Trip Coach: June 28, 2005 Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. We're ready to answer your questions. Budget Travel Tuesday, Jun 28, 2005, 3:03 PM Budget Travel LLC, 2016
 

TRANSCRIPT

Trip Coach: June 28, 2005

Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. We're ready to answer your questions.

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Panama City, FL: I will be visiting NYC with my 15-year-old son in August for the first time. My son is interested in becoming a chef. Are there any culinary schools in the area where we could visit and/or have a meal?

Budget Travel Editors: Yes, there are several good culinary schools located in New York City. The French Culinary Institute (frenchculinary.com), for example, is in SoHo (at the corner of Broadway and Grand streets), and open for lunch ($21 prix fixe for three-course lunch), and $31 for a five-course dinner. All the food is prepared by students, and the front of the house is also run by wannabe chefs and restauranteurs. The French-inspired meals are not only a fabulous value, but it gives you a good glimpse at what the school is all about. I'd also recommend a tour of the facilities (which are located upstairs from the restaurant). Sometimes, prospective students are invited to sit in on a class or two, if you call ahead.
You may also want to check into the Institute for Culinary Education
(iceculinary.com) located in the Flatiron District at 50 W. 23rd St. The school's been around since the mid-1970s and offers a full calendar on day and evening workshops, in addition to full-blown programs for professional chefs. Your son may want to spend a day taking a course that interests him, so he can get a taste of life as a culinary student. Here's a link to the recreational course calendar by date: http://www.iceculinary.com/recreational/calendar.shtml
In August, they're offering a range of subjects from Regional Thai Cuisine to a Cupcake Workshop. Most day classes are 5 hours (10am -- 3pm), and cost under $100. Call 212/847-0770 and ask that a brochure/calendar be mailed to you.

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Mandeville, LA: When is the best time of year to travel to Greece to get the best deals and nice weather?

Budget Travel Editors: You'll find the best deals in the dead of winter, but outside of Athens there won't be much to do...A lot of hotels and attractions in the islands shut down from mid October to early April. For the best combination of price and weather, try for the shoulder seasons instead. From mid April to mid June and again from September to mid October hotels are less expensive, rooms are more readily available, and the weather is still plenty warm, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Best of all, you'll avoid the crush of tourists that flock to the ruins and beaches in July and August.

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Fairfax, VA: I would like to take my son on an island vacation, preferably in the Carribean since neither of us have been on a real beach vacation. My question is, since our only available vacation week is in late August, am I crazy to go to the Carribean as my destination? What about hurricanes and heat? Can you suggest a particular island/country? (I like the idea of going someplace with Mayan ruins but perhaps it would be cooler on an island vs on mainland?)

Budget Travel Editors: You're not crazy. The Caribbean can be fantastic in the summer. Hot? You bet. Risk of hurricane? Yeah, that's the season. But the vast majority of people going to the Caribbean in the summer--and there are millions of them-- have a great time and don't see anything worse than a few raindrops. It's always warm in the Caribbean, but things can get a bit more steamy in the summer, so you'll probably want to stick close to the water and the nice breeze. (Save the trip to Chichen Itza for January.) Not know anything about you, it's really hard to pick one particular island/country. Think more about what kind of experience you want to have. Loads of people love the giant all-inclusives, with multiple restaurants and loads of activities from tennis lessons to snorkeling to discos. Other people prefer a small inn where it's more like you're staying in a cozy B&B. With the latter, you usually have to leave the inn for at least lunch and dinner-which can be nice, but also a headache at times. If you're really worried about hurricanes you could head to one of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). Because they're so close to South America they're out of the hurricane belt and almost never see serious storms. But it being summer, and the Caribbean's low season, you can always wait until it's fairly late (within 2-3 weeks of departure) and see what deals are available then. Most Caribbean resorts and tour operators are struggling to fill hotel rooms and plane seats in the summer, so they're willing to deal at the last minute. Go to your travel agent or companies such as Apple Vacations (applevacations.com), Capricorn Leisure (capricorn.net), and Vacation Travel Mart (vacmart.com) for possibilities. You don't sound committed to one destination over another, so this may be the way to go.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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