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The Flight Crew
Washington Post Travel Section
Monday, February 9, 2009; 2:00 PM

Got a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel Section Flight Crew is at your service.

On the itinerary this week: hunting for the authentic Old West in Arizona, enjoying the no-frills spas of the Czech Republic and tasting wine in North Carolina.

All other travel topics are open as well. If you have insights, ideas or information to add to the discussion, just press the call button above your seat and we'll get to you as soon as we can. 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.

A transcript follows.

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

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Andrea Sachs: Hello, Travelers. It's a beautiful day outside, which makes us think of spring. And, of course, with Valentine's Day falling this weekend, we also feel a bit of love in the warm air. So, for this Monday's chat, in addition to your questions, we'd love to hear about your most romantic destination or trip. The tale that makes us want to toss rose petals in the air and crank up Barry White wins a prize.

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Bourbon Trail, Kentucky: May an ex-Kentuckian weigh in on last week's question about the bourbon tour? Spring time is when you want to go -- driving around the bluegrass is just gorgeous; fall would also be good. Remember -- these are essentially "factory and warehouse tours" and hiking around outside in a steamy Ky summer can get unpleasant. And distilleries aren't like wineries, who have extensive tastings and will ship cases of wine back home for you. There are a couple of bars in Louisville, at the Seelbach Hotel, and Bourbon Bistro on Frankfort Ave where you can sample from more than 100 bourbons and even try bourbon flights. Your best bet to bring some home, as I do, is find a big liquor store in Louisville or Lexington, and walk down the aisle snagging the bourbons that are hard to find in this area, and driving them home. Add some Rebecca Ruth bourbon chocolates, and you're ready to come home. One more note: Nelson County is the heart of Bourbon Country, but two distilleries worth visiting are Maker's Mark, in Loretto, and Woodford Reserve, between Versailles and Frankfort.

washingtonpost.com: Driven to Drink in Kentucky (Post Travel Section, Sept. 28, 2008)

Scott Vogel: Good suggestions, all. And please see my article on the trail from last year for lots more suggestions.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello Travel Crew!

We are thinking of taking a cruise in the near future and want to leave from Baltimore. We heard a new terminal opened there, but I don't know how to get information on which cruise lines go out of Baltimore. Are there specific websites we should check? Any tips?

Thanks!

Christina Talcott: Here's the 2009 schedule for cruises out of Baltimore, with links to the lines that sail from there: http://www.cruisemaryland.com/2009Schedule.pdf.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey flight crew. I'm looking to go to an area B&B with the hubby for a night. What I'm looking for: private bathroom, whirlpool tub or a jacuzzi, and a fireplace. Clean, of course, and nothing too expensive (hence the only staying one night, not two). Looking to end of Feb. or early March. Any ideas? thank you so much :)

Christina Talcott: There are so many nice B&Bs out there. Three that were mentioned in last week's Escapes story (link coming up) have fireplaces and two-person tubs: 1825 Inn (www.1825inn.com), Woolverton Inn (www.woolvertoninn.com) and the Artist's Inn (www.artistinn.com). My personal favorite B&B is the Inn at Gristmill Square in Warm Springs, Va. Many rooms have wood-burning fireplaces, tubs and in-room breakfast, but the Silo room has it all: a fireplace, king-sized bed and two-person Jacuzzi tub for only $145/night. A few others I've stumbled across: Freemason Inn in Norfolk, Va. (www.freemasoninn.com); B F Hiestand House Bed & Breakfast (www.bfhiestandhouse.com)in Marietta, Pa.; the Wilbraham Mansion Suites (www.wilbrahammansion.com) in Cape May, NJ; and the Inn at Vaucluse Spring (www.vauclusespring.com) in Winchester, Va., which recently landed in the top ten of B&Bs and Inns on TripAdvisor.com's annual guest survey.

But let's conduct our own pre-Valentine's Day survey here: Who's got a favorite B&B with a fireplace and jacuzzi?

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Vancouver Again: I wrote last week inquiring about the feasibility of two separate tickets to get from BWI to YVR, first class to Seattle and economy to Vancouver. I've found schedules that seem to work (unfortunately, we will not be able to use the same airline for both legs). However, I'm wondering how long I should allow at the Seattle airport to minimize the possibility of missing the second leg to YVR (and vice versa on the return trip). Is 2-3 hours enough? Also, the Delta flights from BWI all make one stop for 45-60 minutes. Is this really enough time to change planes?

Carol Sottili: Depends where the Delta flight is stopping. At some airports, 45 minutes is plenty of time to catch a connecting flight, as long as flight is one time. At other airports, it could be very tight, especially if flights land/take off in different terminals. And yes, two to three hours is plenty of time in Seattle, although there is never a guarantee that all will go right.

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Tween AK cruise: My mother-in-law wants to take my 12-year-old daughter on an Alaskan cruise. I'm wondering if you or any chatters have suggestions for more kid-friendly ships/cruise lines for this trip. Would like to avoid a scenario where she's the only passenger under 50. I've looked on cruisecritic.com and am looking for some personal experiences. Thanks!

Carol Sottili: I'll throw this one out to our chatters. I think most Alaskan cruises attract an older crowd. I'd probably opt for Royal Caribbean.

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Annapolis, MD: Hi! What's a good price for a round trip from BWI to Nassau in December? (We're going to use credit card points to stay at the Comfort Suites adjacent to Atlantis.) The cheapest I've found is $453 per person; is there a chance that might get substantially (20-25 percent) cheaper later on, or should we book now? Thanks!

Scott Vogel: You seem to have found the cheapest fare, at least at this point, although I'd be tempted to consider flights from other airports in the area, where you ought to be able to easily snag a December fare of $280 or so right now by booking early.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey, Crew! I know there are a bunch of bus services from DC to NYC, but are there any reliable ones that run to Philadelphia? I drive up there frequently and am thinking I might look into taking the bus, especially if I can relax and watch a movie or take advantage of free wifi. Thanks!

Carol Sottili: Try www.easternshuttle.com or www.2000coach.com.

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Washington, D.C.: I'll be traveling to Europe with my toddler; my spouse will not be coming with us. Do you know of any EU or national regulations (like there are for Mexico, for example) that require documentation of the non-traveling parent's permission for the child to take the trip? We'll be starting in Germany.

Carol Sottili: I'm not sure about individual country regs, but why not get a notarized letter from your spouse to carry along? Can't hurt, could help.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm going on a ski vacation out west in a few weeks and was thinking that it may be cheaper to ship all of our gear and clothing rather than checking it with the airlines and paying the baggage fees. Do you know the names of any of these types of companies that ship so that I could do a comparison? Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: Ski Gear Strategy: To Rent or Bring Your Own? (Post Travel Section, Nov. 30, 2008)

Carol Sottili: See the article linked here.

