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The Flight Crew
Washington Post Travel Section
Monday, April 5, 2010; 2:00 PM

Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section Flight Crew is at your service. They were online Monday, April 5 at 2 p.m.

Don't forget to submit your vacation photos and photos of your pets on vacation to our photo galleries.

You may also browse an archive of previous live travel discussions.

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Joe Yonan: Hi, all, and welcome to the chat today! Hope you enjoyed this week's section, with Gaston Lacombe's nostalgic piece on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec and Bonnie Benwick's eating tour of Tel Aviv leading the way.

For our chatter challenge today, we invite you to share memories of your favorite family summer vacation from your childhood. For me, the top of the list would have to be the long visits to Chicago my sister Julie (happy birthday, Julie!) made to visit our father. From there, he and my stepmother would take us places like Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain, GA: They definitely had a weak spot for natural beauty, especially if it was enhanced by man in some way, I guess. And my sister and I would of course fight in the back seat to the point of I'll-turn-this-car-around threats from the front seat. Ah, childhood.

What do you remember? Regale us, and you'll have the chance to win a fabulous something that shall be nameless for the time being...

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello Crew - I have a tip I wanted to share. As travelers no doubt have discovered, airfares this year seem to be almost twice what they were this time last year. I flew to London for $500 RT in May last year and plan to go back again this year. However, the fares for the same trip at the same time are running $850 to over $1,000 for non-stop flights.

With miles programs now requiring even more miles than before, I didn't think I had enough miles to fly on United (one of three carriers that fly non-stop to London from the DC area). However, they have instituted a new "miles and money" program where you can use both.

I was able to get a round trip ticket, non-stop both ways, for $450 (inc. taxes) and 25K miles.

I definitely think using 25K miles was worth the $400+ it saved me. I believe this program is new this year. Of course the ticket availability is limited as it is run through their "saver awards" program. When two non-stop flights became available on dates near my first choice dates, I jumped on them. Then, when non-stop flights became available on my first choice dates, I called United and was able to get my flights switched with no problems and no change fees. I had been getting rather cynical about airline practices but I think this is a program than can benefit both the airline and consumer. I'm just glad I stumbled upon it.

Christopher Elliott: Thanks for the tip. Any time you can burn your miles -- even if it's in combination with money -- I would recommend doing so. Miles lose value over time.

If I could just add one thing, it would be this: You're better off using more miles than money. Hoarding miles is a pointless exercise and since your loyalty awards eventually expire, it will only benefit the airline or hotel.

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East Coast to West Coast Road Trip: I am moving from Charlotte to SF and am hoping to either drive my 2007 Accord on I-40 or ship the car. Does anyone have experience or suggestions on whether driving or shipping would be better? Also, if I drive on I-40, I have about 6 or 7 days to make the trip. Any suggestions on what to see along the way? I like beautiful scenery and historic landmarks. So far, I want to see the Biltmore in Asheville, the Grand Canyon, and Valley of Fire. Any other must sees?

Nancy Trejos: I'm a big fan of the cross country driving trip. I did it twice to and from L.A. when I was re-locating for work 12 years ago (one of those trips brought me back to the Post. Oh, the memories). Each of my two cross country trips was about a week long so you should be able to do it, and I-40 runs through some great cities. Your three stops sound perfect (of course you have to see the Grand Canyon!) You should be driving through Tennessee, so I would definitely suggest a stop there if you haven't been. You'll go through both Nashville and Memphis, both fun and fascinating cities. You'll also go through Albuquerque, which would be fun to check out. But the drive from Memphis to Albuquerque is really long, so you might have to stop somewhere in between, perhaps Oklahoma City. I've never been there but I think you can find interesting things to do in any city. If your car can handle it, I think driving to SF would be a lot more fun then shipping your car.

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Arlington, Va.: Are there any good travel options for a single person traveling alone? I am not out to meet dates or anything other than travel and enjoy myself. Travel is not friendly for single people - everything is price per person based on double occupancy.

Zofia Smardz: You are alas right that you're at a disadvantage on price when traveling alone. But all is not lost. There are programs out there for solo travelers, such as O Solo Mio Tours, that mitigate some of those costs by matching you up with a room or cabin-mate. Other solo traveler sites that may give you ideas are Solo Travel Network and -- if you're of the double-X chromosome sex -- Women Traveling Together.
Perhaps there are other solo travelers out there who have more to offer?

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Girls Weekend Out: Any recommendations for a girls weekend out in late May/early June within a 4 hours drive from the DC area? We are looking for a good spa and restaurants. One option I am exploring is Charlottesville - the Boar Head's Inn. Would like more ideas for resorts and locations.

Thanks!

Becky Krystal: The Homestead fits your four-hour requirement almost exactly. Heading east into Maryland, there's the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels.In Delaware, you'll find the Inn at Montchanin Village. Or go for a chocolate treatment at the Hotel Hershey.
That's just to name a few. Any favorites, chatters?

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Austin, Tex.: This seems like a silly question, but how do I call Italy from the US on a cell phone? Do I need to have a specific phone plan? Is this something I should ask my cell provider? Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: First, there are no silly questions. For a land line, you need to dial 011, then the country code, then the city code. You can find the digits at www.countrycallingcodes.com. For cell phones, you need a service that calls internationally. If you don't have this, you need to buy a phone or SIM card. You can buy one online or check with a cell phone provider. Another option: Skype, which allows you to call via your computer. It is free to chat between computers and very cheap if you call computer to cell phone.

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Rockville: Hi there. My family is having a reunion in West Yellowstone at the end of June. Being from SLC, I have flown in and out of that airport for years and have never paid more than $275 for tickets. But now everything is upwards $400 or $450! Is there a hope of them coming down between now and then? Thanks!

Carol Sottili: Airfares, especially to smaller venues that are not served by discount carriers, seem higher this summer. But I just did a search for that city pair on Delta's site and came up with lots of days at end of June offering $247 round trip for nonstop flights. You may have to get flexible with dates.

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Passport Fee Increase?: I know there's a proposed hike in the passport fees of like $35.00, but I can't get information as to if/when it'll take effect. There were rumors it would happen April 1, but the Web site still lists the old ones. (Information on the proposed fees is here).

Do you know anything about this and when they may take effect?

Christopher Elliott: If I'm reading the proposed rule correctly, it will be imposed as soon as possible. The 30 days for comment expired last month.

