Q I'm planning a trip to the Bahamas with my husband and two grown children around Christmas to celebrate my 50th birthday. We'd like to go for a few nights and to keep it within a reasonable price range. Any ideas?
A I'd opt for eating cake and ice cream at home on my birthday and heading to the Bahamas before or after the pricey holiday period, when many hotels more than double their prices.
For example, rooms at Atlantis, one of the premier properties on Paradise Island, start at $480 a night from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4; the same room on Dec. 22 is $215. Also, hotels that have more reasonable rates, such as Comfort Suites Paradise Island, are already sold out.
Food is very expensive in the Bahamas, so an all-inclusive may save money. Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort (800-HOLIDAY, www.paradiseislandbahama.com) on Paradise Island doesn't hike prices astronomically over the holidays: The holiday rate for an all-inclusive deal for two starts at $302 per night, and the usual winter rate starts at $274.
You may also save money by booking a package with air. Apple Vacations (800-727-3400, www.applevacations.com), for one, has a four-night package with air from BWI and accommodations at the Holiday Inn in downtown Nassau starting at $758 per person departing Dec. 26 and $558 departing Jan. 5.
I'm taking my 13-year-old granddaughter to Rome. After visiting churches and museums, can you suggest some fun things she may enjoy?
When I was a rising sixth-grader, my family visited Rome. I can still see the hundreds of stray cats roaming through the Colosseum, the nuns crying in joy at the sight of the pope, the noisy traffic jams and the disdainful look on a waiter's face when I ordered a hamburger.
Don't underestimate how much she will enjoy the museums and the other tourist sites. The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's "Pieta" in St. Peter's Basilica both made a tremendous impression. "Three Coins in the Fountain" is dated now, but she may still enjoy watching that film and then throwing coins into the Fountain of Trevi. My brother and I were fascinated by the Catacombs of St. Callistus, where we viewed the bones of early Christians stacked in niches along the walls.
The books "Italy With Kids" by Barbara Pape and Michael Calabrese; "Fodor's Around Rome With Kids"; and "Kids Europe: Italy Discover Journal" may be helpful. Order online at Amazon.com or through your local bookstore. For general information, contact the Italian Government Tourist Board (212-245-5618, www.italiantourism.com) and Rome Tourism (011-39-06-488-991, www.romaturismo.com).
Now that a picture ID is required for travel, what type of backup ID should I have? If I lost my only picture ID, my driver's license, I worry I'd be stuck. I have a passport but hesitate to take that on domestic trips.
It's up to the airlines, not the government, to check IDs. And not all airlines require a government-issued photo ID for domestic flights. Continental, for example, will take two forms of identification, one of which must be issued by a government authority, such as a social security card. If you've misplaced your license, especially if you have other forms of ID, you're going to be allowed to travel unless you fit some other profile, but you'll be subjected to close security scrutiny. Put some forms of picture ID, such as an employee card or a credit card with picture, in different places, just in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
If you carry your passport as a backup, make two copies of it and your driver's license, and leave one set at home and take the other with you, but keep it in a separate place from the originals. This way, you'll at least have the pertinent info and some evidence of its existence in case of a problem. Another idea is to scan copies of your driver's license and your passport and e-mail those files to an account you can access through the Web.
Most states also issue government ID cards, but some, including Virginia, will issue these only to people without a driver's license.
Kitty Bettis of Rehoboth Beach says travelers who want to learn more about American Indian culture (Travel Q&A, June 6) should take Amtrak between Albuquerque and Gallup, N.M. "A Native American comes on board and talks about Native American customs," she said in an e-mail. "He/she also points out and explains what you are passing. My husband . . . was fascinated with the lecture by the daughter of one of the Navajo code talkers of World War II." The onboard lectures are part of the Trails & Rails Partnership Program between the National Park Service and Amtrak. Info: www.nps.gov/trails&rails/Trains.htm.
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