Trip Coach: October 3, 2006
Budget Travel editors answered your questions about travel
BT Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. Let's get to your questions!
Janesville, WI: About 1 year ago (I think) there was an article in Budget Mag. giving e-mail sites to home exchange for a vacation or if you'd like to stay in a home in a different city/country without offering a stay in our home. Please send me a list of those sites. Thank you.
BT Editors: You're probably thinking about this article: "Make Yourself at Home."
It includes tips for first-time home exchangers and websites for major home-exchange networks in the U.S.
Columbus, OH: Me and my sister want to take our niece to Riviera Maya as a college graduation gift in June 2007. We are in are late 30's and she is 21. We want all inclusive and alot of night life. Can you direct me where we can stay?
BT Editors: Sure. We wrote about five all-inclusive resorts on Mexico's Riviera Maya. The popular Gala Beach Resort Playacar (877/888-4252, galaresorts.com.mx) is 45 minutes south of the Cancún airport and the southernmost resort in the lush gated community of Playacar. The resort is spread over a large swath of acreage, so it feels quiet at first, but there are plenty of on-site restaurants and activities to keep you busy. There's also a wealth of off-campus offerings in the Yucatán--Mayan ruins, ATVs, horseback riding.
Or, if you prefer a smaller "boutique" all-inclusive, Sunscape Tulum (866/786-7227, sunscaperesorts.com) has only 232 rooms and resembles an elegant hacienda. But perhaps its coolest feature is its proximity to the famed Mayan city of Tulúm. The Sunscape is the southernmost resort before the coastline turns wild and winds in toward the ruins.
Read about these and three other all-inclusives: The Easy, Breezy Riviera Maya.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA: My husband and I often find ourselves with a few days here and there with only a week or two notice to plan a small inexpensive trip. We would love to take advantage of discount airlines' last minute deals but once we decide on a city, what's the best and fastest way to plan everything else? Or is this the worst way to go about planning a last minute trip? This might be too general to ask but I'm sure a lot of young couples with little time and small budgets think about this. Thanks!
BT Editors: Try searching for last-minute trips at Site59.com, a website specializing in discounted last-minute air/hotel, air/car, or car/hotel vacation packages. While destinations and dates are limited (you can only search up to two weeks in advance), packages are discounted up to 70% while still earning frequent flier miles on your flights. For example, a quick search turned up a weekend package from nearby Ontario, Calif. to Phoenix, Ariz. from $191 per person, including airfare, two nights' accomodations, taxes, and fees. Or fly to Seattle, Wash. and stay for two nights from $258 per person.
Chatham, IL: What website is the best to order first class reserved train tickets in Italy? Not looking for passes but for intermittent travel between, say, Rome to Florence and then Florence to Venice? Also a site that does not charge an extra fee for the service. Can I print or get the ticket on line? Thanks
BT Editors: Go straight to the source--the official website of Italy's rail system, Trenitalia. You can price out train tickets for various types of service and make purchases online. Eurostar trains are the nicest, fastest option, and make the trip between Florence and Rome in about an hour and a half. You have two choices for how to obtain the tickets. Free ticketless service allows you to print out your email confirmation and bring in onboard the train in lieu of a ticket; self-service, also free, requires you to print out your ticket from a self-service machine at an Italian train station before boarding. (Home delivery is available for €3.35, but only within Italy.) For advice on making the most of your visit, consult our Rome Snap Guide and Eat Like a Local: Florence and Venice.