Talk About Travel

Your "Flight Crew," sitting from left: Christina Talcott, Andrea Sachs, Cindy Loose. Standing from left: Scott Vogel, K. C. Summers, John Deiner and Carol Sottili. (Julia Ewan -- TWP)
The Flight Crew
Washington Post Travel Section
Monday, February 11, 2008; 2:00 PM

The Post's Travel Section Flight Crew will take your comments, questions, suspicions, warnings, gripes, sad tales and happy endings springing from the world of ... the world. Of course, the Flight Crew will be happy to answer your travel questions -- but the best thing about this forum, we insist, is that it lets travelers exchange information with other travelers who've been there, done that or otherwise have insights, ideas and information to share. Different members of the Crew will rotate through the captain's chair every week, but the one constant is you, our valued passengers.

We know you have a choice in online travel forums, and speaking for the entire Flight Crew, we want to thank you for flying with us.

You may also browse an archive of previous live travel discussions. For daily dispatches, check out Travel Log, the Travel section's new blog.


Scott Vogel: Afternoon everyone, and welcome to your official respite from Potomac Primary news. Here, as you know, we're interested in things just a bit further afield. Like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for instance, the subject of yesterday's Travel cover story. Paula Stone, the writer of Sunday's article, joins us today, along with the usual cast of thousands, among them KC Summers, Cindy Loose, Christina Talcott and Carol Sottili.

We're here today, as per usual, to answer any questions regarding potential trips, as well as provide a platform for your views on all things travel-related. And speaking of views, we can't resist: What's the most romantic moment you've ever had on a trip? Send us a note describing the experience in all its torrid and/or sentimental glory. We'll publish it here for the benefit of hopeless romantics everywhere and award a prize package -- a copy of the book "Heart Stones," as well as a 2008 Romantik Hotel and Restaurant Guide -- to the mushiest, most rapturous entry.


Bowie, MD: I have a travel etiquette question. My husband and I recently had a quick getaway to a quaint inn in Virginia. We just wanted down time in a cozy room to read, relax and enjoy general downtime. Everything was as we'd hoped until the couple in the adjacent room woke us up (11:30ish) with very loud talking and laughing. Fell back asleep only to be awakened around 1am to their all too clear "romantic endeavors" (apparently quite successful, I might add). The noise seemed to go on forever. Question is, how would you have handled it? Would you have knocked on the wall? Made a stink to the hostess? Left all CAPS complaint on the "rate the inn" card? Or just ignore it? I'm no prude, but it honestly did dampen what would have been a perfect weekend.

Christina Talcott: Wow, that's a tough break. I guess I assume that people staying at quaint inns or B&Bs will be quieter than they would be in a big, impersonal hotel. Even though it was late when the loud couple got in, I think I would have risked waking the owners by calling them or knocking on their door to have them ask the noisemakers to quiet down. If the lovebirds wouldn't hush, maybe the B&B owners could have moved you to a different room. Of course, that approach is wimpier than knocking on the wall, but much less passive-aggressive than using the complaint card. But that's just me - what would others have done?


Weather in Grand Caymans: Hi Crew,

I have checked, and still don't have a great feeling for the weather in Grand Cayman in late February--good enough for a last-minute warm beach vacation? I can't tell if it will be rainy or not...


Scott Vogel: The Caymans may well be better than good enough. As it happens, I just returned from there a few days ago. I can tell you the weather was utterly fantastic -- warm days in the mid-80s, great water temperature, no rain. Obviously your mileage may vary but we had a great time.


Romantic moment: On our honeymoon. We went to Australia. Best moment: sunrise at Ayers Rock. It was just us and the tour driver. So many see sunset. Practically no one sees sunrise and it's every bit as beautiful. That year, there had been rain, so the Outback was in bloom.

Scott Vogel: Our first romantic tour takes us Down Under. Thanks!


Fairfax, Va: Besides the Air Service Maps available on the site, where else can you find a list/map of nonstop domestic and international flights from Dulles Airport (IAD)? The nonstop domestic service map that's available on their site is so small that it's hard to read the cities; the nonstop international service is a bit better because a list of the cities/countries appears on the right hand side. As the "voluntold" travel arranger in my family, I'm often asked things like "Can you get me a nonstop flight from IAD to SNA?" (No) So, a list or map of nonstop service would be quite handy. Thanks.

Carol Sottili: Go to the airport Web site (I use the address), click on flight schedules, click on flight guides, and you can call up the airport guide in Adobe, which lists all flights. There is no separate section for nonstop flights, but each flight gives number of stops (0 being the number you'll look for). It's easy to scroll through the guide in search of nonstop flights.


DC TRaveler to the West Coast reporting In: For the last few years, I have flown Jet Blue for my business trips from IAD to Los Angeles -Long Beach]. I got a comparable deal from Virgin America for a trip to LAX last week, and thought I'd see what was there beyond the glitz.

Service at IAD was -excellent- -except for the "you're a virgin on Virgin" tagline, which was beaten to death]. Very helpful, explained a lot, gave me coupons for freebies on flight. But as someone who is req'd by TSA security to check in the old-fashioned way, I appreciated the help.


I've got to admit that the high-tech entertainment center was sweet -- mainly because it broke up the long trip. The satellite TV coverage was good -essentially identical to JetBlue], the moviue offerings were fair -about ten current releases for $8 each; lots of free movies from "never-heard-of-them" indie filmmakers], and the 3000 song library for creating playlists -think iPod in the air] was quite sweet. But maybe most important -- one quick beverage service, and after that service of food and drink is by order on your screen, with delivery to your seat. In this day of charges for food, they made the system understandable and fun. And you could time consumption when you wanted it.

Comfy seats, lotsa leg room.

All in all, a very enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, the jets on each leg were each half-full at best. I hope that they catch on.

Scott Vogel: Thanks for the info regarding this popular route.


Rockville, MD: On an upcoming trip to Tuscany, we'll be engaging the services of a guide for the day. I was wondering what the protocol was for tipping in such cases; something that I suppose is more of an issue because we're paying rather dearly for this person's time as it is. Do we pick up his lunch at the trattoria he's taking us to?

KC Summers: I'm not sure there's any one protocol since circumstances vary, but I've always tipped any guides I've had, whether it's been a group situation or a private guide. Depending on the cost, I tip either 15 percent or $10 or so. I've only had the meal thing come up once, and yes, I felt obligated to pay for his meal. It just seemed churlish and cheap not to. Am I nuts? Anyone else think differently?