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Washington, DC: My wife and I enjoyed a fabulous weekend at Smithfield Farm -- http://www.smithfieldfarm.com/-- a couple of years ago. It's on a working farm, which guests are encouraged to explore. Incredible breakfast too. Our room did not have a whirlpool, but a quick scan of the website shows that the cottage, which can be rented, does have one.

Christina Talcott: Thanks for the rec!

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Arlington, Va.: Last week, someone asked about European-style cities in the Caribbean.

How about Willemstad, Curacao, which has a distinctively Dutch feel to it and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Scott Vogel: Thanks for the idea...

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Washington, D.C.: How safe do you think Mexico is right now? I would like to go to Rancho la Puerta but am concerned about travel to/from the San Diego airport and crossing the border. Was also curious if you knew anything about the resort? Thanks

Nancy McKeon: A former colleague of ours goes to Rancho La Puerta every year, loves it. She's never expressed any doubts or fears about getting there. Anybody know different?

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washingtonpost.com: Love Art or Wine? There's a B&B to Match. (Washington Post, Feb. 4)

Christina Talcott: Here's that story about romantic B&Bs nearby.

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Washington, D.C.: Good afternoon, I am quitting my job in September and want to plan a wonderful vacation so I have something to look forward to. I'm a woman in my mid-20s, plan to go for 3-4 weeks, absolute $ limit is $10,000 but would prefer it to be less. I'll go anywhere but I'm a little nervous to be by myself the whole time so would like some insight on that. I'd like to go somewhere somewhat relaxing or at least have a relaxing component to it (not trekking on buses every other day). I went to the bookstore but quite frankly don't even know where to start. Any insight or your favorite vacation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

washingtonpost.com: A few years ago after I left a job I spent 2 weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico. I enrolled in a local language school (so made some friends and had a daily routine) and stayed in a little apartment on my own (lots of solo time when I wanted it). Lots to see locally, and also toured some other towns in the region. It was fantastic. -- Elizabeth

Nancy McKeon: Maybe you're too young to have pent-up desires--to learn Spanish, to see where Cezanne painted, or whatever--but I think Elizabeth had a wonderful idea. Pick something you're interested in--doesn't have to be vacation-specific--and then build a little trip around it. Some kind of group interaction will give you some structure and leave you feeling less alone. So pick a spot and then look for lectures or a class or something. Weather in September should still be mild, so you won't be limited to southern climes. You could go temple-hopping in Thailand or follow a trail of churches in Italy to see works by a favorite Renaissance painter. Or go volcano-hopping, if that's your thing. Consider some special-interest guided groups, such as on the new Costa Rican bird trail. There's a lot of world out there, and it's great that you're looking to find your piece of it!

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Silver Spring: Hello Crew! I'm escaping DC and heading to Amelia Island, FL the first week in March. Besides the beach, what are must sees/must-eat restaurants? Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: Here are some ideas: a Segway or carriage tour; river cruise; volunteering with Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch; taking a golf lesson at Amelia Plantation or any of the other golf schools; hiking or biking around Fort Clinch State Park (the park also has daily tours with period re-enactors); and shopping on the historic district. For dining, suggestions include Bright Mornings Cafe, Le Clos, Espana Restaurant and Sonny's BBQ.

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Where are the deals?!?: Hi Flight Crew, we are trying to get away for a weekend of Spring Training the last weekend in March. From our home in Central PA, we can fly out of Harrisburg, BWI or DC, and into any airport between Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale (West Palm is optimal). But because of work constraints, we're committed to traveling Thursday-Sunday. Can't find any trips that aren't either 10 hours long (via Detroit, anyone?), or under $350. Doesn't that seem pricey? Are we missing some angle? Might fares get lower if we procrastinate?

We're really craving those three days of baseball and sunshine, but not if it costs as much as a trip to Europe. Many thanks for your thoughts!

Scott Vogel: That is definitely pricey. I can't speak for all the airports, but if you're willing to fly out of National or Dulles, you should be able to get flights from here to West Palm for around $215 during that last March weekend. Check Delta.com.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Flight Crew,

I just booked a vacation package to Prague that includes a flight on Czech Airlines from JFK airport. My question is about arranging the flight from DC to JFK and back. I'm concerned that my returning flight from Prague may be delayed and I'll miss my flight from JFK to DC. From what I've read on the airline websites, if I don't contact the airline before my flight takes off, I lose my money. I've looked at trip insurance but I haven't seen this particular situation covered. What kind of plane ticket do you suggest buying? Thanks for your help!

Carol Sottili: I think American has the most flights between the two cities. You could take out flight insurance. Or look into American's rules re: taking a different flight on the same day as ticketed. I think they charge $50.

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Alaska cruise: We did Royal Carib last summer, and yes, it's mostly older folk. That said, RC does have kids' clubs, divided into age groups to keep them busy. I would also look at what on-shore activities are offered that a 12 year old might like. This 50+ cruiser loved the zip lines. BUT the mother in law might have to go too because of legal stuff. If MIL wants to do the more sedate tours the 12 year old may be bored.

Carol Sottili: Thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: A friend of mine is in the beginning stages of planning a vacation for our group of friends. We are all in our mid 20's and have varied interests and varied levels of income. She wants to go somewhere tropical and warm where she can relax and have nice drinks. When I travel, I'm more interested in having "experiences", meaning going on excursions and the like, whether they be physical, historical or cultural. Where would you recommend that we go?

Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: I would suggest San Diego, which fits many budgets and tastes, and for a tropical day-trip, you can drive to Mexico. You might also consider the Bahamas or Jamaica; there are cheap packages to both destinations, and you can find a mix of culture, nature and beaches at both locations. You might also consider Key West or Naples, Fla.

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re: AK Tween Cruise: Plllleeease don't make your daughter go on an Alaskan cruise! I was "gifted" the same experience and even at 21, I was 30+ years younger than EVERYONE and bored absolutely senseless. (Note to all: Ice looks the same no matter how many times you look.) I cannot imagine how painful the trip would be without the bar and the casino! Seriously, let her wait another 50 years so there's at least a chance she'll appreciate it.

Carol Sottili: A little harsh, but I went on an Alaskan cruise for my honeymoon, and I felt like a little kid.

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Chantilly, Va.: I'd like to throw in my recommendation for the Freemason Inn in Norfolk. My wife and I stayed there after we got married 4 years ago. It was very nice. I'm not specifically remembering the fireplace right now (it was late summer), but I do remember the bathtub.

I can also mention that their bathrobes are very soft, and are great for wearing if you have a terrible sunburn from laying out on the beach too long.

Andrea Sachs: All of the right elements for a romantic weekend (minus the sunfry).

