Trip Coach: Oct. 25, 2005

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Budget Travel editors answer your questions

Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. Let's get started...

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Detroit, MI: Which hotels would you suggest in Seattle during the first of April and why?

Budget Travel Editors: I'd recommend The Inn at the Market (doubles from $155), a small luxury hotel with stunning views overlooking the Pike Place Market. It's also near some terrific restaurants, including the adjoining Campagne restaurant and the more affordable Cafe Campagne bistro. More info: innatthemarket.com. I also like Hotel Monaco, also located downtown and near the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Symphony. Doubles from $145. More info: monaco-seattle.com (click on "hot dates, great rates"). You can find these, and many other great rates when you book your rooms through Seattle Super Saver, a program produced by Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau: seattlesupersaver.com. Have fun--and don't forget your umbrella!

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Shelbyville, KY: A group (6) of senior citizens (Mid-60s) will be visiting Buenos Aries, Argentina from Jan 7 to Jan 15. What are some not miss sights we should plan on visiting?

Budget Travel Editors: Argentina's capital, famed for its European flair, remains cheap for Americans and is currently a hot destination for shopping, dining, nightlife and just about everything else. Among its tried-and-true attractions are the Sunday antiques fair at San Telmo, where you'll find knickknacks, vintage glass soda bottles and chandeliers, local artwork, plus performers tangoing in the street, and Recoleta Cemetery, an elite city of the dead lined with ornate, several foot-high mausoleums and tombs, including that of tango singer Carlos Gardel and of Eva Peron and her family.

Guided tours (in English) of world-class opera house Teatro Colon will take you behind the scenes for a glimpse at rehearsal spaces and storage for costumes and sets and treat you to a brief violin performance in the lavish presidential box. The sprawling parks in Palermo are home to lovely rose and Japanese gardens, with horse drawn carriages rides available; the Galerias Pacifico, an upscale mall with frescoed ceilings, carries both luxury brands and inexpensive homegrown ones. Don't leave without catching a tango show (try Bar Sur for the intimate variety or El Viejo Almacen for a more flashy, Broadway-style) or strolling in Puerto Madero, the refurbished waterfront now boasting a stunning, pedestrian-only bridge by Santiago Calatrava.
For more tips, download our free Buenos Aires Snap Guide

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St Louis Mo: When is the best time to visit Vancouver Canada? I would like it warm and rain free as possible.

Budget Travel Editors: Warm and as rain-free as possible? Then August and September are the best times to visit. Expect mild, sunny weather during the daytime (mid-70s). Nights are cooler (50s-60s), especially near the water, so bring a sweater.

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Opelika, Alabama: Hello, I need some assistance in planning a trip. I am a single woman, and would like to take a relaxing vacation, but don't know where to begin looking. I am not gay, a bar hopper, nudist, or promiscuous- thus I often feel that specialty travel agencies don't have much to offer. I am obviously not a world traveler, but would be thrilled to visit in or outside of the USA. Any suggestions?

Budget Travel Editors: First of all there's no reason why you should feel compelled to take a vacation with a tour operator that doesn't meet your needs. It's like you say, if you're not a nudist, then don't take a nudist vacation. That said, there are a number of tour operators that exist just for singles, thus eliminating the hefty single supplement charges that most tour operators charge and providing you with an enjoyable solo traveling experience.

However in order to do so, most pair you up with a traveler of the same sex that you would potentially share a room or cabin with. If you like to travel alone and still meet new friends along the way, it's a great way keep costs down on your next vacation. Here are the most popular single travel operators:
O Solo Mio Single Tours, 800/959-8568, osolomio.com
Travel Chums, 212/787-2621, travelchums.com
Travel Buddies Worldwide, 800/998-9099, travebuddiesworldwide.com

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Sonoma, CA: Tahiti Islands: Best way to see them at a reasonable price. Thanks!

Budget Travel Editors: Getting to Tahiti and her islands is much, much cheaper than most people think. And fortunately Air Tahiti Nui (airtahitinui-usa.com) is having a huge sale on direct roundtrip flights from Los Angles International Airport to Papeete, Tahiti. You'll have to book by November 15 for select fall and winter departures, but the airline is selling roundtrip flights for $495. Visit its website for more information because you won't find a better deal out there.

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Los Angeles, CA: I have booked airline tickets to Cancun Mexico departing Thanksgiving day. Considering Hurricane Wilma's destruction, do you think it's still wise to go?

