Talk about travel: Beaches off the beaten path, exploring Oregon's coast, Rhode Island beaches, Amtrak tickets, Vieques, more

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Flight Crew
Monday, July 12, 2010; 2:00 PM

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Becky Krystal: Hi, all, and welcome back to another edition of Talk About Travel. Did you miss us last week? I'm thinking yes, because we already have a healthy supply of questions. This week we've got beaches on the brain. Andrea explored the picturesque Oregon coast, and I spent a few days bouncing around the shore of Rhode Island. Both places are definitely a little bit under the radar for non-locals, but that's the beauty of going there. So tell us about a beach you've been to that's off the beaten path that was worth the visit. That is, if your'e willing to share. Best answer gets the prize.

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Lisbon, Barcelona: Hi Travel Crew,I'd like to plan a vacation to Lisbon and Barcelona sometime within the next year and a half. What do you think the best time of year to go is? How much time would you plan for in each city? Would 4 days in each be enough? Thanks so much for the help!

Joe Yonan: I'd look at early fall; you'd be past the summer rush but the weather should still be nice. How much time? Well, how much time do you have? Four days each is probably the minimum I'd suggest, but then again I'm a stay-a-long-time-in-each-place kind of guy. Could you swing 2 weeks total? You wouldn't be sorry, I can promise you that. Here's the interior of the amazing, unfinished Sagrada Familia to entice you:

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Beach vacation from VA: Hi Trav Crew! Always appreciate your great advice & stories. I liked the RI beaches but want to head south for hotter temps so we're going to Miami SoBe next month. Really excited, never been. Been reading up on it & see lots of negative comments about cab drivers & being overpriced. Besides renting a car which we dont want to do, any tips on way to get around? Planning on staying near Oceans Dr. And any tips or recs for Miami for first timer? Thank you very much!

Nancy Trejos: Other good places for drinks are the Sky Bar and the Shore Club hotel. A great Latin Restaurant is Ola! (Try the foie gras empanadas) Sushi Samba on Lincoln Road is also good. Nobu at the Shore Club is also great for sushi. For great Cuban food, go to Versailles in Little HAvana. Nikki Beach is a cool place to rent beach chairs and have cocktails. Have fun!

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Amtrak Tickets: Hey Travel Experts!When should I purchase 2 tix for travel on Monday 10/21 (probably morning) from Boston to Stamford, and on Friday 10/29 (late morning) from Stamford to DC Union Station? Dates are probably set, but who knows what can happen in 3 months. I'm not familiar with Amtrak, but will probably NOT take the Acela as it doesn't seem to be worth the increased price. Your take is greatly appreciated!San Rafael, CA reader

Christopher Elliott: Unfortunately, there's no Yapta for train tickets -- at least none that I'm aware of. But the good news is that prices for train tickets tend to be far less volatile than for air fares or hotels. My guess would be that as fall approaches, prices will go down.

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Charlotte, NC: We are visiting Charlotte, NC this weekend. Anything we shouldn't miss during our trip?

Andrea Sachs: You are in NASCAR country, so definitely check out the new race car hall of fame, which opened in May. I would also recommend the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Light Factory, one of only four museums for photography and film in the United States. For restaurants and nightlife, check out EpiCentre. And for an outdoorsy getaway that's not faraway, go rafting, biking, climbing, etc., at the U.S National Whitewater Center. To read about my experience there, check out this Travel piece.

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NoVA: Typical question but any idea for a relatively short, inexpensive vacation near here? I just want to get away but am limited dollar-wise (as is most of America I know).

Becky Krystal: OK, help us narrow this down. What do you like to do? What kind of scene are you looking for?

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summer trip suggestions: My husband and I will have time (at least 2-3 weeks) and money for a big trip in July or August 2011, but we can't decide where to go. We love hiking and outdoor activities, and we'd like to avoid super-touristy stuff and places that are all about the beach. I'm thinking anywhere but North America and Europe, at this point. Where should we go?

Zofia Smardz: You don't say how much you might want to spend, but if you love the outdoors, how about Australia? You can't get much more outdoorsy. Hit the Outback, go camping and hiking, horseback riding, etcetc. Or check out Tasmania, or Kangaroo Island. A recent Going Our Way column lays out a whole trip for you.Central America would another, cheaper and closer-to-home, option. Chatters, what say you?

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A shot in the dark about Ponce Puerto Rico: I know this is going to be a completely random question but I think this is my best place to send it...There is a restaurant in Ponce Puerto Rico, Las Tias, that is excellent and highly recommended. Anyhow, they have some great artwork on the walls and I wondered if anyone knew if it was for sale? they don't have a working website or even a phone # I can locate. If any of the artwork is for sale does anyone out there know how to get in contact with them? And I also highly recommend the place if you are in Ponce!

Joe Yonan: I put your query to the Puerto Rico tourism officials, and if I get a response I'll let you know. In the meantime, if one of our chatters happens to have this, yes, kind of random information, speak up!Also, I have to ask, why didn't you ask about this when you were there?

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Off-the-beaten-path beach: On the night of December 31, 1999, two friends and I camped on the beach of the western-most point in the US (which is in Washington's Olympic Park) to herald in the new century. It was an beautiful, hidden, and well worth it.

Becky Krystal: That does sound amazing, if a little chilly!

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Ocean City Travelers: My Aunt has friends who want to Travel to Ocean City, but don't want to stay in ocean City (Cost too much for hotel when they want to stay $200+ per night). They are more than willing to travel up to an hour to get to OC. Can anyone make recommendation of a town they may want to check out for a less expensive hotel. Also they would like to play golf one day, any good courses within 1hr of their base. Thanks

Carol Sottili: Salisbury is about a half hour from Ocean City, and it has several cheaper hotels. The Hampton Inn there, for example, has rooms in summer starting at about $92 a night plus taxes for weekdays ($118 weekends). As for golf courses, there are dozens in the Ocean City area. Many, such as Lighthouse Sound and Glen Riddle, are pricey. But there are plenty of cheaper public and executive courses. Pine Shore, for example, has an 18-hole walking rate starting at $18. Go to Ocean City tourism for more golf course info.