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Arlington, Va.: On the way up to my relatives' for Thanksgiving, an ex-girlfriend requested that we spend some time on Friday at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.

It was very romantic in its own way.

Andrea Sachs: Romance blooms in even the saddest places.

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Atlanta, Ga.: My fiance and I are trying to plan a trip during July to go to Puerto Rico. I found a package that includes both rountrip airfare tickets and 6 nights in a 4 star hotel for $622/person. Do you think this is as good as it will get, or could we possibly find a better deal?

Thanks for your help!

Andrea Sachs: That's an amazing deal. I would snap it up in a second.

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Washington, D.C.: What relief could I get with Vayama on a trip cancellation and request for refund of air fare due to the death of my grandma? The Agency says the carrier (Lufthansa) is responsible; Lufthansa says it's up to Vayama. Sent death certificate on request three times, was told refund was forthcoming; now they claim it is not up to them and they have not received the fax.

Carol Sottili: Usually they don't refund unless you have trip insurance. Instead, most airlines allow you to put the price of the air ticket toward another trip, but you must pay the penalty, which is typically $200 and up for an international ticket. And then Vayama may also charge a penalty fee on top of the airline's fee ( I think this may be $100, but you should contact them directly).

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Arlington, Va.: For the person looking to go to spring training, they may want to check JetBlue. They fly direct, non-stop from IAD to Fort Lauderdale. Another option might be this airline called Allegient (sp?) air. They fly from Hagerstown to Orlando/Sanford. They always pop up in the daily email I get from one of those cheap flight collectors that shows you all of the best flight deals from local airports. They fly from and to secondary airports and always seem to have very cheap flights. Not sure about service or reliability.

Scott Vogel: More spring break info, thanks.

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Fairfax: My husband and I are thinking of spending a week in May, dividing the time between Philadelphia and somewhere with more natural than man-made attractions. We like scenic drives, nature walks, moderate hiking, but with comfortable places to sleep and eat. Where would you go? Poconos? Cape May? Or where?

Nancy McKeon: You might consider one particular corner of the Poconos--Milford, Pa., which is the northern gate to the Delaware Water Gap and offers year-round hiking and in May boating and kayaking. (I think you'll be too late in the season to see the eagles nesting.) But it also has a Relais & Chateaux property, the Hotel Fauchere. If that proves a little rich for your blood, there are other inns around. And the Pinchot family mansion, Grey Towers, reopens for tours in May. Hang on and we'll post the piece we just did about this area.

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Arlington, Va.: On trips into Mexico, I do have friends in San Diego and Tucson who tell me that it is no longer safe to go to Juarez and Tijuana because of the drug cartels doing shooting capriciously who don't particularly care about tourists in the line of fire. I am not certain whether this isn't an exaggeration but I have seen stories in several major newspapers attenting that it isn't safe down there.

Nancy McKeon: A word of caution about Mexico.

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Rockville, Md.: Looking for some advice for a long weekend in Dublin. First: Good and decently priced Fish and Chips? Second: Day trips from Dublin? We are thinking of Howth. Third: Something that we shouldn't miss?...

Thanks!

Scott Vogel: A Dublin aficionado on staff here writes: "The Fish and Chips are everywhere and all reasonably priced, you won't miss them. Dublin isn't the best location from which to day-trip (and there's plenty to do there) but think about heading south to Kilkenny or Carlow. The Waterford Crystal factory is 175 kilometers south, but is very cool and would give you a good sense of the country. Something you shouldn't miss? The Book of Kells, since you're there, Kilmainham jail and the Dublin Writers Museum."

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washingtonpost.com: Even in the Poconos, You Can Upgrade to First Class (Post Travel Section, Dec. 28, 2008)

Nancy McKeon: Here's the Poconos piece for Fairfax.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Hi travel gurus! I'm using a mandatory work furlough this quarter to head to Iceland for a week in April. We plan to stay in Reykjavik and get to the Blue Lagoon and see a bit outside the city through tours. Can you recommend how best to do this and what are other must sees that time of year outside the city?

washingtonpost.com: Iceland Heats Up (Post Travel Section, Dec. 7, 2008)

Christina Talcott: I've heard that April's a great time to visit Iceland, with snow still on the ground but more sunshine than in the middle of winter. There are two major bus-trip companies - Iceland Excursions (www.icelandexcursions.is) and Reykjavik Excursions (www.re.is) - which have moderately-priced daytrips to the Golden Circle (to see the Gulfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir fields), the Blue Lagoon, glaciers, Northern Lights, etc. If you want a more intimate tour, stop by the visitor center in Reykjavik, where you can book jeep tours, dogsledding, horseback riding or other tours. Do some scouting beforehand on www.visitreykjavik.is to get an idea about activities, companies and prices, and book in advance if you get your heart set on something. I found the tourism infrastructure in Iceland to be extremely well-developed, especially for a place with such unpredictable and rugged climes. And make sure to leave at least a couple of days to explore fascinating Reykjavik; consider buying a tourist card for free admission to museums, swimming pools and public buses. Anyone else have recommendations for Iceland in April?

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Alexandria, Va.: Flight Crew, I am in need of help. In late March I will finish four difficult months of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Before my six weeks of radiation begins, I will have a break. During this time (sometime in April), I would like to travel to someplace extremely relaxing with my husband. We would like a top notch hotel, a private balcony to sit and gaze at scenery (I am thinking the ocean), wonderful food, spa facilities, etc. I am thinking the Caribbean or similar. Mostly, we would like to be surrounded by beauty, relaxation, and probably water. The object is to re-vitalize after months of illness and stress. We are both 34 and will probably have up to a week. Any suggestions for us? Thank you.

Carol Sottili: Take a look at Little Palm Island on Florida's Little Torch Key (www.littlepalmisland.com). It's pricey, but sounds as if it fits the bill here.

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Spring training: Dunno if it's any cheaper, but there's also spring training in Arizona.

Scott Vogel: Good point. I suppose it depends on which team(s) you support. But keep in mind that the Nationals and Orioles both have winter homes in Florida and don't play in the so-called Cactus League.

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for the AK Tween cruise: If the kid wants to go on the cruise, I say, go for it! I would have loved some personal time alone at that age with a grandmother, and the chance to go to Alaska with adults who could properly appreciate it. Some kids are into watching ice and wildlife, and aren't going to want a vacation that's crammed full of other children and "kids' activities." Think of that kid who's passionate about geology, or nature, or weather...

Carol Sottili: And if the child is passionate about all of those topics, consider an expedition cruise. Go to www.smallshipcruises.com for alternatives to larger cruise lines.

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Washington, D.C.: I've wanted to try my hand at cross-country skiing for a few years now, but the timing has never worked out right (my availability not coinciding with snow).

