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In our current environment, the travel consumer is bombarded by misinformation and outright lies on a daily basis. Bait-and-switch “from $499” ads are the rule – not the exception. A half-inch is defined as “extra legroom” and a moldy hot tub may be a “luxurious spa”. Google virtually any travel-related topic, from hotel properties to destinations and you are smothered in a sea of tens of thousands, perhaps millions of ads disguised as information. No one seems willing to help. Everyone wants your credit card number. We hope that traveltruth.com is just the first step toward changing that perception.  Travel does not have to be about lies, hype, or ads that treat you like a child. Travel is not a commodity to be sold at Costco next to the frozen peas. We’re talking about people’s dreams, some of the best experiences of their lives. You are entitled to professional consultation free of bias and always offered on a complimentary basis.


Our mission is simple: We wish to be the most unadulterated, truthful, and industry knowledgeable travel site in the world.


 

HOW MUCH DO TRAVEL WRITERS GET PAID?

Q - Are all travel writers working part-time and do they always receive free trips? I read several of the travel magazines and love their stories of exotic  travel. But I always wonder who is paying for their travels and how the financing works.  A - Travel writers are often approached by public relations media to travel to a destination to writer about it. Most of the features we see in print and on TV were provided to the writer on a complimentary basis. The only major publication we are aware of that does not accept complimentary travel is the New York Times. It is assumed that the destination will be treated fairly and in a generally positive manner. Tourist boards, cruise lines, and hotels routinely offer comp. travel to writers affiliated or freelancing for major publications. Airlines are a bit more hesitant to comp writers but it does happen.  Much…

ONE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR OUR EXPLORATION OF JAPAN

Q - I think we are a bit obsessive when we travel. My wife and I, both college professors, one a robotics scientist the other a psychologist, start a handwritten three-ring binder in preparation for every trip we take. The obsessive part, I suppose, is that we start our binder exactly two years to the day prior to our anticipated departure. It has worked well as a system for us although it is clearly not for everyone. Your site is among our favorites as much for the "attitude" as the honesty. Our next trip is going to involve 17 days on our own. (We know you suggest guides in Japan) and we have it fairly well mapped out. We were wondering if there was one major piece of advice you might want to share that might not be in our notes. Not so much looking for places as we are for…

WHEN DO THE GREEK ISLANDS CLEAR OUT?

Q - We are planning a long-delayed trip to see some of the Greek Islands next year. I've read some of what you have to say about the crowds on the more popular islands and we are quite comfortable going in the off-season as opposed to the off-off season. I guess our question is, how late in the season can we go to these islands and still find people there operating their businesses and, particularly, their restaurants. We are not cruisers and we would want at least three nights per island. Also wondering about off-season flights. Thanks so much. This is an incredibly informative site.  A - We would suggest that you travel in mid-October with a plan to return home no later than November 1st. Flight operations in and out of Athens for the islands will be reduced on or around October 1st but some flights still operate for…

WILL I BE DISAPPOINTED IN FIRST CLASS SECTION ON MY EUROPEAN LEG?

Q -  We have arranged our own First Class air for a cruise we are taking from Venice to Athens. In order to get the best price, I have to fly  American to London and then change planes in London Heathrow to then fly on to Venice. We have an hour and forty-five minutes for the connection which American assured me is more than enough time. But then there is the problem with my flight to Venice. It is on British Airways and I understand, from what I have researched online, that the seats in First are small and that the food on BA is nothing to write home about. I bought a coach ticket and used miles to upgrade to First within Europe. How do I assure I get a first class experience flying from London to Venice?  A - You could try chartering your own jet. Short of…

JUST HOW HARD IS IT TO GET A VISA FOR BRAZIL?

Q - We are thinking about visiting Brazil but have heard from friends that a Visa is required and that it is a rather tortuous process.  I understand this is something the Brazilian government is doing in response to Trump and his anti-immigration stance. Taking my wife to Brazil is a dream but I don't want to wait weeks or even months to make it happen.  A - Your friends were right - but now, they're wrong. This has absolutely nothing to do with Trump. In fact, the number of US tourists headed to Brazil has grown substantially since last November when the country introduced e-visas. You apply online and the entire process takes about 72 hours. Up until this recent change, you would have had to appear in person at a Brazilian Consulate or Visa Center and you may well have been asked to produce personal bank records. Month…

WE NEED TO GET RIGHT TO OUR GATE TO TRANSFER AT HEATHROW AND WE ONLY HAVE AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES. WILL WE MAKE IT?