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Booking Through Orbitz and Credit Card Charges: I booked an international flight through Orbitz over two weeks ago, but my credit card still has not been charged. I received an email confirmation with a record locator number, ticket numbers, and seat confirmation though. I talked to my credit card company and they said they never received any billing information from Orbitz. I talked to Orbitz and they seemed unconcerned. They told me that they already received their booking fee and it was up to the airline to send the billing information to my credit card company. When I talked to the airline, they said that Orbitz was responsible for charging my credit card company. Everyone (Orbitz and the airlines) have all said that I have nothing to worry about as long as I have received my ticket confirmation and ticket numbers. I can't help but feel a little strange that no one seems concerned about collecting their money. Should I be worried?

Christopher Elliott: I would be concerned. Here are a few people at Orbitz you can contact. I suggest sending a brief, polite email describing this problem. Something may be seriously wrong with your reservation. If that doesn't work, email me and I'll try to help.

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Food and customs: Hi, Flight Crew. A question on customs, as I prepare for my trip back to the States. I know fruits and veggies aren't allowed, but are they allowed in baked goods? If, for example, I wanted to make blueberry muffins and didn't eat them all on the plane, would I have to trash them in customs?

Andrea Sachs: My understanding is that as long as the produce is not raw, those items are allowed through. For example, I have brought in dried fruit and bread wit fruit pieces. So because the berries are baked, you won't have to toss them into the can. For tips, see the Customs Web site.

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Girls Getaway?: I'm looking for a place for a weekend getaway for 6 former college roommates (it's been 20 years...). Mid-atlantic is probably best, and not too pricey. Any suggestions? We're looking at Philly -- will we have fun there?

Becky Krystal: I think so! In fact, you could probably build a nice little Philly itinerary based on some of our recent stories. I don't know your threshhold for expensive, but a stay at the Hotel Palomar might be fun. (The Conwell Inn is another option.) Check out the local art scene and grab a bite at some small restaurant gems. And if the weather's good, visit the area's beautiful gardens. Sound good?

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Eastern Europe: Planning a trip to Eastern Europe in October. Husband says it will be too cold. Anybody been there around that time?

Zofia Smardz: Croatia, it might be a little nippy for swimming.Chatters, help us out. Your experiences?

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BEST Beach off the beaten path......: Has to be Polihale Beach at Polihale State Park on the western side of island of Kauai. One has to take a 6 mile dirt road to get to it but WOW....incredible....no facilities to speak of, so bring your own gear and stuff and feel like you're the only one on the end of the world with this beach all to yourself. I did the drive this past April.....and no, I didn't have a 4 wheel drive....but....had I gotten stuck...but the suspension SURE took one heck of a beating....even driving slow! So BE Careful!

Becky Krystal: That does sound like a bit of an adventure.

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DC to Oakland: What is the best way to find the lowest airfare for early August?Thank you!

Andrea Sachs: Try the usual suspects: Kayak, Bing, Fare Compare, etc. For example, I am finding fares in the $370 range, which is reasonable. Also, check JetBlue for cross-country sale fares.

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Rhode Island: We really enjoyed the Rhode Island article. My husband is from RI, where he worked summers at the Dunes Club, a private beach club in Narragansett. We go to Narragansett Town Beach and Block Island every summer (which took some getting used to for me as I'm from Oklahoma where going to the beach was inconvenient and not my parents' idea of a vacation; i.e., it wasn't educational). What is great about RI beaches is they are not commercialized. There are no water slides, no miniature golf, no cheap souvenier shops or cheezy arcades, and no McDonalds for miles. The beach is the entertainment which is the way we like it. The first time he took me to Block Island we rented bicycles, but when we realized we were not Lance Armstrong, and were walking the bikes more than riding, we turned them in and rented a moped - had a great time. Just glad you didn't give away all the secrets of our wonderful RI.

Becky Krystal: Glad you liked the article. I loved the area for the exact reasons you do. There was a little bit of a more commercialized strip around Misquamicut, but it was pretty small and not overly obtrusive.As to giving away the secrets, we'll see. One person I talked to on Block Island was worried I'd ruin it for those in the know, but I think that'd be pretty hard to do!

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Shipping Boxes vs. Checking Baggage: Hi flight gurus! I'm moving across the pond this summer, and we are moving some things with us - not the whole house, just about 5 footlockers' worth of items - mostly clothes, bedding, some kitchen items.I've tried to do some research, but it's surprisingly difficult to get good information: Would you suggest paying the overage fees and checking with us on the plane (and then dealing with hassle of transporting to final destination); or shipping using FedEx or UPS? Any ideas which is cheaper? Shipping sounds great, since it arrives at the door, but seems really expensive...Thanks!

Nancy Trejos:

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To Montana on Delta (follow-up): Just wanted to say thanks for the link you provided last week when I wrote in about my troubles with Delta. I contacted Delta and they awarded me 5,000 miles for the inconvenience. (And the trip to Montana was amazing! I highly recommend the Beartooth Mountains, the Crazy Mountains, Gallatin National Forest, etc. Absolutely beautiful.)

Christopher Elliott: That's great!

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Eastern Europe in October: I think that is the perfect time to head to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria or even Poland. You will want to bring the sweater but the smaller crowds, changing leaves and fall festivals are wonderful. Keep in mind that if you are heading in the mountains that it starts snowing in October in the Alps and in the mountain ranges of the Balkans.

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Beaches: You know, I am just not a beach person. I don't like all the sun, I dislike salt water, don't like getting all sandy, and have an unreasonable fear of being eaten by sharks (I was seven when the movie Jaws came out and it traumatized me although I didn't see it). However, I was at a beach in Rye, New Hampshire a few summers ago that was very nice. It was about a mile or so long, sort of a curved shape, and a good length for walks. Found some nice shells, driftwood, and sea glass. I got to wear all my linen capris and tunics--I felt like a J.Jill catalog. We were visiting relatives who fed us the most marvelous lobster dinner. Great memories.

Becky Krystal: New Hampshire. I like that.

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Re: Amtrak tickets: Poster might want to double check on his or her dates. 10/21 is a Thursday, not a Monday.

Nancy Trejos: Good catch!

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Sold-out flights?: What's the best way to find out if a flight is sold out? I'm hoping to snag an empty seat for my one year old (we didn't buy her her own, which I'm regretting) and I don't want to lug her carseat all the way to the gate, only to find we have to check it.Thanks!

Carol Sottili:

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Beaches off the beaten path: My wife and I were recently in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and found an amazing beach hidden from the masses. It was down an unmarked dirt road off the main highway. Once we slowly drove our rental car down the bumpy dirt road, we were treated to an undeveloped cove that stretched for a few miles between private resorts on either side. We only saw 3 other people the entire week were there and had the entire place all to ourselves as far as the eye could see.