Are there any places close to D.C. (within a 3-4 hour drive) that you'd recommend for a cross-country skiing novice? Bonus points if they have snow now, but I'll keep watching the weather....

Andrea Sachs: Cross-country skiing is very reliant on snow, moreso than downhill skiing. But if the conditions are right, I would head to Wisp Mountain in Western Maryland, which as a multi-trail Nordic Center. Also consider Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia. And if it every snows around here, you can just slap on a pair of skis and ski around town.

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Romantic Trips: Once, with an ex-boyfriend, I spent a weekend in Windsor, Canada in February. Yes, I know, Windsor, across the river from Detroit. We went there mostly because I was 20, he was 21, and we wanted to be able to drink (so sophisticated, I know). And yes, I know, February. I mostly remember trying to avoid being outside as much as possible, and therefore spending a large chunk of Saturday evening watching a special on mustard. Shockingly, we didn't work out.

Andrea Sachs: If it were a special on ketchup, would there have been a chance?

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Vancouver traveler: I still think... save the money and rent a car from Seattle. When you take into account your layover time it really isn't worth it. The drive time to Vancouver is 160 miles which would equate to about a 3 hour drive.

Not to mention you are saving $200-$300 or more by not paying for the flight.

If you are insisting on flying first class to the west coast and then fly coach to Vancouver... the other advice is to look at other cities and routing through those cities like Salt Lake City, Portland, and the Bay area (all 2 hr flights or less to Vancouver -- it would be 3 hours from LA or Phoenix or Vegas or Denver).

An alternate option if you want a different experience is they have a few operators of water craft that fly from Seattle to Victoria and Vancouver.

Carol Sottili: I don't think there is water transport between Seattle and Vancouver.

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Ski Shipping: Shipping your skis and clothes is a great idea as I've done it for several trips. Always used FedEx without any hitches. What I would recommend for the skier(s) traveling is carry on your boots. Everything is replaceable with a minimum inconvenience. Ski boots are so personal, adjusted, molded, etc to one's feet that finding well fitting boots, especially new boots, can ruin any ski vacation. It's a little hassle when flying but your feet will thank you.

Carol Sottili: Thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: I disagree about Alaskan cruises. I went with my family at age 24, and while it definitely skewed old, I was not the youngest person there, and I really had a great time. We went rafting and ziplined through the rainforest, among other excursions. There are plenty of opportunities to keep it from being too sedate a trip. (This was on Celebrity, and I imagine Royal Caribbean would have even more options.)

Also, as a sappy aside, my grandmother told me at age 11 that she was going to take me to Alaska someday, and she died of cancer the next year. I'd give anything to have taken that trip with her.

Carol Sottili: Good points.

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Dandridge, Tenn.: Thinking about Spain during April. Need your advice: Madrid or Barcelona. Will either experience fill up a 5 day trip?

Scott Vogel: I'm dreaming of Barcelona right now, so I'm biased. And I hear that the weather is somewhat warmer there in April than Madrid (on average), but my biggest recommendation is that you pick one or the other for a 5-day trip.

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Boston, Mass.: Heading to the USVI for a wedding in two months. Travel materials say it's a lot like the U.S. - dollars, post office, etc. What about cell phones and electronic devices? Will a Sprint cell phone work there or is there roaming? What about phone chargers and hair dryers? Do I need a special electric adapter?

Nancy McKeon: According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, you shouldn't need adapters for the USVI. It's 110 voltage and regular two- and three-prong polarized plugs all the way. As for phone chargers, mine in marked 100-240, meaning it can do it all. And Sprint, roaming charges? I'm not stepping into that quagmire--call Sprint! (Reading some chats, it seems that phones on the back side of St. John sometimes lock on to a Tortola tower, not a USVI tower, which could result in an international charge. But again, talk to Sprint!)

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Comment on Allegiant Air: I flew Allegiant Air last spring to Orlando - they're great - but definitely budget. For what I was looking for (a cheap ride to Florida) - they were wonderful. The flight reminded me of the early days of Southwest - jokester flight attendants, certificates (for purchase) for kids on their first flight, food for sale. the only downside - they charge extra for _everything_ - including advance seat reservations and all luggage, and they only fly one flight a day (or maybe once every couple of days) on each route - so scheduling is limited. But I'd DEFINITELY fly them again.

Scott Vogel: More on the spring break express.

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Re: Dublin: Don't miss grabbing a meal at Gruel, on Dame Street near Trinity College -- it's hip, delicious, and reasonably priced. Also, I enjoyed strolling around the university more than I did the Book of Kells. I'm not sure it's worth the price of admission.

Scott Vogel: More Dublin ideas too.

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London: Re. days out from Dublin, I would give Waterford Crystal a miss, they went into bankrupsy last month and currently have a workers "sit in" in the factory showroom. Sign of the times I fear.

Scott Vogel: Yikes, thanks!

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Day trips from Dublin? We are thinking of Howth: Howth is a great choice for a day trip from Dublin City. I'm pretty positive the DART goes there as well. Nice seaside town, good resaurants and pubs. Though I have never been, Dun Laoghaire is supposed to be very nice as well and could be a good option as well.

Scott Vogel: More Dublin, thanks all!

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Washington D.C.: When we finished school, we decided to take a trip to Napa (what could be more romantic than wine country)? Just finishing school, of course, we were severely constrained with our budget. But I found these charming looking bungalow cottages right in Napa at a steal of deal. We arrive to find something out of a great movies--no, not Sideways or Il Postino--more like Psycho and Deliverance. Insects, mold, and sanitarium-style decor dominated. She demanded my clothes to sleep in so that her skin would have contact with absolutely nothing--romantic! And being unable to afford taxis, but choosing to drink, those miles-long walks back to the Chateu de Deliverance were moonlit, trash-strewn, country road-side strolls, replete with muttering under our breath and praying not to be hit by a car in the dark. And somehow, years later, she's agreed to marry me. What a gal!

Andrea Sachs: And for your honeymoon, you took her to, let me guess, Three Mile Island?

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Baltimore, Md.: for the Harrisburg weekender. Southwest has flights out of BWI to Ft. Lauderdale as low as $72 each way.

Scott Vogel: Yeah, that original $350 price is way too high, as you guys are all pointing out...

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Arlington, Va.: JetBlue also flies non-stop from IAD to West Palm.

Scott Vogel: Thanks.

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Mexico Point of View: This column about the changes (for the worse) along the U.S/Mexico border ran in yesterday's Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/06/AR2009020602790.html

Andrea Sachs: Oh gosh, you are so right. But in San Diego, you can still get a taste of Mexico, literally.