Q - We are taking only our second trip to Europe, doing a very nice cruise on Azamara. Our air schedule, which our agent handled, gives us an hour and ten minutes to connect at Heathrow  for our flight to Copenhagen. But we can;t find out what gate we're even flying from. This all sounds stressful. Should we be worried? Our agent says it is a "legal connection". A - We hate that term - it was invented by some intern ion the basement of an airline accounting department in the 1970's. It means that the airline has data that shows that you will likely maker your flight. You might - but there are so many variables involved that we're going to bet against your making it and so should you. Never schedule anything at Heathrow for less than three hours even if you are scheduling lunch with the cast…

EXACTLY HOW OFTEN ARE LAVS AND TRAY TABLES, NOT TO MENTION SEATS, CLEANED ON THE AVERAGE AIRCRAFT?

Q - Love the fact that you tell the traveltruth about places to avoid when flying due to high bacteria counts etc. I had never even thought that aisle seats were so much more likely to be filthy than window seats. But missing in your information is the cleaning schedules for the airlines.  I fly about two months a year, on average, on all of the major carriers. Would appreciate any specific as to how often things are cleaned on the average aircraft. Also wondering how airports themselves stack up against aircraft when it comes to germ counts and exposure. There are far more people in the terminal than there are on my 737.  A - The cleaning crews you see waiting on the gangway as you disembark, are primarily there to remove trash bags while also performing a quick wipe-down in the lavatories. That, of course, means that the…

ARE THERE ALCOHOL RESTRICTIONS ON FLIGHTS TO TAHITI?

Q - Can you tell me if there are restrictions when bringing alcohol on the flight to Tahiti or between the islands? I just heard that your alcohol must be sealed with a duty free sticker and you can;t bring open bottles on the inter-island flights. A - Hope you are not serious. Would you want to be seated next to someone who boarded any aircraft with their own open alcohol? Greyhound bus - perhaps - but not aboard an international or inter-island flight. The proper thing to do is to purchase any drinks on-board. That helps the airline make a little profit which helps keep prices lower. It also serves as a way to combat intoxication in the air.  In fact, Tahiti tends to attract a fairly sophisticated, heavily French crowd that would likely laugh at any sloppy Americans trying to get through check-in with their own open alcohol.…

IS TASMANIA A GOOD IDEA FOR HIKERS AND FOODIES?

Q -  We are in our mid-fifties but in quite fine shape as I am actually the owner of a small string of health clubs . We have been to Australia and loved it and we are now heading back to spend some time in Tasmania. Just wondering your thoughts regarding the best month to go and any hotel/resort we shouldn't miss?  Is the food as good as we had in Sydney and Melbourne and any advice about hiking in the bush. We've done Grand Canyon etc. but never got to hike in Australia.  A - Being a hiker and a foodie you really ought to be looking into some of the excellent programs run by the Canadian company, Butterfield & Robinson. They hike during the day on carefully planned routes and stay at the finest inns while dining on gourmet cuisine. Do check them out. Backroads is another excellent…

A 13 YEAR OLD POSES A QUESTION TO TRAVELTRUTH

Q - I have traveled quite a bit since my Mom is in the international real estate business. I like your site but it is a bit behind in technology. I am wondering why airlines are still showing movies in seat backs, which is very 1950's. Wouldn't it be better if every passenger was given a Virtual Reality headset so they could watch movies and also play games without disturbing the person sitting next to them? The technology already exists. Hope you can answer this. I think you need more younger writers but this is still a cool site. I've learned a lot.  A - Thank you very much and congratulations on your choice of reading. You are certainly right about our need for younger technology writers. We would be pleased to print any additional commentary you might care to provide in the future. The use of VR is a…

WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK IS BEST FOR LOWEST AIR FARES?

Q -  We are in the fortunate position of planning two business trips and two pleasure trips to Europe and Asia in the next 12 months. We enjoy the search aspect of planning but we never know exactly when we should be purchasing the ticket to get the best pricing. As you know, prices seem to change by the minute. We keep reading there are certain days of the week when the "savvy" travelers try to make all of their reservations. We would really appreciate any insight you might provide on this topic. And thanks very much for years of entertaining reading.  A -  It turns out that there is no simple answer.. There are so many variables that some of the previous "wisdom" on this topic is now being questioned. What we do know is that humans do not have much to do with the setting of fares. There…

YOU ARE DEFINITELY GOING TO LAUGH AT THIS ONE ……………………

Q - I know you are going to have fun with this but I wouldn't turn to anyone else for help. Have been following your work and advice for many years and am extremely grateful. We live in Arizona, no not Sun City, and I have, with the time of retirement, been getting into Ayurvedic natural medicine and meditation. My husband and I want to plan a holistic-based vacation in an exotic locale that is top quality where the day tour possibilities are in keeping with the spiritual nature of the accommodations. We would want the options of designing our own programs and detox from stress and technology should be part of the program. We have a gizzilion miles we want to use before the US goes on lock down so flying halfway around the world is no issue at all. We'll be meditating in First Class. But once we…