Arlington, VA - Searching my Blackberry?: Why in the world should Customs have the right to search my Blackberry and laptop files just because I am coming home from being in London on business. I am a white female, 38 years old, and I've had a security clearance for going on 15 years. What about my profile leads them to need to look at my emails and make me show them my web surfing history?

I have no problem -at all- with them fully searching my bags and person. But as I've seen first hand they seemingly have carte blanche to read my emails and personal files without a warrant. Some of this stuff is sensitive work materials on an encrypted laptop. But that doesnt matter to them. If I ever put up a stink about it I could be the one arrested and they can take your laptop.

Frankly these gestapo tactics sound like something we would find in a communist country. And WHY cant we at least put people with high level clearances on a list of people you dont need to search their browsing history?

Scott Vogel: I have to admit it, Arlington: I find your experience troubling too. And it's not at all uncommon.


Grand Cayman: We went to Grand Cayman last Feb. (while it was snowing like mad here - yay!), and it was WONDERFUL. Perfect weather - Go!

Scott Vogel: Another vote for Grand Cayman -- start booking!


Arlington, VA: I've lived in the DC area for over 10 years and have never made a beach trip yet. I think that's because there are so many choices, it's overwhelming. We'd like to bring our dog with us. Are any beach areas more dog-friendly than others (he doesn't swim, just friendly like we can have him around)? I assume having our dog with us means we need to find a rental house. Any tips on finding a house that allows pets? How far in advance should we be looking to book accommodations? Which beach area has the most to do outside of lounging at the beach (we aren't looking for nightclubs or anything, just nice restauarants, maybe some historical sites or museums)? Which beach areas are more oriented for families with children (so we can avoid them)? Thanks!

Cindy Loose: First off, there are public beaches that allow dogs to use the beach before and after prime months, but I don't know of any that allow dogs during the prime months. Does anyone know if you can rent a house that includes private sections of beach where the dog can run?

If you wish to travel during the summer and don't have to have your dog on the beach itself, there are hotels that are options, although there are often some size restrictions. Are you talking about a very big dog? I took my small dog to a Sheraton and to a Ramada in Va. Beach. There are lots of books and Web sites that list hotels that are open to dogs. Start with something like

Rehobeth is a small town but known for its restaurants. Virginia Beach, since it's a sizeable city, has more in the way of attractions. Ocean City, Md., I'd say is big on families, in part because of the amusement rides on the oceanfront. Cape May, N.J. has lots of Victorian buildings and is a nice town to walk around---if you stayed in Rehobeth you could make a ferry trip from nearby Lewes to Cape May.


Bethesda MD: My daughter and 7 yr. old grandson arrive from Florida

tonight a tad disappointed that our DC/MD/VA area isn't

cooperating in their quest to find snow. We'll ice skate at

the Sculpture Garden but I'm stumped for leads to other

winter activities within a 3-ish hour drive. Anyone out

there know where we might be able to sled, toboggan, or

otherwise enable a winter-deprived Florida kid to enjoy a

snowy day? We'd rather not go to a ski area with artificial

snow, but may consider that. Thanks for ideas!

Carol Sottili: We may get a flurry tomorrow. Meanwhile, driving a bit longer than three hours will get you to Canaan Valley, which has snow. But unless you're going to stay overnight, that's a lot of driving in one day. Liberty Mountain Resort( is just 90 minutes away and its Boulder Ridge Snow Tubing Park is open extended hours tomorrow for Election Day (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.).


Brunswick, MD: Cindy, you say nice things about the Peninsula House B&B in Annapolis in your article, but don't give any contact information. Is it still there? I'd love a drunken crab frittata!

Cindy Loose: Hi--Peninsula House is quite nice; a modern home in the Eastport section of town. I'd didn't give the details cause I had limited space and had already mentioned it, and also, it wasn't among my top four picks, mainly cause the Eastport area isn't in the heart of downtown---it's like a long walk or a four-minute car ride to the heart of town. Also, I preferred the historic properties when it came time to pick just a few. However, Peninsula House is very attractive, squeeky clean and comfortable, and I'm guessing the regular breakfast is great.


Romance: Your topic today reminded me of my first Flight Crew win. It was, maybe, 4 years ago around this time. The challenge was an ideal propsal location. I won a pair of silk boxers from Colorado for describing a propsal involving hiking and being at the top of a mountain. Well, that year, life got in the way of our planned trip to the Rockies, or really anything hiking/athletic. But I did get the propsal in the Florida Keys (when health conditions rule out hiking, go to the ocean!) right after hurricane Ivan. You all helped us plan that trip, our honeymoon, and a couple trips since then. So thanks!

Anyway.. not in the contest for today. Just feeling nostalgic and thought I would share with you.

Scott Vogel: Glad to help, as always. And hope those silk boxers came in handy.


Falls Church, VA: Ok, I got a great deal on a trip to London and Paris, flights, chunnel and hotels included for about $100 a night.

I'm leaving tonight. This is my first BIG trip without parents or chaperones. I stopped my mail and the post, called my credit card companies and have my passport. What else am I forgetting??

KC Summers: Congrats on your trip! Sounds like you're very well-prepared. BUT you might also want to...

* Get a small amount of cash in euros and pounds, to take care of incidentals, cab rides, etc., till you can get to an ATM.

* Scan in your passport and email it to yourself, in case of loss or theft.

* Cut up some old thin towels to use as washcloths -- notoriously absent in many European hotels (my personal fetish). Then throw them away as you move around.

* If you take any prescription medications, make sure you pack them in their original containers with your name on the label.

* Take half the stuff out of your suitcase -- you've probably overpacked! Also, if you haven't packed your ratty old underwear, go back and do that, and leave the nice stuff at home. That way you can throw away the underwear as you go.

Okay, chatters, what else should our novice traveler do before she leaves tonight?


First-time Paris-bound: There is a wonderful website for all things London called Londontown, but is there a similar one for Paris? I'll be taking my 12-year old daughter for a week, so any suggestions (including Disneyland Paris?) would be appreciated.

Christina Talcott: Hi there, I like (the English-version link's coming up). It's got great maps and info about the latest exhibits and events around town. Anyone else have a favorite Paris website?

_______________________ Paris Info

Christina Talcott: For "First-Time Paris-Bound."


Rockivlle, MD: Romantic moment: my wife and I have traveled all over the world, but our most romantic moment happened in Scotland, during a day trip to the Isle of Skye. We had hiked over to the ruins of an old castle. Not much was left, and nobody else was there. We had just started exploring the ruins when it started to rain, and we huddled under a crumbling archway, just the two of us, alone in our castle. It was a very special and romantic moment.