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Washington, D.C.: For the 20-somethings planning a trip together trying to balance tropical beach with history and sightseeing I would recommend the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, or Puerto Rico. These may be out of the price range (although Guatemala hotels are inexpensive and I went in the fall for around $300 airfare)you talked about, but I'm not much of a beach person (prefer historical site) and found these places offered a great balance. Guatemala is tropical, but may not be beachy enough. I chose it over Costa Rica, because I wanted more history and culture than eco-tourism. The DR and PR provide great opportunities to explore colonial history.

washingtonpost.com: Or Cancun, Mexico with a day trip to the ruins?

Andrea Sachs: All smashing ideas. Thanks!

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Czech Airlines: Is there any type of partner agreement that could help in this situation?

Carol Sottili: Good point. I think Delta also offers nonstop flights from JFK to DCA, and it is a Czech partner.

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Vancouver to Seattle: There really is no need to have a car in Vancouver at all. We took the bus from Seattle (since Amtrak was sold out, but there is a train option) and walked took the great public transit system once we where there. There is water transit available between Victoria and Seattle and a bus takes you from Vancouver to Victoria (with a ferry ride in between that the bus drives right onto). Vancouver is an absolutely FABULOUS city! Went there before our Alaskan cruise (that left from Seattle, so we did it round trip) and totally 100% worth it.

Carol Sottili: Thanks.

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Chicago, Ill.: For last week's poster regarding a place to stay near the Rome Airport - we were in a similar spot Memorial Day Weekend 2000 and ended up staying at the Hilton Rome Airport. It was absolutely perfect. Close to Ostico Antico (the "old port" -- a non-touristy version of Pompeii) and a frequent shuttle in to Rome (dropping off near the Wedding Cake). I would highly recommend.

And now for my question... any recommendations for a special occasion restaurant in St. Martin?

Nancy McKeon: Here; for last week's poster looking for a place to stay near Rome's Fiumicino airport (Leonardo Da Vinci). But turnabout is fair play: Anyone have a restaurant recommendation for St. Martin?

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AK Cruise with Children... again: My husband and I (in our late 20s) went on an Alaskan cruise this summer on Norwegian, and though the crowd skewed older, there were plenty of kids on board (just needed to look at the bowling alley to see how many). Some of the excursions were also very kid friendly - take a zodiac boat to see the orca whales, go zip lining in Ketchikan, take a helicopter ride and land on a iceberg, or go on the Deadliest Catch boat (the Aleutian Ballad) and catch some crabs. I've been on numerous cruises since I was quite young, and I think the fun is the big boat, not necessarily where you are.

Carol Sottili: Thanks.

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Alaska Cruise: My cousin's took their two sons (middle and elem school) on an Alaskan cruise last August. Started in Seattle with a ballgame. They all had a great time. I wish I knew the cruiseline.

Carol Sottili: Another yes vote for Alaska cruise.

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Virginia: For spring break this year, my husband and I are considering packing up the car with our 2 kids and just heading south until the temperature hits 80. Is this too crazy a proposition? Any tips that you can give for traveling without a specific destination in mind?

Scott Vogel: That is indeed crazy, but as someone who's done the very same thing with mixed results, I understand the inclination. It took me until hitting Orlando to reach that magic number of 80, but we were traveling in late December, so I have high hopes that you'll get there by Savannah or so. My only tip is that you not buy a pecan log at one of those roadside stands in the Carolinas. I'm still recovering from one of those.

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Silver Spring, Md.: My husband and I will be going overseas in less than a month. Apart from copying our passport, what else should we be copying and taking with us? I searched your archives yesterday and couldn't find the recent chat or article that discussed this. Thanks.

Andrea Sachs: Copy down the phone numbers of your credit card companies, in case the cards are stolen and you need to cancel them; the numbers/addresses of the embassies; if you have an email account, send yourself your itinerary and flight info, in case you lose your main copy (also send a copy to a friend, just someone knows of your whereabouts). Also, before you leave, make sure to hold your mail and newspaper.

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How about Costa Rica in the summer?: My wife and sister-in-law really want to gothis summer, but I keer reading the part about it being the rainy season during the summer in Costa Rica. If summer is the only time to get away, do you vote Costa Rica or something closer by with more reliable weather?

Carol Sottili: Really depends where you're going in Costa Rica. July is rainer than early August. Caribbean side is rainier than Pacific side. Most rain occurs in afternoon.

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Atlanta: To the person going to Vancouver from Seattle... There are also cruise ship positionings, so sometimes you can find a 2-3 hour cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. Sounded like a grand idea to me.

Carol Sottili: That may be difficult to schedule, but it's another idea.

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Suggestion For Vancouver Again: If you're flying into Seattle in First Class then buying a separate ticket to go from Seattle (SEA) to Vancouver (YVR) in coach I'd suggest buying your SEA-YVR ticket on Horizon if the price is comparable to the other airlines. This is Alaska's regional carrier which serves this short route on turboprops -- they have comfortable seats and they fly low with nice views. And while they don't have first class seats on their planes, Horizon pours free pacific northwest wines and microbrew beers to all (of age) passengers on all their flights.

Carol Sottili: Another idea for the Vancouver traveler.

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Iceland in June: Hi Travel Crew,

I'll be flying to Iceland from 19-27 June to do some mountaineering and the flights out of BWI and Dulles (B-more resident) are running in the $1000s. Should I wait or jump? Given the international nature of the trip, Farecast can't forecast anything.

Christina Talcott: Try pricing it out piecemeal, matching flights from Boston or New York to Reykjavik on IcelandAir.com with cheap flights from BWI or Dulles to Boston or New York. I flew AirTran between BWI and Boston, then Iceland Air to Reykjavik, and was able to take advantage of sales on IA's Web site. You may be able to save somewhat, though flights on IcelandAir.com from Boston or New York seem to be starting around $650 RT on your dates, then you have to add in your flights there (quick search on AirTran put a BWI-Logan flight on your dates at $233). I have no idea if Iceland Air will have any sales for summer travel, but they might, and flights to New York or Boston might drop, too, so it wouldn't hurt to hold out a little longer if you can stand it.

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Roman Holiday: Looking to travel to Florence and Rome -- never been there before. I also want to do a side day-trip to Pompeii. Without totally overdosing on museums, how much time would you allot to each city? I have about 2 weeks.

Nancy McKeon: You're gonna O.D. on art, no matter how you split your trip. But here's an idea: Instead of doing Pompeii as a day trip, do an overnight in Naples. It's less visited and totally different and wonderful. Very chaotic traffic but you get to walk along the water at night looking out at the Bay of Naples. And eat great pizza. If that doesn't work for you, just split the cities half and half. Both have tons of wonderful museums and walking itineraries and of course shopping (Florence's covered markets having a slight edge in that department, I think).