HEADED TO MEXICO – PERHAPS TO RETIRE

Q - We are headed to Mexico to look around San Miguel de Allende for a possible retirement retreat. The prices just can't be beat and there is a huge ex-pat American community. Our real estate people have set us up for accommodations but we are wondering of there is a particular restaurant we should designate as our evening headquarters. We're not all that into trendy - we just like good. A - We're not going to suggest that it might be less expensive still to move into the back of a Chipolte. You are correct, San Miguel de Allende is actually the centerpiece for the largest ex-pat American community on earth. It is a lovely area. It sounds as though the restaurant you might really enjoy is Bovine. Great steaks and seafood in buildings that house lovely small boutiques. 

SHOPPING IN MILAN WITHOUT WASTING TIME

Q - We are leaving in two weeks for Milan - a quick three-night addition to a business trip I have planned. My husband will be joining me and, strange as it sounds, he actually loves to shop high-end Italian clothing shops. To save time - please, please tell us where we should shop and where we should stay (hopefully in the same neighborhood). A - Head to Quadrilatero della Moda which is in the centro-storico district. The two streets you want are Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga.. Do not stay anywhere but the Townhouse at the Galleria..We forbid it.  It is Milan's best-kept secret and one of Europe's best properties. Rooms overlook the cafes and shops of Milan's famed Galleria. Don;t be shocked if you run into a few Hollywood types in hiding - or, perhaps, Michael Cohen.  

HOW OFTEN DO THESE THINGS GET WASHED?

Q - The other day i was about to board a flight to Los Angeles with my husband and he commented on how new it looked. It was not, however, a new plane. It just looked like it had been washed. The paint was gleaming. I am wondering how often the outside of these planes are washed? Are there any rules in place? A - No hard and fast rules but the wash rotation for major carriers seems to vary from 30 to 60 days of flight time. Singapore Airlines claims its planes are washed on a monthly schedule. United washes its planes every 50 days. The airline has wash facilities worldwide to service its fleet. All of the world's leading airlines seriously believe that "first impressions matter."

I AM TRAVELING FOUR TO FIVE DAYS A WEEK AND INTERNATIONALLY 70% OF THE TIME. HOW DO I AVOID JET LAG?

Q - I would never criticize your industry but I hope you won;t mind my suggesting that most of the information I've read about Jet Lag is pure nonsense. My new job requires very frequent international travel, primarily to Asia. Really wondering if there is any way to arrive more refreshed than I do. I have followed all the traditional remedies like no drinking, Melatonin, etc. I just seem to arrive in no shape to conduct business and I am almost always in the front of the plane. What am I missing here? My doctor is stumped and so am I.  A - Obviously, we don't have a solution but we do have a suggestion. Instead of concentrating on magic remedies and pills, try concentrating more on the aircraft and just when it left the factory. The fact is that when most people fly in an aircraft they are flying…

WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO SIT TO AVOID GERMS ON AN AIRPLANE?

Q -  There seems to be a lot of nonsense written about the best places to sit on an aircraft. Some say it is safer in the rear of the aircraft, some say the exit row, some say an aisle up front. I really don't care about safety or an accident in the air. No worries there.  What my husband and I do care about is contacting e-coli and the best place to sit to avoid the most contact. We take one or two international vacations a year and I am always worried about catching something in that filthy environment. My niece is a flight attendant and she has stories that just curl my hair. Just wondering if there is any evidence on this subject you could share with your followers? Is coach really much worse than Business Class or First? Is Premium Economy better than Economy in terms of…

GOING TO IRELAND BUT WE HEAR IT IS CROWDED IN SEASON. SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED?

Q -  After more years than I care to count with the Ford, I am set to begin showing my bride a bit of the world. We want to start in my ancestral home, Ireland and are tentatively thinking about travel in mid-July when it gets rather warm here in Atlanta. We've done some business-related travel to Europe but this would be our first in-depth trip and I am thinking of spending about two and a half weeks. I will likely want to stay at nice places and will follow your advice in that regard but I am wondering about timing and crowds and even itinerary. I just read a piece in Bloomberg that indicated that several European destinations are getting seriously crowded, including the roads, in mid-summer. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. And please don't waste your time suggesting that I rent anything but a Ford product in…

IS COLOMBIA A DESTINATON WE SHOULD CONSIDER AT THIS TIME?

