Trip Coach: April 11, 2006

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Budget Travel Editors answered your questions

Budget Travel Editors: Thanks for joining us this week. Let's get to your questions!
 
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New Rochelle, NY: My husband and I are planning a trip to Uxmal, Mexico over Thanksgiving weekend. We've never been to Mexico and we were concerned about hurricanes during that time of year. Since it is our first trip there, we could use all the advice we can get. Sincerely, Dolores and Harry

Budget Travel Editors: Hurricane season lasts from early August to late October. Considering the damage Hurricane Wilma did to the Yucatan last year in mid-October, it's no wonder you're concerned with visiting Mexico. However, it's very rare to have a hurricane form in the Gulf of Mexico or Bay of Hunduras in late November, so I don't think you have anything to worry about during your visit to Uxmal. Enjoy your trip.

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Boston, MA: Is there bus service or a train from Warsaw to Vienna?

Budget Travel Editors: There's a nightly overnight train from Vienna to Warsaw called "The Orient Express" (not to be confused with luxury Orient-Express line) that makes several stops along the way. Raileurope.com sells a "European East Pass" which encompasses both cities and allows for five days of unlimited travel within a one-month period. First-class tickets are $244 each, and second-class are $172.

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Charlotte, NC: I plan to fly from Charlotte to the Hudson River area in New York and rent a car this July. I am a single traveler who is looking for economical accommodations. Any suggestions? I will be there 3 nights. It might be good to stay in one town and travel from there - I don't know. Thanks for any info you can provide.

Budget Travel Editors: Our advice would be to rent a car at the airport and take a scenic drive up the Taconic to explore the EAST side Hudson Valley. In three days you'll barely scratch the surface, and you would be wise to "pick a side." (This way, you'll also have access to all the great cultural sights/goings-on in the neighboring Berkshires too--Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, Mass MOCA, Williamstown Theater, etc.) Another reason we like the east is that it's less developed and therefore many of the great landscapes painted by the Hudson River Valley School appear just as they do on canvas. As for accommodations, here are three suggestions:

Rhinebeck: Beekman Arms, 845/876-7080, beekmanarms.com
Saugerties: The Villa at Saugerties, 845/246-0682, thevillaatsaugerties.com
Also in Saugerties: Saugerties Lighthouse B&B, 845/ 247-0656, saugertieslighthouse.com

If those don't appeal, there's also website dedicated exclusively to lodging in the Hudson Valley: hudsonvalleylodging.com

For ideas on what to see and do, check out our "Hudson Valley Revisited" article.

Also, two of our 10 Coolest Small Towns in the U.S.A. are in/close-by: Hudson, NY and Great Barrington, MA

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Chicago, IL: What's the deal with these air courier sites? Which ones are most trustworthy? Do they even save you money? Thanks! Lindsay

Budget Travel Editors: Air courier travel is legit, and it can save you loads of money on plane tickets (international flights for less than $100 and sometimes free). The drawback is you can take little to no luggage since you're swapping your luggage space for the cargo you're accompanying. You also have to pretty flexible on where and when you want to go in order to get the deepest discounts. Joining an air courier organization works best for an individual who lives in or near a major city and has a open schedule and a great sense of adventure. Because couriers are solitary travelers and typically have to be over 21, it doesn't work for family or group vacationing. Check out aircourier.org or courier.org, two of the leading services; they provide good FAQs explaining the basics, and for less than $50 a year, members have access to different national and international courier opportunities.

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Roseville, MN: Are there general rules about renting a car in the U.S. and driving it in Canada? We would return it to the U.S. location. We need to rent a car in Seattle, take it to Vancouver Island, then return it back to Seattle. Weren't sure if the government has restrictions about this... and if rental car companies do. Thanks, Laurie

Budget Travel Editors: Generally, with most major agencies, U.S. citizens can drive a rental across the border to Canada with no problem (going to Mexico is a different story). If you're a Canadian citizen, renting a car in the U.S. and taking it to Canada is a bit trickier. Be sure to call the specific agency location you plan to rent from and let them know you'll be crossing the border. They should be able to provide you with the specific documentation you'll need and explain any added fees they might have for this kind of trip. The agency should provide a non-resident insurance card, which Canada requests. In addition to this card, carry a couple copies of your rental contract just in case. Also, be sure to read the fine print about any unlimited mileage rates or other special discounts because this may not extend to out-of-country, or even out-of-state, travel.

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Piedmont, CA: What is the most affordable way to get from Osaka to Tokyo in mid-July, 2006? Thanks, Suzanna

Budget Travel Editors: Thanks to competition between bus companies, a daytime or overnight highway bus costs around $36 (4,300 yen) each way and takes about 8 hours. More information and a list of bus companies: Japan Bus Web.

Tokyo and Osaka are also connected by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). An express (nozomi) train only takes 2 1/2 hours, and costs around $120 ($14,000) each way. Local (kodama) trains take about four hours and cost about $85. The Japan Rail Pass provides unlimited travel on the national Japan Railways network (JR). The pass can be used on kodama, but not nozomi, trains. More information: Japan Rail Pass.

Or, you can fly from Osaka's Itami Airport to Tokyo's Haneda airport from around $120 each way. Add an extra 30 minutes and $6 to travel from Haneda airport to Tokyo Station via the Tokyo Monorail. Domestic airlines include Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). A full list of airlines are available on Haneda airport's website.

For more information on Tokyo, check out our Tokyo Snap Guide, a handy, eight-page mini-guide on where to eat, sleep, shop, and play.

