Trip Coach: March 21, 2006

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Hugo Burge from Cheapflights.com answered your travel questions

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Hello Folks, I see lots of juicy questions for me to get stuck into, so I'll get on with it. Do send in any more questions to keep me on my toes...

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Loveland, Colorado: For our honeymoon, my fiance and I are looking to splurge a bit and spend three weeks in Ireland, walking and staying in bed and breakfasts. We thought of going after Labor Day this year for better deals. Are there tour companies and parts of Ireland you'd recommend? We'll be flying out of Denver. Cheers, Mark & Val

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Sounds like a great trip. I'm envious! Actually I have not spent much time in Ireland but the little I have done was great. I highly recommend Galway and, in particular, a famous pub near there called Morans in Kilcolgan where you must have a pint of Guinness and a hearty pile of Oysters. Unfeasibly good.
I would recommend independent travel, where you can be flexible about where you spend your time, depending on what you discover and how you feel at the time.
In terms of getting to Ireland cheaply, you should be in luck. Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier has modeled itself on a low cost airline and can have pretty juicy bargains. As always though shop around because some of the US carriers have launched increasing numbers of routes to Ireland recently as part of their internationalization drive. It is certainly worth contacting an Irish Specialist like O'Connors Travel (based in NY) because they may have special deals and should be able to advise you on accommodation ranging from bed and breakfasts or even a castle stay...

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Colorado Springs, CO: We are interested in traveling to New York to see the Rockettes (first of December) and stay in a hotel close by in order to see the city for a couple of days. Are there airfare/hotel/theater packages available from Colorado of this type? Thanks in advance.

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Many of the big online travel agencies now allow you book flights + hotels + attractions in one simple swoop. They have invested a lot to make their websites simple to use and they have excellent customer service. You can simply add attractions onto your airfare and hotel. You know their names: Expedia/ Travelocity/ Orbitz, so check them out...

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Urbana, OH: We have reservations in Vegas in Oct. Would we be better off to make air reservations now, or wait until closer to Oct.?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Good question and always a tricky one. If I were you I would book up now. October is busy season and prices are only likely to rise. The airlines tend to have lower prices the earlier you book in advance. The general rule is, if you know when and where you are flying then try to book as early as possible.

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Myersville, Maryland: We are planning a trip to Italy (12/14 days) in June or July. We have found 2 very similar trips with Globis & Gate1. Which date and Travel Agency would you choose and why?? Many thanks

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Actually, I am not a package expert per se. I have always traveled independently (and recommend it heartily) but here are my thoughts:
- travel for 14 days not 12. Longer is better for a flight of that length and so much to see.
- I would try to aim for early June to try to avoid the peak summer season for both crowds and weather.
- Which agency you decide to go with is really a question of personal choice and what they are offering. Without more details it is hard to say. They are both certainly well known agencies.

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Lexington, GA: When would be the best time to go to Italy?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: I love Italy and my only recommendation would be to try to beat the summer crowds, particularly if you are visiting popular tourist spots like Venice, Rome and Pisa. My favourite times are September and October in Europe when the holiday season is over and the weather is a bit cooler...oh and flight prices/ hotels should be a fair whack cheaper too.
It is also remembering the White Truffle Season is around November, if you want a gastronomic experience to remember.

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San Francisco, CA: My husband and I are planning our first trip to London in September. On our way to the UK we would like to stop in NYC for my father's 60th birthday surprise party (Sept 16). Do any airlines allow a 3-4 day stopover? If an airline does allow a stopover, how do I go about booking it (online? multi-city? on the phone?) We'd like to arrive in NYC on Sept 14 or 15, depart for London from NYC on Sept 18 or 19, and return to SFO Sept 29 or 30. (My 30th birthday also happens to be Sept 28, so if you have any fabulous "you only turn 30 once" activities to suggest for our last day in London, please do!). Thanks, Betsy

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Hello Betsy. What a great sounding trip. You can book multi-city trips online but I think this is a case of picking up the phone to a travel agent or two to see what deals they can come up with rather than buying the flights separately. You may get it cheaper if it all part of one ticket (if the restrictions match up). Agencies you might try include 1800 Fly Europe and UK Air, both of which are specialists.
In London I would recommend things that let you see the city from a different perspective: the bus tours are fun, the London Eye is great and if you want to splash out then get a helicopter tour that takes you along the Thames...