Q --  We are in our early and mid-seventies, in great health, and we love adventure. We don't mind camping out to see great sites but we do have some qualms about safety as we consider a trip to Colombia. We've been big fans of Narcos on Netflix and it does not paint the most beautiful picture of the local crime scene. Any thoughts would be very much appreciated. Our entire community in Scottsdale now follows your Q&A.  A - The deal is that the FARC rebels made a peace agreement with the present Colombian government in 2016. That opened up major portions of the country including the west coast, which appears in Narcos. It is a land of lovely beaches and underdevelopment. Make certain that you use a really good on-site tour company to handle your arrangements. There are now flights from both Bogata and Medellin to the really…

DO WE GET BETTER AIRFARES SEARCHING A SITE ONLINE LIKE SKYSCANNER OR KAYAK?

Q -  We are in our mid-forties and, being self-employed, I've worked things out so I can get away up to four weeks a year on various vacations. Most last a week but sometimes we do a longer trip. I don't use an agent because all we are booking are flights and hotels and, quite frankly, sometimes we just arrive in our destination and select a place to stay or we use AirBnB to book a small home or apartment. Yes, we've one or two hiccups, but for the most p[art, the freedom to just do our own thing, mostly beaches, is worth it. My question has to do with strategy. Given our profile should we be using a travel agent and how should we focus that search? I would also like to know whether you would trust Kayak or Skyscanner more in terms of finding the lowest fares?  A…

WE ARE CONSIDERING A ONE WEEK TOUR TO THE CANADIAN ARCTIC WITH AN OUTFIT CALLED NATURAL HABITAT ADVENTURES. ARE THEY RECOMMENDED?

Q - We are seriously interested in doing all possible to preserve our fragile environment when we travel. We are interested in spending just over a week touring portions of the Arctic out of Churchill, Manitoba. We are quite serious about not wanting to leave a carbon footprint when we travel, although our aircraft will certainly mess up those plans. We've come across a company called Natural Habitat Adventures. Do you recommend them and their program in this region? A - We think you will be extremely pleased with this company. They really attempt to be a carbon-neutral travel provider and they work in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund. Their seven-night program out of Churchill will include interaction with indigenous people including village elders, tracking polar bears, and a chance to truly understand issues related to geology and climate change.It is a wonderful program and they limit group size.…

WHAT SHOULD A TRAVEL AGENT CHARGE FOR A HOTEL RESERVATION?

Q -  We are now taking three to four vacations a year and we've been using a local travel agent here in St. Louis. She seems fine but I've started noticing that we're being charged $25 per hotel for every booking she makes. Since I assume she gets a kickback from the hotel, does it seem outrageous to you that we're being charged these fees which certainly add up? We tend to use middle-of-the-road smaller hotels and we do a great deal of touring on our own. But we book the car and the airlines through her. She charges something or everything she does, When we went to Australia last year, our fees totaled $600.  A - Based on the information you have provided, it would appear that your agent is seriously undercharging you. If you asked us to plan a truly memorable vacation in Australia, which we have to…

HOW DO I KEEP TRACK OF MY MILES WITH SEVERAL AIRLINES?

Q - This airline business is uniquely frustrating and I am wondering if they make it intentionally tough to cash in miles? I currently have miles and elite status with American, Alaska, and United Airlines. I get e-mails and notifications but it is all very confusing and I tend t just give up and pay whatever they ask me for. Is there some way to make this easier? I do a lot of flying at age 73, but it is now mostly to visit family and friends. Two of my children are studying abroad, one in Milan, Italy and the other in San Paolo, so there is a good bit of traveling. I just hate the idea of leaving miles on the table. This is a well-run site and we have recommended it to our friends. You should advertise a bit. It never hurts.  A - Well, actually, they do…

PREPARING FOR ITALY AND NOTICING THEY HAVE DELIS – ARE THEY REALLY DELIS?

Q - We are off on our second trip to Europe, following London last year. We've arranged a Collette Tour and we are trying to do some homework. We love Deli food in the US, being New Yorkers I suppose that is not surprising, and we are wondering if the Delis we see listed in Venice and Florence are going to look familiar and have some of the sandwiches we love. We really hate to take the time to eat a sit down lunch - we far prefer take-out Deli food and a stroll in the park. A - Italy does not do the kind of Deli food you would find in New York  Deli, in the New York sense,  originated in Germany in the mid 1700's and then spread to the United States where Ashkenazi Jews who had migrated from Germany were served by kosher delicatessens which first opened…