Scott Vogel: Nice post. Scotland's definitely on my short list of most romantic places too.


Washington, DC: I'm searching for flights to Quebec City in August. Right now Kayak lists the cheapest as being around $530-$560, depending on the day. Priceline lists a similar flight as $450. Is there a disadvantage to Priceline, if I use the system in which I get to choose my exact flight? And, what should I expect for DC-Quebec City in August?

Cindy Loose: I think you'd be fine with Priceline, and that's a good price. Tickets to Canada generally seem overpriced to me; like it's only a 1.5 hour flight to Toronto but if you don't catch a sale, you'll pay $500 or more even in winter.

I, being cheap, consider the alternatives of flying close to the border then renting a car, which is also cheaper to do from the U.S. side. Last time I visited Quebec I flew into Burlington, but that of course is a good option only if you have the time and would enjoy the drive, which I did.


Arlington, VA: re: noisy neighbors. Last year while I was staying at a nice little boutique-y hotel in Bangkok I was awakened around 2 or 3 AM by my neighbor playing Elvis music very loud. I wasn't sure it was next door until I opened the door to the hallway and heard it very loud and clear. I just banged on the (apparently concrete) wall as hard as I could and they turned it down. But you have to wonder what possesses some one to even think that playing music that loud wasn't going to disturb the neighbors. I would have called the front desk if they hadn't turned it down.

Christina Talcott: Ah, so you took the knock-first approach. Glad it worked! And I like to think that people forget they have neighbors when they do things like that - but that's the optimist in me.


Stormville, NY: Just a comment ...

Recently flew startup Skybus.

In the gate area there was sign :

"Food ? Drinks ? Bring cash"

Yes, one pays for everything. That did not surprise me much.

What was surprising, though, when the flight attendant announced "Gratuities are accepted and appreciated".

Also, priority boarding, Group 1, is $10 extra. What would happen if everyone paid the extra ?

Scott Vogel: You make an interesting point regarding priority booking. And that's the first I've heard about tipping on the planes, although I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given the low fares.


Arlington, VA: It appears to me that United is doing its damndest to drive away as many leisure travellers as possible by imposing that STUPID $25 fee for an extra bag. All that means is there is going to be even MORE carried on the plane, and travellers like me will get screwed. FYI, I fly light, usually take only one bag, and carry on only a large purse (big enough for a book and a magazine). If United thinks this move will increase participation in their frequent flyer programs, think again. My credit card gives me points that apply to a ticket purchase on any airline, but I won't be selecting a ticket on United, that's for sure! And also on the topic of United, the letter writer complaining about frequent flyer miles from Star Alliance, check out for tips on successfully suing United in Small Claims Court.

Carol Sottili: Sounds as if you may have had problems with United before the $25 fee. But, according to our own, admittedly unscientific, poll of blog participants, most people feel as you do - 80 percent of the more than 2,000 voters said they are now more likely to book with another airline.


Washington, DC: To Searching for Blackberry:

While your complaint about your privacy is completely valid, consider the fact that you described yourself as a "white female"--implying that unlike, say, brown males, you shouldn't be subject to random searching of your personal files. One could argue that non-white males shouldn't be subjected to such treatment, either!

Scott Vogel: Another comment regarding TSA searches.


Romantic moment:... with a full moon so bright we cast shadows, and illuminating the whole surface of the water, my honey and I standing knee-deep in the low-tide in Isle of Palms, SC, at midnight on the (blissfully) deserted beach, renewing our vows to each other, witnessed only by those whose opinions really matter to us: the moon, the stars, the ocean waves, and the wind.

Scott Vogel: Great guests indeed. Thanks.


Arlington, V.A.: How do you determine how much to tip the tour guide on a tour? It's a 2-week trip, but it's not a tradtional tour where we get driven around on a bus, we take local transporation and there's only a few organized activities (the "guide" mostly just arranges hotels and transportation and provides ideas for things to do and see in each city). Do I base it on a percentage of the cost of the trip? Or is there some standard flat rate?

KC Summers:10 to 15 percent of the cost is the usual rule of thumb to tip a guide. Any other thoughts on this?


Hopelessly Romantic in Bowie.....: Hey crew.....when we celebrated our 10th anniversary almost twenty years ago, I had made plans for the most romantic long weekend....and NOTHING went right! Our reservations for a romantic hideaway in western MD turned out to be a dump, and every place we wanted to try as an alternative was way above our price range. We tried keeping a sense of humor and adventure but after spending one evening in a one-light bulb cabin in Shenandoah Nat'l Park, I found a phone and called our favorite French Restaurant in Great Falls and BEGGED for a dinner reservation the following day. We went, somewhat grubby, and had THE most romantic dinner of our lives. Ahhhh, magnifique!

Scott Vogel: Love this one -- those romantic improv skills can really come in handy.


Arlington, VA: re: guide tipping

I think how much you tip may depend in whether your guide is an employee of a company or an independent contractor. I would probably tip the indie person less since presumably they were already getting all of the money I was paying for their services anyway. I have only ever had guides who were provided for me as part of the package I bought with the tour operator. In that case usually tip somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-30 (in Thailand I usually just tip TBt 1000 and in Cambodia I tipped about $10-20 a day). If there is also a driver involved I usually tip him half of what I tip the guide. I always pay for the meals, partly because it is expected and because food there is so cheap anyway it is not a big deal. And I know that they really appreciate it. Since I am spending a few thousand dollars for the trip another $5 or 10 or 20 isn't going to kill me. And for people who don't have a lot of money and who live in poor countries I feel good about halping make their lives a little bit better.

KC Summers: That all makes sense. Thanks for the tip tips.


Ellicott City, MD: I own a farm in Argentina growing grapes and olives. My caretaker and his wife have treated me to home cooked meals and now it is my turn to be the chef. I'd like to bring with me in March a frozen turkey which will be the main course. Can I bring a frozen turkey (in my luggage, not carry on) into Argentina? American Airlines says yes. What do you say?

Cindy Loose: Hmmm, it's probably going to show up on the luggage screen because it will be dense, and agents probably won't know what to make of it, but unless they're feeling zealous will probably let it though cause I know of no rule which says you can't take meat out of our country. I'd worry about what happens at the other end. I know the U.S. Ag. Dept. has rules about bringing in poulty, meat, even cheese, so I assume ag officials on the other side of things are probably equally worried about ag products. I'm afraid you're going to have to go to the trouble of contacting the Argentine embassy to see what they can tell you about their end of things. Frankly, I'd not go to the trouble and would figure out an alternative menus that only requires that you bring a spice or two.