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Glenview, Illinois: I would love to do my Christmas shopping this year in London. How do I find and research "deals" when there are often additional fees and surcharges added on after the published cost?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: You are right that the international taxes element of the ticket is hefty on international flights. You need to make sure that when you shop around you are looking at the final price that you would pay at the check-out. (On a separate note you should be aware that this could get worse as there are discussions about making the fuel surcharges separate too which I wrote about in our news blog).
When shopping around to London it is the usual rules. Shop around but do it as smartly as possible. There are specialists who sometimes have discounted deals to London as mentioned above. You can also try out our site Cheapflights.com for an overview of prices and the companies with the best deals.
Have fun at Harrods! I also recommend places like Camden Market and Portobello Road for Christmas shopping, where you might find some unusual and fun presents.

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Enfield, CT: My Husband and I , along with my cousin and his wife (all in our early 50's) are trying to plan a trip to Italy. The men have already made a few business ventures there, but it will be the first time for the girls! We tried to book a tour with numerous tour groups, but have found that all trips leaving on our planned departure date of September 30 (from Boston) have been sold out. We are now trying to "plan" an easy paced (16 day) adventure visiting Venice, Florence, Rome, then on to Sorrento. Do we rent a car and drive ourselves around, enjoying the landscapes and views? Travel by train between all cities? A little of both? Any help/advise would be GREATLY appreciated! Many thanks, Denise

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Ah. Much more of an adventure to travel on your own. In answer to your train or car dilema. I think a bit of both, why not? I would recommend traveling by train between the big cities. Trains are cheap in Italy and it will be such a different experience from getting about in the US. If you get the chance for an overnight train then I believe that is part of the quintessential European travel experience. You will be able to hire a car to do-mini excursions from the cities you visit to get out into the countryside and do a bit of exploring.

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St. Louis , Missouri: I am planning a trip to India this summer. When is the best time to get tickets? They are currently nearly $2000 which seems high to me.

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: India is notoriously hard to get a good deal to because there is not that much capacity.
If you know when and where you want to travel it is risky to wait.
To try to get a better deal though I would try to contact a specialist like MakeMytrip.com and see what advice they can give. As usual though, shop around a few travel agents so get a handle on which airlines fly and if anyone has any discounted deals.

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San Francisco, CA: We are trying to plan a last minute trip to Australia, New Zealand and maybe Tahiti for 3 weeks departing mid-April. What cities are a must and how many days should we spend in each? Is there some kind of "pass" that will allow travel to all three destinations? Thanks

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Lucky you!
You can get internal Australian air-passes from Qantas which often come as part of the airfare. Best thing to do is to give a call to a few travel agents including Qantas Vacations who should be able to give you a range of options on the flights. There are a couple of low cost airlines to be aware of too in Ausralasia. The key ones are Virgin Blue, Freedom air and Jetstar Airways. Their prices may not be shown by travel agents, so it will be worth checking out their sites too.
How long you spend in places will depend on the kind of thing you are into because the diversity of experiences open to you is enormous. For my vote I would ensure that I got to the South Island in New Zealand to visit Christchurch and Dunedin for the spectacular mountain scenery and walking. I would also try to get up to the Great Barrier Reef, although you should investigate how the local communities around Cairns and Port Douglas are coping post the recent severe weather damage caused by the cyclone. I have also never met anyone who didn't rave about Sydney...in fact with your chosen destinations I am not sure you can go too far wrong. Have fun...