MY WIFE IS A CLEANLINESS NUT AND WE’RE READY TO RETIRE

Q - This is only marginally a travel question. My wife is extremely concerned about the environment and the lack of cleanliness in American cities compared to what we have seen in our travels. America really is a garbage dump in a high percentage of our cities with litter and filth everywhere. We've about had it and want to move. We would move to the cleanest city in America if we knew what it was but we're not averse to moving north or south. The data we've examined is mostly biased  so we'd love to know, because you don't seem to be in bed with any of the tourist boards, what city you might look at for a reconnaissance visit? A - We will take this as a serious request, although there are a great many small towns in New England, the Midwest, the South, and the Western States that…

WE ARE TRAVELING ABROAD AND GOING TO USE OUR AMEX CARD FOR EVERYTHING?

Q -  We are kind of newbies to the idea of travel out of the country. We will be taking our first trip to Europe aboard a Celebrity cruise in July sailing the lower Med to Spain, Italy, and Greece. We couldn't be more excited. One bit of advice we need concerns credit cards. We took out an American Express card because our travel agent said it was reliable. We also like the way American Express totals everything when you get your bill. Our agent, who works for Celebrity, also said we should pay for everything in dollars as it makes it easier. Also wondering about dress for this trip. The agent said it might be warm and to bring some summer clothes but not shorts. Any comments about this would be appreciated. As I said, this is all very new to us. A - You want "comments" - we're…

SHOULD I LET THEM KNOW THAT I POST FREQUENTLY ON TRIPADVISOR?

Q - We recently checked in to a Hilton at the airport in Rome. I was really disappointed with my room and I went to the front desk and reminded them that I had made my reservation with one of the largest online agencies and that I personally post frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and TripAdvisor about my travel experiences.  This did not seem to do a lot of good. Finally, I asked for the manager on-duty, who explained that they were sold out that night and she could not make a change. I'm not sure if I believed her. It was only for one night so I didn't pursue it further. How should I deal with this in the future to obtain an upgrade?  I certainly feel that with my postings, I am influencing lots of their potential customers but they do not seem to want to hear about it.…

IS THERE A LEGAL WAY TO BRING LIQUOR ON-BOARD A FLIGHT?

Q - I fear I may be ridiculed in your pages, but let me explain that there are certain liquors and tequilla that I really prefer to what is offered in Business Class on the airlines I fly. The flight attendants tell me there is no way to legally bring my own liquor on the plane but I just wonder if you guys know of a work-around. I do not have a drinking problem - I suppose my real problem is that I am a snob when it comes to choosing my alcoholic beverages. Am I out of luck? A - Actually there is a work-around. We're going to share it with you but we are wondering just how long these flights are that you can't abide by the drink offerings in Business Class - no less. TSA rules require that any liquids be clearly displayed and carried in small…

IS IT REALLY DANGEROUS TO DRINK COFFEE OR TEA ON A FLIGHT?

Q - I have been reading this material religiously but I keep coming back to one piece of advice you gave some time ago. Wondering if you are still suggesting that it is really dangerous to drink coffee aboard an aircraft. If there was an issue - it would seem like the airlines would have fixed it by now. Are you really suggesting that I bring a cup of Starbucks aboard my future morning flights?  A - Dangerous may be too strong a term. Let's just say that those savvy travelers who do their research, stay away from coffee and tea cooked aboard aircraft using tank storage water that has  not been properly brought to the boiling point. That makes it possible for storage tank well-documented bacterial content to exist in the water. Our own investigations into this subject have never uncovered a single aircraft where care was taken to…

CAN WE DRIVE A NEW FERRARI FROM SAN FRANCISCO DOWN TO LOS ANGELES WITHOUT PAYING A FORTUNE?

Q - Great site - thinking about renting a Ferrari for a slow drive from the Bay area down to LA. Can this be easily done and any advice?  This is a definite bucket list item I want to complete before my 40th birthday.  A -  You are breaking the "Bucket List" rule. Bucket lists are not supposed to begin until you are at least fifty years of age. You can certainly rent  from a number of companies. The Ferrari California is, of course, the model everyone wants. The standard rental is just around $1,500 plus delivery fees and taxes. But the cars are rarely rented for less than a week. The costs of transportation are just too high. The real cost is when they have to fly out a techie to show you how to use the car. If you can avoid that, the cost is much less. This…

WHY DID ALASKA AIR PULL OUT OF CUBA?

