Trip Coach: May 20, 2008
Budget Travel editors answered your questions about travel.
Budget Travel editors: Greetings! Thank you for visiting for our weekly online chat. Unlike most Tuesdays, today we're fielding questions on all budget travel topics. Let's get to it!
Quincy, Ill.: My new husband and I (married on May 3) are winging our way to Costa Rica for a honeymoon in July. We're going all over—rainforest zip lines, hanging bridges, cloud forest, Arenal Volcano, even a couple of days on the coast. I'd love to get some amazing flora/fauna/husband photos, but an expensive new digital camera and rain forest don't seem like ideas that will mix. Any advice? I'd rather not cheap out with a disposable camera—after all, I want my photo-safari to look like a magazine, not like grainy old snap shots. —Laura
Budget Travel editors: Congratulations on your wedding and upcoming honeymoon! I consulted a professional photographer friend about your question. He tells me that these days, most SLRs—even inexpensive ones—are pretty water- and mist-tight. Since you'll probably be exposed to the elements for extended periods of time, though, consider getting a waterproof case. He likes the Aquapac ($30) and the Ewa-Marine ($95).
If you're in the market for a new camera, the shockproof, waterproof options from Olympus would stand up to anything Costa Rica could throw your way.
My friend also says that going old-school and using film is also an option. Older mechanical cameras, like a Nikon FM-2 or a Pentax K-1000, can go through rainstorms without any problems.
To go the true budget route, take the advice of several of our readers, who tell us they keep spare Ziploc bags or plastic grocery bags on hand in case they find themselves in a sudden downpour and need to protect their electronics. —Beth Collins
Kansas City, Mo.: My fiance and I are trying to plan a honeymoon on a small budget. We're in our late 20s and love to travel though, but after a wedding who can actually afford a honeymoon? We hope to go to a beach and we'd love somewhere where we could hike and experience nature as well. I'm at a loss for where to begin. We're hoping to take a trip from 9/14/08-9/19/08.
Budget Travel editors: Hey there, Kansas City. Thanks for your question, and congratulations on your engagement! I'd avoid the Caribbean and western Mexico during your suggested travel dates of mid September. That tends to be tropical storm season. Two of my former co-workers each took their honeymoons during late August and early September along the Gulf of Mexico tourist destinations, and they regretted it. What about Hawaii? Hawaii's Big Island Air/Hotel, $894 per person, is a deal we list here.
Rather go abroad? How about Mexico? It's bikini weather in Baja and Los Cabos, Mexico, a side of the country mostly insulated from the brunt of hurricanes. But if you go anywhere in Mexico, note that a passport is required for U.S. citizens for all air travel there. For details on the new passport requirements, visit travel.state.gov/travel.
Still too pricey? What about taking a road trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula? It's a 14-hour drive, but the scenery is wonderfully varied, everything's inexpensive, and while the water will be too cold for swimming in September the beaches should still be sunny then. See our road trip idea here.
Looking for more pampering? Why not skip the beach and head to Las Vegas. United and Frontier are offering $240 round-trip tickets per person for September from Kansas City. See the Eiffel Tower replica, ride a gondola at the simulated Venetian canals, and get a four star hotel at two star prices by using Hotwire.com.
Good luck—and we're always looking for Trip Coach candidates, folks who need help planning their trips. If that doesn't seem too invasive for your honeymoon, send us an email at Letters@budgettravel.com, sharing as much info about yourselves and what you're looking for. (This is a feature every month in our magazine.)