Becky Krystal: Well done.

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Summer trip suggestions: If they want to travel in the summer of 2011, and don't want to go to Europe or North America, they should aware it won't be 'summer' in much of the world at that time. You suggested Australia, and it's winter there then...which is pretty mild in some parts of the country but too cold for hiking in Tasmania. Ditto for South America much below the equator.

Zofia Smardz: Yes, mea culpa for not keeping the season in mind. Although I think you can travel okay in Australia even in the winter. I was there in July once and it wasn't at all bad. But I take your point on Tasmania. Thanks.

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Answer to beach question: My mother and I walked from Rehobeth Beach to Lewes Beach past the old watchtowers. This may not be remarkable, but it was memorable.

Becky Krystal: Very sweet.

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Liquids & gels: Lipstick doesn't count as a liquid or gel that has to go in the ziplock baggie, does it? I looked at the TSA website, and they never actually define what qualifies and what doesn't. From what I gather online, it doesn't have to go in the bag, but I figured I'd double check here. Thanks!

Carol Sottili: Lipsticks come in both solid and liquid forms. If it's the old-school type in the tube, that's considered a solid. But if it's the liquid type with a wand, put it in the baggie.

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Western Most? I don't think so.....: Hey, point of reference to those "Haoles" thinking that the Beach in Washington State is the western most point......the Polihale beach is !!

Becky Krystal: Judges? OK, we'll give them the continental U.S.

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Carnival Pride Dry Dock? : I will be sailing on the Carnival Pride from Baltimore on November 28th. Recently I learned that Carnival is canceling two sailings on the Pride in early November, because the ship will be in dry dock. While this has to be devastating for those passengers whose cruise has been canceled, I'm assuming this can be a positive development insofar as my sailing is concerned. What exactly happens to a ship while it is in dry dock?

Carol Sottili: While I'm not sure about this particular situation, ships usually enter drydock because there is some problem with the propulsion system. It costs millions for a cruise line to take a ship out of service, so they don't do it to freshen the paint. The ship may be running faster and smoother when it comes out of drydock, but I wouldn't expect any new amenities.

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big trip suggestion: South America-- Argentina, Chile (Torres del Paine), Peru (inca trail/Amazon), New Zealand (although it's winter, right?) Scandinavia, what about a bike trip in Europe?

Zofia Smardz: I think the chatter specifically said they were ruling out Europe for this big trip, but all those other suggestions are great.

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Re: Sold out flights: Thanks for the tip. I forgot to mention it is an international flight to Moscow on Aeroflot, not sure if that makes a difference or not. I'll check their website for seats and keep my fingers crossed!

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Western Sightseeing: Please help, gurus! I am planning a trip to the Grand Canyon (north rim), Bryce Canyon and Zion. My idea is to stay somewhere that is centrally accessible to all three and take day trips out to the parks. Do you have any good ideas for somewhere near the Utah-Arizona border that might be at least a little bit interesting to stay in for a few nights? Thanks!

Becky Krystal: The View Hotel in Monument Valley, which Nancy wrote about earlier this year, sounds like it would be perfect for you.

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Areas in Chicago: I'm heading to Chicago for 5 days in october -- fun! I've never been there before and am not sure what part of town to stay in. Suggestions? Being near public transportation is important, but I'd also love to be in a fun/hip area (akin to the Marais in Paris), as opposed to something too stodgy/touristy.

Nancy Trejos: How about Lincoln Park? It's not as touristy as North Michigan Avenue or the Loop. It's a real Chicago neighborhood with good public transportation. You can easily get to all the museums and other sites. And there are great restaurants and bars in Lincoln Park. Good hotel options too.

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Planes at Dulles: A few weeks ago I flew into Dulles and noticed a group of jumbo jets (big airbuses or 747s)--maybe 4 or 5, all unmarked. Any idea what these planes are for? Just curious, its not often you see that many unmarked jets.

Joe Yonan: That's my new personal fleet. ;-)

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Hawaiian Decision: I'm going to Honolulu for work, and would like to bring my husband for about a week vacation. We've done Maui, and are trying to decide between Kauai, the Big Island, or just going to the North Shore. I know some islands are better fits for some personalities/activities than others - do you have, or know of, a quick rundown that puts it in a nutshell?

Andrea Sachs: You are so right: Each island has its own personality, but all cater to anyone who loves water activities, nature and cocktails at sunset. I would start with the Hawaii CVB's Web site, which lists good summaries of each island and the major attractions. It even has a Choose an Island feature.

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Best Beach...: I was on a Caribbean cruise in college and one of our stops was Tortola. Had never heard of the island before (despite being well-traveled) and I wasn't sure to expect. We disembarked and my friend, his family and I all climbed aboard a questionably stable bus to take us to a beach his mom had heard about. Forty-five minutes later up and down winding cliff-edge roads with white knuckles (boy did some yoga breathing techniques help out there!), we arrived at the most remote, pristine beach I'd ever seen.Blindingly white sand, clear blue water and, aside from the five of us, only three additional people (and two were working a little tiki bar)...it was amazing. I went out in water up to my neck and could still clearly see my feet. It was truly paradise. Now, years later, I don't remember the name of the beach or how exactly we got there but I think that only adds to the allure; it is almost as though it existed only in my mind...

Becky Krystal: We had a story on Tortola a few month ago. It's apparently good for surfing too.

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England, Norway, and Switzerland: My mother would like to go to England for her 75th birthday. I would also like to take her to Norway and Switzerland. Is it feasible to do all three in one trip? Would two weeks be enough time? How should I start planning. I am thinking next summer. Thank you.

Zofia Smardz: Your idea would be biting off a huge chunk. It's doable, but is the hassle of all those flights worth it? If it's your mother's express wish to see England, you'll want to spend at least five days or a week there. Then splitting a week between Norway and Switzerland -- unless you mean Norway and Sweden?? -- seems like shortchanging each of those spectacular countries. It would be a tiring trip, I think, to say the last. But let's hear from the chatters.

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Vieques or Rincon or ....?: We're thinking of renting a house for extended family gathering (say, 7-10 adults, ages 40-70, 5 kids ages 7-15) in the Caribbean. We were hoping to go to St Lucia but it seems too expensive, so now we're considering Vieques, or perhaps Rincon. We don't need a lot "to do" but any ideas of where to go?