Q - My husband and I were scheduled to fly our favorite airline, Alaska Air, to Cuba in March. We live in Pasadena and the non-stop flight from LAX was perfect. Now, we have been notified that they are operating their last flight in January. We're making other plans, but we're wondering why they would pull out when the flights appeared to be going out full? A - Actually, business to Cuba is down significantly, Alaska Air says by 80% since the November 9th U.S. government decision to end the people-to-people program. Given the sharp reduction in business, Alaska, along with several other operators, have cancelled or reduced their operations to Cuba.  There are several intertwined issues here one of which is the fact that laws in Cuba currently require heavy percentages of Cuban hotel and tourism industry ownership. This basically means that if you construct a new hotel, there…

WHAT DO WE BRING TO CUBA: BITCOIN, DOLLARS, PESOS, OR EUROS?

Q -  We are doing a Caribbean cruise that includes several days in Cuba. The information about spending money in their country is a bit contradictory. Do we just bring a bunch of singles, do we use local currency for best results? What is the best strategy? As Cuba is opening up, we think you should increase your coverage of questions related to this destination. A - Actually, Cuba is closing up last we looked. If you found anyone willing to accept US dollars you would be totally ripped off. Cuba hosts many European tourists. The strategy that is the simplest is bringing in Euros for your shopping and incidentals. They are readily accepted and the exchange rate is quite fair. Leave your dollars in the room safe aboard your ship. 

GOING TO IRAN, CHINA, AND INDIA ON BUSINESS

Q - This is a bit out of your normal range of questions but wondering if  you might help me with a recommendation on an issue of personal security. As I write this it looks like the US is moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem and I am headed to visit several parts of the middle east, including Iran, where protests could be an issue. I also have to meet with manufacturers in India and China, not always in the best of locations. Any hotels you might avoid and any recommendation as to whether or not I should plan on purchasing a satellite phone just in case internet is disrupted. I worry about that more than anything as I imagine CNN will not always be available. I'm not afraid, and I'm fairly well read on these countries, with some travel experience in India and China, but just wondering what you…

We are leaving in eight days for a vacation in Quebec. How do we get in to Canada without a passport? What’s the “work-around?”

Q -  How do we get in and back out of Canada without a passport. My fiance and I had no idea you needed one and it appears that for certain trips you do. This is just a vacation at a nice hotel we booked using points. Our agent never mentioned that we needed a passport. What should we, could we, do at this point? A - First, initiate legal proceedings against your travel agent. You are going through a lot of hassle for no reason. Secondly - don;t worry - spring into action. Use one of the better passport and Visa Processing firms like A. Briggs and ask for a 48-hour expedited passport. They will tell you what to do or you can use their web site. Unless you have committed multiple felonies, you should, at a rather steep cost, be able to get passports within eight days on…

WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE THE MOST UNFRIENDLY RESIDENTS

Q - Really wondering if you might help us. We are starting to do a lot of traveling as we have come into some unexpected inheritance. The obvious start is to begin in Canada and Scandinavia where we keep reading people are actually open and friendly, something that just strikes us as worthy of support. There is no reason for us to explore while having to deal with really obnoxious locals who have no appreciation of the money we are spending to share and understand their culture. But no one ever says where the most unfriendly people are located, "unfriendly" in terms of the manner in which they welcome and treat tourists. We realize this is not scientific but if you could list some of the most unfriendly places we would be appreciative. If this is too subjective - no problem - love the site anyway. A - There have…

HEADED TO PARIS – IS THERE ANY PLACE I CAN GET NAKED?

Q - My girlfriend and I are vegetarians, world travelers I suppose, fans of modern art, foodies to a degree, and, of late, folks who enjoy nudist activities. We are in our mid- 60's and keen to take a day or two of our upcoming Parisian vacation to get naked in public without upsetting the gendarmes. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. A -  Actually, nudists in Paris  have been in a snit over the lack of availability of  proper facilities and gathering places for naturalists. The government has now set aside a reserved space, a grassy space, in a nudist "zone" opened in the city's Bois de Vincennes park. The government tourist board has been promoting holidays for naturalists and they hope to ensure naked tranquility by placing several warning signs about the designated area so the unsuspecting family might not just wander in to their skin wrinkled encampment.…

WE ARE SCHEDULED TO FLY AMERICAN OVER CHRISTMAS; SHOULD WE TRY TO SWITCH AIRLINES GIVEN THE PILOT SHORTAGE

Q - We've been reading stories of American Airlines pilot shortage and the likely inability of the airline to fly many of its flights over the coming Holidays. Is it time to switch to another carrier if we can find space? I really don't want a "substitute, part-time pilot." A - No, this isn't like elementary school.  American has agreed with the pilots union to pay pilots double what they would normally earn for flights they take on during their previously, and erroneously, scheduled vacation time over the holidays. The initial offer was 150% but AA has agreed to a 200% bonus. This seems to have worked well and it now appears that all flights will be fully piloted. This was all the result of a glitch in the computer program that assigns flights to American's pilots so there may be an opening in the computer scheduling department.  Nothing at…