Arlington, Va: Most Romantic Moment: My now-husband proposed to me in Manali, India, on our six year anniversary of our first date , in the summer of 2006. This was in the middle of an overland bus trip from Leh in the Himilayas back down to Delhi, and I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around, given the (lack of) comfort on that bus, altitude sickness, and a killer case of Dehli-belly (I'm sure you can sympathize!). He did a great job tracking down a bottle of champagne (the hotel restaurant did not sell it), coaxing me from the room to the restaurant, and working with the waiters to bring out the champagne on cue. He even lugged a ring all the way to India and surprised me with it just before a World Cup match on TV! How romantic!! Best proposal ever!

Scott Vogel: Really? How many have you had? Just a joke there. Love the surprise element...


Most romantic trip: Five days in Rome, last year. My husband and I explored the city by foot, ate gelato by lamplight, and relished in being 'unreachable' - no cell phones, blackberrys, computers...for almost a week. We just enjoyed ourselves and each other's company and think it will always be our favorite vacation.

Scott Vogel: Requirement #1 for a romantic trip: being completely offline.


Greensboro, NC: I am turning 40 this year and I want to go on an "adventure"; I'm a single woman traveling alone with a limited budget and for whatever reason, I've become interested in the idea of traveling to Cartegna, Columbia (actually an article in the WP travel section encouraged the idea). I know Columbia is not exactly the safest place, but what are your thoughts are traveling to this area, particularly alone?

Cindy Loose: It's a seaside resort attracting lots of tourists, so K.C. and I both agree we'd go alone. But it wouldn't be my first choice, and neither of us would go outside of Cartegna alone. Anyone with first hand info want to chime in?


Arlington, VA: Hi crew! I guess I am in the minority - I don't think United's new fee for a second bag is so horrible AS LONG as United crew gets tough on people trying to carry on too much.

Hey, oil is expensive, and of course we all want the cheapest fares possible. Something's got to give, but we don't want to change our behavior at all. Either pay up or pack less!

We all bring too much stuff around with us anyway. I was recently at a four-day work conference, and several of my co-workers brought two huge suitcases!

Carol Sottili: And here is the other side of the argument. To me, so-called user fees are not going to go away, whether we like them or not. United may wind up backing down on this fee if bookings drop like a rock, but sooner or later, it'll be back. Airlines didn't make money for a long time, and now they're scrambling, trying to come up with ways to become profitable. Making people pay for luggage, seats, snacks, drinks, etc., is one way they can make more money.


Pittsburgh, Pa: We got married while impoverished college students in California, so could only afford a brief honeymoon to Carmel, where we stayed in the cheapest room at an old motel a block from the ocean (not even a TV, but then again young honeymooners don't really need one). Twenty years later we were back in California during our anniversary week, so rented a car and drove down to Carmel in hopes of finding the place where we'd stayed. We were pretty sure we located it, although the name was changed, and it had been turned into an upscale B&B. We splurged on the nicest room in the place, complete with fireplace and firewood already in place. Happy memories of both times!

Scott Vogel: Requirement #2 for a romantic trip: Carmel.


Re: Blackberry Searching: If this person has a security clearance, is a U.S. citizen, and was forced by TSA to open private email and electronic data to have it examined for content, immediately ask to see a TSA supervisor. It may be too late for that now, but this person should ABSOLUTELY report this search to their employer/work supervisors, along with date, time, etc. information, even if this wasn't work-related files or information.

That TSA employee may have been WAY out of line, and this kind of action should not go unreported.

Scott Vogel: Here's additional advice regarding TSA search habits.


Romantic Vacation: When I was a junior in college, I did a 4 month study abroad in Riva San Vitale, CH. On the plane ride over, I sat next to a guy who was on the same study abroad and we really hit it off and began dating immediately. About a month into the trip, we took a long weekend trip to Paris. I have to say, walking along the Seine, listening to street corner musicians and dancing next to the water, was one of the most romantic things I've ever done. I'd been to Paris before, and have been since, and while I'll always love the city, it just can't compare with that one weekend.

Scott Vogel: But wait -- you didn't finish the story. Did you end up together or not? Don't leave us hanging!


Washington, DC: for first time Paris bound, pick up copy of Charles Dickens' classic Tale of Two Cities, an instant way to distinguish the world's two great cities, one brown and unchanging, one grey and mysterious, you'll learn soon which is which. Bon voyage.

Christina Talcott: Nice. Thanks!


Romantic in Cancun: Hubby & I stayed in Playa del Carmen last year at a nice little hotel whose pool was being worked on & not in service.

All I wanted was to lay by the pool and have a pool boy bring me a fruity drink.

We went to Cancun for the day, and found a beautiful, unoccupied cabana on the beach. The water was gorgeous shades of blue, and as I relaxed on my chaise, hubby went up to the hotel bar and brought me a lovely fruity drink! My own personal pool/beach boy!

Scott Vogel: Romance, south of the border style.


New York, NY: Hi FC - A friend and I are looking for vacation spots for later in the year. We've narrowed it down to Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. Are all of those places do-able on your own and safe for two women traveling alone? We'll have around 10-14 days total, and would love your input on which to pursue.

Thanks & LOOOVE the chats.

Cindy Loose: I've done Vietnam alone, Thailand most recently with a teen daughter, with never a fear, and that included driving on my own in Thailand (although don't think of doing that in one of the big cities, be it Hanoi or Bangkok. Traffic is horrendous.)

Turkey I've not traveled; two colleagues who aren't here today have done it but they're both males so not sure their observations on what it's like to be a woman traveling in Turkey would be that valid anyway. Any women traveled Turkey without a man in tow?

One thought: If I were doing Vietnam I'd fly to Hanoi and visit the north and perhaps central regions rather than flying to Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City, just cause the North is more laid back and retains more of the French colonial influence.


One Comment, One Question from 20005: Applied for my passport on Jan. 8th and rec'd it on Jan. 30th! The passport offices are doing something right.

I booked a flight to Amsterdam on NW/KLM. The eticket has a seat assignment for my return, but not for my departure. Should I be concerned? Thanks very much.

KC Summers: We've been hearing a lot of good feedback about the good job the Passport Office has been doing. Once they got the system unclogged, it's really been working well. Keep fingers crossed for this spring/summer, since that's when the backlog hit last year.

As for your question, yes, you should be concerned. The airlines are doing this more and more -- not releasing seats until they make sure they can sell as many as they can to the highest bidders. This is very troubling, because passengers without seat assignments are the first to get bumped in the event a flight is overbooked, which they frequently are. Keep checking back every day until they decide to release the seats. If you're unsuccessful with this, at least get to the airport VERY early.