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Salt Lake City: Hi Travel Crew,

I wanted to comment on a couple of recent submissions. On March 15th, someone wrote in asking for advice on sights to see during a trip to Utah's national parks. I just want to warn him/her to remember that Utah is desert country! In July and August, Moab (the nearest town to both Arches and Canyonlands) gets well into the 100-110 range from mid-July thru the end of August. So does the area near Zion (think the climate of Vegas but 5 degrees cooler)!

At higher elevations, it's a bit cooler but still in the 90s except for Bryce Canyon and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which will be cooler, in the 80s. And be absolutely sure to bring along plenty of water on any hikes. And in some areas, it's very easy to get lost. Go off trail and make a wrong turn, one canyon looks like all the others!

Having said that, the southern half of Utah is an amazing place to spend time. Enjoy your trip!

The other topic was just some information about the train from Charlottesville. The person complained about a multi-hour delay. FYI, that train was probably the Cardinal and it originates in Chicago and goes thru Indy, Cincy, across Kentucky and West Va, before running across Va. and the Northeast to NYC.

I took that train to Baltimore once. I was stuck on a car with a smelly, malfunctioning toilet for the entire trip from Chicago. That was part of a Christmas train trip across the US from Salt Lake. But that's a story for another post!

Becky Krystal: Thanks for the Utah tips. And bummer about the smelly train!

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Arlington, VA: Heading to Martha's Vineyard to camp for a few days mid-Aug. Are there affordable dining options on the island, or should we try to pack as much food and snacks from the mainland as possible?

Nancy Trejos: Soem affordable dining options: Black Dog Tavern, where you can bring your own wine and beer (or Black Dog Cafe, for an even more casual experience); 90 Main Street Deli for take-out sandwiches; Beadniks (the cafe, not the dining room). I would do a combo if I were you: pack food and snacks for breakfast or a picnic lunch and then splurge on dinner.

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Family trip to Chicago: We're trying to have a mini-family reunion in Chicago in June. There are 9 of us, including 3 children (plus one baby who is only 1 year old, so won't need a ticket.)

We want to fly out together - mainly so grandparents can help wrangle children. Is there any way to get a discount on 9 plane tix? Is that a large enough group? And how do we go about it? Travel agent? Or do we have to try each airline individually?

Joe Yonan: Can you bring a friend? A quick search indicates that on Delta, American, Southwest, United, Continental and Spirit, the magic number to qualify for a group discount is 10. It does seem that this is where a travel agent might come in handy...

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best family vacation: We went on a MASSIVE road trip "out west" the summer after I graduated high school with my mom and three younger sisters. Drove from Maryland, south to Georgia, across Texas, up California 1, into Portland, across Idado, the Badlands, over to Ohio... we covered a bunch of National Parks citise and twenty-six states and 11,000 miles. It was amazing. I don't really want to do it again, but I'm glad we did it once.

Nancy Trejos: Exactly! It's worth doing at least once.

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Springfield, VA: So I just found out I'll be taking a trip to Japan for 10 days in early June. I'll be with my mom and we are planning to focus on Tokyo and Kyoto, with the possibility of day trips to other fun/interesting places.

Are there any must see villages/towns near either city? If it helps my mom's really into textiles and arts in general. Also I'm interested in seeing a baseball game or two while there, but other than a generic Google search don't have any idea where to start planning that. Thanks!!

Joe Yonan: You're going to have a blast in Tokyo and Kyoto. I didn't want to come back. For textiles, given your mother's interests, don't miss the Nishijin Textile Museum in Kyoto. In both cities, there are lots of stores that sell beautiful modern and vintage fabrics, and in fact the big department stores are not to be missed for this. In Kyoto, Nishiki food market -- a looooooong street of stalls -- was one of my favorite activities, especially because I bought a knife at the famous Aritsugu store there. As for day trips, the one that I enjoyed the most (yes, yes, I'm a food obsessive) was to Yokohama for the Ramen Museum.

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Reston, VA: My family has been traveling to Cancun from the DC area for years....and as recently as last month flew nonstop to Cancun nonstop for around $350 each.....looking for tickets for November (11/20-11/27) and the nonstops are more than $900....and MORE....is it too soon to be booking or has the world changed that much!! We rent a house so booking is about to become committed!! What do you think?

Carol Sottili: Wait and track. November is a long way away. But your dates are Thanksgiving week, so don't expect $350. That's a well-traveled week, so more competition for seats, which means higher prices.

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Baltimore: I started work just out of college a year ago and am thinking of using some of my saved up money and vacation time on a trip. This would be my first without my family and I can't really think of where to go. I'd be traveling alone, so it doesn't have to be family friendly. I'm not into relaxing vacations either, I'd rather see and do things. Since I can't rent a car yet, my options are down to: pick a few linked cities with good public transit and milk them for a week or two, or take some kind of guided coach tour. I'm open to either option for pretty much anywhere in the world, so any fun, crazy, adventurous ideas for a 22 year old? Thank you!

Nancy Trejos: Wow, the world is your oyster! Can you narrow down your preferences a bit? Would you consider staying in the U.S.? If you want to leave the country, are there any particular parts of the world you want to explore? What is your budget?

If you've got the funds for it, some of my favorites cities in the world, which are also easy to get around (good public transportation or at least affordable cabs) are Paris, London, and Istanbul. You could even do Paris and London in one trip (take the high speed train). Are you interested in Latin America? If so, Bogota and Cartagena in Colombia are incredible and shouldn't be too expensive. If you're really adventurous, might I suggest the Middle East?(I spent five weeks in Beirut last year. I loved it. Lebanon in general has some amazing parts. The ruins at Baalbek are breathtaking.) Or if you want to stay in the U.S., maybe a drive up and down the Pacific Coast Highway of California would be fun. I did San Francisco to San Diego once, by myself. It was beautiful.

Any chatters want to offer their input?

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Best Vacation - 1988: My favorite childhood vacation was from central Florida to Cape Cod. I was an older teenager, and I think back on this vacation as the last with my family as a child. We road tripped up and back and kept a travel journal of the trip. My little brother hogged the back seat the whole way because he basically slept the entire time.

Good memories of the trip: lobster bake, side trip to DC, quaint villages on the Cape, clam rolls, and lots and lots of gay people in Provincetown.

Bad memories of the trip: car breaking down, rough seas as we ferried to Nantucket, and spending the night in a motor lodge in Perth Amboy, NJ!

Where are those pics of South of the Border, South Carolina!!??!

Joe Yonan: Nice. I wish I had gotten to the Cape as a kid. I certainly have spent enough time there as an adult!

