Q: Have I missed my chance to book Thanksgiving flights? I saw a great price on a flight to my preferred destination last week, and now it’s almost $100 more expensive. Should I expect it to just go up from here? I can usually finagle a last minute flight to a more close-by destination, but DC to the west coast leaves less flexibility with dates and such.
A: No, there’s still time. I just received some interesting data from Skyscanner that suggests this month has the best opportunities for airfare savings. The week of Oct. 17 offers savings of 5.10 percent and a mere four weeks out, the week of Oct. 31, offers the highest potential savings of 7.7 percent. Last minute bookers could find 1.98 percent in savings the week of Thanksgiving, according to Skyscanner.
Q: Never been to the Florida Keys and have no idea where to start planing a last minute short getaway (Friday-Tuesday). Interested in a nice beach and access to good food. I guess a rental car is inevitable right? Any information will be appreciated!
A: I know I’m going to get into trouble for saying this, but there are no real beaches in the Keys. If you’re looking for a traditional beach experience with surfabable waves and all the beachy things you expect from an East Coast shore adventure, you’ll probably want to head up the coast to Miami or Fort Lauderdale. But there are plenty of other things to do, including boating, fishing and sightseeing. If you’ve never been to the Keys, I’d recommend Key West (you can fly there, which will save you the almost five-hour drive from Miami). Check out the official Florida Keys site and also consider working with a qualified travel agent. If you’re more of a road tripper, you might want to take that scenic drive down the Overseas Highway. It’s truly spectacular.
Q: Next year I am planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico and want to take a side trip down to Corozol, Belize. I always heard that one can not take a rental car across borders. What would be your advise for getting down to Belize and back?
A: You can probably find a local car rental place in Tulum that will allow you to drive the car into Belize. But you can also take the bus from Tulum to Chetumal and then get a cab to Corozol. Take a look at two bus companies: Marvelus and Ado.
Q: I’m looking for a place to have a family reunion for 15 (including seven grandchildren). We’ve looked at rental houses, but wanted to compare costs to all-inclusive resorts. I can find plenty in PA and VT and the rest of the east coast, but do you know of any in the west, preferably ones that aren’t dude ranches? Thanks!
A: If you are willing to cook in your rental houses, I can just about guarantee that it will be cheaper to go that route than to book into a U.S. resort that includes meals and activities. Almost all the all-inclusive resorts out west that include meals are, if not true dude ranches, at least horse-involved. Dunton Hot Springs near Telluride has all-inclusive packages, but it’s expensive. Chico Hot Springs in Montana is another place to investigate. Any chatters have ideas?
Q: My mom, sister, and I want to travel to Cuba for 4-5 nights. From my initial research it looks like there are a variety of companies that do tour packages with a pretty broad range of pricing. We usually make our own arrangements, but are thinking this may be a time where we might want to consider doing a package. Any recommendations for whether it’s better to do a travel package or put together our own itinerary (keeping in mind the travel categories). If it is better to do a travel package, any recommendations on how to figure out which ones are the best value for your money?
A: Cuba is more open but not fully. Americans are not permitted to participate in purely leisure tourism yet. I suggest you read the requirements outlined by the U.S. embassy in Havana. As a law-abiding traveler, I recommend a package tour. I traveled with Friendly Planet, which organizes a number of wonderful trips. I also suggest you visit the countrywide, as Havana is overrun with, um, tourists.