Nancy Trejos: Puerto Rico is a great choice. Vieques is beautiful. Andrea had a great time in Jamaica, and it's affordable. And chatters have ideas?

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The best beach: Goat Rock Beach, California: Our favorite beach trip ever was when we went for a weekend trip to the Russian River area in Sonoma County. We did a little wine tasting, but also drove along Highway One for the scenic drive. We came to Goat Rock Beach, which is where the Russian River pours into the ocean. It happened to be a year where the state had dredged the outlet, and where the river crashed against the sea, seals and pelicans were fishing. We sat on the sand just feet from the wildlife, and it was absolutely magical.

Becky Krystal: Gorgeous.

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Rehoboth on the cheap: Hi all. I'd like to have an over-nighter at the beach. However, I do not want to spend $200 for one night in a hotel. I was thinking about stopping somewhere in DE on a Friday night and then hitting the beach the next day. Any suggestions on where to stay? Are all those small towns between the bay and the beach the same? Thanks.

Carol Sottili: I did a quick check of hotels in Georgetown, Selbyville and Milford, and couldn't find anything with good reviews for less than about $150 a night. Anyone have a favorite hotel or B&B to share?

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Southwest Airlines: Is there hope for affordable tickets on Southwest ever again? I used to be able to find $99 one-way fares all the time between here and SLC, but now they're around $249. Will they ever come down again? Thanks.

Becky Krystal: I guess it depends on where you're going. I just bought tickets to Cleveland for $51 each way. Not bad. My fare to Providence for this weekend's beach story was something like $79 each way.

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Re: Food and customs: Cooked/processed foods are allowed. I go home to India every year and while coming back I bring tons of pickles (mango, lemon, etc). I declare them and I never had any problem. At the most, they may irradiate (pass it through an x-ray scanner kind of machine) it. No problems.

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Vancouver, BC: Hello, I'm looking for a nice restaurant in Vancouver BC to celebrate my anniversary. We would like good food and wine, fun atmosphere, but not too loud, and entrees for no more than $30 US. Any ideas? Thanks!

Joe Yonan: I'd go to Tojo or another sushi place. Check out this piece by Remy Scalza for tons of ideas. Vancouver has gorgeous seafood, fresh and fantastic.

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PA Resorts: Has anyone been to the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA? Any other recommendations?

Carol Sottili:

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beach off the beaten path: I think I might have submitted this for another prize, but I didn't win, so it's still kosher to enter for this, right? I leave it to you.On a break from school where we were studying abroad, a group of us decided to go visit the Dead Sea. Being intrepid students, we opted for a mini-bus option to get us there. We were the only tourists on there-- everyone else on there were locals-- bewildered but very nice locals. One man asked where we were going, and when he found out, told us to get off here, here, here is the Dead Sea! So we got off (before we thought we were supposed to), and sure enough, there is a totally deserted beach there. And it's the Dead Sea! We paid one dinar for showers, but nothing to get on the beach. We also enjoyed lunch and tea with the gentleman who owned the showers, which was fantastic. Unforgettable experience.

Becky Krystal: What a nice story.

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Off the Beaten Path Beach : I'm not sure if a beach in Orange County, CA just off the Pacific Coast Highway can be counted as "off the beaten path", but Thousand Steps Beach, just south of Laguna, sure seemed secluded when I visited. It's not really 1,000 steps to the bottom (although it felt like that on the way up), but the trek down is worth it. The beach is spectacular, with rock formations that create a tunnel into a cove revealing aqua-blue water. I felt like I was on a desert island.

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Biltmore (Follow-up): For the poster from the last chat...the online discount is great. Also, if you enter the estate after 3pm, your ticket is good for the next day too. Great way to get in shopping, the gardens, etc, then have the whole second day for the house.As for tours, the audio guide is EXCELLENT, and well worth the cost. The Behind the Scenes tour is also really good - lets you see the rooms they're restoring, as well as how they actually managed a house that size. The Rooftop tour is interesting, but if you're pressed for time, you can skip it. Going back next year for the fourth time...it really is a great place. Also in Asheville...check out Mast's General Store. Yes, it's a little touristy, a little hokey, but...it's also a lot of fun. Including things you haven't seen in years. (And one of the best sugar free candy selections I've ever seen!)

Nancy Trejos: Thanks. Great tips for Biltmore. And I second checking out Mast General Store. I haven't been to the one in Asheville but I did go to the one in Valle Crucis, near Boone. It was very definitely something to see at least once.

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Eastern Europe in October: I've been to Moscow in October and it's a little chilly but far from bone chilling. Kiev, Ukraine is absolutely beautiful in October. A light coat is needed at night. Black Sea region, perfect time to go.

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LISBON, BARCELONA: On this, may I add October - warm temps in Lisbon - great hotel and air prices... beach weather. to see the city you need at minimum 5 days, but a week is better - to see Estoril, Sintra, Cascais, Arrabida and so on+ it is a 90 min flight to Barca.

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Off the Beaten path beach B&B: Here's a question related to yours. I'd like to stay at a B&B at one of the nearby beaches (Rehobeth, OC, etc.) Are there any that are walkable to the beach but are still quiet and relaxing?

Carol Sottili:

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Second vote for Australia: I just want to echo Australia; yes, that is winter there, but for the northern, more tropical parts of the country that's the best time to visit. Bring a sweater if you spend any time in Sydney or Melbourne and you'll be fine.My off-the-beaten path beach (12 time zones from DC so it's literally on the other side of the planet) is also Australian; it's Rottnest Island, about a 20km ferry ride from the port of Fremantle, Western Australia. No cars, just a couple of buses and emergency vehicles, so you use bicycles to get to the white sand beaches and Indian Ocean water so clear you want to taste it to be sure it's really salty. A range of hotels and rental cabins from hostels to four-star, restaurant choices to match, and historic sites to visit with tour guides on hand. Then there are the island's mascots, the quokkas hopping around all over the island with no fear of humans since they've been a protected species there for nearly a century. A quokka pretty much sends the cute-o-meter off the scale. Picture a kangaroo the size of a house cat (did I hear an "awwwwww"?)

Zofia Smardz: We are agreed, thanks!

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Oregon Coast: I've been to the Oregon Coast several times, and it's really beautiful. I didn't read the whole article, so don't know if you addressed this, but some of the towns further north (like Florence) can be incredibly crowded on a summer weekend, due to proximity to Portland. One of the best vacations I ever had was staying in a tiny (one road) town called Yachats about halfway down the coast -- beautiful and solitary!!