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Ashburn, VA: I will be taking my 14 year old niece this summer to California and spending over a week traveling around. Is it advisable to carry some kind of letter or document from her parents (my sister) authorizing me to act as a legal guardian in case of an emergency? If so, what should it include? Also, does a minor need any kind of ID for airport security? When I booked our plane tickets it only asked for spelling of name and birth date. The only reference I could find about minors is if they are unaccompanied. Thanks.

Carol Sottili: A permission to travel letter is less important when you're traveling in the states, but not a bad idea to have it with you. More importantly, you need a medical authorization form from her parents. There are samples of these all over the Internet: Momready, for example, offers the download. To be extra careful, you could also get it notarized. Children are not required to show photo ID, but I'd bring along a copy of her birth certificate.

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Chicago: I'm heading to Salt Lake City for a wedding this summer and am trying to choose a hotel, in downtown SLC or even in Park City since it's not too far to drive in and out. Ideally we'd like someplace luxurious and quiet, in a beautiful setting, to make it feel like a real getaway. My initial search didn't find a lot of attractive options. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Becky Krystal: How about the Grand America Hotel? Andrea mentioned it in a story about Salt Lake City the other year.
But maybe folks have some other ideas.

Nancy Trejos: My friend recently stayed at the Marriott at Park City, which is right at the bottom of the mountain. She loved it.

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girls' weekend out: Berkeley Springs is having their annual Hey Girlfriend Weekend during the first weekend in June with drink and spa specials all over the place!

Might be something to consider.

Becky Krystal: Another option. We had a story on a sisterly getaway there not too long ago.

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URGENT-Air Jamaica: Last week I booked a trip to Jamaica (flying in and out of Philadelphia) in June through Liberty Travel. Now I ma finding out that Air Jamaica might cease operations before June? Can you give me more details? Shouldn't the travel agent have been aware of this situation and advised me to consider alternate flights? Thanks for your help!

Christopher Elliott: You should be fine. The airline says it will continue operating seamlessly as it transitions to Caribbean Airlines.

However, a recent report in the Jamaican press suggests there might be some turbulence ahead for passengers. I would check with your travel agent to see if he or she thinks it's necessary to reschedule your flight.

I think this situation will be resolved by June.

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20001: You all get a lot of questions about whether airfare will go up or down between now and some time in the future ... what about rental car rates? Do those fluctuate much as you get closer to the date you want to rent them?

I ask, not at all hypothetically, because I'm looking to rent a car for a 9-day trip in August and I'm finding rates right now that seem pretty darn cheap, and I'm wondering either how fast I need to act, or how long I should wait if better deals are on the horizon.

Carol Sottili: If you're finding cheap rates now, lock it in. Are these rates prepaid? Msny car rental companies don't require prepayment, so you could always cancel if something cheaper comes up. Also, take a look at Hotwire - I always have good luck with car rentals on that site.

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Arlington, Va.: Thanks for this wonderful service provided by you at WPost. I have greatly benefited from it, and look forward to this. Here is a quick question for a couple that does not drive.

Is there any public transport service on land(bus/train)that one can take to travel to Charleston from Savannah, Ga., and back? I searched the Chatham Area Transit site and have also tried other travel sites but the only mode mentioned by other travelers seems to be driving. Need your help. Thanks as always.

Joe Yonan: There sure is. Amtrak's Palmetto train goes between the two in a couple of hours, for $21 each way. Greyhound does, too, but it takes longer (2.5 hours) and costs more ($40). I didn't check other bus lines.

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Croatia honeymoon: This is coming a bit late, but I recently read a transcript of a travel chat from a few weeks ago, and wanted to respond to the person who was looking for suggestions for a honeymoon in Croatia.

The two weeks my husband and I spent on the Dalmatian coast for our honeymoon was without a doubt our favorite vacation - I can't recommend Croatia highly enough. We spent almost all of our time driving down the coast. If the reader can skip Zagreb entirely, I'd recommend doing so.

We stopped at the Plitvice national park and spent the day hiking among some of the most amazing rivers and waterfalls I've ever seen. On the coast, our favorite city by far was Zadar: big enough to be interesting, but small enough to feel quite accessible.

One can have a gourmet dinner for under $20, watch an amazing sunset by the waterside, then wander among Roman and Byzantine ruins by moonlight - all within a couple of square blocks in the city center.

Nearby sites of interest included the medieval city of Nin, and the islands of Kornati national park. We also spent time in Split - mostly useful as a departure point for day trips to Trogir and the island of Hvar.

Our final destination was Dubrovnik, which was lovely; visitors should set aside at least half a day to walk around the city's defensive walls for amazing views of the city and the sea. We were there in late September, when most of the tourist crowds had dissipated, and the weather was still warm and sunny. The ferries (Jadrolinia line) were comfortable and spacious. We had an amazing time in Croatia and can't wait to return. I hope that the reader who asked the original question enjoys a lovely trip there as well!

Becky Krystal: Sounds like an amazing trip. Thanks so much for following up!

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Girls Weekend Out: This is me again. Thanks for the suggestions. Just wanted to clarify that the four hour drive was the maximum we could do. Are there other places nearer? Thanks!

Becky Krystal: The Homestead is the only one approaching four hours away. The other ones I suggested are much closer -- about two hours.

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Family Summer Vacation: Right after my brother graduated from high school, our family took a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. It was an amazing trip! I was 19 at the time, so I could really appreciate it.

We went to Sydney, Canberra (the capitol was being built at the time, and only the supreme court building was completed), Melbourne, and Tasmania. We got up very early one morning in Tasmania and went to the beach to watch the fairy penguins come up out of the surf and waddle up the beach to their daytime spots. They were less than a foot tall.

The park rangers told us that we were at the southernmost point in the world outside of Antarctica. In New Zealand we went to Auckland, Rotorua (where we saw mud boiling up from the ground), and Queensland (where we skied for about an hour until the fog was too thick to see).

And the stop on the way home in Bora Bora was the BEST! I made friends with a woman who worked in the hotel gift shop, and I spent the whole time with her and her family. We had a picnic on a motu (sand bar-type little island) and went out in a little boat with a faulty motor. Thankfully her uncle had a better boat, so he could rescue us. We were away for a little over a month, and it was a great trip.

Becky Krystal: Wow! I'm jealous.

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Traveling as a Single: My suggestion would be to try traveling alone. I travel a lot on my own, and that way I can do what I want when I want. If you've never done it, try somewhere in the US that's not too intimidating - Boston, Philly, Florida, etc. And for the more exotic trips, then you can splurge on the tour groups and maybe tack on a few days afterward if there's something else you want to do.

