems covered by the pass are the Metro, RER (regional
trains), bus, tram, Montmartrefunicular, Noctambus,
Transilien SNCF (suburban trains) and Optile buses (bus
network operated in outer suburbs). Among places you can
reach with the pass are Versailles
, Orly and Charles de Gaulle
airports, and Disneyland Resort Paris. Besides
transportation, the pass includes discounts for admission
or purchases at more than a dozen attractions, such as a
second ticket free at the Grand Arch. Details on the pass
and descriptions of the discounts is online at www.ratp.fr/ParisVisite/Eng.
good source for learning the transportation system is The
Paris Pages, www.paris.org.
A French Government Tourist Office information number is
410-286-8310, Web sitewww.franceguide.com.
At the Web site, use the search box at upper left,
selecting “Ile de France” and “transport/train”
for a full listing of French rail passes.
Where can I get travel information for a first trip to Ireland? I.M., Philadelphia
Irish guidebooks are plentiful. Among them are Must-See
Ireland (Thomas Cook Publishing, 2000), Insight Compact
Guide Ireland(Langenscheidt Publishing,
2002), and Ireland
, by Fionn Davenport (Lonely
Planet, 5th edition, 2002).
Ireland’s Web site is at www.irelandvacations.com,
phone 1-800-223-6470. A good place to sample the local
scene in anticipation of a visit is the Irish Times
newspaper site, www.ireland.com.
Where is that underwater Jesus
in Florida, and will packing fishing tackle cause check-in
problems? (Feb. 23, 2003)
Q:I’ve heard there is
an underwater statue of Christ in Floridathat pays tribute to sailors
who have lost their lives at sea. Where can it be found,
and can it be viewed from a glass-bottom boat? G.H.,
The statue is commonly called Christ of the Deep and is
located in the Florida Keysabout six miles offKey Largoin 25 to 30 feet of water.
The book Diving & Snorkeling Florida Keys(Lonely Planet Pisces, 3d
edition, 2001) describes the nine-foot bronze statue’s
statue is one of at least three cast from a mold by
Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. The first, called Christ
of the Abyss, was placed in 50 feet off water of Genoa
. A second casting was made
in 1961 and presented to the people of Grenadafor their assistance in
rescuing passengers from a fire aboard the Italian liner
Bianca C. That statue is on display in St. George’sHarborin Grenada
Florida] statue, the third casting,
was originally made for Egidi Cressi, whose company
manufactures dive equipment. Cressi eventually donated the
statue to the Underwater Society of America, who in turn
passed it to the Florida Board of Parks & Historical
Memorials for display.”
installed on a concrete pedestal in 1966 in the Key Largo
National Marine Sanctuary, just beyond the edge of John
Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202, www.pennekamppark.com).
The statue site also is known to divers as Key Largo Dry
Largo Princess is a glass-bottom boat that operates in the
area, but a spokesman said the statue is not usually on
its route because the dive site is generally crowded with
snorkelers, divers, and their boats, which tie up to buoys
surrounding the site in a broad circle. The Key Largo
Princess’ phone number is 305-451-4655.
underwater weddings have been performed at the statue, and
at least one funeral company says it will scatter ashes
near the site.
the benefit of those who don’t dive, a bronze replica
was commissioned by a church and erected in 1991 near the
entrance of PennekampParkon
U.S. Rte. 1 at mile marker 105.5.
A friend and I plan to fly to Texasfor a fishing trip. Will we
run into security problems if we pack our tackle boxes in
checked luggage? D.C., Swedesboro, N.J.
You would indeed be snagged at security if knives and
other sharp objects in your tackle were in your carry-on
luggage, but in checked baggage you should not have a
can find a list of items and whether they are banned in
carry-on or checked luggage at www.tsa.gov.
(Click on “permitted and prohibited items.”) Among
items banned in carry-on bags but allowed in checked bags
are knives, spear guns, wrenches and pliers, and
have any doubt about an object in your tackle, ask an
airline reservationist. Bringing a prohibited
item to a security checkpoint - even accidentally - is
illegal, according to the Transportation Security
other consideration if you are packing tackle: weight
restrictions. Most airlines will charge you extra – $50
or $75 – if your bag exceeds a certain weight. USAirways, for instance, may
assess a charge if a checked bag exceeds a weight of 70
pounds and dimensions of 62 inches when you add up length,
width and height.
Getting a last-minute fare to
visit a newborn on the other side of the country. (Feb.
Q:I plan to dash to San
when our first grandchild is born. How can I do this on
very short notice without paying sky high last-minute
fares? S.F., Blue Bell,
Using the Web, you may find a fare lower than if you book
at the last minute through the airline. But there are many
last-minute booking sites, and to get the best deal means
with how they work.You’ll
have to do price comparisons, and at least one big site
requires you to make an offer, so it’s important to know
what the going rates are.
now and the mother’s due date, examine some of these
sites and see for yourself how they work.To book, the sites require free registration, which
you won’t want to fumble with at the last minute. You
can check fares without actually booking.
advice applies to anyone looking for a last-minute fare,
regardless of whether a baby is on the way.)
the time comes, check www.travelocity.com,
to see what fares they show for the dates you want to
travel. It’s possible you’ll stumble onto a fare
sale, although that is unusual for a next-day departure.