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Little Rock, Ark.: My friend (early 20s) is going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at the end of the month for some volunteer work and vacation. Is it safe there, and fun?

Andrea Sachs: Before you go, read the State Department's entry on Americans traveling to Tanzania. It tells you what to avoid and how to keep safe (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1038.html). Unlike other countries, Tanzania has been relatively calm of late, but you must always be aware, especially of crime. As for fun . . . never been, but if any chatsters have recommendations on good times in Dar es Salaam, please pipe up.

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Bethesda, Md.: Flight crew: I'm taking a trip to San Francisco in August. Saw flights for $304 on United round trip. Shold I wait to see if there's better? Also, is Portland, Oregon doable from San Fran for a two-day trip by car?

Carol Sottili: That's a decent fare as long as it includes taxes. Even better if it's nonstop. It's a 10/11 hour drive between the two cities - I wouldn't do it in two days.

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London, U.K.: For Silver Spring - also call your credit card companies and let them know you're going to be overseas, and give them the dates, just in case you need to use the cards. I forgot to do that when I came over here, and wound up being able to use only one card once (the others were locked immediately, and it was locked after the first time because I was in an area known to have lots of pickpockets, etc - like most tourist areas) and had to spend a my first Saturday afternoon here making international calls to those companies.

Andrea Sachs: Brilliant idea, London. Thanks!

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Romantic weekend, question: Hi Crew! Thanks for taking my question. My boyfriend is a huge Modest Mouse fan, so I got him tickets to the show in Philly on March 14th. I am not a huge fan, but he is, we are making a long weekend out of it. Can you suggest any fun/eclectic things to do in Philly? I have been to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but I am looking for more off-the-beaten-path-type things. Thanks for your help!

Nancy McKeon: The Cezanne exhibit will be on at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Also a Matisse show there. Ideas, anyone?

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Ashburn, Va.: My most romantic trip was right here in our fair city. I think people overlook how charming it is... during Cherry Blossom time, taking a horse drawn carriage ride... getting proposed to on the steps of the reflecting pool overlooking the Capitol to one side and the Washington Monument on the other... white marble bright under the starlight... Our city isn't a traditional big urban city, but the grrand architecture and flowers in the spring make it as romantic a destination as anywhere else in the world (though I will have to give Venice a close second place award!)

Andrea Sachs: So true. Cupid definitely is busy shooting his arrows around D.C.

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Silver Spring: Planning a last-minute Spring Training tour to Florida next month. I combed through the archives, but came up empty handed when searching speficially for an spring training travel trips. Same with Viera, Fla. (home of the Nats). We don't have enough time to visit Kennedy Space Center and was wondering what else to do in the area -- Viera seems decidedly dull.

Scott Vogel: Most spring breakers visiting the Nats stay in Melbourne and visit Viera. For more info on the area, visit www.space-coast.com. I'd be tempted to visit the Nats while they're on the road, catch a game against Baltimore (in Fort Lauderdale) for instance. Some of the other teams play in Orlando, Kissimmee, Port. St. Lucie, and more. MLB.com has info on the league's own spring break packages, which are in all price ranges.

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Rehoboth Beach, Del.: Seattle to Vancouver: Took Amtrak along this route a few years ago and loved it. The tracks follow the coast and offer spectacular scenery.

Carol Sottili: Takes about four hours each way.

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Rain in CR: I went to Costa Rica a few years ago during the supposedly rainy season (Pacific side, September). It drizzled for about five minutes every afternoon around 2 pm. Not even worth getting out of the pool--we just quickly learned to stash any stuff we'd brought down under a solid table.

Then again, the swim-up bar might have had something to do with our reluctance to get out of the pool. But still. Later in the summer on the Pacific side, the rainy season was anything but.

Carol Sottili: It's a bit of a risk, but you can get lucky. And I for one don't mind afternoon showers.

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Arlington, Va.: I asked previously about finding "cheap" business class fares. It turns out that perhaps one of the keys to finding better fares is to look at other airports outside of the DC area. I found a business class fare from JFK to Bangkok for $4400 on Qatar Airways. Their fare to Bangkok from IAD is over $7700!! So to save $3000+ I am flying up to JFK for an add-on fare of $140. It is crazy that the fare would differ so much between the two. It's a shame I have to add an extra stop and the extra possibility that something could go wrong.

Now, for a question. While I am in SE Asia I plan to visit Vietnam for the first time. I am pretty certain that I want to visit Hue and Hoi An for a few days. But the question is, should I also visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City? I don't have time to do both of them so I need to select one or the other. I will be going from/to Bangkok to either one of them and both seem to have plenty of flights available.

Nancy McKeon: Glad you found the better fare (there must be more competition out of JFK, hence the need to offer deals). Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City is a tough choice. I loved both. Absolutely have to choose? I'd do Hanoi, for its streets dedicated to different trades (including the street for gravestones), some of the preserved traditional housing, the flower market, the Thang Long water-puppet theater, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (go early in the day, before the lines form). You'll miss the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City, but . . . Honestly, I'd drop Hue from the itinerary instead. (Hoi An is a jewel!)

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Montreal??!!: Hi Crew, Is Montreal doable in a long weekend? Both my husband and I are interested in exploring the city with our 3 year old. Do you think 3 - 4 days is enough time? What are highlights we shouldn't miss? Is it better to drive from DC or fly? Thanks!

Christina Talcott: The drive alone would take the better part of two days, so I'd recommend either flying to Montreal or flying to Burlington and renting a car to drive the rest of the way. There's so much to see and do in Montreal - what are you interested in? I'd peruse our archives of Montreal stories to get some ideas.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello Crew, We're heading to Seattle tomorrow for a week's vacation/wedding. We will have 3 days to explore Seattle. Highlights we should see? Have been before, but not in 10 years. Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: Food critic Tom Sietsema is JUST back from Seattle with some restaurant recommendations -- Postcard from Tom: Seattle.

Christina Talcott: Here are some dining ideas...

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Rockville, Md.: I've just begun to think about a September trip to Bruges. How long should I try to spend there and where else nearby would you go? Also, if anyone has a tour operator to recommend, that would be great. Thanks in advance.

Nancy McKeon: Ask again in May after my trip to Bruges. I haven't been in 25 years, so I don't remember much. I recall it was a compact city, but like so many things, I'm sure things have changed. Ask again later! I'll take notes.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm getting married in late June and because my fiance and I don't have a ton of time or money to spend on the honeymoon, we've decided to do 4 nights at a B&B on the Atlantic coast -- DE, NJ, VA, or maybe NC. I'm not very familiar with these beaches. We would a prefer quieter, not so built-up beach. Any suggestions? Also, any specific B&B suggestions would be great. Thanks!