Nancy Trejos: Thanks for your input. As someone who travels alone frequently, I second the Boston, Philly, Florida suggestions!

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Cross Country traveller: We did the reverse--Sacramento to Maryland on I-40. I just recreated the trip on Mapquest for comparison with a trip we are taking in 2 weeks (a month to California and back) so as not to repeat the feeling of forced march that the first trip had. We did it in 6 days and it felt really rushed. Going past signs pointing to places you've only read about--at night because you have to get to the next hotel on the trip is awful. Also, many of these places close at 5 or dark and Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time.

Suggestions: take at least 2 days at the Grand Canyon -- the Grand Canyon Railway is a full day. The Skywalk is 200 miles from the Park. (gives some perspective on how large the Grand Canyon is!!). If you are sensitive to altitude, Williams and Flagstaff and the Park are at nearly 7000 feet. There is a point between 5 and 7 thousand feet that affects breathing efficiency (Colorado Springs is over 6000). There are helicopter rides into the Canyon itself (but no fixed wing plane flights).

Between Albuquerque and Flagstaff: The Petrified Forest, the Metero Crater, Walnut Canyon (includes ancient dwellings). Parts of Route 66 are also visible.

Nancy Trejos: All good suggestions. Many thanks!

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Pittsburgh: A propos of yesterday's Gaspe article, I've read that the westernmost location in Europe are (not the Azores but) the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Is there anything worth a tourist seeing there? What are the food and accomodations like? Scenery, recreation? Weather? Do you have links to information or articles on them?

Zofia Smardz: Amazingly, it does not appear that we have ever done a story on these two small French-owned islands, though they've been mentioned briefly in larger stories about the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But they have their own Web site that you can check out for info on lodging, sights to see, etc. They look pretty! (And thanks for the story idea.)

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phone call clarification needed: Remember in North America where there are just area codes...no country codes...you just dial like you would any other number. Calling companies will charge extra for international callers.

There actually has been an issue with people who lived near borders whose calls were routed through Canada and they were getting slammed at international rates even though they lived and were in the US.

This is something you seriously need to watch if you travel to someplace like Niagara Falls.

Zofia Smardz: Don't think this will affect our caller to Italy, but thanks!

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Reston, Va.: My husband and I are going to be able to get away without the kids for a few days during the last week of April. We'd like to go somewhere on a direct flight or drive that won't take up all of our time (only going for 2-3 nights). Really good food, relaxation, and good weather are top of the list for what we're looking for. Right now New Orleans and Miami are on the list. Do you have any others we should add? Or any hotels you would recommend in either of those? Thanks!

Joe Yonan: NOLA and Miami are good options; have you thought of San Antonio? What about Chicago? As for NOLA hotels, I suggested these in a recent piece: Prices were valid back in December:

International House Hotel, 221 Camp St., 504-553-9550, 800-633-5770. Chic but warm perch in the Warehouse District near the French Quarter. Rooms start at $109.

Hotel Villa Convento, 616 Ursulines Ave., 504-522-1793. Not fancy, but clean, well-situated and with a friendly staff. Bonus: Across the street are the best croissants in town at Croissant d'Or (if you get there early when they're fresh). Rooms start at $79 but sell out quickly.

Soniat House, 1133 Chartres St., 504-522-0570, 800-544-8808. Charming, gorgeous and genteel French Quarter hotel with an old-world appeal. The biscuits and homemade jam at breakfast are outstanding. Rooms start at $195.

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Planning Way Ahead -- DC: Next year (late Jan/early Feb) want to take a family vacation for 5-6 days. Two adults, two teenagers, one in kindergarden. Don't want to leave the US and don't care about price. We aren't skiers but are open to warm or cold places.

Would love some suggestions other than Orlando!! Thanks!!

Becky Krystal: We'd love to help, but give us a few more specifics about what you're looking for!

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Summer Family Vacation: When I was 6 or so, my family started taking road trips in the summer. My father drove us from Los Angeles to the southwest. One year we also drove through the Zion and Bryce national park. We kept joking about the names, calling them "Brian" and "Zice." We usually went to a family resort in Utah called the Homestead. My brother and I rode ponies and rented bicycles to ride around while we were there. My grandparents met us there, and we must have stayed a week or two. They had a swimming pool that was heated by the hot spring that ran underground, so it was almost as warm as a hot tub. On one trip, I dropped my (fake) pearl necklace, and before I could pick it up, a duck ran up and grabbed it. I tried to get it back, but the duck bit me!

Becky Krystal: Ha -- that was one well-accessorized duck.

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Helena, Montana: Hello from Helena, Montana! This month I am planning a summer trip to New York with my mom (who lives out of state). We want to be able to plan a 3-4 day itinerary together using online tools so we can iterate back and forth easily - and meanwhile not buy duplicate guidebooks. Nileguide.com has a nice trip building tool, but not sure if there are others I am unaware of. What is your opinion?

Andrea Sachs: We were just talking about apps, so you caught us in the early phase of our research.
Any chatsters have favorite apps or online tools they can't travel without?

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Downtown, DC: Would love some feedback on a trip to Ecuador--we will have one full day (based in Quito) on either end of a planned trip to visit the Galapagos. We'd like to spend one day exploring the city, and one day on some kind of trip (Otavalo Market perhaps), but are not sure this is the best use of the time. Should I allot more to the city itself? Is there something I'm missing? Thanks so much!

Nancy Trejos: Ecuador is wonderful. (My mom is from there.) I did Quito in a day, and it was plenty of time to get a taste for the city. I would take a ride on the Teleferiqo, the cable car that goes from downtown Quito to the top of a volcano. Morning is best because it can get pretty cloudy in Quito late in the afternoon. Definitely go to the Plaza de la Independencia, which is the colonial part of town. The old Archbishop's palace is at the north part of the square and now houses stores and restaurants (I had lunch at one of the restaurants there. Great seafood and ambience. Wish I could remember the name!) There are also many churches in Old Town Quito, most of which were built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Check out El Sagario, La Merced and Santo Domingo. The monasteries of San Diego and San Augustín have museums. You can also go to the Mitad del Mundo monument north of Quito (it straddles the equator), where there is a planetarium. If you have the energy, I would take a trip to the Otavalo Market. It's worth a visit. Enjoy!

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Philadelphia, Pa.: It looks like the Donovan McNabb Fan Club will be moving its meetings to Washington, D.C. This will sound like a dumb question to locals, but if one comes down to DC by Amtrak, how is it best to get to the stadium? Is traffic so bad that cabs are not a good idea? How close does the Metro get you to the station? If one walks to the stadium wearing Eagles green, is one in any kind of danger?