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Saint Pete, FL: We need to know how to find out train info in the U.K. We need to go from Gatwick to London, London to Harwich to Gatwick. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Budget Travel Editors: The best resource for train travel in the U.K. is the official Brit Rail website, where you can check schedules and book tickets in advance. A quick search for early May yielded a one-way trip from London to Harwich for $30 per person and a one-way trip from Harwich to Gatwick Airport for $47 per person. It's an additional $10 per person to reserve a specific seat. For the first leg for your journey, Gatwick to London, you can catch the high-speed Gatwick Express which departs every 15 minutes from the airport and arrives in London's Victoria Station; $21 per person one-way. For insider tips on how to make the most of your time in London, download our free eight-page Snap Guide.

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Hot Springs Village, AR: We are looking for moderately priced canal barge trips in southern or western France between mid-June and the end of July. Any suggestions?

Budget Travel Editors: Of course! Our recent article, 10 Questions: European River Cruises runs through all the barge basics from what to expect onboard to any extra costs. It also includes contact information for eight trusted providers. (If your schedule is flexible, you'll save more by traveling in April/May or early fall.) Here are a few trips we found for France in June and July: A Viking Cruises seven-night journey through Burgundy and Provence from $1,799 per person; an Overseas Adventure Travel 11-night Bordeaux cruise from $2,495, including international airfare; and a Barge Connection six-night cruise along the Canal du Midi in southern France from $2,250 per person.

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Pleasanton, CA: How do I find the archives online?

Budget Travel Editors: Once you're on our website, budgettravelonline.com, you can search for articles from the past few years by typing the headline or subject matter in the search box on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Or, you can click on one of the categories listed in the left-hand column of the screen. Articles are organized by destination (U.S., Europe, Caribbean), strategies (airfares, cruises), and spotlights (road trips, family travel). Here are links to the table of contents for the April, March, and February issues. Good luck!

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Fulton, NY: I am looking for a website where I can learn what airlines service a particular airport (i.e. Halifax). Does it exist? Thank you.

Budget Travel Editors: Nowadays that the internet has made so much travel information more accessible, your best bet for finding out detailed information about an airport is an internet search for that airport's homepage (most of them have one). In your particular case, flyhalifax.com is very helpful. Under the Plan Your Trip tab you can view a list of both regularly and seasonally scheduled airlines. Good luck!

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Houston, TX: What is the best way for a 57 year old single woman to tour China?

Budget Travel Editors: Going to China with a tour company may be the best way to guarantee that you get to see a lot of the country, while also having the security of English-speaking guides and fellow travelers. We often feature tours with Grand Circle Travel in our 40 Best and Real Deals sections. They focus on providing travel options for ages 50 and up, can be counted on for good quality and won't break the bank! (800/959-0405)

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Lakeland, FL: We will be traveling to Montreal and Quebec City with our seven-year-old daughter at the end of May for 10 days. Any suggestions for hotels an ideas for sightseeing that would be interesting for my daughter? We fly into Montreal and plan to spend several days there before taking a train to Quebec City and back again.

Budget Travel Editors: Montreal is an easy place to visit; there is a huge variety of activities and attractions to choose from within a compact downtown core of the city. The first place to start would be the city's tourism board, which you can check out at tourisme-montreal.org. Online searches for recent travel articles, reviews and websites about the destination can also give you an idea of your options. For kids, Montreal's Biodôme and Insectarium are great, as are the street performers who congregate in Old Montreal's Place Jacques Cartier to liven up afternoons of too much historic architecture.

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Lafayette, LA: We will spend one night in Montreal in September before boarding a cruise and would like to locate a find dining restaurant that offers outstanding basic food for under $100 per person.

Budget Travel Editors: Montreal's restaurants have a deservedly good reputation. The city is known for its smoked meat and bagels, French food, and its ethnic food including Vietnamese, Indian and inexpensive Middle Eastern options. It's common to find BYOW, or bring your own wine, restaurants, especially along Duluth and Prince Arthur streets. (Just be sure to buy your wine before the government-run SAQ stores close for the evening; wine and hard alcohol isn't sold anywhere else.) You can explore your many options on websites like cim.mcgill.ca/~jer, chowhound.com, restomontreal.ca. But, if you get stuck, you can't go wrong with the French restaurant L'Express at 3927 rue St-Denis, 514/845-5333 (reservations recommended).

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Darien IL: I want to spend a romantic three days in Montreal. Plan to leave Thursday evening and return late Sunday evening. Suggestions on places to stay and restaurants would be most helpful.

Budget Travel Editors: For those looking for romantic options in the city, a stroll up Mont Royal Park for a breathtaking view of the city and the St. Lawrence River couldn't hurt.

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Fircrest, WA: Having just returned from a spring break in Orlando, I'm starting to plan for my next spring break. Can you recommend reputable agents to plan a budget travel package to Peru? We have 7-10 days, and want to visit Cuzco, Maachu Pichu (overnight preferable).

Budget Travel Editors: A good source for tour operators who can be trusted to provide solid, affordable travel packages is, well, Budget Travel. Look through BudgetTravelOnline.com's Real Deals section and the magazine's 40 Best Bargain Vacations section for companies offering packages to the specific destinations you're interested in. Some of the companies who have recently run South American packages in Budget Travel include Djoser, 877/356-7376, djoserusa.com., G.A.P Adventures, 800/465-5600, gapadventures.com., Tara Tours, 800/327-0080, taratours.com., Marnella Tours, 866/993-0033, marnellatours.com., Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com., Analie Tours, 800/811-6027, analietours.com., and Escapes Unlimited, 800/243-7227, escapesltd.com.

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Budget Travel Editors:
Thanks for all your great questions. See you next week!

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