Becky Krystal: What are you waiting for? Read the rest of the article!

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Central Europe in October: I spent a lovely two weeks in Austria in early October. The weather was great! Crisp, warm during the day and cool at night.

Becky Krystal: More first-hand experience. Thanks.

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FF Miles: Looking to book an overseas trip in late December for a honeymoon. Here are the criteria: 1) Mix of active and downtime possible, 2) someplace expensive to get to but relatively cheaper when we're there, because 3) we trying to use the 200,000 or so United FF miles we've each accumulated to pay for the flights. Argentina is in consideration, but we're having trouble coming up with other ideas because the United site doesn't really allow you to put in selected dates and the amount of miles you have and then receive a list of possibilities...or does it? If that's not possible, can you recommend some other sites that might fit the bill, at which point we'll go back and start checking if there's availabiilty.

Andrea Sachs: I would go old school on this one and simply call the airline and ask them about availability for your desired destinations and times. It seems much easier than having you struggle. (I just called United and US Airways to find out about using my miles for a trip to California and they were very patient and helpful.) However, once you know your flights, book them online so you don't pay the phone booking fee. Also, with those miles, I would go farther, maybe to Indonesia or Thailand.

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Local Weekend Beach Trip: My girlfriend and I are looking to make a quick trip to either the Maryland or Delaware beaches Jul 31-Aug 1 - just one night, really. There appear to be very few options available to stay the night - I see two hotels available with rates of $300+ for the night. Any suggestions on how to not break the bank for one night? Other places of similar distance that will give us what we are looking for? A couple of days at the beach, decent restaurants and some fun (but not wild) bars for that one night?Thanks!

Carol Sottili: has rooms for about $146 a night plus taxes. Go to Ocean City tourism for more choices.

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If I want to go to Paris this summer...: Realizing that the summer is halfway over, what would you recommend for housing options? I like aircon, room service and 4- or 5-star accommodations.

Zofia Smardz: You like luxury! Traveler after my own heart. We stayed at the Hotel Chateau Frontenac and the Hotel du Louvre on our trip to Paris last year. The Frontenac (4 stars) was lovely but the Louvre was lovelier (and more expensive, natch), right by the museum, gorgeous lobby and bar, great full-service hotel. It will cost you a penny or two, though (and you don't say how long you're going for).Other thoughts, folks?

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Mackinaw Island: A couple of weeks ago there was a question about the prices at the Grand Hotel. They offer summer discounts in the Michigan papers every summer - has to be on certain dates like a flight, but significant savings.

Becky Krystal: Thanks for this. Another reason to subscribe to newspapers!

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Best Beach: Lembongan Island in Bali. Seriously the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The island itself is pretty tiny (almost exclusively motorized bikes b/c of the lack of/narrow roads). We walked a "beach walk" which turned out to be more of a beach hike (including species of lizards I have never seen before), but all of a sudden we were walking down a cliffside to white sand and crystal clear aqua blue water. There were bungalows at the top of the beach and a few fishing boats in the water. The only sounds were that of the waves crashing up against the cliffs b/c there were only about 5 of us on the beach. Seriously unreal.

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Western-most...: Yes, yes, sorry. We knew it is the western-most point of the contiguous 48. And we were very excited to be the last people in the contiguous 48 see the sun go down in the previous century. We chanted it all night long. Maybe that was to calm us with the storm brewing outside. Can't remember.

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RE: Liquids and gels: As much as I love to complain about the airline rules and the security idiocy, I have never worried about, nor been stopped and told to toss something, because of liquid lip gloss, eye products and the like. I very clearly put other true liquids and gels in the Ziploc baggie, but no one has ever gone through my makeup case to see what's what.

Carol Sottili: I think you've been lucky.

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Beautiful beaches: I am not really a beach person (which is rather funny since I live in South Florida) but the most beautiful beach I have ever seen was in Bermuda... so off-the-beaten-path, I would never be able to find it again, but it was in a small grotto, completely secluded, with the softest pink sand I have ever seen or stood in. There were a few small B&Bs in the distance, but the large hotels were nowhere to be seen. Ah, the memory has me thinking I should take a trip back.

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SUMMER TRIP SUGGESTIONS: Can I suggest the Azores? Just 4 hours from Boston, off the beaten path, real + wonderful.

Zofia Smardz: Excellent idea, even if they are technically part of Europe.

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For Summer Trip Anywhere but N. America and Europe: If you haven't already been to the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington State), reconsider leaving the country. There is gorgeous hiking and tons to do. I went last October and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g-l-y beautiful. The Hood River Valley is incredible, and, if you happen to like and beer, I can't think of a better place to go.

Zofia Smardz: Oregon's beaches!

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South Coast MA: I vacation on the south coast of MA. However it lacks good restaurants. Driving to Rhode Island via 195 would not be too bad of a trip. Did you find any good places to eat in your travels?

Becky Krystal: Sure did. Have a look at my details box from the R.I. story to see if any would be on your way.Providence is also a great food town if that works too.

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22202: Best beach I've been to ... a rock beach in Hualien, Taiwan. We visited marble rock gorges (driving along a 40-mile one-way mountain road ... when you came upon another car, your bus backed up until there was space for the two to pass. Um, nerve-wracking much?) The beach was beautiful, all smoothly polished stones and tranquil waves and seeing the Pacific from the other side of the world was amazing. What did it take to get there? We took an hour flight from Taipei on an airline that wasn't in great shape -- reading a newspaper given to me in-flight, I discovered that our airline had filed bankruptcy that morning and had serious safety problems. There was duct tape on the wings and our plane dropped constantly for an hour. People were puking and shrieking. Our Buddhist tour guide even dropped his calm facade and grabbed my hands and started chanting. When even a Buddhist freaks out on a flight, you know it's a bad one!

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Honeymoon in Asia: Hi Travel Crew! We're planning our honeymoon for mid-late June 2011. We'd love to spend a week or two relaxing on the beach in Thailand or elsewhere in Asia. Thoughts on how to narrow this down? Any recommendations for places off the beaten path? We're pretty adventurous but would definitely prefer more time to unwind vs. trek about. Thanks!

Becky Krystal: This Going Our Way on Thailand was for an anniversary, but it should work just as well for a honeymoon, I think.

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currency exchange: With the euro fairly low against the US dollar right now, would it be wise to set up a bank account in euros to use during a visit to Europe in 2011?