HOTEL SITUATION ON ANGUILLA

Q - We love the island of Anguilla and have been going there for years since your firm was kind enough to plan a vacation for our family after Cuisinart opened. We are wondering if you could update us on the status of the best properties since Irma?  Thought we would inquire on this public site as we know there are others interested.  A -  We do have that information on our Private Client site but happy to update the latest information here: Belmond Cap Juluca - Had been closed for renovations during storm - scheduled to open late 2018. Cuisinart and The Reef by Cuisinart - Estimated re-opening is September 2018 Four Seasons and Residences - Currently scheduled to re-open April 2018 Malliouhana - Plans to re-open in April.

IS UBER HALF THE COST OF AN AIRPORT TAXI AT MAJOR US AIRPORTS?

Q -  As a rather frequent business traveler who is not, admittedly, tuned in to the latest apps and services, I was surprised when a colleague described her  extremely positive experiences with Uber. Wondering what you think of the service generally and whether or not it is true, as she has told me, that they are half the price of normal taxis to and from the airport? Really enjoy this site but wish there was much more information that would be helpful to business travelers.Are you planning on increasing your business travel coverage? A - There are a few variables here that make your question difficult to answer with any degree of precision. Some of these have to do with the specific airport, whether or not you are using regular Uber or Uber Black, and the time of day you will be traveling. (Uber gets really expensive about 1:00am.)  Money…

DOES A CHANGE OF ITINERARY RESULT IN SOME ‘INCONVENIENCE MONEY”?

Q - Our cruise on Royal Caribbean has been changed from an Eastern to a Western Caribbean itinerary. I am not really thrilled with the ports and wonder if we are entitled to some sort of major discount for this change in itinerary. It wasn't what we signed on for and we didn't cause the hurricane. Don't you think we are entitled to an "Inconvenience Refund"?  I can;t believe how these cruise lines hide behind Irma to make all sorts of changes. A - Yes, it really seems unfair. Why weren't you given the choice of sailing to islands that were unaffected by the devastation when you could have kept to your original itinerary. Of course if you had, you would not find any port tours operating and your only option ashore would have been to help with the rescue plans in some way. In fact, Royal Caribbean sent ships…

FLYING NEXT SUMMER IN JULY: IS HEAT AN ISSUE WITH PLANES?

Q -   Wow - what a site. Really appreciate the opportunity to learn all this stuff in such a neat way with no sales pressure. My question has to do with the summer just past and all of the heat issues. As we will be flying out of New Orleans next July, we are wondering how heat can affect flights and if they cancel them when it gets near or over 100 degrees? A - High temps make it necessary for planes to reach a higher than normal speed to take off in extremely hot weather.  This has to be accomplished even though their thrust performance is limited by the light air. So the thing to understand is that a plane's ability to take off is a combination of several things which must be measured by the pilot mathematically. These include air density, the design of the particular aircraft being…

THERE IS LOTS OF NEWS ABOUT DAMAGED ISLANDS – IS THERE A LIST OF UNDISTURBED ISLANDS POST HURRICANE IRMA?

Q - We are already planning for our daughter's wedding in mid-June. But the recent storms have created a great deal of confusion regarding the status of the various islands and major resorts in the Caribbean. Do you have any information that might help us? A - We are pleased to give you a list compiled by the reporters at Travel Weekly Magazine. If you Google Travel Weekly, the highly-respected industry magazine, you will find an island-by-island analysis along with status updates of the major hotels on each island. The reality is that the travel industry press generally provides far more detailed information that the popular consumer travel press. Here is the current update. Warm congratulations to your daughter and your family.  The following islands were outside the paths of Irma and Maria and suffered little or no damage from the storms: Aruba Barbados Belize Bonaire The Cayman Islands Curacao…

WILL THIS DRIVER’S LICENSE WORK FOR ID?