Carol Sottili: Amtrak will bring you in to Union Station, and from there, you need to take metro to the Metro Center stop, and then switch to the blue line to the Morgan Boulvard stop - stadium is about a mile from the metro. Or you could take Amtrak to Alexandria, Va., which is on the blue line, and then take metro to Morgan Blvd.

Traffic to the stadium can get pretty thick, but a cab is probably simplest way to go. If you do that, take train to Union Station.

As a Philly fan, I'd be more worried walking back to the station after everyone has had a few beers, expecially if the Skins lose and you're being vocal. You could always wear a jacket over your jersey for the walk back. In the stadium, as long as you don't boo McNabb, like Philly fans tend to do, you probably won't get beat up.

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re: Berkeley Springs: I believe the Roman baths are closed for renovation.

Becky Krystal: Good to know, thanks. According to the park's site, the main bathhouse is closed, but mineral showers and massages are still available.

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Last Minute Flights out of DC: We had a death in the family this past Friday, not entirely unexpected as the person had been suffering from cancer. I was looking for suggestions for last minute flights to London out of DC. I have been checking airlines and booking sites but the prices are crazy for last minute. Hotwire? Priceline? Never used these before so not sure if they are worth it. Or should I call airlines and see if I can get some sort of compassion/bereavement fare..not really sure they do this anymore. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you

Christopher Elliott: My condolences on your loss. It's worth asking about a bereavement fare, but I've found they're often not worth it. I can, however, recommend using an "opaque" site like Hotwire or Priceline. You may have to put up with a connection or two and inconvenient flight schedule, but you'll almost certainly save lots of money.

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Travel Challenge: My father loved to travel, but when I was a kid my family lacked the money for us to travel in style. We always took driving trips. Up at 4:00 the first morning to get a good start!

Late one August we headed for two weeks in Colorado, pulling a pop-up camping trailer behind the car. (When opened, the tent-like camper top covered two pull-out beds.) The first night a huge rainstorm broke; my father ran outside to tie down the flaps to keep the rest of us dry. The second night we followed a local's advice about where to camp. Just as we set up the camper the police arrived and arrested my father for setting up camp on the wrong side of an invisible line ten feet away. The third night we were in the Rockies, where the temperature plunged into the low thirties. By 4:00 a.m. we all ended up huddled in the car, grateful for the heater.

By the fourth night we had begun to expect continuing adventures, but few could match the first three nights. Except in Mesa Verde where we encountered a late-summer heat spell. And then in Oklahoma-on the way home to Illinois-my first-ever dust storm.

Years later this trip provided our family with lots of laughs as we recalled our misadventures. Now with my father dead for almost twenty-five years and my mother enjoying assisted living, these adventures seem even more priceless.

Joe Yonan: That's just fantastically sweet. Thanks.

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Columbia, MD: I need to get a flight to London at the end of August to meet up with a friend; we are then flying to Venice, where we will begin an Adriatic cruise. Can I hold off a bit on booking the flight and hope the price becomes more reasonable? My English friend thinks it's possible that British Air will lower prices soon in order to win back customers they may have lost because of the strike.

Andrea Sachs: Since you are flying during high season and do not have flexibility of dates, due to your cruise, I would grab the first flight that does not make your wallet panic. Fares usually do not drop during peak season.

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Washington, D.C.: My wife and I are thinking of spending thanksgiving in Sicily. Any opinions on how the island is that time of year (obviously we wouldn't expect sunny beach weather)? Would you spend a whole week on the island or would you spend a couple of days in Rome or Naples? Thanks!

Carol Sottili: It's easy to spend a week in Sicily, but if you've never been to Rome, you may want to spend a couple of days there. November weather is variable in Sicily - average temp in the 60s and you can get some rain (same is true for Rome). I spent a week in Sicily in October, and weather was lovely.

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Vacation: My family took a long trip to the UK. We stayed in London with family friends for a week, then drove through Wales to Scotland and back down to southern England. We rented a car, and at first it was hilarious seeing my usually-excellent-driver father driving up on the curb and making all sorts of errors while trying to stay on the left side of the road. Wales was so beautiful and green (like Seattle in the spring)! My mother's family is Scottish, so it was especially exciting to visit Scotland. All of the policemen looked like my uncle! We saw St. Andrews, but didn't golf.

When we got to Folkestone (near Dover, I think), we stayed in a hotel that must have started out as one building that was connected to another, behind it. It was like a "rabbit warren" (my father's words), and it was the first time my brother and I got to have our own room. We were so excited that we could do whatever we wanted! We watched TV until we feel asleep with it on. We must have been in an attic because I remember a steeply sloped roof. And even though he was only 14, my brother was over 6' tall! I really appreciate that our parents could afford to take us on trips like this.

Becky Krystal: For real, some of you had pretty awesome childhood trips!

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Harrisburg, PA : I am traveling to Warsaw in about two weeks. I am looking at flights and am wondering if is it better to travel through Frankfurt or Munich airports? Which is the easier airport to navigate? Thanks!

Zofia Smardz: It's really six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. Those are the No. 1 (Frankfurt) and No. 2 (Munich) largest and busiest airports in Germany. But in Germany, nothing is hard to navigate. The signage is excellent, everything works well. If you want a somewhat smaller airport, go through Munich. But if a flight that suits your schedule better goes through Frankfurt, take it. You'll really have no problem.

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California dreaming, 1990: When I was 13 my family went to Santa Barbara for my brother's college graduation, stayed a week in the L.A. area doing the beach, Hollywood etc., then spent a week driving north to Lake Tahoe, where we spent a third week. During the week we drove, we stopped at so many amazing places (in one state!) -- Devil's Post Pile, Mammoth Mountain, the San Andreas fault, Big Sur, Monterey, and two nights in a wonderfully rustic cabin in Yosemite. At that age I think I had no idea how varied California could be (assumed it was all beaches; no idea you could ski, too) and as silly as it sort of sounds now, it really opened my eyes to what's out there in the world. I think that trip is a big part of where my love for travel comes from!

Joe Yonan: Love it. It's good for parents to keep in mind, isn't it, how important travel is for kids, for just the reason you say.

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Maryland: Summer vacation? Have to be the trip to Massachusetts and Rhode Island with my parents and my mom's parents. Maroon Ford LTD station wagon, dad and grandpa up front, mom and grandma in the back, and 12 year old me in the way back. Luggage on the roof.