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New York, NY: We are two ladies wanting to celebrate a big birthday (50) in January. Looking for a fun, adventurous trip to a somewhat warm location. We have both traveled quite a bit, and are trying to find that perfect place under $1500 per person! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Ever been to Mexico? I am a huge fan of the Yucatan in the Mexican Caribbean Peninsula. You don't have to stay in big plush hotels but can travel more independently soaking up a fantastic coastline and the amazing cultural endeavors of the Mayan peoples. I think you would like it...

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Mastic Beach (Long Island), New York: I have accepted a job teaching in Guatemala City, and my husband and I are moving there in July. We are considering driving our 1995 Nissan Pathfinder down. Is this a good idea or not? What would be the most scenic and least stressful route? We will have our cat with us!

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Ok, I cannot tell if this is a joke or not but I guess not... It sounds like a real adventure but I'm afraid this is not one I have experienced so it is hard to give advice.
Driving through Mexico would be exciting, as there is so much to see - places like Oaxaca, Puebla, Yucatan, Copper Canyon and so on. Many people say avoid Mexico city but the Anthropological Museum and local ruins (I can't spell it without looking it up but it starts with a T) are great. I would be a little anxious about driving into the big city itself though. Closer to your destination it would be a crime to miss visiting Tikal Mayan ruins, one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. Remember the cat food, not sure whether your cat will like Mexican food. Love to hear how it goes!

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Lawrenceburg, Kentucky: What are the best retail places to shop in Cairo, Egypt?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: er..not sure..but I hear there are some very nice pyramids to look at...

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Tucson, Arizona: What is the cheapest way to go from Brussels to London? Air? or Eurostar?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: As in much of travel, I'm afraid there aren't any rules. It will depend on the dates and when you book. Both are good options. If you have not taken the train then that is a novel experience but either way you should be able to get a good deal. Much might depend on where you are staying in Brussels and how convenient the airport or train station is. One of the big ironies of low cost air travel is that getting to the airport can be more expensive than the airplane ticket!

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Adrian, MI: We are traveling to France in October for 2 weeks. We are going to Paris, Normandy, Amboise and the Dordogne region. Should we get an in-country rail pass, a "Car and Rail" pass or just rent a car?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Trains are great in France and part of the experience but arguably are best for their high speed inter-city connections. Once out of the main cities I think that driving should give you more freedom to explore and I have very fond memories of driving holidays in France. A bit of both would be best.

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Naples, Florida: When I was in elementary school my best friend was a girl name Lada. After third grade she moved back to her native Yugoslavia, now Croatia. I have not seen her in more than 30 years, but we have been writing to each other all this time. We shared our news about growing up, getting married and having children and have always wanted to see each other again. Now Lada has invited my family to visit her in Hvar. We would like to spend a week seeing Croatia and a week with Lada in her home on Hvar. We especially want to see Dubrovinik and Plitvice Lakes National Park, along with Split. Is it better to book a one week tour and then head to Lada's after that, or do it on our own. We live in Southwest Florida. Our closest airport is in Fort Myers, but we would travel from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, or Orlando to get a better fare. Is it cheaper to book a tour first or pay for airfare and a rental car on our own? We looked at tours on the Internet and found that they all go from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, we need to go the other way and end in Dubrovnik so we are closer to Hvar when the tour is over. Do you know of any tours that head south instead of north that include what we want to see? Also what else do you recommend we see? Lada invited us the week of July 9th. We would like to do our traveling first then visit her. How can we make this affordable for my husband and I and our two children. The children are ages 11 and 7. Please let us know, Andrea

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: What a lovely story and what an opportunity for a fascinating trip. It can be cheaper to get a tour but the price you pay is in flexibility and it sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, so I think that traveling independently would be great, or at least getting a special package made up for you. If I were in your shoes I would telephone a specialist like croatiatravel.com and see what they can offer.
I have not visited myself yet but Croatia is top of my list for places to go. I have had wonderful reports from friends who have been. Apparently the islands along the coast are most unspoilt and a wonderful place to visit.

