Budget Travel Editors: Happy new year! Let's get to your questions...
Bettendorf, IA: I am a single parent and will be traveling to the United Kingdom with my two sons in March. I've heard horror stories about single parents being delayed or even not being allowed to travel overseas with their children due to potential problems with custody and kidnapping, etc. What can I do to prevent any problems from occurring?
Budget Travel Editors: Any single adult-mother, father, aunt-who travels abroad with a minor child could need additional documentation beyond a passport and visa for that child. Just what kind of documentation (a notarized letter from the other parent, a copy of the custody agreement, etc.) depends on the country they're visiting and how they're getting there (plane, car, cruise ship). I'm not aware of any special requirements for parents visiting the U.K., but before leaving home I'd double-check with both the British consulate and your airline, which could have regulations of its own. For more information on traveling as a single parent, visit singleparenttravel.net.
Minneapolis, MN: My fiancee and I are getting married right out of college and money is very tight. Any tips for a $1000 1 week honeymoon leaving from spokane?
Budget Travel Editors: Congratulations! Planning a honeymoon can be very stressful; I can't imagine studying for finals at the same time! It's tough to recommend specific destinations, since you didn't include the dates you're willing to travel, so here are some general suggestions.
Southwest Airlines offers vacation packages from Spokane, including air-hotel and cruise packages. Search for flights departing mid-week when prices are usually lower. Southwest's 'DING!' software will alert you to low fares leaving from Spokane, WA. Download it at southwest.com.
Alaska Airlines also offers some good package deals from Spokane. Recent Internet-only specials include specials to Las Vegas, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan. Check out their current promotions at alaskaair.com.
Also, have you considered vacation packages to Canada? Montreal, Toronto, and nearby Vancouver are all wonderful, cosmopolitan cities, full of European charm without the jetlag and unfavorable exchange rate. While Canada's exchange rate have been increasingly less favorable to Americans, ($1.16 to the U.S. dollar, as of Friday), prices are still quite reasonable. For example, check out a recent Real Deal to Niagara Falls from $329 per person.
And, of course, we recommend bookmarking our Real Deals page and signing up for our e-mail newsletter, so you don't miss any deals.
Orlando, Florida: Greetings,
I'm looking for a reasonably priced escorted tour to Australia in June 2006 for two of us. Any suggestions of some good tour operators for this trip?
Budget Travel Editors: For escorted tours, try Newmans South Pacific Vacations (newmansvacations.com), Pacific Delight Tours (pacificdelighttours.com), Swain Tours (swaintours.com), Goway.com (goway.com), and ATS Tours (atstours.com). If you'll consider a trip that's not fully escorted, check out Monograms, part of the well-known Globus group (monogramstravel.com). You'll be able to customize your itinerary with optional tours and excursions and spend as much time as you like on your own. But you'll also have some of the security of a group tour: There's a local "host" in each city who will greet you at the hotel, offer an informational briefing upon arrival, lead optional group tours, and make him or herself available each morning for sightseeing advice and restaurant recommendations. In short, a happy medium between an independent and escorted tour.
Denver, Colorado: My husband Kevin and I would like to travel to Europe in July, for our 20th anniversary. We have never been to Europe, and are of Norwegian and German descent. We would like to spend two weeks, touring Norway and Germany. The last 2-3 days of the trip, we would like to drive down to the south of France, for some beach R and R - since we also love the beach. We plan to drive all through the trip, and would like suggestions on where to rent a nice car, and if it is possible to drop it off in a different country than we picked it up. Also, we would like general suggestions on what to see and do.
Budget Travel Editors: I would recommend renting a car before you go through AutoEurope.com, and possibly even look into a short-term lease if you're planning on traveling for two weeks or more. Traveling by car from Norway to Germany to the south of France, however, will take a long time. Europe is bigger than it looks and you're talking about countries (or parts of countries) that are very spread out. With only two weeks, you will most surely be spending the bulk of your time behind the wheel, rather than enjoying each place. I suggest picking two out of the three destinations you mentioned, and truly exploring them. Your best airfare for July will likely be to Germany, so I'd suggest saving Norway or the south of France for another trip entirely.
port clinton,ohio: we'd like to drive into northern mexico to see the Sea of Cortez, and the copper canyon.we would drive on main roads during the day. is it safe to travel in that area with our car and mexican car insurance?
Budget Travel Editors: Driving anywhere in Mexico requires even more vigilance than in the US. While the Mexican government over the past several years has been pouring money into the country's transportation infrastructure, its main focus has been its highway system. Back and even side roads are notoriously ill-maintained, and all manner of vehicles are allowed on the road. Conditions often vary from state to state. Make sure you do not drive at night, but if you have to, stick to roads well traveled. Bandits still operate at night on lonely stretches of roads known to be frequented by tourists. The roads around Baja are more crowded than those in the Copper Canyon, which are dramatically beautiful but require slow-going. If you get into a jam on the road, be on the look out for one of the "green angels" that roam the roads-mechanics loaded with supplies drive these green trucks in search of people in distress. This government initiative is extremely popular with Mexicans, and "los angeles verdes" have been known to get more than a few tourists out of jams too.
Milwaukee, WI: I graduate from nursing school in May of '06 and am planning on taking a little R & R. I have a friend in Istanbul, Turkey and would love to visit. However, the airline prices are $1200 +. A bit over my budget. Is there a different city, or country, where it would be cheaper to fly into and then catch a bus, train, or boat?
Budget Travel Editors: Roundtrip airfare from Milwaukee to Istanbul in mid-May is pricing around $950 right now on flights with two stops. However, Austrian Air (aua.com) almost always has airfare deals to Istanbul from the US, so it'd be worth your while to keep checking with them as well. Your suggestion of flying into a closer/larger European gateway is a good one; from there you could catch a more inexpensive flight on a discount carrier, such as Onur Air, Atlas Air or FlyJet, to Istanbul. There are also ferries from Italy and from some Greek Islands to mainland Turkey. I HIGHLY recommend you check out TurkeyTravelPlanner.com. In our opinion, the website, which is run by Turkey expert Tom Brosnahan, is a must visit for anyone planning a trip to Istanbul.
Budget Travel Editors: Thanks for all your great questions. See you next week!