Was a lot of fun seeing Plymouth, eating seafood, seeing the mansions in Newport...until the drive home. When it started pouring, and we had to fit the luggage for 5 people in the way back with me. For 7 hours.

Joe Yonan: At least you were only 12 -- coulda been worse, right? Funny. That reminds me of the road trip I took during college with a friend, going from Austin to DC for summer internships, and we had tied two bags to the top of the car. During a rainstorm stopped to eat -- Dairy Queen, coincidentally! -- and both did a double-take in the middle of our Dilly Bars when we looked out and noticed that the top of the car was .. well, empty. We drove back to try to find them because my friend had foolishly packed both his traveler's checks AND THEIR RECEIPTS in said bag. All I lost were some clothes.

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Ireland without a car?: Can Ireland be visited without a car? Would I be stuck in Galway or Dublin, or is there reliable train/bus service that might get me to smaller towns and sights?

Andrea Sachs: Ireland sans car is doable, but no so easy, since many towns and sights are deep in the country. Inevitably, you will have to take a combo of trains and buses. You can take the rail to the bigger cities, then buses to get around to the smaller villages. If you are in good health, you can also bike and hike. To visit major attractions, you might want to sign up for day tours. For bus and train travel, as well as the major companies, see Discover Ireland: By Bus and Train .

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Washington, D.C.: Re: solo travel. I've taken many solo vacations over the years (I'm female), and I would say that if you can get past the annoyance of paying a little more for the "single supplement," then you should go wherever interests you. Cities are probably the best because there is so much to do, and most places, including restaurants, are used to people on their own. But, my first solo trip 15 years ago was through the desert southwest - I rented a car in Phoenix and went on a loop of the national parks in northern Arizona and southern Utah, and I still consider it my best vacation ever. I got a lot of strange looks, since I was virtually the only person who was there alone, but I'll never see those people again, so what do I care if they thought I was weird? I've been able to go to so many places that I otherwise would not have visited if I had waited around for someone to go with me. Traveling alone means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. I love it.

Zofia Smardz: You sound intrepid! Thanks for sharing.

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Phoenix in July: Hey there. We'll be going out to Phoenix to visit family in July. Yes. July. (I know... I know, but that's the only time we can do it.) What can we do to keep our kids (7 and 3) occupied even though it will be hotter than heck by 9 am? Please help!

Joe Yonan: Ouch. Yeah, it'll be hot: The average high in Phoenix is 105. And before other chatters say this, yes, it's dry heat, and yes, that's somewhat better than high-humidity heat, but you feel it. I grew up in West Texas, with a similar climate, so I know of what I speak. Anyway, because it's so hot there in the summer (and the heat lasts so long -- about 5 months), there are abundant cool-off activities for you and the kids. You could go to Big Surf in Tempe or one of the other water parks in the area. You could hit one of the many splash pads or spray playgrounds in town. You could go Salt River tubing. Of course, there are public pools, movie theaters and other indoor fun zones such as Mini Golf Paradise.

Any Phoenix-savvy chatters have other ideas?

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Martha's Vineyard cheap eats: Long time summer resident of yore...

Edgartown: Espresso Love (bakery/cafe) The Quarterdeck (everything fried)

Vineyard Haven: Louis' (not in center of town but near Black Dog Cafe - has takeout)

Oak Bluffs: O-Sun Giordano's (grab a slice of pizza at the stand, not the sit-down restaurant)

Up Island (Menemsha): The Bite (also everything fried)

And, if you're taking the boat over, I'd recommend taking non-perishables over as the grocery stores are a bit more expensive...though you can find good stuff to go for the beach.

Becky Krystal: Eat up, Cape Cod traveler.

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Fairfax, VA: Myself, my wife and another couple were just in the process of starting to plan a trip to Russia this summer - Moscow and St. Petersburg. In light of the recent events, would you recommend to continue and just see what happens or possibly postpone to a future time?

Andrea Sachs: I would say, Go. First, we can't let terrorist events force us inside. Plus, we need to see the world and spread our support--it is a good morale booster. In addition, after attacks, the inflicted country is usually on high alert, heightening security. Before going, check the U.S. State Department's Web site, which lists alerts and warnings on specific countries. Currently, Russia is not listed.

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Travel-planning question: Hi Crew! I'm contemplating a long vacation this November, at the conclusion of a major work project. As of right now I don't know whether I'll be up for a city/culture/history-type break, or just flopping on a beach, or even just flopping on my couch. Is there any site where I can get an idea of what's available in a certain price range, without specifying a region of the world? For instance, is there a simple way to compare the cost of trips to Europe and the Caribbean? The couch, of course, is free, but I have hope that my project will leave me with more energy than that!

Andrea Sachs: You might want to peruse the Web sites of outfitters that offer packages around the world, such as Friendly Planet or Sherman's Travel. Also check Smarter Travel for sales on air, hotels and packages. If you are really undecided, call up a travel agent and bat around some ideas.

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Cleveland, OH: My husband and I are looking for a getaway in June, probably Sunday-Wednesday. Vegas seems to be the destination with the best flight+hotel deals for 4-5 star hotels near the action. Any other places we should be looking? We're not too picky about location, but we want pool or beach weather, a nice hotel with amenities, and good food (and drinks!).

Nancy Trejos: Vegas is a lot of fun. But you might also consider Florida. How about Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Amelia Island or the Keys? Or if you're willing to go as far as Vegas, maybe you can go a little bit farther to L.A. or San Diego? Great beahces, hotels and food there. There's also Puerto Rico, which is pretty easy to get too. Let me also suggest the Georgia Coast: Tybee Island, St. Simons Island or Cumberland Island National Seashore (though it might be a little too hot in June).

Any ideas from you chatsters out there?

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Toronto bound--: I'd love to visit Quebec one day but this weekend, we're driving up to Toronto. We're sticking to the hwys (66-80-81-79-90-99-190) because dont want to risk back roads (though we'll have GPS), rather stick to the fast interstate. Anything interesting along the way? Never been that way before. Also, I saw Tom's postcard was from '07, wondering if anybody from the rest of the gang/chatters have any recommendations.. Thanks so much! (P.S. Joe, I love the food comments, they're part of travel! So dont be pestered by the others =D)

Zofia Smardz: You don't say exactly where you're driving from. Haven't ever made the drive myself, alas, but am throwing this out to see if the chatsters have some good tips on what's to see along the way.

As for restaurant recommendations, here's a Toronto Impulsive Traveler we did not long ago that mentions a few spots. And once again, hoping the chatters will add their two cents!