Carol Sottili: Try the First Colony Inn (www.firstcolonyinn.com) in Nags Head, NC.

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Washington, D.C.: Report from the field: Berkeley Springs. We went for our romantic overnight in Berkeley Springs this weekend (with perfect weather for hiking). I had always considered the eating options in BS kind of "meh" (I'm looking at you, Tari's) but we had a great breakfast at the Earthdog Cafe a couple blocks out of town from the State Park, really great, and the lunch menu looked wonderful. We also had lunch at Oasis Cafe, which is vegetarian/organic, very nice. Dinner at Lot 12, good as usual, although the people at the two tables closest to us all lived within two miles of us in D.C., so hardly the hidden secret. Stayed at the Country Inn, nice enough.

Christina Talcott: Thanks for the report!

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Baltimore: I flew from BWI to Reyjavik in October 2007 (back when IcelandAir still had direct flights from BWI). I bought my round trip airfare on Priceline. It was $150 cheaper than buying it on IcelandAir's web site.

Christina Talcott: Wow, great tip. Thanks!

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More Dublin Daytrips: My daughter did a semester abroad in Dublin. She enjoyed her day trips to Howth and Malahide, both of which can be reached by DART--nice coastal walks and a castle in Malahide. For a longer day trip, you may want to look at Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains and/or Powercourt. (She loved the hiking around Glendalough). Another suggestion for a day trip (which she did not get to make) is Newgrange.

Scott Vogel: Here's some more info for the Dublin-bound.

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Traveling with children: Dear Crew, Any website/resources for traveling with children? For example, can I bring soy milk through security? My little one can't have regular milk, and I doubt there will be soy milk to purchase in the airport. I am going on a three-hour international flight with a 14 month-old and would love to be prepared as possible. Thanks!!!

Andrea Sachs: Check the TSA's Web site, www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm, which covers travel with kids. Formula, baby food and breast milk are allowed in quantities greater than 3 ounces. The soy milk could be fall under this category, so keep it aside and show it to security officials during at the checkpoint. Just in case, I'd thrown in some 3 ounce containers that you can transfer the milk into. Other good sites include www.travelwithyourkids.com and www.flyingwithkids.com.

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Bethesda, Md.: Romantic B&B with jacuzzi: We stayed in the icehouse at Antrim 1844, a bit northeast of Frederick. Been 4 or 5 years, but the room was great (it's a separate building), the grounds lovely, and the restaurant pretty nice.

Re Alaska cruises, check the small ships like Cruise West. Considerably more pricey, but have 25% discounts if you can be flexible in your dates. Might be some families on there since it's more adventure oriented.

Finally, inspired by the Post's Puerto Rican Punch story a couple of years ago and an AirTran sale, we're hitting 3 of the 4 excursions in a couple of weeks--the first night in San Juan, two nights in Rincon and 2 nights at an eco lodge in the rainforest. Still trying to find the right spot to stay in San Juan that won't break the bank but has some personality. El Convento is intriguing, but more than $300 even for the midweek special once the taxes and "resort fee" are added. Is it worth it? Any other suggestions? And any way to get out of these ubiquitous resort fees? (that seem to be the equivalent of checked baggage fees.)

Christina Talcott: Thanks for the tips! As for El Convento, I know that was one of KC Summers's favorite hotels ever, but I don't know how she'd feel about the price. Anyone have tips on that front?

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Washington, D.C.: Jumping in on USVI.

U.S. power format will work. Cell phone service varies - I got great Verizon service on St. Croix and no T-Mobile (BBerry) service, and vice versa on St. Thomas.

Important note: if you are renting a car, in the USVI they drive on the British side of the road, but often with cars that are American wheel-side. So you are driving on the left side of the road, in a left hand drive car. It's very disconcerting at first, and tourists need to be careful not to revert to normal habits.

Nancy McKeon: More on USVI power and cellphone service. Thanks, Washington.

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Arlington, Va.: The person looking for things to do in Philly should make sure to stop by Capogrio for the best gelato anywhere! See their website for locations. They have a couple of locations downtown.

There is a good museum at U. Penn specializing in archaeology. I saw a good exhibit there on Egyptian/Nubian culture a couple of years ago.

It's a big city with plenty to do. Check gophila.com for ideas and hotel deals.

Nancy McKeon: More on Philly.

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Arlington, Va.: Heading to the Bahamas on a quick 3 night Royal Caribbean cruise next week (!) First cruise here. Any tips? There are many "shore excursions" you can purchase through RC. Is it wise to do it up front or will local vendors have the same for cheaper? We are in Nassau for a whole day -- one option is to get an Atlantis pass to have access to their grounds/pools/beach etc. It is upwards of $100 per person, is it worth it? Thanks, we don't want to get stuck just wandering around because we didn't plan ahead.

Carol Sottili: We didn't buy the shore excursions. Just jumped in a cab and went to Atlantis and the beach there. But we couldn't use any of the facilities in Atlantis, so we felt a little out of place. Kids jumped into the lazy river at one point, and quickly got chased out. If I did it again with kids, I'd probably pay. With adults, I'd just do some reasearch about a nice beach and take a cab there.

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Re: Little Palm Island: My god in heaven. I just looked through that site, and that place looks AMAZING. I didn't even know we had anything like that in the US! The cost, however, totally harshed my daydream buzz.

Carol Sottili: Yup, it's pricey. But the chatter indicated price was not the issue.

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smaller cruise ships: Warning... some of the smaller cruise lines that serve Alaska have cut back or gone out of business... so be careful with the smaller carriers.

Carol Sottili: You have to do your homework.

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Va.: Hi Crew -- I'm about to celebrate a big birthday and would prefer to wake up on my 50th in Europe. Where would you recommend for a mid-March, 5-6 day trip, assuming non-stop from IAD or DCA. I have a strong preference for cities in lieu of countryside. Italy would be great, but I don't see embarking on a relatively short trip there. Ideas, please???

Scott Vogel: Weather-wise, Italy may be your best bet, but Spain or Portugal should be beautiful as well, and both have conveniently short flight times. I'd look into those first.

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Boston: My 16-yr-old daughter and I are going to Puerto Rico in April; never been before. Mostly I want to know how blazing hot the sun will be so I can plan on avoiding major sunburns the first day I'm there. Is it more intense than, say, Florida?

Andrea Sachs: Though hot, you won't fry like an egg on a city sidewalk. Temperatures are in the mid-70s to mid-80s, depending on where you are. April is also the start of rainy season, so you will have occasional showers that last just long enough to lower your internal thermometer.

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For Silver Spring: Another piece of credit card advice, which friends of ours learned the very hard way. Each of you should carry a different credit card. That way if one of you has a purse picked or wallet stolen, the other will still have a valid card to use while dealing with canceling and replacing the stolen card.

