TRAVEL LAB REPORT

RESEARCH QUESTION: Using public transportation, which airport is faster to get to from Washington -- BWI or Dulles?

METHODOLOGY: We sent a reporter to each airport, stipulating only that each leave at the same time (11 a.m. Friday) from the same departure point (Union Station), and that each get to his or her appointed airport via mass transit.

RESULTS: It was a virtual tie -- surprising, considering that MARC trains run directly from Union Station almost all the way to the BWI terminal, while Dulles requires two subway hops and a bus ride. Our correspondents' notes:

UNION STATION TO DULLES

11 a.m. Arrive Union Station, buy Metro ticket ($2.10 -- would be $2.40 during rush hour).

11:04 Board Red Line train to Metro Center.

11:08 Arrive Metro Center.

11:15 Board Vienna Orange Line train.

11:32 Arrive West Falls Church station and find outdoor bus stop, which has a taped paper sign saying "Dulles Airport Flyer."

11:50 Washington Flyer ($8 one way, $14 round trip) departs.

12:10 Reach terminal.

TIME ELAPSED: 70 minutes.

TOTAL COST: $10.10 one way, $16.10 round trip.

SCHEDULE INFO: 703-685-1400, www.metwashairports.com/dulles.transportation.html.

UNION STATION TO BWI

11 a.m. Arrive Union Station, buy MARC ticket ($5 one way, $8.75 round trip).

11:20 Board MARC train.

11:56 Arrive BWI rail station.

11:58 Board free shuttle bus to terminal.

12:05 Reach terminal.

TIME ELAPSED: 65 minutes.

TOTAL COST: $5 one way, $8.75 round trip. Note: Getting to BWI costs less than Dulles on weekdays, but more on weekends (see below).

SCHEDULE INFO: There is no weekend MARC service, but Amtrak runs the same route for $18 one way, $35 round trip. Shuttle buses leave BWI rail station for terminal every 10-20 minutes. For MARC schedules: 1-800-325-7245, www.mtamaryland.com/marc/marc.htm.

CONCLUSION: From Union Station, public transportation can get you to either airport in under 70 minutes (even less, if you know the train and shuttle schedules) -- and for less than you'd spend on satellite parking.

-- John Briley and Andrea Sachs

WHAT'S THE DEAL?

Wyoming Skiing; Florida B&Bing

* Rosenbluth International's ski deal can save you almost $500 on a January trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo. The $765 package includes: round-trip United flight from National, BWI or Dulles to Jackson Hole via Denver; five nights at the Snow King Resort; and four Jackson Hole lift tickets. (Travel Jan. 3-28, with Sunday-Thursday departure and weekday return.) The downtown Jackson resort boasts great amenities (outdoor whirlpools and heated pool, the Shady Lady Saloon), plus ski in/ski out at Snow King. The latter is no big deal, however, since Snow King is the "local hill" and most guests shuttle 20-30 minutes to ski at Jackson Hole. 1-800-238-9048.

* Naples Beach and Golf Club in Florida is reducing its B&B package--and tossing in some fun distractions--for weekday visitors between Nov. 29 and Dec. 20. The $107.91 nightly rate for two includes: standard lodging (Sunday-Thursday; usually $179.85), breakfast buffet, half-hour golf clinic (Wednesday or Saturday; usually $28.62 per person) and afternoon tea. The rooms, in a two-story building, are 10 steps from the Gulf of Mexico and have balconies--some, alas, looking over the high-rises, a parking lot or golf course. Add a $179 AirTran flight to Fort Myers for an affordable but comfortable midweek preholiday escape. 1-800-237-7600, www.naplesbeachhotel.com.

--Andrea Sachs

SITE OF THE WEEK

To find discounted hotels in Asian destinations:

www.planetholiday.com

Like U.S. hotel discounters, Planet Holiday negotiates with hotels for wholesale rates and then sells rooms to the public via the Web at way-below-rack rates. It's also a reasonably frank source of information, using lots of pictures and a sharp amenity grid. Limits: No online reservation confirmation (by phone or e-mail only); and most hotels are big, international, resorty places, not the scrappy independents where rates are often shockingly low. And you'll have to buy air elsewhere.

TRAVEL TIP 121

The $5 Mobile Phone

PROBLEM: Hotel room telephones with short base cords often won't reach the guest room desk, much less the sunny balcony outside where you really want to work.

SOLUTION: Pack a 30-foot extension phone cord, says Nick Allard of Garrett Park, Md. Lightweight (less than four ounces) and inexpensive (under $5 at electronics or hardware stores--ask for a "modular base cord"), the cords are easy to use: Unplug both ends of the existing short cord connecting the base of the phone to the wall jack and insert your replacement, reversing the process before checkout. Now you're mobile, without roaming charges and all the privacy of a landline phone.

Send travel tips (100 words or less) to us by e-mail (travtips@washpost.com); postcard (Travel Tips, Washington Post Travel section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071); or fax (202-334-1069). Winners receive a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt. No purchase necessary. Tips become the property of The Washington Post, which may edit, publish, distribute and republish the information in any form.

TO DO

HOME THIS WEEK? Slide-illustrated lecture on daily life in Tibet, Wednesday, Freer Gallery of Art, 202-357-2700, www.si.edu/asia.

THE REGION

Orange, Va.: Dec. 4-5, Traditions in Miniature, 540-672-1653. Lilliputian rooms are decked out with holiday decorations that would make Barbie swoon.

Lancaster, Pa.: Dec. 5, Marietta Candlelight Tour of Homes, 717-426-3056. Nosy neighbors can snoop through late-18th-century private homes, watch vintage films with organ-music intermissions and indulge at an English Victorian tea party.

THE NATION

Orono, Maine: Dec. 11, Maine Indian Basketmakers Sale and Demonstration, 207-581-1901, www. umaineedu/hudsonmuseum. Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot artisans use ash splint and sweet grass to weave baskets and more.

Santa Fe Springs, Calif.: Dec. 11, Rat Fink Reunion, 1-800-547-5422. Greasers, hot rodders and other car fanatics convene in a parking lot to strut their autos-as-canvas creations.

THE WORLD

Oaxaca, Mexico: Dec. 23, Night of the Radishes, 212-821-0313. In Mexico, they prefer radishes to pumpkins for carving spooky faces on. For Christmas, local farmer/artists cut Nativity, bullfighting and Aztec scenes into the yam-sized roots. Fireworks follow the late-night contest.

Send news about events, festivals and other things To Do by e-mail to travcal@washpost.com.