Q -  Good Morning - while searching Airline fares I came across your website - it looks like it contains a wealth of information.  I'll be sure to refer to it in the future.  I have a question concerning  the proper identification for a trip my wife and I are planning this fall from CT to San Antonio. When I renewed my  Connecticut driver's license in May of this year, I was informed of a new regulation that required me to bring my birth certificate in order to obtain a license that could serve as a proper ID.   I was not aware of this. This did not prevent me from renewing my license, complete with photo and all - but because I did not have my birth certificate with me and I didn't want to return another day (and wait in line for another 1.5 hours) I opted to renew…

GOING TO CHINA AND NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GIFTING

Q - Our travel agent here in northern Virginia, has fixed us up with a really nice tour program created by a company called WildChina. I wonder if you know anything about this company? We've kind of put our faith in this agent but we are paying close to $1000 per day  for a 16-Day program and we want to make sure we are in the best hands. Our primary reason for contacting you has to do with some advice we received from friends who have just returned from a tour of China's most famous cities. They have told us that their guide told them in Beijing that they should have brought cans of face cream - that the Chinese really like it  as a gift from travelers. Tourists are said to give out red tins to all the guides, policemen, baggage handlers etc. they meet. What exactly should we…

TRAVEL TO NORTH KOREA: POSSIBLE?

Q - We have tried to travel to many of the countries on the "Not Advised" list over the past decade including Iran and Iraq. I am thinking I would like to visit North Korea just to get my passport stamped and to stay for a few days. How can I best do this? A-  It is against current US State Department current regulations and it is a bad idea on every level. If we knew we would, quite honestly, never share the information.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE AMAN RESORT IN FEBRUARY DESPITE ZIKA VIRUS?

Q -   We have a bit of an unusual situation. We want to go to a Caribbean island in February. We trust that the Turks & Caicos will be built up again and we are looking at staying at the Aman resort, which is quite isolated. We've twice stayed at Aman's in Asia and absolutely love the serenity and the spa orientation, along with great food and service.  There is availability for a ten-night stay and the rates are fine. The issue is that my wife will be three  months pregnant if all goes according to plans. It seems that there have been some cases of Zika on the island but we're being told the hotel sprays every day and mosquitos should not be an issue. Do you think you we will be OK to move forward with these arrangements. A - The first thing we would suggest is that…

WHERE WILL THE NEXT ‘WORLD’S LONGEST” FLIGHT ROUTE LIKELY BE?

Q -  I have a somewhat perverse interest in long flight statistics. I can tell you who has the longest flights currently (Singapore) and I pretty much know the schedules. I've flown two previous "longest routes" but I am anxious to start planning for something new. Is there a longest ever route coming out soon that you can discuss?  A - This is all a part of current airline planning and most of it is kept quite confidential for competitive reasons. We can tell you that Boeing is working on a longer range 777x  and the Airbus 35OULR. The airline really pushing this development is Qantas which wants to initiate the longest flight ever, from Sydney to London in a projected 20 hours and 20 minutes, according to USA Today. The goal is to achieve this distance capability in new aircraft by 2022. If the planes can be delivered with…

IS THERE AN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINE THE INSIDER’S PREFER?

Q -  As I read your various sites and the great industry information you all provide, one nagging question seems to keep popping up for this rather frequent flyer (business and a minimum of three overseas vacations per year). Which airline should we be flying to eliminate hassles, lousy service, and awful connection percentages like JFK and O'Hare? I have the feeling that you have a favorite airline that you fly and wonder if you might share this information with your readers?  Which airline are the "cool" people choosing when they fly to Europe? As a general comment, we would like to see much more on this site about airline quality and policies. A - There is a certain percentage of fliers who will choose Air France for the quality of their croissants in the morning. But the savvy flier's choice these days is Air Canada, perhaps the biggest turn-around…

STARTING TO DO SOME LONG DISTANCE FLYING AND WE HAVE SOME QUESTIONS

Q -   I will be finally taking retirement from he auto manufacturing field in six months. My wife and I are looking forward to a life of at ;east one or two longer international trips per year, assuming there is no wall that will be built to keep us in the country. My wife has two specific questions: Should we be concerned about deep vein thrombosis and, if so, what should we do about it, and should there be a problem with getting off the aircraft in a hurry, is there a safety factor involved in greater seat pitch?  In other words is it safer, in an emergency, to be seated in Business Class? A - Thank you for such a fun series of questions. We would suggest that you try to run up miles on the best possible airline mileage credit card you can find. You will be…

SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT HIPPO ATTACKS IN TANZANIA AND KENYA?

Q - We will be departing for Tanzania and Kenya next month. I have been watching the pre/post election turnout in Kenya. Everything appears to be calm now. How concerned should we be about spending one day in Nairobi before flying home? We are also wondering of the hippo attack earlier this month in Tanzania is the kind of incident that is under-reported by the press. IO can;t seem to find out where this happened. Are there types of incidents under-reported to protect tourism? A -  We are extremely uncomfortable about your upcoming trip based on the nature of your questions. You really should be in contact with the safari provider, who you have not named, to make certain that all of your concerns and fears have been addressed. Any trip to East or Southern Africa has the potential to literally be the Trip of Your Lifetime but you need…