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New Orleans, LA: My favorite childhood vacation was a spur of the moment trip to Sea World/Geauga Lake in Ohio. A friend of my mother's called around 6 pm one night to say that she and her daughter were headed up there and wanted to see if we were interested in going as well. My mother wasn't working at the time and thought "Why not?" We left a note for my father (this was pre-answering machines) and were all on the road by 8.

Becky Krystal: Now this was TRULY impulsive. What a cool mom.

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Washington, D.C.: Re: favorite family summer vacation. My best memory was going to Disney World when I was 10. This was back in 1980 when going to Disney was a once-in-a-childhood event (and there was just the Magic Kingdom). We took the train to Orlando and stayed in a townhouse inside the park. It was so exciting because our usual family vacation was piling into the car and visiting relatives in various locations (not bad vacations themselves, but not like going to Disney). The best day was when I got to go with my dad to the golf course and he let me drive the golf cart (except across bridges). That was extra special because my brother had some sort of hissy fit and didn't come with us, so I didn't have to share the driving. Good times!

Becky Krystal: Ah, yes. I too have fond memories of childhood trips to Disney.

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Favorite Family Summer Vacation: When I was in high school, back in the '60s, my parents decided to combine the summer vacation with getting my father's small airplane to pass inspection.

We started from central Conn. and headed north to New Hampshire, my mom driving the family van, a 1961 green Greenbrier, and my dad flying his plane, to the airport in New Hampshire where it would be inspected. After meeting up again, my dad took the wooden propeller from the plane and put it in the passenger compartment in the van where it would sit during the ride to Denver. It just fit against the wall without a door. The propeller needed to be refinished and one of the three places in the world that did that was in Denver.

From there, we headed north into Canada on our quest to "see Canada". Our van was outfitted to be converted at night to a sleeper and every night that propeller needed to come out and sit someplace on its metal hub while we slept. One night the only place to put it was on top of the van. In the morning, with the doors open and the propeller on top, it looked like the van was ready to take off, helicopter style!

We traveled through Quebec and through Ontario until reaching Sault Ste Marie, where we headed back into USA and headed westward to Montana, then south to Denver. It was quite a trip! At every state line, my sisters and I stood beside the "Entering (state)" sign for a picture.

We finally arrived in Denver and found the airport, where we sat in the van in the heat while dad was inside arranging for the propeller to be fixed. By the time dad was finished, it was rush hour and we headed east to find a place to eat and stop. Three hours later we finally found a truck stop.

It took another week to get back to Conn, vacationing along the way. This was the summer that Patrick Kennedy died. We heard the news on the car radio while driving through flat country with fields on either side and an occasional town with its grain silos.

Becky Krystal: We're guessing you mean Robert Kennedy, but this sounds like a truly epic journey. Kudos to your family!

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Peru Trip: We are thinking of hiking Machu Picchu this summer and are wondering if you could recommend any places to relax for a couple of days after the hike. It doesn't have to be in Cusco. Thanks.

Nancy Trejos: There's supposed to be a lot to see and do in Cusco so I wouldn't rule that out right away. But if you want to try something different, you can explore coastal Peru. There's Mancora, a fishing town with white sand beaches up in the northern coast. Puerto Chicama has some good surfing if you feel up to that. You can also check out Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake. Or Arequipa, known as the "white city" because its architecture has been carved out of ashen volcanic rock. There's also beautiful Colca Canyon for hiking. Or maybe just hang out in Lima for its museums, restaurants and nightlife. There are plenty of choices in Peru! Have fun.

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OTTAWA, On: Actually, the western-most part of France is not St Pierre et Miquelon but rather Guadeloupe, which, with Martinique, is in the Caribbean. I believe all three are individual Departemants of France. Aruba, which belongs to the Netherlands, is even farther west.

Joe Yonan: I've been to Guadeloupe -- particularly to Les Santes, a fabulous little island off the main island. Highly recommend it.

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Alexandria, VA: For over 20 years, my parents always took my brothers, sisters, and me to Ocean City, MD for summer vacations. As kids, it was the ultimate place for riding in a hot, sticky car for 3+ hours to get there, getting sunburns that eventually turned to tans, beach picnics with sandy sandwiches, conquering the scary rides and graduating to more scary ones, boardwalk junk food, and the lights of the rides at night.

There was only one time, where I went to Ocean City without my family. It was beach week for graduating high school seniors, and it was the dullest place. I realized then that the only reason I ever had fun at Ocean City was because my family was with me.

Becky Krystal: Aw, sweet.

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Ireland--by horse: I went on a horseback riding trip up the west coast of Ireland, and it was a GREAT way to travel (although I was quite sore in the evenings) through Ireland. Got to see everything close up and from the back of a beautiful animal rather than a bus!

Zofia Smardz: Not recommended for everyone, but it does sound fun!!

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The Burbs: I have to go to Key West the first weekend in August for a wedding. What do you think is a good price for that flight? I'd prefer to fly to the Keys rather than Miami and then renting a car and driving. Thanks!

Carol Sottili: According to Bing price is now $445 round trip on Airtran from BWI to Key West, and there is a 61 percent chance that price will go up. Farecompare's calendar indicates the fare is almost always in that ballpark. Cost to Miami is $313 round trip. When you add price of car and hassle of driving, may make sense to fly to Key West. But you will have to connect.

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Olney, MD: I accidently purchases airline tickets for pm instead of am. What is the best course of action? My flight leaves in less than two weeks so to change the fare would be expensive. Is it better to go to the airport early and try to get on an earlier stand-by flight? Thank-you for your advice.

Christopher Elliott: Yikes! You should always review your itinerary before and after you make your reservation, to make sure you don't have an a.m./p.m. problem. (Better yet, use a competent travel agent.)

Some airlines will let you stand by for an earlier flight, but you may have to pay a change fee and/or a fare difference, plus, there's no guarantee there will be room on the flight. You might be better off just taking the p.m. flight and living with the consequences.

If you try to make a change now, you will almost certainly have to pay a $150 change fee and a fare difference. Definitely not worth the money, unless it's a business meeting that you absolutely must be there for.

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Bethesda, MD: I'm hoping to fly to Chicago around April 25. Is there any chance the American Airlines possible strike could hit me or based on all the cooling off mandates, should I be safe to fly with them in April? Thanks!

Christopher Elliott: You should be safe to fly. The odds of a strike are remote, if recent reports are to be believed. Having covered this story a few weeks ago, I also think the chances of a strike happening are remote.