Christopher Elliott: As someone who used to live in Europe and had to set up a bank account, I can answer that with a definitive "no." Too much of a hassle and not worth your time for just saving a few Euros (maybe).

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Arlington: My girlfriend and I want to go to a beach for a night this summer that is within a 3 hour drive. We'd really like to go to Dewey but the hotels are really expensive and most require a two night stay, which we can't afford. Do you have any suggestions of any beaches that aren't as big of a tourist spot, either north of south of DC? Thanks!

Zofia Smardz: A beach within a three-hour drive of D.C. that's not a tourist spot? You dreamer, you. :-)Actually, though, if you don't mind a beach that's not exactly on the ocean, you might consider North Beach, Md. It's on the Bay, but it's still a beach and gentrifying fast. Or try Matapeake State Park, a new beach on Kent Island, Md., (just on the far side of the Bay Bridge) that opened last year. I haven't been, but I hear it's lovely, and you could stay at the Kent Manor Inn, a beautiful lodging place on the island.Other ideas, people?

Joe Yonan: You're not kidding about those Dewey prices! I just was poking around for a dog-friendly hotel, because I wanna take the pooch to the beach -- particularly to an area where I'll be able to take him actually to a beach without oo many restrictions against that -- and figured the Atlantic Oceanside Motel would be really cheap. A motel, right? But it's $169-$259 on the weekends! And they don't allow dogs there until Labor Day!Actually, that reminds me: I should ask chatters for ideas! If you were wanting to take your pooch to the waves not too far from DC, where would you go? Dog lovers, help me out!

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New York, NY: Hi travel crew, We are planning a 3-4 day mini-vacation to Cape Cod in August. We'd like to go for longer but we have a special needs child and I am pregnant, so it will probably just be an extra long weekend. Could you please give me ideas on must-see places in Cape Cod? We are probably going to skip Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket islands because it costs a few hundred dollars just for the car on the ferry. I am looking through Frommers and some other websites, but I would really appreciate any travel advice you guys could give. Thank you so much!

Joe Yonan: I'm a fan of the Lower Cape (which isn't really lower at all, but go figure), especially the last three towns before you hit the tip: Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. In Wellfleet, there are beautiful glacier-formed ponds with much milder-temp water than the ocean. Also, look for the fantastic PB Boulangerie for possibly the best croissants I've ever had. Seriously. In Truro, I love the cliff-dune beaches such as those at Ballston and Long Nook (and, of course, Chatham Lighthouse Beach in Chatham). And in P-town, of course, it's art galleries and comedy/variety/drag shows (most of which aren't too family-friendly). You could get a permit and have a little bonfire at Race Point beach, though!

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Best Beach: That would be "Sunset Beach" an au naturale beach at Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We have met wonderful friends at Sunset Beach that we continue to keep in touch with. No tan lines and no icky wet swim suits either!There is such a misconception of what goes on at au naturale beaches - please don't confuse this place with a Hedo resort!

Becky Krystal: OK then!

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Expensive to fly, cheap to stay?: Hi! I'm cash-poor, but frequent flier miles middle class. I have enough miles to get my future husband and myself anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Central America, or "Northern South America" (however Delta defines it) for free. Do you have any suggestions of places that would be a good value for our miles in that it's not usually all that cheap to fly there, but a place to stay and food could be cheap once there? Bonus points for nice beaches and history-rich towns to explore.Thanks!

Nancy Trejos: Hmmm, I would go for "northern South America" or Central America then. Would northern South America include Colombia? If so, go for it. It's gotten safer in the last few years and is an absolutely fun, beautiful, interesting country. (Full disclosure: My father grew up there.) I haven't been in a couple of years but I remember it being pretty affordable. In fact, I'm probably heading to Cartagena for my vacation this year. Other great cities to check out: Bogota and Baranquilla. In Central America, consider Honduras. It is usually pricey to get to, so if you can use miles that would be great, and it's got some great beaches. I loved Guatemala (Go to Lago Atitlan, the ruins of Tikal, and the lovely town of Antigua). Belize and Panama would also be worth it, I think.

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United Lied To Me?: I sent my 16 year old daughter overseas. She's mature for her age but since I was sending her thru Chicago from Indy and she had to change terminals, I asked if she could get some assistance. United check in assured me someone would be waiting for her in Chicago to help her get to her international flight. Well, the plane was severely delayed in Indy and she got into Chicago 20 minutes before her next plane was scheduled to leave. Not a soul from United was anywhere around and my daughter got scared. We ran thru just this kind of scenario before she left and she knew to get on the train to terminal 5. Believe it or not, TSA was not busy at the International terminal and she made her flight just in time( she heard her name over the PA system).But my gripe is that in effect, United just dumped my daughter in Chicago with no concern for her safety. I wrote a letter of complaint but this doesn't satisfy me. Is there someone more official I can report this to? Or should I just let it go?

Carol Sottili: The reservation desk should have mentioned that to you. I can't understand why they would tell you that she'd be taken care of if you didn't opt for that service.

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RE: Western Most? I don't think so.....: Umm wouldn't the Aleutian Islands be the farthest point west?

Becky Krystal: OK, we've established contiguous U.S. Let's move on. :)

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Ruined off the beaten path beach: When I was a child, my family visited the beaches in Lapush, Washington. At the time these were very off the beaten path beaches as they are a part of the local Indian reservation. All of this has been ruined by the Twilight books that include Lapush and now are part of Twilight tours and other such nonsense.

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Bill Me Later: I see this payment option on occasion to pay for airfare. What are your thoughts on this payment plan option? Also recently saw a flight to Italy in late August for $740. Is this a good price for the time of year? It's DCA to Rome. Thanks!

Christopher Elliott: The installment plan for airline tickets hasn't really caught on, as far as I can tell. I'm not a personal finance expert, but I'd recommend not buying something like an airline ticket if you can't afford to pay for it up-front. And yes, that's a very good fare to Italy in August. But remember: In August, everyone is on vacation in Italy.

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Southwest cancellation policy: I recently learned that if you cancel a flight on Southwest, you can use the credit for up to one year without change fees, without having to fly to the original destination. Has anyone out there actually used this? What am I missing because why would anyone buy a fully refundable ticket (assuming I will take another trip within a year so that I use the credit.)

Becky Krystal: I don't think you're missing anything, really. The biggest advantage to a refundable ticket (the Anytime tier) is, well, it's refundable. You can also travel on standby on the same date and between the same places as your original itinerary without a change fee. Here are the complete fare rules.

