Q: Can you recommend a cruise ship and/or itinerary in the U.S. for first time elder cruisers?
A: Consider a New England & Canada cruise aboard Holland America or Princess. You many also be interested in one of the smaller lines offering cruises along the East Coast’s rivers and coastal regions: Take a look at American Cruise Lines and Blount Small Ship Adventures.
Q: What is the best (cheapest) way to get foreign currency for South Korea and Japan?
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A: Typically, the best way to get currency is through an ATM after you arrive.
Q: Airfare is higher than I can recall in a long time. Deals seems few and far between, if at all. Is there any reason why? Inflation is low, oil is still low. What gives?
A: It comes down to supply and demand. Airlines have been consolidating (United merged with Continental, American with US Airways, Southwest with Airtran, etc.) and streamlining operations. Passenger load factors are very high (about 85 percent last year), which means planes are going out full. No reason for airlines to offer cheap seats when the expensive ones are being sold.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for one night in August to break the trip to Cape Cod with 1-year-old?
A: The little towns along the Connecticut Shore are adorable. You might also enjoy the Thimble Islands area, not far from New Haven. The Owenego is a lovely hotel with a beach in its backyard, perfect for a wee beachgoer.
Q: I’ve noticed more people carrying neck pillows on trip. Are they worth the trouble of carrying one more thing?
A: I have an inflatable neck pillow. I find that much more convenient, if not quite as comfortable.
Q: When I use a credit card in Europe, I’m asked if I want the charge in euros or dollars. I’ve been saying “euros.” What do you say?
A: Always charge in the native currency. Otherwise you’ll pay a fee or an unfavorable exchange rate, resulting in a higher bill. The process is often referred to as dynamic currency conversion.
Q: Am I being excessively paranoid? My family and I are traveling to Europe from Dulles and don’t want to leave our car at the airport. I’m concerned about taking a cab/limo/shuttle because clearly it will appear to the driver that our home will be empty. Is there a service where the drivers have passed a background check? Or am I worrying too much?
A: Unless you tell the driver you’re going to Europe for a week or whatever, the driver will have no idea where you’re headed or for how long. And the driver won’t know who else lives in the house. I think you should book a ride through a reputable firm and not worry.
Q: I am trying to get my first passport (I am age 60) not for a specific trip but to have for later – maybe this summer, maybe next year to Europe. Long story short, I get a letter and an mail from the passport monolith that my birth certificate, which of course I sent in instead of a copy, is inappropriate because it doesn’t include my parents’ full names. It has a raised seal, etc. Now I need to contact New Jersey and get another one, but if this is the way it was presented to my parents, how would I change it?
A: I believe if you ask New Jersey to reissue your birth certificate, your parents’ names will be on it.
Q: Since there’s no work required on their part I don’t see how airlines can charge for a carry-on. How does that cost the airline anything? Likewise if you’re paying a fee for a checked bag there should be an expectation that they won’t lose your bag or pilfer it. It’s a shame the government has let the airline industry get out of control.
A: I agree, fees for carry-ons are punitive and only serve to enrich the airline. The government could do something about it, but it refuses. Don’t look now, but we do have an election coming up.
Q: I’m looking to take a trip with my husband next year before we have kids. We’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Nepal, Chile, the UK, Italy and South Africa. Any suggestions? Not looking to spend more than $5,000, excluding airfare. Any ideas? I’d love to avoid touristy areas, and am willing to take a shorter trip if it means going somewhere amazing but more expensive.
A: How about Colombia? Or Morocco?
Q: We’ll be in San Francisco for a few days next month. Most of our time is already scheduled out for us, but we have a free day that ends at the ballpark. What’s the best use of about 10 daytime hours?
A: Not sure what you have planned, but I could spend all day at Golden Gate Park. The Ferry Building Marketplace is also fun and very foodie, and you can take a ferry ride to another part of the Bay Area.