RE lady whose Blackberry was searched: Honestly, my reaction was "why NOT you?" I find that her first descriptor "white" to be most fascinating. It's almost as if she thought the hassle should go to someone not white. Ah, how privileged-sounding.

I too would be peeved to be pulled aside (and have been), but honestly, my sympathy goes out to people who get racially profiled. Before passports were required at border crossings, anyone not white or black would automatically get a "where were you born?" question. Now that passports are required, the overt xenophobia has been cut down so much more.

Scott Vogel: I didn't take the reader's comment that way, although I can see it being read as such. It's the part about reading e-mails and such that troubles me.


Bethesda, Md: Just a note (or vent) about the new United policy. I will avoid United any way I can not because of the cost, but the fact that they've encouraged everybody to bring in more carry-on bags. The flights in general are pretty bad as is and now we have to wait for people to shlep their big and odd shaped bags and stuff and fill the bins. (for the record, I have one carry-on bag plus a small purse, and always make an effort not to take any more space than 1 bag, even by putting it the right way i.e. handle out with the shorter side facing out, and if I have anything else, I check it in). I am predicting that this will impact their time at the gate and already bad on-time performance... I really hope the other airlines will not follow suit...

Carol Sottili: I'm not doubting you, but it seems as if all of our readers are very upset about the large size of carry-ons, but all maintain that they'd never carry anything onboard that would be considered large. We either have very well-behaved chatters/bloggers/readers, or we're not being totally honest. United says it will strictly police what people bring onboard in light of its new baggage policy. We'll see what gives once the single-free-bag policy begins in May.


Romance in Fargo: Several years ago, before we were married, my husband and I went to Fargo for Valentine's Day. It is a super-friendly town, not especially romantic, but he found a cute little B&B and some lovely places to eat. And it's nice and nippy outside so there's lots of opportunity to spend time outside snowshoeing, etc., and then popping back to the inn for Irish coffee in front of the fireplace. And it makes for very snuggly nights. It marks the last time he gave me flowers, too. It was a fare-saver from Detroit so we picked it spur of the moment. We're now decrepit old marrieds with kids, so we look back at our long weekend in Fargo and smile.

Scott Vogel:"Decrepit old marrieds" -- phrasemaker!


Pittsburgh, Pa: What's the largest bag I could buy for international flying that I could be certain of being able to carry on my flights? I sure don't want to lose another checked bag!

Carol Sottili: Depends on the airline. Check the baggage rules on your airline's Web site.


Herndon, VA: Regarding United's $25 fee for a second checked bag. Would this also apply to ski equipment? I ski out west at least twice a year, and if United is going to charge me extra, then I'll look to book with someone else.


Carol Sottili: Yes, ski bag is considered a second piece of luggage, and subject to the fee.


Beach with dog person: Thanks for taking my question. Our dog is medium-sized--about 40 pounds. He wouldn't want to swim, but we'd need dog-friendly accommodations and somewhere (doesn't necessarily need to be right on the beach) to walk him. Thanks!

Cindy Loose: There are loads of dog-friendly accommodations, including hotels, and those that set a limit usually set it at about 60 pounds, so I'd think you'd have lots of options lots of places. Check that Web site for starters, and if it doesn't give you a place you want, check for books that list pet friendly options.

You can walk your dog just about anywhere off beach and scoop, so walking shouldn't be a problem.

One more thought--if you want to escape kids, why not wait until September, when the kids are in school, the water is as warm as it gets, and at many beaches you're dog can hang out with you along the water.


Dandridge, Tennessee: Re: Great Paris websites

My favorite:

Along with information and cheeky commentary about the city, there's a weekly meeting with other English speakers (travelers and ex-pats) at a cafe near the Louvre.

Christina Talcott: Great website. Thanks for sharing it!


frozen turkey to argentina?: Isn't that a little like coals to newcastle? I mean, not with turkeys specifically, but Argentina has plenty o' delicious local meat, I'm sure. Why carry a turkey all that way when you could cook with local fabulousness??

Cindy Loose: I think the idea is to offer an authentic American meal, and what's more American than turkey? Well, I'm with you, there has to be something else. Apple pie is all that comes to mind, but how about something from one of our ethic groups that isn't familiar to someone in Argentina.


Philadelphia, Pa: See, I have the opposite reaction regarding United's $25 fee for a second checked bag. Those of us who travel often and/or are able to pack just one bag won't have anything in our experiences change, but it means that all those people who drag along their entire closet's worth of clothes will go to another airline because of the fee. Since they also tend to be the people who pack monstrously huge carry-ons, which they of course shove up in the front of the cabin, or block the aisles, recline their seats (which I don't care about but, apparently, many people do), etc., I'm expecting an improvement on flights.

Carol Sottili: I'll be really curious to see how many will actually fly another airline just because of this fee. My guess is that they'll look at the fare and the convenience of the flights, then factor in the luggage fee. If it's still cheaper/easier to fly United, I'm thinking they'll pay the $25.


British Airways: What is it with British Airways not giving out seat assignments until check in? It's really frustrating... Any way to get around the rule? Is it true that they changed their luggage rules?

Carol Sottili: British Airways is now charging for a second piece of luggage, but the fee does not apply to flights originating in the United States. It is not the only airline that doesn't give out seat assignments until you get to the airport. The airlines try to hold seats for those paying more money, so if you are a leisure traveler who buys a nonrefundable economy fare (the cheapest fare), you won't get a seat assignment.


But that's just me - what would others have done? : About the noisy B&B neighbors. That is really annoying and rude of the guests to be loud like that. I personally would have ignored it, though, only because of what the neighbors were doing. I would have been embarrassed to interrupt them. But if they'd been otherwise occupied - like playing loud music or something - I would definitely knock and then call the owner if that didn't work.

I would never post about it in a review, unless I'd complained and nothing was done. Because being unlucky in who you get roomed next to isn't the fault of the owner.

And a final note - I always take earplugs when travel!

Christina Talcott: I just keep imagining seeing the noisemakers the next morning at breakfast and trying to make smalltalk. Guess it would be awkward whether you'd knocked, gotten the owners involved or just ignored it. Also: earplugs are a great invention.


Alexandria, VA: I'm off to Copenhagen this weekend - got a screaming deal - $299 RT on KLM! The catch is that I have a six-hour layover in Amsterdam on the return. Is that enough time to do anything worthwhile in Amsterdam? To me, just walking the streets would be worthwhile. I just want to know if its practical to make the trip into town. I won't have luggage.

