Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. Let's get started answering your questions...
Nashville, TN: My husband and I want to go somewhere tropical like the Caribbean for our one year anniversary but October is always risky due to hurricanes. Do you have any suggestions?
Budget Travel Editors: Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, so there's always a chance you'll run into a storm in the Caribbean during October. However your best chance of surpassing inclimate weather altogether would be to visit the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Located about 50 miles north of Venezuela, the islands lie outside the hurricane belt, making storms on the three islands nearly nonexistent. For more information on Aruba, visit Aruba.com, for Bonaire Infobonaire.com, and for Curacao visit Curacao-tourism.com.
New Orleans, LA: We are planning a trip to New York leaving New Orleans on Tuesday, August 16 and returning on August 21. We are interested in seeing as many plays as we can fit into the schedule. Looking for hotel with a great location for the Broadway shows, roundtrip airline tickets and theatre tickets.
Budget Travel Editors: Your first step should be to download our 15-page printable New York City Snap Guide. It's easy to find on our homepage BudgetTravelOnline.com (just scroll down and click) or click here. If you're looking for suggestions on where to eat, shop, sleep, and play in the Big Apple, it's all right there. That said, a word about scoring theater tickets. By now most visitors to New York City know about the TKTS booth in Times Square (it's on 47th street between Broadway and 7th Avenue). It sells unsold tickets on the day of the performance for all Broadway shows for 25-50% off the box office price (plus a $3 service charge). If you're willing to wait in line for an hour or more, it's a great bargain. But what most people don't know is that there's another booth downtown. Head to South Street Seaport where you'll find the same great deals without the wait. Enjoy!
Chattanooga, TN: I am going to Switzerland Oct. 3, for seven nights. I would like to stay in B&B in Gimmelwald or Grimmelwald, Murren, and Wengen. Where can I find the best deals on B&Bs?
Budget Travel Editors: The Jungfrau region you're speaking of experiences peak seasons in summer and winter, so in fall it's pretty easy to find a room, and for (relatively) cheap. Hotels will be charging their lowest rates of the year when you're visiting, and they might be willing to give you an extra special deal if you're staying for more than a couple nights. The best source for looking up lodging info is the area's official website wengen-muerren.ch (it takes a little searching to get the English version to pop up, so be patient or just Google "Wengen Muerren English" and find it there). There you can browse all sorts of hotels, apartments, etc. Most accommodations listed as hotels are more like small B&Bs or inns, with 20-30 rooms, not monster hotels with hundreds of units. Breakfast is always included, and most also include dinner in the rate (clarify that up front when you're booking). Also, note that most rates are listed per person, not per room, in Swiss francs of course. The hotels are given star ratings, and a two-star property such as the Hirschen or Edelweiss in the village of Wengen is probably what you want. The rooms aren't that big, but they're clean and the food is good, and everything is within walking distance or accessible via the region's amazing system of trains, buses, and trams. It's really one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Enjoy!
Chicago, IL: I'm working toward my goal of visiting at least one country in each continent (except Antarctica, of course). Next year I want to visit Africa. In talking to friends who've traveled there, I'd like to visit Cape Town and Durban in South Africa. I have limited vacation time, and prefer to only take a week off work, giving me 9 days total. Is it possible to spend a few days in each destination given how long it takes to fly there? Also, how economical can I travel as a single? (I work for a nonprofit, so don't earn much!)
Budget Travel Editors: It certainly possible to do both cities in nine days, depending on how much you want to see. International airfare will obviously be the big ticket item...For departures this year, you'll find the cheapest flights from Oct. 1--Nov. 30. The base rate is $975; the add-on from Chicago is about $200. Try booking through a specialist like Protea Travel (888/927-5255, proteatravel.com). After that big whack (and the flights from Cape Town to Durban, which Protea can book for you, too), I'm not sure what you're budget is. For hotels/guesthouses in Cape Town, try searching portfoliocollection.co.za and capestay.co.za. To really save money, choose a backpacker lodge like longstreetbackpackers.co.za or castlestreet.co.za. For Durban lodging, go to bookabedahead.co.za.
Atlanta, GA: I am looking for a flight/hotel package for Budapest at Christmastime. Who has good packages for this destination?
Budget Travel Editors: It's good that you've already started looking for deals. Christmas is the most expensive time of year to travel, with people all over the world going home for the holidays. But you might get lucky and snag an special if you keep your eyes peeled. Most of the packagers have already posted their early bird Thanksgiving specials and the Christmas ones won't be far behind. I'd suggest checking out the offerings of central Europe specialists like Summit International Travel (800/247-1142, summittours.com), Tatra Travel (800/321-2999, austrian-vacations.com), and Paul Laifer Tours (800/346-6314, laifertours.com), as well as Gate 1 Travel (800/682-3333, gate1travel.com) and Go-today.com (800/227-3235, go-today.com).
Budget Travel Editors: Thanks again for joining us. We're sorry we weren't able to answer all of your questions.
We have a special guest next Tuesday, July 19, 2005. Reid Bramblett, who wrote "Secret Hotels of Tuscany" for the July/August issue, will be here at noon ET to answer your questions on traveling to Italy.