Q: Several months ago, I saw a program on television (I don't remember the name) that featured lighthouses where one could stay overnight. Can you furnish any information?
A: I'm sure you watched "Staying at a Lighthouse," a one-hour show that ran in December on PBS as part of its "Legendary Lighthouse" series. The show featured 10 lighthouses that offer accommodations, from the Keeper's Inn in Isle au Haut, Maine, to East Brother Light Station in San Francisco Bay. You can buy a copy of the video for $16.99 at www.amazon.com.
A list of lighthouses offering accommodations that was first compiled by the U.S. Lighthouse Society has been updated by the owners of Selkirk Lighthouse in Pulaski, N.Y. The list includes lighthouse inns located in seven states plus Canada and England. A stay at the Selkirk Lighthouse, for example, overlooking Lake Ontario, costs $100 for two per night. Information: 315-298-6688, www.maine .com/lights/others.htm.
Another good Internet resource is the National Park Service's list of publicly accessible lighthouses. It notes the lights that are being operated as bed-and-breakfast inns. Information: www.cr.nps.gov/history/maritime/ltaccess.html.
Q: My husband and I and our sons, ages 9 and 12, plan to visit Yosemite for several days next summer. We would like to rent a cabin or at least stay somewhere more scenic and rustic than a roadside motel. We enjoy hiking and would consider camping. Do you have any advice?
A: If you can get a reservation, stay in the park. Accommodations run the gamut from tent cabins to luxury hotel rooms. My first choice would be one of the metal-framed canvas tent cabins located in the park's High Sierra area, which offers great scenery and a good location for day hiking. Tuolumne Meadow Lodge and White Wolf Lodge cost about $50 per night for a family of four. You may find reservations easier to get at Curry Village in the Yosemite Valley; the daily rate for a canvas tent for a family of four is about $46. If you'd prefer a more typical hotel room, consider the Yosemite Lodge, with a pool and evening programs for the family, at about $90 a night. Because reservations are accepted 366 days in advance of arrival, you may be too late for next summer. Contact Yosemite Central Reservations, 559-252-4848, www.yosemitepark.com.
If you're willing to schlep your camping gear, the park has more than a dozen campgrounds. Some are first-come; others require reservations, made up to five months in advance. Info: 1-800-436-PARK (1-800-436-7275), www.nps.gov/yose.
Several reservation services offer private rentals inside the park. Contact Yosemite Wawona Rentals, 1-800-732-4544, www.anaserve.com/yosemite, or Redwoods Guest Cottages, 209-375-6666, www.redwoodsguestcottages.com. There are also many privately owned bed-and-breakfast inns in the park and in nearby towns. The child-friendly Little Valley Inn in Mariposa (1-800-889-5444, http://littlevalley.com) will cost about $120 a night for a family of four, including breakfast.
Q: In November, 65 senior citizens and I are going to China. Can you give us tips on needed or recommended shots, how much Chinese money we should get before we travel, and what the weather will be like?
A: No immunizations are required for travel to China. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1-800-311-3435, www.cdc.gov), however, recommends adults have updated tetanus-diphtheria, measles and polio vaccinations, and be immunized against hepatitis A. Depending on where and when you travel, a typhoid vaccination may be recommended. There are health clinics that specialize in inoculations for foreign travel, including George Washington University's Travelers' Clinic (202-994-5400). Contact the International Society of Travel Medicine (770-736-7060, www. istm.org) for clinic locations.
As for spending money, don't exchange more than you can use in a few days; it's easy to change U.S. dollars into yuan at any Bank of China or tourist hotel once you're in China, and the markups are not exorbitant. Most major hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists take credit cards. Don't exchange more money than you'll spend because it's more difficult to turn it back into dollars before you return home.
In Beijing, expect cool weather; average high temperature is 49 degrees in November, average low is 32 degrees. If you're traveling to Shanghai or Guiln, expect daytime temperatures in the 60s, but if you're going west to Lhasa in Tibet, it could easily be below freezing. Rain should not be a big problem. In Beijing, average rainfalls in November are less than half an inch.
Caroline Brearley of Washington had more ideas for staying safe while visiting the former Soviet Republic of Georgia (Travel Q&A, Aug. 1). "It is still a cash-based society. This is the principal hazard to traveling in Georgia, as foreigners are inevitably walking around with reasonably large amounts of cash." Brearley recommends using a money belt and ditching the sneakers. "Wearing tennis shoes will mark you as a foreigner, while wearing black will help you blend in." She also warns that it is no longer safe to use the crosswalks located under the streets. "They are poorly lit and even many Georgians just dash between traffic now." Brearley notes that parliamentary elections are scheduled for the end of October, saying, "No one is quite sure what this means for the security situation." As for getting to Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, she points out that Swissair flies there from Zurich (using Crossair, one of its code-share partners), and Austrian Airlines flies from Vienna. Brearley comes with credentials; she works for the U.S. Agency for International Development, but adds, "The views are my own and not AID's."
Eric Daffern of Kensington wants readers to know that the QE2 offers round trips to Europe (Travel Q&A, Aug. 1) "for not much more than the sea/air combination mentioned in your column." "It is a wonderful trip," Daffern said, "even in December." Unfortunately, you have to either be willing to sail back on the same day you arrive, or you need to have more than a month to spare in order to catch the next sailing back. Keep your eyes open, however. Some travel agencies will offer round-trip transatlantic crossings on different cruise lines. Travel discounter Best Fares (1-800-685-6518, www.bestfares.com), for example, recently offered a sailing to Europe on the QE2 with a return a week later on Holland America's Maasdam starting at $1,995 per person based on double occupancy.
Josh Steinitz of Arnold, Md., has another resource to offer for information about African safaris (Travel Q&A, July 18): Log onto www.greentravel.com and use its "adventure finder" to seek trips by destination and activity. "I searched for South African camping safaris and came back with a large selection of trips," he said, adding that listed companies "must fill out a responsibility survey regarding their environmental practices and attention to clients in order to join the network." Green Travel, a D.C.-based site in business since 1997, doesn't guarantee the tour operators it lists, but is a worthy place to start looking for eco- and adventure trips.