Cindy Loose: Hi--Walking around Amsterdam is fun, and with six hours you should be able to fit in a couple hours walk. A train from the airport runs every 10-15 min and takes 15-20 minutes. There are also buses and taxis. But be sure to plan enough time to check in--consult with your airline about how long in advance they want you to be there.


Washington, DC: I'm traveling to England this week and I have a question about dinner on Thursday. Do they celebrate Valentine's Day in London? If so, will it be impossible to make reservations for myself and three friends this late? We're not looking for a holiday meal, just a good meal before heading to the theater. Thanks!

Scott Vogel: Thanks for your question. They do indeed celebrate Valentine's in the UK and we'll post a link to an interesting site about it below. As for getting reservations at a restaurant, I wouldn't think it would be impossible, even at this late date...


Re: Blackberry searching: Just re-read the poster's message-- if this was a TSA search on an employer-owned/encrypted laptop, that search should only be going on in a private area, under the supervision of a senior TSA officer. (If the poster has work information on a personal laptop, that's a no-no of a different sort.)

Anything more than a cursory inspection of luggage is worth demanding to see a TSA supervisor. If TSA is making any kind of threat about non-compliance, etc., and the data/documents/computer, etc. involved is government property, and is seized or confiscated, that employee should call his/her employer/supervisor IMMEDIATELY to report the situation. If this person is traveling on government business, and with protected files, and has a security clearance, and those encrypted files have been opened for anyone WITHOUT a security clearance, this person is, herself, in violation of security procedures, and MUST report this to her employers.

Scott Vogel: The plot thickens regarding TSA searches.


Arlington, VA: I'm with the Arlingtonian who objects to her Blackberry/laptop being subject to search. It is a blatant violation of our rights as Americans. And I was also singled out for the TSA patdown -- and I'm a middle aged married person who bought our Christmas travel tickets in July. And I'm a federal employee with a security clearance. The TSA drone actually said to me that the patdown was necessary to keep me safe.

Scott Vogel: Another post.


Chicago Ill: Just wanted to say I loved the ANWR article - it did a great job describing what it's like to be there (especially the endless sunlight disorientation).

Did you have to be an experienced hiker to do it or could any reasonably fit person head up there? And did it break the bank? Thanks.

Paula Stone: Dear Chicago: I'm glad you enjoyed the ANWR piece. For a trip that is billed as a float trip, you should still be reasonably fit. For example, you will probably be expected to carry your own gear and set up your own tent. On my trip, we also were able to take day hikes, and I'm sure that I enjoyed them as much as I did because I was in pretty good shape. But trips vary -- be sure to check with your outfitter. Equally important will be to be a good sport! Alas, the trip was expensive, as indicated in the Details box. But in our case, our outfitter took care of the bush plane flights, food, common gear, naturalists/guides, logistics, etc. Again, prices (and services) vary among outfitters -- shop around. The trip was worth every penny. Paula

_______________________ Valentine's in the UK

Scott Vogel: Here's that link.


TSA searches: My tech friend set up my laptop with two logins. If someone wants to search my laptop I enter the bogus ID and password and they are welcome to read my graduate thesis and some other meaningless word documents.

Christina Talcott: Your reference to your thesis as a "meaningless word document" made me laugh, but i know what you mean. My question is, wouldn't the TSA folks see the option of the other login and want you to use that, too? Seems like deliberately hiding stuff - even harmless stuff - is NOT the best idea.


Speaking of Paris: A couple of friends and I are planning a trip to Paris in October. When should we start looking for tickets and what would you consider a reasonable deal for that time of year? We'll be flying out of DC and NYC.

Carol Sottili: I'd say anything under $750 including taxes is a decent deal. There are sometimes better sales, but they are often short-lived, and announced only a few weeks in advance of travel dates. Fares from New York are usually a little cheaper than Washington, but nothing drastically different. Start looking for deals now.


Checking in before a flight: OK, so I'm arriving from Israel to JFK at 8:30 p.m. Got a flight at 10:30 p.m. to National.

After getting bags (for the 3 of us), and going through customs, and getting to the other terminal, I'm afraid we'll barely make the flight, much less have time to check in.

Any advice?

Cindy Loose: I'm wishing you luck. It would be worth finding out what flights are available later that evening if you don't make the 10:30 to National. Also, if you're willing to fly into Dulles or BWI rather than spending the night in New York, it's worth knowing in advance what those options are, too.

If you have one ticket all the wa from Israel to National your airline should take care of you, and might even be willing to put you on an alternative carrier to get you home the night you're supposed to get home. You can help them help you by knowing the alternatives.


solo female in Turkey: I went solo three years ago and had a blast. Now granted I didn't go too far from the hotel after sunset unless a guy was with me (found some in my hostel who ended up being fun to go out with) and I was constantly ignoring whistling men in carpet shops, but all in all I'd recommend it. I also split up my two week trip and spent half in Istanbul and half in the Greek islands, which was fantastic. I felt completely safe in the islands, but maybe it was because I'd already been on my own for a week?

Cindy Loose: First hand Turkey experience:


Turkey: I went to turkey on (female, 20s) solo and had no problems. I did go on a tour to the Capadoccia that I booked when I was there. But other than that took buses alone and had no problems. In istanbul I covered my head after a few days. Once I did that random men stopped following me. Also it was Feb, so my ears stayed warm.

Cindy Loose: Turkey solo....


For Dog Beach Person: We don't know the breed, just the size, but how about the annual Greyhound weekend in Rehoboth, when dozens of dogs have the run of the town, including the beach and many places put aside their no-pets policies for the weekend.

The 2008 Greyhound weekend is scheduled for October 10 to 12;

Cindy Loose: Thanks.


re: Noise Next Door: Hi, I've had this case before, and in general I called the front desk and let them know there is too much noise on my floor. Believe it or not, there are times when you cannot accurately know where the noise is coming from, and you don't want to walk the corridor listening to the doors. In general, some kind of security person will walk the floor, determine where it is coming from and they will call the room. This is much better than you knocking on the walls - you never know, they may follow you the following day and scratch your car, etc. In general people who make too much noise late at night are under the influence of alcohol and I'd rather be safe than let them know who's complaining about them.

Christina Talcott: That's probably what would happen at a hotel, but this sounded like a B&B situation. But I agree, you don't want to tangle with people who might be drunk and unhappy that you ruined their party.