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22202: You don't need a travel agent to book a group rate with an airline. Ten of us negotiated our own group rate with United my senior year of high school to attend a convention. If a bunch of high schoolers can negotiate a group rate and save hundreds, so can you.

Zofia Smardz: Wouldn't want to be show up by a bunch of high schoolers! Thanks for this extremely valuable info.

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Washington, D.C.: Best childhood trip was in 1987 when my parents, 2 brothers (ages 8 and 10), and I (age 12) took a 3 week train trip from Two Rivers WI to Chicago to San Francisco to Portland and back. Aside from the fact that the train had plenty of room so there was no fighting about who was touching whom in the back seat, the mountain and coastal scenery for us flatlanders was awesome. The highlight of the trip, though was in Yosemite when a young guy from New Zealand, recognizing our Wisconsin sweatshirts told us about his goal to travel around the US that summer and see all 50 states. He didn't know anyone east of the Rockies. My folks invited him to stay with us when he passed through Wisconsin. He did, and continues to be one of our closest family friends -- and now, I'll have the opportunity to introduce him and his wife to DC when he visits here next week!

Becky Krystal: Very cool.

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Princeton, NJ: My dad was flying Continental from Mumbai to Newark a couple of weeks ago. In Mumbai, they took on additional passengers and luggage from an Etihad Airways flight that was canceled.

When everyone got on, the pilot said they were over weight, and kicked off the passengers and randomly removed luggage to bring the weight down.

His luggage was delivered the next day, but this sounded odd - is it common for an airline to do this?

Christopher Elliott: I hear about that happening on more smaller aircraft, where the weight needs to be balanced in order to operate it safely. I think it would have been fairer to refuse to accept the luggage from the standby passengers, as opposed to randomly removing luggage, afterward.

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Best family vacation: One of the best family vacations I had was when I lived in Brussels. My grandparents came to visit us for six weeks, and we drove them all over Europe and Great Britian. We saw all the usual sights, but my grandfather, a New Mexican rancher, was most impressed by all the green grass. When we went to The Netherlands, he just kept shaking his head and saying that his cattle just wouldn't know what to do with all that grass. He wore his cowboy hat and boots all over Europe and got lots of admiring looks.

Becky Krystal: Six weeks traveling Europe with your grandparents -- that's special.

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FedEx Field: Wouldn't it make more sense to take the Amtrak to New Carrollton?

Carol Sottili: Yes, it would. I always have a mental block about Amtrak stopping in New Carrollton (you can tell I live in Virginia). Then you could take the orange line to Stadium Armory and transfer to the blue line there. Thanks!

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Dinosaurs!: I'm going to be in Vegas with some days available to drive around. My friend wants to see the roadside dinos that have been in so many roadtrip movies. Where can we find them? I'll drive hours and hours for fun!

Nancy Trejos: Hmmm, I was in Vegas in January, and I'm afraid I didn't spot the dinos. I'm doing some research now and see there is one outside of Ark Auto, a used car dealer in Vegas. Maybe some of our chatsters can help. Do any of you know where the roadside dinos are?

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Long Island: I'd have to say my favorite family vacations are the cliched drives to Florida to visit my grandparents. They had a pool, and my sister and I swam like fish. And we got spoiled by our grandparents!

FYI: I-40 is still closed between Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN because of the rockslide that happened last year. There are ways around it, but they are long if you want to stay on the interstates.

Zofia Smardz: Some of the best memories are the simplest ones. Thanks for the story and the I-40 info.

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Jersey City, NJ: I haven't had a chance to tune in to the chat lately, and I see some unfamiliar names on the crew. Is the Christopher Elliot here the same person who blogged at MSNBC last week that people who buy sale fares are criminals? I was actually one of the people who bought one of those $500 fares to India. I've also taken the MegaBus between NYC and DC for $1.50 a trip (each way) and flights to Spain on Iberia for about $250 roundtrip, all of which have been aggressive sales strategies. Does the rest of the flight crew agree with Elliott that people who buy these sale fares are criminals? I was really offended by his accusation.

It seems like he thinks the businesses should all collude and set one standard price for everyone, which in some cases might be 50%, 100%, or more of what the lowest price is. I think Greyhound charges ten or twenty times as much as some MegaBus tickets!

Joe Yonan: Chris has been with us for awhile -- he writes the fantastic weekly Navigator column. Now, I love him, but I come at this from a different perspective. I don't think it's up to me as a consumer to make sure that the advertised price on something is right, although I do think it's sketchy to know that something is wrong and try to take advantage. The thing is, at $500 when all the fees are said and done, I think I would've thought it was just an amazing deal and would've snapped it up, too. And then I would've accepted the voucher from the airline when I found out it was an error.

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Washington, DC : Have 10 days off work. Would like to go to Central or South America with a friend - somewhere with kayaking, hiking, surfing, ziplining, camping, but also a big city for some nights to go out - if you could go anywhere in the area, where would you go?

Nancy Trejos: You can do all that in Costa Rica. Also consider Belize and Panama. Or Salta, Argentina. Anyone else have suggestions?

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Bethesda, MD: My favorite family trip from my childhood was actually with someone else's family. My best friend's family invited me along on a camping trip to a lake in northern Minnesota. My parents' idea of roughing it was staying at a hotel that wasn't a Holiday Inn, so sleeping in a tent was a huge adventure. Plus I got to fish for the first time, and my friend's father let us take turns steering the boat.

Joe Yonan: Fun to see how other families do it, isn't it?

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Washington, D.C.: Last minute question -- but my boyfriend and I (mid to late 20s) are looking to take a quick trip to one of teh Delaware beaches at the end of April. Which is better/or what are the differences btwn Rehoboth and Bethany beaches? Don't really want to be surrounded by crazy 21 year olds, but also don't want a real family atmosphere. Suggestions?

Zofia Smardz: For you, I'd say Rehoboth is the better bet (Dewey Beach, between the two, was always the crazy 21-year-olds, although I think that stereotype is fading). Rehoboth is a good mix of young singles and families without a preponderance of either; it's a pretty sophisticated, fairly lively beach town with great restaurants and bars, a small amuseument area, etc.

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Joe Yonan: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

We're there -- at the end of the chat, that is. Thanks for joining us today, and thanks for sharing your favorite family-vacation stories. I have to say that the chatter who lost pearls to a speedy duck (isn't there a saying about that? Pearls before ... ducks?) wins our challenge today. Send your mailing information to us at travel@washpost.com, and we'll get you your prize...

Happy travels, everyone, and we'll see you next week.

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