Budget Travel Editors: As you know, most of Cancun is still underwater right now, and it will take a while for the city--and neighboring resort towns along the Yucatan--to dry out and rebuild. The President, Vincente Fox, predicts that Cancun could reopen before the Christmas holidays, but the Cancun mayor has been less optimistic. The city is still evacuating tourists who had been in shelters to ride out the storm. That said, it's extremely unlikely that Cancun will be up and running again as soon as Thanksgiving. Before you do anything about your trip, call the hotel you were planning on staying at, and the Cancun Convention and Visitors' Bureau to get the official status of the city.

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Athens, AL: My wife and I celebrate our 10th year anniversary in 2006. We celebrated our 5th by going to London with Go-today.com. I would like to celebrate our 10th by taking her and our child to New York for the Macy Thanksgiving day parade. Where would I go about getting tickets, are there hotel on the route, or are there any package deals. Thanks for the help.

Budget Travel Editors: Congratulations on your 10th! Here's some advice for tackling the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are no tickets to purchase; it's free and spaces go on a first-come basis. The parade kicks off at 9 A.M. on Thursday the 24th, but for a chance at a sidewalk spot with a clear view, you'll need to show up two or three hours in advance, bundled in heavy layers and with comfy shoes. (No folding chairs allowed.) The route stretches from Central Park West and 77th St. down to Columbus Circle; swings onto Broadway; heads to Macy's doorstep at 34th St., Herald Square; and veers west to finish on Seventh Ave. Live entertainment accompanies the floats and giant balloons swaying in the often gusty wind. Hotel rooms overlooking this route are often booked up to a year in advance at spiked rates of several hundred dollars nightly. A few to try: Comfort Inn Central Park West, Crowne Plaza Manhattan, Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square,Ameritania. You can also catch the balloons being blown up with helium the night before the parade, Wednesday, 3-10 P.M., along 77th - 81st Sts., between Central Park West and Columbus Ave.

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Currituck, NC: My credit card company just announced that it was charging 3% for international use. I appreciate the convenience of using a credit card for trips. Do you have suggestions about the least expensive way to pay for hotels, meals, and entertainment? Many thanks.

Budget Travel Editors: The quick answer is that using a credit card, even with the 3% transaction fee, is still the easiest and cheapest way to pay for things when traveling. That three percent surcharge for international transactions is the result of a one percent charge that your credit card adds to the bill before handing it over to the bank that services your card, and a two percent fee your bank charges you on top of that. The only bank that (so far) doesn't charge additional fees on overseas purchases is Capital One (800/955-7070, capitalone.com).

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Homewood, IL: I will be traveling with my four year old daughter to Montpellier, France over Thanksgiving 2005. I thought it might be fun to see a real "princess castle". Are there any close to the city? Are there any other day trips that would be worthwhile from the city? I have another daughter studying in Montpellier, and will probably visit again in the spring.

Budget Travel Editors: You are in luck; while there might not be exact "princess castles" near Montpellier, there is Carcassonne, a medieval fortified city complete with towers, turrets, crenellated walls, and ramparts from the 1st century only an hour and a half away by train (voyages-sncf.com, trains leave about every hour in both directions, round trip adults $48, kids 4-11 $24). The fortified section of town is about a 30-minute walk from the train station, or a quick $8 taxi ride away. For more information, contact the Carcassonne tourism office, carcassonne-tourisme.com, 011-33-4/68-10-24-30.

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New York City: What are the best ethnic restaurants in Montreal? I am leaving October 26th through 30th from NY - meetng my husband who is flying from Virginia - meeting at the airport Montreal.

Budget Travel Editors: Montreal has a well-deserved reputation for great ethnic restaurants, and great restaurants in general. The most difficult part may be in choosing between them. Here are a few suggestions: St-Viateur Bagel Shop (263 St. Viateur West, 514/276-8044) for Montreal bagels, which are denser and sweeter than NY-style bagles; Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen (3895 St. Laurent 514/842-4813) for smoked meat; Rumi Restaurant (5198 Hutchinson, 514/490-1999) for Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine; ChuChai (4088 St. Denis, 514/843-4194) for vegetarian Thai food; Le Nil Bleu (3706 St. Denis, 514/285-4628) for Ethiopian; and Cuisine Caraïbe Delite (4816 Parc, 514/274-4509), for, well, you can guess. You could also take a chance, wander through some typically ethnic neighborhoods such as Villeray, Park Extension, Côte-Vertu, or Jean-Talon, and follow your nose.

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Budget Travel Editors: Thanks for all your great questions, we're sorry we weren't able to answer all of them. See you next week!

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