Romantic moments: We took a cruise to Alaska for our honeymoon. The most romantic day was our last day, which we spent lounging on our room's private balcony, bundled up together, drinking a pot of coffee. The cruise agenda for that day was a "day at sea," with the ship floating around near the icebergs. We were tired from all the activity during the week, and it was great to relax and watch the icebergs, sea otters, and eagles. So peaceful.

Scott Vogel: More days at sea = romance.


Dog at the beach: In the Lewes-Rehoboth area, Cape Henlopen State Park has one beach area that allows dogs even in season during the day.

Cindy Loose: Yeh, thanks for writing in. In fact I was thinking about that beach and thinking it was open to dogs, but wasn't sure and didn't take the time to look it up. So, stay in Rehoboth, enjoy restaurants in the evening, play with the dog on the beach during the day.


Washington DC: I'll go ahead and be cliched: My romantic memory is Paris, in a cozy little hotel room with 400 year wooden beams (but a brand new marbled bathroom). It was January, and each cold morning a carafe of hot chocolate and warm croissants was left outside our door, so we could cuddle up for breakfast. (Here's the hotel:

Scott Vogel: I'm with you -- and who cares if it's a cliche!


romantic episode: We lived near Frankfurt Germany at the time. We had dinner reservations our anniversary on a Friday night on the Rhine river at the Hotel Krone. Stuck in traffic for eternity but when we sat to eat all frustration melted away. It was warm and we were seated outside. I noticed a magical thing. The entire arbor which roofed the patio dining area facing the river was festooned with huge wisteria blossoms. The strolling minstrels melted my workweek frustrations. THEN the floodlights lit the castle on the cliff across the river and a full moon rose. It was magical.

Scott Vogel: Love on the Rhine.


Maryland: I just wanted to say BOOOOOO for the photo/note in Sunday's travel section praising the "ingenuity" of the fellow who rigged up a "hammock" for his legs by tying his blanket to the handle of the EXIT door. I can't believe an air steward allowed that to occur. That is incredibly unsafe - is he planning on having enough time during an emergency to untie everything and make sure the door is usable and clear? Whaat utter nonsense.

Christina Talcott: Hmm, interesting point. Mr. Chamberlain, are you reading this? Want to respond?


Alexandria VA: I know this has been discussed here before, but as a reminder: if you're using a ticket online service (like Expedia), clear your cookies before running a search and committing to a price if you've previously searched! Some friends and I had been talking about doing a Vienna/Budapest trip for a while and poking around Expedia found a $650 fare. Made some quick phone calls to confirm everyone's availability, went back to the computer to book one hour later, fare was $1300. I was devastated (and curious as to why so many people would suddenly want to go to Budapest at this time of year), when I remembered the fabulous advice from you and your readers. Cleared cookies, price back down to $650. Yikes. But happy!

Scott Vogel: Thanks for writing. That's advice worth repeating.


Rockville, MD: In September 2007 I purchased 4 round trip tickets to Italy for March 2008 from Alitalia and put them on my credit card. After the transaction was completed, I printed out the receipt and then called Alitalia to confirm the tickets and at that time made seat selections and confirmed the meal choices.

I have never been billed and my credit card company still has no record of the transaction. I call Alitalia every couple of weeks and they reconfirm the e-tickets and tell me not to worry about the bill although they are puzzled as to why, over 4 months later, I have not been billed.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I can fix this? I do not want to cancel and repurchase because then I'll get zinged with cancellation fees.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Carol Sottili: That would make me nervous, too, but as long as you have your e-ticket, that's what you need to board the flight. The reservationist isn't going to know that your credit card wasn't billed. She/he is going to go by the e-ticket, and that has been confirmed. I went to the Alitalia site, and it says that once you receive confirmation of your purchase, it is complete. The company doesn't have an office in Washington. You could try calling its Newark office at 973-961-6970.


Washington, DC - teen idea thoughts: Hello crew,

My wife and I will be treatng a niece to a week in Paris in a few months as a high school graduation present. She lives in the rural south and has not any exposure to art museums and the like. In fact, she has never been abroad. This will be our 4th trip to Paris (each previous has been 1 week).

We mostly want ideas that will interest her and (hopefully) be new for us. We have seen all the major attractions and understand that some will be repeated but don't want to ONLY do what we have done before.


KC Summers: Lucky niece. And lucky you guys, too, since having a teenager along will help you see the City of Light with new eyes. It's good you're willing to repeat some stuff -- I mean, she's got to see the Eiffel Tower. And I would also budget some major time for NON-sights: just wandering, window-shopping and cafe-stopping, especially in the Left Bank/Marais. Some other cool ideas and some new attractions that would appeal to both you and a teenager:

* Check out the recently reopened L'Orangerie in the Tuileries, with Monet's amazing water lilies and other Impressionist works.

* Visit the city's impressive new anthropological museum, Musee de l'Homme, which includes includes the Inca mummy (in fetal position) that inspired Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream."

* Take her to the second floor of Ste. Chappelle (sp?) for some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world.

* Go to Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis for incomparable ice cream in a perfect setting.

* Walk through one of the loveliest, evocative and most gorgeous city cemeteries in the world, Pere Lachaise, the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Isadora Duncan, Collette, Oscar Wilde.

* It's not new, but take her to the Musee d'Orsay anyway, since the building, the view and the fabulous art never get old.

Other ideas for this generous aunt and uncle?


Returning from Israel again: Unfortunately, the 10:30 p.m return was the latest return to all 3 local airports.

It's not the same carrier all the way through.

Gulp - now what??!!!

Cindy Loose: The issue is not whether it's the same carrier, it's whether you bought a single ticket from a single source, or separate tickets.

If in fact you bought separate tickets, then if you miss the flight at JFK, you are simply considered a no-show by the second airline flying to National---they don't see you as different from the guy who got caught in traffic, and you'll lose the value of the ticket. Or, at the very best, you'll be able to change it for a $100 fee if you can contact them far enough in advance.


London: Pack: camera and memory card, battery charger, converter (if digital) or camera, spare battery, and extra film (if not). Empty bottle to fill at a water fountain after going through security. Reading material for flight/trains you're willing to leave behind . Journal and writing implement of choice. A few painkillers and a few adhesive bandages, and (sorry, can't remember your sex) also a few "feminine" products - with luck you won't need any of them, but if you do need them you don't want to have to hunt out a pharmacy (or pay the much higher costs for those items here) and try to figure out a comparable painkiller you'll feel safe taking. Any other medication you need. Fewer clothes than you've already packed. Sunglasses - we're having freakishly warm, bright weather here.

