Q: My husband and I will be traveling with our 9-month-old baby in about a month. We’re headed to Japan for 16 days. Do you recommend getting some sort of travel health insurance while we are there? If so, any recommendations? We are all healthy but we want to make sure our girl is covered if anything happens. Thank you for your help.
A: I would strongly consider insurance. First, check with your health insurance to see if you’re covered in Japan. Even if you are, you may want to consider a policy with medical evacuation, in case you need to come home after a medical emergency. I have details in my frequently asked questions section on travel insurance: http://elliott.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-travel-insurance.
Q: We are considering a family trip over Thanksgiving – me and my sister (both adults) and our dad, who’s 78. We’d love to go someplace warm for several days, possibly the Caribbean or domestic. I’ve seen some great all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, which seem awesome and easy and a great value, especially for my dad since everything is close by on the property and convenient. He is mobile but can’t walk for super long distances or handle lots of stair climbing. None of us would complain about a lovely beach resort – we all like going to the beach/pool – but I wonder if we might get antsy for more stimulation. It’d be nice to get “off the ranch” and tour a city, see some scenery, history, etc.; he really enjoys window shopping and exploring on his own, but on a more limited scale and at his own pace. So while my sister and I could check out city ruins or trek out to a hot spring, he’d probably struggle a little – but he’s curious and still likes to do/see stuff too. Are there resorts/islands/arrangements that would accommodate these various criteria? Like, exploring but in a more controlled way – no hours-long walking tours or complicated day trip journeys, but instead, sites where he can do his thing and then have a coffee at a cafe if we want to go further afield. Bonus if there is shopping within walking distance from the hotel/resort (which might be a tall order) – he likes being able to independently go off, without having to get in a car (especially in unfamiliar surroundings).
A: Go to Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun. It’s safe; there are plenty of all-inclusives at all price points; it’s easy to get to; and shopping/sightseeing is available.
Q: I am looking ahead to possibly create a trip to Italy for two weeks for a family of four that will include two teenagers (16 and 14). I’m thinking a week in Rome to start with, but am wondering where to spend another week (husband and I have both previously spent time in Rome attending summer school and loved it). A friend of ours spends time in the Dolomites almost yearly; was wondering if this would be a good fit.
A: The Italian Alps (Domomites) are lovely. I enjoyed the city of Bolzano and the villages of Val Gardena. It’s outdoors-oriented, with hiking/biking popular in summer and skiing in winter. Have you been to Venice? Kids may enjoy that. Sicily is another idea, and don’t forget the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany. So many choices.
Q: When I was younger, my mother used to watch PBS’ presentations of (Christmas? New Year’s?) in Vienna. I have been thinking about making the trip some year, myself. Do these big celebrations still happen, or have they petered out a bit over the years? Also, is late August/early September too late to start the arrangements, or should I have done this last February, with everything in the region selling out? Finally, would it be worth it to stay in Vienna the entire week, or should I break it up a little, say, with a weekend in Prague?
A: Yes, the celebrations are alive and well. The Christmas market stretches over several weeks in Vienna, and is definitely worth a visit. I might shoot for late November, when you still might get one or two warmish days, since the market is outdoors. The New Year’s balls are also a significant event in Vienna. Although the New Year’s concert by the Vienna Philharmonic is televised, there’s no substitute for actually being there. I would stay all week. There’s plenty to do.
Q: My husband has to work on his birthday, and worse yet, I’m not giving him a gift he can unwrap. I’m upgrading our tickets for our vacation next spring. I’m thinking of texting him something(s) as the day goes on. What would be good? Progress of the flight we’ll be taking in X number of days? Pictures of the plane? Map of our destination? I’m just trying to think of things that would bring a smile to his face.
A: What a fun gift! I like all of your ideas. Maybe teaser images of the upgrades (champagne, multicourse meal, passengers sleeping like babies)? Or a picture of you two photoshopped onto the location, wearing crowns?
Q: My hubby, 8-year-old and I are big “Star Wars” fans. We want to go to the fan celebration in 2017 in Orlando, Fla., during spring break (the week before Easter). And tack on a few days at Disney beforehand. I’m prepared for huge hassles but having major heartburn over $300-plus hotel rooms for a week. We’ll have our car and are willing to drive a bit but also want to preserve what little sanity is possible. Any advice on where to stay?
A: If you’re a “Star Wars” fan, the absolute best time to be at the Disney parks has traditionally been in May for “Star Wars” weekends. But that’s been discontinued, and with the new “Star Wars” attraction opening at Disney Studios soon, any time is a good time to be there if you’re a fan. You might consider checking a vacation rental nearby, which would save you some money. Often, though, you can save time and parking fees (plus get into the parks earlier) by staying on property.