Live Talk: The Best Package Vacations Budget Travel Associate Editor Laurie Kuntz answered your travel questions on Tuesday, March 1 at noon ET Budget Travel Tuesday, Mar 1, 2005, 12:00 AM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Live Talk: The Best Package Vacations

Budget Travel Associate Editor Laurie Kuntz answered your travel questions on Tuesday, March 1 at noon ET

As the editor of "40 Best Bargain Vacations", Laurie sees dozens of deals cross her desk each week.

She’ll answer questions about finding the right package vacation--everything from affordable safaris to European fly/drive combos to beachfront all-inclusives. Where do you want to go next?

Laurie answered your travel questions Tuesday, March 1, at 12pm EST.

Laurie Kuntz, an associate editor at Budget Travel magazine, caught the travel bug early: Her mother is a former Pan Am stewardess and her father’s work took their family to Venezuela for four years when Laurie was a toddler. She studied Spanish literature at Georgetown University, spending a semester in Seville and the subsequent summer backpacking through Spain, France, and Italy. She was an editor at Penguin Books before joining Budget Travel in 2001. Laurie and her husband are avid skiers--they head north (to Vermont) and west (to Tahoe) every chance they get. In fact, she has a hard time convincing him to take trips that don’t involve skiing! Nevertheless, she’s hoping to get to Zambia this fall.


Laurie Kuntz: Hi everyone. Welcome to Budget Travel's live chat . . . I'm here to answer your questions about vacation packages. Fire away!


Kent, OH: Two years ago we vacationed in Moorea, French Polynesia and stayed at the Sofitel Moorea in a garden bungalow. We are now looking for another destination that is similar but not so far from home. Our criteria is simple but yet difficult to find. First priority is activites. We love to snorkel and husband fishes. We want to snorkel from the shore as we were able to do at the Sofitel. We do not need nor want a crowded tourist filled spot as we prefer remote locations off the beaten path. A self-contained cottage or reasonably priced hotel with meal options would be nice, provided we would not need to rent a vehicle for the entire stay (a week). So far I have found 2 spots that we may check into. Roatan, Honduras and Akumal, Mexico. Both locales appear to fit our desires but I would like to hear some first-hand knowledge in regards to things like safety, general conditions of the areas (poverty, bugs) and basic recommendations on where to stay in these spots, if it's even recommended. If you can send me any info anyway I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

Laurie Kuntz: Roatan is a great choice for snorkeling and diving and Leisure Link International (888/801-8808, has offered some terrific packages there in the last year: Air from Miami and five nights at the Luna Beach Resort starting at $579 (other gateways and prices available upon request). Akumal is also a divers' paradise, but I haven't seen any packages come across my desk recently. Sorry. For off-the-beaten-path bungalows, though, look no further than our February issue where we covered the secret beach hotels of the Caribbean. . You can't go wrong with any of them.


Tiverton, RI: Dear Ms. Kuntz, What is the best bargain, for an on the beach, all-inclusive place to stay on Turks and Caicos?

Laurie Kuntz: As far as I know, Beaches (888/232-2437, and Club Med (800/258-2633, are the only truly all-inclusives in Turks & Caicos. You'll have to choose Beaches if you plan to travel with kids; Club Med Turkoise is for guests 18 and older. Beaches is currently offering a special that'll get you 25 to 45 percent off published rack rates (there's a three-night minimum and the exact discount depends on your travel dates). Rates start at $340 per adult per night, $85 for kids under 16, free for kids under 2. If you manage to snag the 45-percent discount, rates at Beaches are pretty comparable to Club Med Turkoise, where a seven-night stay starts at $1,050 this summer.


Cincinnati, OH: My husband and I have tried twice to go to Spain and both times just before getting our vacation plans completed, we've heard about a bombing of some sort. Our original itenerary was from Madrid to Barcelona and some surrounding daytrips, but now I'm afraid to go and both of us have basically give up. How safe is it, really? I'm sure we'd stand out as easy American targets.

Laurie Kuntz: I think my colleague, Adrien Glover, put it best when she wrote, shortly after last year's train bombings outside Madrid, “No doubt we'll hear from a few readers who'll brand our advocating travel to Spain as irresponsible, but it also would be irresponsible for us not to promote visiting such a worthy destination. . . . Some of you may remember that New York City was helped back on its feet after Sept. 11 by brave tourists who decided to visit anyway. Their motives were different but the result was the same: hope for the future. And if you're skittish about being a victim of terrorism, remember that you're 2.5 times as likely to be struck by lightning. It's important that we keep our heads on straight when it comes to travel, otherwise our worlds become very, very small - in more ways than one.”
In short, don't give up. Please don't give up. Spain is one of the most extraordinary places I've ever been - I spent quite a bit of time there in college, living with a family in Seville and then bumming around with a friend. The people are gracious, friendly, and fun-loving, and will welcome you . . . American passport and all.

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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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