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Re: Amtrak Tickets: I've actually asked Amtrak this question a while ago when I was looking for Alternative ways to get to Florida for me and my little Brother. Don't know if they are still operating this way but for long haul routes the further out you purchase the better. As the train gets closer to filling up they start to increase their fares (which is the opposite of what we're use to with the airlines). For regional routes the longest I would hold out would be 7 days prior to departure, and I always purchase my tickets 14 days in advance to secure the cheaper fare. Additionally travel during non-peak hours and you'll get the less expensive fare. Their online reservation system is pretty good and you can get a good indication of what the fares should be. Just avoid last minute purchase with Amtrak because you will pay through the nose. Hope this helps.

Nancy Trejos: Thanks for writing in!

Christopher Elliott: Thanks for the advice. I didn't know that.

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Girls weekend - Phills: As a local - meeting planner - I like The Palomar but the guest rooms are very small. For a girls weekend I would stay at a hotel with bigger guest rooms - The Loews or the Sofitel. Just my suggestion

Becky Krystal: And thanks for it.I forgot to mention the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute. That sounds pretty cool too.

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North Rim/Bryce/Zion: Kanab, Utah might be a better bet. Monument Valley, while amazing, is quite a ways from Bryce - too far for a day trip, IMO. Page, AZ, at the south end of Lake Powell, is another thought. Enjoy the trip!

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Two week adventure trip next summer: I'm biased, as I've only been home 36 hours, but would strongly suggest Panama as a place that's got tons of outdoor stuff to do, but is off the beaten path. Info was hard to find, I suggest tripadvisor.com as a good resource (I used barefootpanama.com and Panamaholidayhomes.com during my trip and can recommend both). Jungles, rainforests, great food, non-stop flight from Dulles only 4.5 hours...and if you want a beach, I was just on Contadora Island, which is AMAZING! You take this 12 seat plane for 20 minutes to get there from Panama City, and you're literally sharing a deserted Island with the ghosts of Survivors past--three seasons were filmed there! Truly unforgettable.

Nancy Trejos: I've never been, but have heard many great things about it. Sounds amazing. Thanks!

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August in Central/South America?: Hi all: My husband and I are looking for somewhere to spend around a week this August. (It can't be September; unfortunately, I'm a teacher and will have to be back in school.) I'd like to see birds and/or other wildlife. We're thinking Costa Rica, but I'm apprehensive about how rainy the rainy season might be. Ideas?

Carol Sottili:

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Staying on AZ-UT border: I'd repsectfully disagree with your suggestion about The View in Monument Valley as a central location for vising Zion, Bryce and the North Rim. That's a ton of driving each day just to get to those parks. Monument Valley's nowhere near anywhere. Also, bear in mind you can get into Zion much faster if you're staying there, just FYI. I'd stay somewhere central to the roads, like Kanab, UT, which is a short drive to all three parks.Also, bear in mind the different time zones. If I remember correctly, the North Rim (Arizona Time Zone - no daylight savings) is an hour behind Zion and Bryce (Pacific Time Zone) and Monument Valley (Navajo Time Zone - observes daylight savings).

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West coast beaches: Two I loved: Stayed at a NPS campground in Big Sur, and the guy at the check-in desk gave us explicit directions to a lovely hidden beach. Hard to find because residents apparently take down the sign every time a new one is put up on Rt. 1. We were there at sunset with only one other man--walking his new puppy "Limo"--half black lab, half basset--shape of the basset, color of the lab.Also, Bandon OR, farther south than your story ventured. Tall rocky monoliths just off shore, but we were there at the month's lowest tide so the bases were exposed, and we were rewarded with thousands and thousands of orange and purple starfish. Lastly, for the Amtrak traveler: You can get a 10 percent discount with a AAA card if you purchase tickets at least 3 days prior to travel,

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Grand Canyon: There's no one place convenient form which to travel to the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce. Traveler would spend a lot of time traveling, and be limited to less than a full day in each park. Need to stay in or near each park (GC has the fewest options for accommodations).

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Planning an Interesting Road Trip: We are visiting relatives in Skowhegan, Maine (done this road trip many times) in October however this time the trip is the main event and I want to include stops along the way and back, such as Newport, Rhode Island, Prince Edward Island and maybe the Hudson area of New York and any other places of interest, especially food and sight seeing - where can I go to get help on how to plan this trip- it is also our 5th wedding anniversary so I want it to be special

Joe Yonan: We're late in the chat for me to get too much detail in here, but for food, particularly, if I were you I'd stop in Philadelphia (for Fork); Tarrytown, NY (for Blue Hill); Boston (for O Ya); and Portland (for Fore Street).

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Family camp in Canada - driveable from D.C.: My family and I (husband, wife, three kids: 7, 5, 1) just lucked into two weeks off at the beginning of August (yeah!). We want to drive to a family camp/resort somewhere more remote and less expensive; we are thinking lake swimming, supervised kids activities, shared meals (no golf). What about the Muskoka region of Ontario or the Mont Temblant region of Quebec?M.J., Washington

Nancy Trejos: My friends just returned from the Mont Temblant area and highly recommended it. They also drove up there. Made it in about 8 hours, I believe.

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Cape May - Wildwood NJ summer vacation: We are planning a summer family vacation. How many days should we plan to really enjoy in Cape May - Wildwood NJ? What are the top attractions (in addition to the beaches)? Any suggestions for good, reasonable places to stay?

Zofia Smardz: I'd take at least three days, but you could stay for as long as seven and not run out of things to do. Cape May is a popular summertime resort, so it's not cheap, but it's also full of lovely B&Bs and you should be able to find one that's not overly expensive. Check out this recent story we did for some ideas, as well as the town's official Web site. It'll give you ideas for things to do as well. Cape May is the genteel resort; for the boardwalk, the honky tonk and the amusement park, head to Wildwood.

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car rentals: I've never before had a problem getting an affordable rental car, but prices seem to be sky-high lately. I've tried for several months to get a price for an August rental that last year would have been average, gradually increasing my Priceline bid. Is there any chance of reasonable rates soon, or should I just bite the bullet and pay the big bucks now? I have no other way to get from Newark Airport to upstate New York.And thanks for all the vicarious travel on this chat!!