A good price for a PHL-SJC round trip is under $300;
recently most bottom fares were $300 to $400.Despite the claims of the booking sites, it’s
often hard to get a fare as inexpensive as you’d like,
the growing number of fees tacked onto each leg of the
any case, find the lowest fare on those sites and compare
it against the fare at the airlines’ own sites. (They
can be found through http://flyaow.com.)
recent midweek check for a PHL-SJC round-trip, next-day
departure, on Orbitz showed a low fare of $400 on
America Trans Air; ATA’s own site showed a fare of
– which provides the name of the airline and flight
times only AFTER you’ve bought the ticket – showed a
low fare of $366. Bestfares.com showed a package
including airfare and a rental car for as little as
$342, but it was pegged to weekend travel on certain
you’ve become familiar with a few of these sites,
you’ll find the process is not as confusing as it
might seem. Your last resort for getting a lower fare
could be Priceline.com, which asks you to name a fare
you are willing to pay, then checks your offer against
its partner airlines to see if anyone will accept your
can learn about bidding strategies for Priceline, based
on the experience of others, at www.biddingfortravel.com.
way you can prepare is to enroll in e-mail programs such
as those at www.smarterliving.com
(Travel Alerts) and www.travelocity.com
(Fare Watcher), in which you list what city-pair fares
you want to monitor. The sites send you regular updates
on low fares.You
might get lucky and find such a notice in your mailboxfor the date you get that call from your son in San
about 30 miles from the Oaklandand
You could check to see what the fares are to those
airports, but also calculate the expense of getting to San
no one can meet you at the airport.
Question: I’m having
trouble finding architecture tours in Europe, including
cathedrals. Suggestions? M.C., Malvern, Pa.
Answer: Contact Archetours Inc., which has
been organizing architecture tours in Europe and elsewhere
since 1995. The 2002 schedule includes trips to Bilbao and
Barcelona, Spain; Tuscany, Italy; Provence, Lyon and the
Rhone Alps in France; Belgium; Berlin, and Prague.
Archetours is based in New York. Call
1-800-770-3051 or visit Web site www.archetours.com.
The National Trust for Historic
Preservation runs dozens of tours around the world, some
which included architectural elements. Check the
"study tours" section at www.nationaltrust.org,
or call 202-588-6000.
Martin Randall Travel Ltd. In London
offers many tours with architectural angles in Europe and
elsewhere. They are described online at
Architectour focuses on Rome. Call 1-877-727-7663
or visit www.architectour.com.
Cathedral enthusiasts may be interested in
the Sarum Seminar, a program for fans of Gothic cathedrals
and medieval life. The California-based group organizes an
annual tour of Salisbury Cathedral and the Cotswolds in
England. For details, phone 650-857-9515; Web site
Architecture tours fall under the heading
of "art," and that’s where you’ll find
several such tour companies listed in the Specialty Travel
Index, which also categorizes the tours by country and
region. The directory is published twice a year. Two
issues are $10. Order by calling 415-459-4900. The same
information is available at no cost on the Web at
Besides tour companies, many architecture
tours are organized by special interest groups and
schools, museums and other institutions. Scan the magazine
racks for architectural and historic preservation magazine
whose classified ads may include European tours.
Q: My husband died recently and I want
to take his ashes to Seattle for a service in June. How
can other relatives and I get a grievance fare for the
flight to Seattle? M.H., Barrington
A: You might qualify for a grievance fare, but it’s
probably not the best way to obtain the least-expensive
Typically such fares, also known as
bereavement or compassion fares, are intended to help
relatives who must fly unexpectedly in emergencies and who
otherwise would have to pay the very high fares that
last-minute business travelers have to pay.
But grievance fares aren’t necessarily
low, and not necessarily the lowest fares available. In
the case of some airlines, they allow the passenger to buy
at an advance-purchase price, waiving the advance-purchase
requirement. On other airlines, the grievance fare is a
separate category of fare.
Because you know months ahead when you
need to travel, you may well be able to obtain a sale fare
between $200 and $300 round trip between Philadelphia and
Seattle. A grievance fare may be much higher than that.
For instance, a recent check showed a $260
round-trip fare available between Philadelphia and Seattle
in mid-June on American Airlines. An American Airlines
agent said you would be eligible for the grievance fare,
but that it would be $581.
I suggest that you or a travel agent watch
for fares under $300 and snag one for your June flight
rather than rely on the grievance fare. You’ll probably
have to include a Saturday stay-over to get the lowest
People who need last-minute bereavement
fares should note that airlines vary in their rules and
availability. If one fare seems high, try other airlines.
To qualify, all require basic documentation such as the
relation to the deceased and the funeral director’s
phone number. Bereavement fares usually have flexible
rules for changing the date of return.
the Travel Questions column
The Travel Questions column
has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer regularly since
1989. Other Q&A columns By Donald D. Groff appear in the
Newark Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, and the Kansas City
Star. In the past, his travel advice also has run weekly in
Newsday and on the Web at Salon and Philly.com.