Andrea Sachs: So smart. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: The most romantic trip I can recall was with my then-fiance to New Zealand. He was working most mornings (over there for work), so I could sleep in and do a Sudoku or two, and then we would get together for lunch and explore Auckland and the environs - going on a wine tour, a whale-spotting tour, sailing on the America's cup yacht, visiting Hobbiton, spelunking, and, eating downtown at the harbor. Nothing over the top romantic about it, I guess, but it was so wonderful to spend two weeks in this exotic and friendly place with the man I was about to marry.

Andrea Sachs: That is lovely.

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Being young on a cruise: My thoughts are that 12 for an Alaskan cruise is probably pretty young. I am going on a cruise at age 31 with my mother in June that will be going up to Canada from Boston on Holland America. I know going in that I am going to be one of the youngest people on the cruise. I know that it is not going to have the most earth shattering events on the ship. I am actually looking forward to that. I am just going to make the absolute best of the situation and enjoy being considered a young one.

Do need a suggestion though: we will be staying in Montreal for a few days afterwards. Any recommendations for a nice hotel? We would like to be near the old town. Thanks.

Christina Talcott: The Saint-Sulpice in Old Town is fabulous, and you can sometimes find good deals on rooms there. For other ideas, go to Tripadvisor.com's list of Montreal hotels, where you'll find St-Sulpice and other nice places.

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Romantic Trip : My favorite romantic trip had to be our engagement trip in Maui, Hawaii. I was clueless that my husband had anything in the works as we were in Hawaii for a friends wedding. We extended the trip in Maui, since neither of us had been. When we arrived at the hotel, he took me onto the balcony with a glass of champagne to say how much he loved me. When I saw he had his had behind his back, I couldn't help but cry! I thought I was being proposed to!!!! But no, it was a decoy, and he handed me a necklace. Of course it was lovely, but I was beyond embarrassed!

The following day, we traveled the Road to Hana. At a gorgeous waterfall somewhere near mile 21, he got down on one knee. I quickly told him I wasn't "falling for it again," but he pulled out a ring from his velcro bathing suit pocket and popped the question. We were literally in heaven together!

Andrea Sachs: Otherwise, he would have been tossed in the waterfall?

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Bruges: Other people will probably mention the canals and the museums; I wanted to give a nod to what is considered to be one of the world's greatest spots to have a beer. That would be 't Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat 5. There are more than 200 Belgian beers (many of which are very hard to find even in Belgium) on the menu -- and even more seasonal or special beers which aren't on the printed list so ask what else they may have on hand.

Andrea Sachs: Thanks for the tip!

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Dar es Salaam: Hi,

The city is sketchy--lots of taxi scams so only use a taxi driver that your hotel knows and use that driver the entire time you are there. You will be looked at with disrespect simply for being a woman in non-Muslim type clothing. We minimized our time there for a multitude of reasons. Spend your time in the countryside and Zanzibar. Of 40+ countries visited, Tanzania remains my favorite.

Andrea Sachs: Thanks for the personal account. Much appreciated.

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Seattle Underground Tour: If you want a quirky view of Seattle different than the standard double decker bus tour, do the Seattle Underground tour... much of the city was built on top of the old city... and the guides are quite funny!

Andrea Sachs: Great advice. Thanks!

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Amelia Island ...: Have a few drinks at the bar at the Ritz, drinks at Brett's Waterway Cafe on the Amelia River, take the boat to Cumberland Island, great pizza at Moon River Pizza on Jasmine Street and wonderful takeout at Gourmet Gourmet.

Andrea Sachs: Great suggestions. Thanks!

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re: Tijuana: Unfortunately the drug violence is also resident in Tijuana, which is currently off limits to all military personnel stations in the southern California area. My friends from San Diego no longer go across to TJ, even in daylight hours.

Andrea Sachs: You are so right. My head was in a previous decade when I suggested driving to Mexico from San Diego. Instead, I say, stay in San Diego and get yourself some good margaritas and tacos.

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Southwest D.C.: Romance, Ocean Views, and Beautiful Architecture:

Here's my suggestion for that wonderfully romantic evening while on vacation in San Diego. First, head to Pacific Beach or Mission Beach. Watch the joggers and surfers, and then offer a toast to a beautiful sunset. Make sure to look for the infamous green flash. Head to World Famous (my favorite restaurant in San Diego) for lobster bisque, bacon-wrapped scallops, and a bottle of wine. Next drive over to Balboa Park. Stroll the avenues holding hands. The buildings are absolutely beautiful (late Spanish colonial architecture) and are beautifully lit at night. Finish your evening by having desert at The Prado - a lovely restaurant with patio seating in the middle of Balboa Park.

Enjoy!

Andrea Sachs: Thanks for playing Cupid's travel agent.

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Romantic evening due to cancelled trip!: My husband and I had plans to go to a very swanky expensive chic restaurant outside the city and stay the weekend there (Gee, wonder which restaurant that could be?) for our third anniversary. At the last minute, my husband decided that he'd had enough eating out lately (he's an attorney, all client meetings are meal-based at some point during the day) and thought it would be nicer to stay more local. We walked down to Georgetown, picked up a hunk of cheese, loaf of bread, and fresh fruit, and had an impromptu picnic on the Potomac. We sat on the stone wall and watched the sunset together, and just really enjoyed some simple quality time with each other. We certainly learned that celebrating each other doesn't need to require pomp and circumstance. Still one of my favorite memories together.

Andrea Sachs: So simple, yet so sublime.

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West Palm Beach traveler: You can fly direct from National to West Palm for a little over $200. Don't know what deals can be had from Southwest from BWI to Fort Lauderdale.

Andrea Sachs: Thanks for the tip!

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Alexandria, Va.: In college, my boyfriend and I were on study-abroad programs in two different countries. We met up in Paris for a long weekend, and it was lovely--strolling on the Ile de la Cite, browsing the used book carts, sampling gelato by the Notre Dame, finding great little restaurants, all that. We did two bateaux-mouches rides, one in the afternoon so we could actually see stuff, and one at night so we could look at the city lights and canoodle.

Despite the crappy hostel and the need to carry our possessions with us everywhere, I still think this was our most romantic trip--possibly even surpassing our honeymoon four years later.

Andrea Sachs: Paris will never break hearts, will it?

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Andrea Sachs: Our time is up, and we regret that we could not answer all of your questions. We are off next Monday for the holiday, but come back on Feb. 23 and we will tackle all travel questions far and near.

As for the romantic winner: All of the stories made us croon Barry White (even the mustard tale), but the winner this week is the Napa couple, who turned sour grapes into a love potion. Please e-mail your address to me at sachsa@washpost.com.

Now, go enjoy the sunshine!

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