Christopher Elliott: You might also try Hotwire.com, which offers similar, so-called "opaque" prices. Car rental rates are obscene. They will come down in September for certain, but in August, you should expect to pay a lot. I wish I had better news!

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Atlanta: My boyfriend and i have a 4-hour layover in Atlanta on the way back from New Orleans in a couple of weeks (on a Sunday). Is this enough time to go anywhere in Atlanta, assuming the flights are on-schedule? Would love to spend a little time at World of Coca-Cola if it's enough time.Thanks!

Joe Yonan: three restaurants not far from the airport that he loves:Taqueria La Oaxaquena. I can vouch for this one -- I've been there. Order the tlayuda, which is basically a ginormous tostada. Amazing. Mostly vegetarian, newly renovated.Hambones BBQ. This made Atlanta mag's list of the best barbecue in the area, and it's just minutes from the airport.

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Uncrowded beaches: Ocracoke! I just love it there. In the shoulder season, and September is absolutely gorgeous (barring a hurricane), it's easy have the beach to yourself. My husband and I walked just a few hundred yards from the beach access where we parked and saw only a couple other people all day. Though he was carrying the cooler, so it probably seemed further to him!

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Nuku Hiva-- off the beaten path: Sailed into Nuku Hiva (Marquesas Islands) a few years ago and took a walk from the Catholic church on Taiohae Bay down a small path about half a mile-- to find the most gorgeous tide pools beside a black sand beach. It took every bit of self-control I had to leave!

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Beaches: I'm also looking for an inexpensive place to stay at a DE beach for just a night. But I just don't know which one to go to. I'll be coming back from Philly the first weekend in August, I'm 30 years old and don't want to be surrounded by kids but will want a bar to go to, and a few hours to lay on a beach and read.

Carol Sottili: There are no decent inexpensive places to stay on the beach in Delaware in August. It's within easy driving distance of many large population centers, so demand exceeds supply, which means high prices. Why not go after the kids are back in school when prices drop?

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Eastern Europe in the Fall: Be aware that many hotels, especially the smaller ones, do not turn on the heat until closer to November. I took a tour of the Swiss Alps (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) in late September/early October and FROZE. Dress accordingly.

Zofia Smardz: Something to keep in mind, you're right, but Eastern Europe is not the Swiss Alps. :-)

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Summer Family Vacation : I know it's late, but I'd like to plan a family vacation abroad in August. I've narrowed down choices to Norway, Paris, or Iceland. My husband and I will be traveling with our 10-year-old son. We'd like to keep cost to $6000, including air, and travel for about 7 days.

Zofia Smardz: Sorry -- and your question is . . . ?

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Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce: While the View Hotel looks neat, Monument Valley is wayyy east of all 3 locations, so I don't think it fits "centrally located". The only place that comes to mind is Page, AZ, at the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. It's not very central either, but it's a lot closer than Monument Valley, and there are lake-related things to do. Kanab, UT is very centrally located, but I doubt very "interesting", as the original question asked for.

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Hotel du Louvre:: My adult son and I stayed there for 4 nights a few years ago and had a great time. It is around the corner from the museum, has many cafes nearby, service was excellent, and the rooms were lovely. Spent my birthday cruising down the Seine having a spectacular dinner before leaving our week split between London and Paris. Divine!

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Beach in Nova Scotia: I once visited Ingonish Beach on Cape Breton Island, way far north in Nova Scotia... and people were swimming! The water was warm - the Gulf Stream passes by. The sand was strange looking - very large sand particles, and very brown, not light tan. It was a really interesting place.

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Oregon Coast: Thank you so much for the article on Oregon's northern coast! The timing was perfect for me -- my husband and I are headed to Oregon this Saturday for a weeklong vacation -- we start in Portland, then go through the Columbia River Gorge, followed by three days in the Willamette Valley, and concluding with a couple days on the northern coast. Can't wait!!

Becky Krystal: Good timing indeed.

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Loved Iceland: Hi gang. I wanted to share that I recently returned from Iceland. It was a great vacation with lots of beautiful scenery, great woolen goods, and friendly people. The days were extra long, not getting dark much at all, and the weather was pretty comfortable. I would highly recommend it to people looking for a bit of adventure with a love for geology, waterfalls, and scenery.

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Omaha, NE: My family lives in the DC area, and I like to travel home to see them as often as possible - I'm guessing a frequent flier program/credit card is the best way to do this. Any suggestions for finding a good one?

Carol Sottili: I use the Capital One credit card that accumulates frequent flier miles, and it's worked for me. Several sites offer reviews of different cards: Try Frequentflier.com.

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Wash, DC: The Europe in October question inspired me to ask - what should we not miss in London in late October, with a 4-yr-old in tow? This will be the little one's first trip abroad. I used to know London reasonably well, but now haven't been there in over a decade (maybe two?!), and certainly didn't have a 4-yr-old's needs in mind back then! Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!!

Nancy Trejos: haven't been in so long, I would hit The Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park. If you don't mind taking the train, go to Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.

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Argentina?: Hi gurus! Love the chats! I'd like to go to Argentina in early December. When's the best time to buy tickets? Right now they are all $1000 or more. Also, is Argentina safe for a woman traveling alone? I've traveled alone in the US and Europe and this would be my second trip to South America. Thank you!

Andrea Sachs: Prices do currently seem to be in the $1,000 range (I found some on Mexicana for $938), a few hundred high of the past norm. There is no way of knowing when the price is at its lowest, because fares are so volatile these days, but I would sit on it a little longer and see if the airlines offer a winter South America sale. Stay away from the holidays, though, when fares spike. In addition, as a solo female traveler, you should be fine. Just keep those safety precautions in mind (don't walk alone at night in dark places, for instance). For a good thread on this topic, see BootsnAll.

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Off the beaten path with power plant and music: I think the most enjoyably off the beaten path beach I've ever encountered was one I stumbled on in Hong Kong's New Territories about six months before the British left. I was wandering the trails on Lamma Island when I heard music being played. Walking in the direction it was coming from I walked onto this beautiful, sandy, crescent-moon shaped beach with a huge power plant looming just to one side. There was a festival going on, and I spent the afternoon eating Chinese finger food, drinking locally-brewed British-style beer, and dancing to the live band. Ever heard an REM song sung in Mandarin?

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Becky Krystal: Well, kids, it's time to pack up the sand toys. The winner of this week's prize is the person who was lucky to land in Taiwan in one piece, so send your info to travel@washpost.com. Join us again next week. Until then, happy travels!


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