KC Summers: More tips for our novice traveler, right from the source. Thanks, especially for the weather tip!


re: Dog-friendly beaches: Many of the northern Outer Banks beaches (except Southern Shores) allow dogs year-round. Duck is especially dog-friendly, since dogs are allowed to be off-leash on the beach under close supervision.

Cindy Loose: That area is also a good place to look for a house to rent since there are so many and they're at least a bit cheaper than those closer to D.C.


Lacking seat assignment: That happened to my husband on his recent trip to Amsterdam. He had a seat assignment when he bought the ticket (on United), but it disappeared a few weeks before the flight. At my urging, he went to the airport very early and eventually got a seat--but it was just before takeoff, and he was very anxious. On the plus side, they gave him a Business Class seat for no reason we can think of!

KC Summers: Yes, this whole seat assignment thing is extremely stressful. Glad he lucked out!


For the beach bound dog lover: Try a smaller beach community where you can rent a house/condo and bring your dog. In many cases the beaches are private and you can let your dog out. All of the typical beach destinations can be pretty crowded and loud. If you're stuck on how to rent from a small community I would suggest finding the local real estate company (sometimes there are only 1-2 companies) and ask if they have any people who rent.

Cindy Loose: More on doggy beach...


Re: Turkey: I am a single woman traveler, who spent some time in Turkey. Recommendations: try to blend in as a local (yes they have blonds, too) and act as if you know where you are going in public places. Men are very interested in single woman tourists but they understand a firm "no" and leave you alone if you mean it. Other than that many people speak English, in non-touristy areas they are very much into learining about you, and showing you as much as their culture, I spent time in Istanbul and on the coast and did not have any problems at all. mAke sure you stay in central and reputable hotels, people are in general very friendly, and in smaller places they'll take care of you as if you are their family, and even give you guides/escorts to make sure you are safe.

Cindy Loose: More on Turkey....


NW/KLM Traveler without a Seat Assignment: Similar situation happened to me as I was booking Dulles to Frankfurt on the now evil I obtained a seat for my trip to Frankfurt but the return was full. I was a bit concerned, but also being a bit OCD, I simply checked a couple times a day and voila!! 4 or 5 days later, one seat opened up and I snagged it. Unfortunately, my OCD doesn't end with obtaining a seat assignment as I continue to see if any become available (I fly 2/15 to 2/24), but now I check once only every 3 or 4 days!!!

Good luck. I did NWA from Dulles to Amsterdam in 2000 and the flight attendants on the way to AMS were CRABBY!!!! They clearly were not happy and weren't shy about lettign their customers know it!

KC Summers: Ah, the joys of air travel.


seat assignments: I also have a NW/KLM flight to Amsterdam and no seat told the previous poster to keep checking back. Where do I check? How do I get a seat assignment? Is it possible that I"ll be able to get one online before the flight or will I just have to show up at the airport with my fingers crossed??

KC Summers: Check with the airline: Keep checking the Web site and also try calling them. (They'll probably tell you they can't do anything until the computer releases the seats, but keep trying.) Yes, it's possible you can snag a seat online (see previous post) but if not, get to the airport EARLY and get it at the gate. And keep those fingers crossed.


Kent, Ohio: Is there an easy way to look for flights that connect/stop in a

specific airport? I'm flying down to the Miami area in April

from Cleveland. My lil sis is flying out of BWI or Dulles and

my mom would prefer if I could connect with her flight. I

normally fly Southwest for everything but their prices seem

high, and I'm finding it difficult on other sites to figure out

this information easily.


Carol Sottili: Southwest is the way to go if your sister is flying out of BWI because it's very likely your flight would connect in BWI. A bit more difficult to figure out for Dulles. Check flights out of Cleveland to your destination to find out which carriers go there. Then check flights out of Dulles to your destination. That'll help you narrow down the carriers. makes it easy to see the flight details, which gives you connection cities.


ANWR: Excellent piece on ANWR; it inspired my husband to start researching a trip there. Now I'm no wuss and have done my fair share of camping, but never for that long or in that isolated a location. I have to ask... how do you handle personal hygiene and food on these extreme excursions?

Paula Stone: I'm delighted the article has inspired you. All food was provided by the outfitter and the guides did the cooking. As for personal hygiene. First, the ANWR has a strict policy about "leave no trace behind". Thus, our guides dug a deep latrine at each campsite and we burned all toilet paper. I brought extra waterless sanitizer to wash my hands as well as other cleansers as I would for any camping trip. If you're lucky and the weather cooperates, you might get to take a quick dip in the river for a "bath" but it is cooooooooooooold.


Tips for 1st Big Trip: I disagree with taking a small amount of Euros. It's not clear if this person is arriving in London or Paris, but either of these airports will have at least one (if not several) ATMS. They will need two different currencies for the trip anyway. Heck, I've been in some seriously tiny airports and even they had at least one ATM. Better exchange rate that way.

PS: Prepare for MAJOR sticker shock, but have a great time!

KC Summers: I know, I'm a little bit anal about this. Just always have visions of no ATMs and being stuck without cab money. Makes me feel better to have a little cash on hand.


The Kayak article: Hi - I loved the Q&A with the Kayaking guy. I think you said he had documentary filmmakers with him - do you know the name of his upcoming film? Or an expected release date - I'd love to tune in/or go to the movies to see that. Thanks!

Christina Talcott: I've been trying to find that info and have only been able to find out on his website,, which says his films are available on DVD and air on National Geographic International TV channels. This one will be the last in his "Oceans 8: Sea Kayaking Adventure" series. Sorry I couldn't be more help!


That's Not How It's Spelled: Cindy: "Rehobeth is a small town but known for its restaurants"...(town's name cited more than once).

Actually, it's spelled "Rehoboth" -- and the locals are pretty picky about it.

KC Summers: Sorry about that.


Philadelphia, Pa: I loved the Alaska article yesterday. While I can't imagine ever wanting to do that - because I too would be terrified of being so far from medical care (yes, I'm a bit of a wimp), I loved reading her article and seeing the photos. Thanks for sharing!

Paula Stone: Yes, there were definitely some potentially scarey issues to contend with. But for starters, we went with an experienced outfitter. Also we had done week-long camping trips before so we were sure to go prepared for anything. And then we tried to just relax and go with the flow...


Scott Vogel: OK, that does it for another week of travel dreams and nightmares. The winner of this week's prize is the reader who wrote in about love among the rain and ruins of the Isle of Skye. See you next week!

Scott Vogel: PS: Isle of Skye reader should e-mail his/her address to and I'll get that prize out right away.


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