Q: I understand there is year-round skiing in Switzerland. What are some inexpensive ski lodges still open in May?
A: While several Swiss resorts offer year-round glacier skiing, the regular skiing season for many resorts is November into May, depending on snow conditions.
But May is tricky, because even resorts that open for summer skiing often close for the month of May, and many hotels close their doors in spring.
For a sure thing, go to Zermatt (www.ski-zermatt.com), a large resort in southern Switzerland that's connected to the Cervinia and Valtournanche ski resorts in Italy and is open for year-round skiing. Hotel choices include Hotel Julen (fax 011-41-28-966-7676) and Hotel Jagerhof (fax 011-41-27-966-3808).
Saas Fee in southern Switzerland near Italy is a family-oriented resort. Hotels, especially in nearby Saas Grund, are fairly reasonable. It also offers summer skiing, but is one of those resorts that's iffy in May.
If you're looking for a quiet resort geared toward serious skiers, Andermatt in central Switzerland, about 90 miles from Zurich, usually stays open until early May, depending on conditions. Area hotels are small and reasonably priced; choices include the Bergidyll (fax 011-41-887-0555).
For more information on ski vacations in Switzerland, contact Switzerland Tourism at 212-757-5944, www.switzerlandtourism. com. The Web site offers ski packages: One week in December in Zermatt was recently priced at $958 per person, including meals, lift tickets and accommodations.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on where two college seniors can spend spring break on a budget? And not necessarily a la MTV.
Faye Chiao and Elizabeth Pitts
A: Here are three ideas, one designed for outdoor adventure hounds, one for the urban sophisticate and the third because you used the word "necessarily" to qualify your views on the traditional beach week.
If you don't mind bugs and like to go to bed exhausted, consider an outdoor adventure with Nantahala Outdoor Center in western North Carolina. You can white-water raft, mountain bike and hike. Drive to save money; the trip will take about eight hours. Lodging costs as little as $13 per night per person in a coed base camp. Information: 1-888-662-1662, www.nocweb.com.
If your idea of roughing it is not having cable TV in the hotel room, go to New York City and bargain-shop. You can get a decent hotel room in midtown for about $100 a night (check www.hoteldiscounts.com, www.quikbook. com and www.priceline.com). Buy half-priced theater tickets at a TKTS booth (212-768-1818, www.tdf.org) and try to get standby tickets to a taping of "Saturday Night Live" (handed out at 9 a.m. day of show at NBC's studios at 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues). Before you go, read "Frommer's Born to Shop New York." Take the bus to save money; two can travel between Washington and New York on Greyhound for as little as $67 round trip.
And if, by chance, you want to rub elbows (or whatever) with a bunch of scantily clad and well-lubricated fellow students, go to Panama City Beach, Fla. With kegs on the beach and attractions like Club La Vela with 48 separate bars, it's no wonder that MTV often sets up shop there. A nice hotel room will cost about $800 for a week. Drive to save money; it will take about 15 hours to get there. Information: 1-800-553-1330, www.800pcbeach.com.
Q: We've heard Maine is a good place for seeing moose and are interested in flying there next summer. Any suggestions?
A: The moose is Maine's official state animal, and with 29,000 of them tramping mostly through the state's central and northern region, you have a decent chance of seeing one, especially if you design your trip with that purpose.
The aptly named Moosehead Lake region, a 2 1/2-hour drive northwest of Bangor, is bullish on moose, and many guide services offer "moose safaris" and "moose cruises" designed to sight the huge but sometimes elusive animal. The Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce (207-695-2702, www.mooseheadlake.org) lists a dozen guide services. If you visit during late May or early June, the town of Greenville hosts a month-long "MooseMainea" party, which culminates with a June 12 festival.
Scores of hotels and cabins ring the lake, and with names like the Big Moose Inn, Moose River Landing and Moosehead Motel, it's easy to figure out the theme. The Birches Resort (1-800-825-9453, www.birches.com) offers a family wilderness adventure that includes three nights of tent camping, all meals, outdoor activities and a moose safari for $349 per person.
Mrs. Almuth Payne of Fairfax has barged the canals of France (Travel Q&A, Sept. 26) twice, and offers these tips: Boats are smaller than advertised, so rent one that will accommodate more people than are in your group. Also, barge on the Canal du Nivernais out of Auxerre. "It is the only canal in France that has no commercial traffic, so it is very peaceful with beautiful scenery, quaint villages, romantic chateaux, etc."
Helen and Bill Somerville of Arlington, who have captained their own boat twice on the Canal du Midi near Toulouse, echoed Payne's advice on getting a bigger boat. "If four people rent a barge, get a barge that sleeps six." The Somervilles also recommend that you bring or buy extra towels, and plan to eat breakfast and lunch on board, but not dinner. "There is not enough public space nor kitchen equipment to contemplate dinner preparations."
Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@ washpost.com), fax (202-334-1069) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071).