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New York City, NY: My husband and I were married in January, but have not been able to go on a honeymoon, because I've been in graduate school. I will be graduating in May and we would like to go away at the end of the month. We are on a tight budget (I have been in school for the past several years), so we would like to go somewhere fabulous, but spend less than $4000, total, for our trip. Any ideas? Thanks! Carla

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: This is a good budget, so you have plenty of options. A quick poll of fellow Cheapflighters around the office said Hawaii or one of the quieter islands in the Bahamas (which would be closer) - that's if you want a beach, some quality time and some plush surroundings.
If you are feeling adventurous though how about a trip to Peru to follow the Inca trail and see Macha Pichu? You might be able to combine this with a Latin American beach segment? How long have you got?

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Panama City Beach, FL: I would like to plan a destination for my wedding. We will be departing from Florida. There will be approxiametly 10 -15 people including the wedding party- mainly adults. Our length of stay is 5-10 days around the spring of 2007. I am looking for a romantic and tropical environment with beautiful beaches and a variety of activities. I am looking for the nicest vaction I can get while also getting good value for the money. -Angela

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: It a great idea to get married abroad and it is becoming increasingly popular amongst the more adventurous. My recommendation is to speak to a specialist who has organized this before though. Sorry if this seems like a cop-out. This is something to plan as you don't want any hiccups on your special day. For example, you need to check that the marriage is legally binding where you are visiting (there are some interesting stories about weddings that weren't legally binding). Popular places to go to tie the knot are Jamaica, Bermuda and the Bahamas...

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New York, NY: Like many graduating law students taking the Bar Exam this summer, I am trying to plan a spectacular and relaxing vacation for the month of August. Ideally, I would love to rent a beach house somewhere (or maybe more than one, in more than one location) and just enjoy the weather, be it in Hawaii, somewhere in Europe, or elsewhere. Mainly, I want consistent warm weather and relatively cheap accommodations in a place that it is economical to get to (airfare under $800 RT). Any suggestions? Thanks in advance from the thousands of law grads who will appreciate your expert advice.

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: The Caribbean leaps to mind, perhaps the Bahamas. Sorry if the Bahamas keep coming up in my answers but I just got back from there myself and had a terrific time. Another suggestion from my colleagues is the Virgin Islands.

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Dayton, Ohio: What's the best way to see the canyons of southern Utah in 7 days? Is RV the best way to go from Las Vegas?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: An RV is certainly one way of doing it, whatever feels right to you. There are camp-sites, motels with amazing views and plenty of lodges -- the full spectrum of options.
I actually did this trip a while back with a few friends in a rental car and stayed in Motels (for the one the guidebook stated - rooms $80 with million dollar views).
The landscape is simply stunning - in particular Monument Valley National Park which I adored. However you get there just make sure that you get up before the birds to see the amazing colours at sunrise...

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New York City, NY: My boyfriend and I (24 years old) are going to Nice for a wedding June 2nd-12th. While we are there, we are taking the EasyCruise of the French and Italian Riverias, which includes Nice, St. Tropez, Monaco, Genoa, San Marino, and Portofina. Obviously on a budget, what can we do other than rub elbows with the rich and famous. I hear it is extremely expensive, are there any activities that will not cost us an arm and a leg?

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Well you are landing in the landscape of the rich and famous at what is a busy time. You are right not to expect it to be cheap. However, there is a reason why this part of the world is so popular. These are all pretty places in their own right, so you should have plenty to do walking around, absorbing the atmosphere, enjoying the great food and extensive people watching! Lying on a beach (if that is your thing) is another option!

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I have to be off now, thinking about French food has made me hungry. Many thanks for all the questions. Happy (& cheap) Travels. Hugo

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