Trip Coach: August 1, 2006

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Budget Travel editors answered your questions about travel

Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. Let's get to your questions!

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Larkspur, CO: I would like to take my mother (she is 66 and I am 41) to Spain in October or November. We are both very interested in cooking and are looking for a vacation that combines cooking classes and a little free time for sightseeing. I really enjoyed your article on Paradores in March and think we would enjoy staying at one in the southern part of Spain. If you could also provide information on car rental in Spain vs traveling by train, that would also be helpful.

Budget Travel Editors: First off, I would suggest going in October, when it's harvest season in Spain, and also because November tends to be very rainy. Train travel is very easy, and relatively affordable, in Spain, but by renting a car you're able to get off the beaten path to charming villages, where you can catch a glimpse real small town life. If you plan to spend two weeks, maybe think about training one week, and driving the next.
 
Should you decide to rent a car, do it BEFORE you go from a large vendor, such as AutoEurope.com. As for cooking schools, I suggest perusing the Shaw Guide listings for Spain. As of today, there are some 86 recreation cooking programs listed for Spain, many of which are in Andalusia in the south.

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Ridgecrest, CA: Our group, three couples in their late 50s and early 60s, would like to do a walking vacation in Ireland, anywhere between late Spring and early Fall. We're thinking 7-10 days, 6-8 miles per day, staying overnight in B&Bs or country inns but having someone schlep our luggage forward every morning. Can you offer suggestions on when and where to start, what route to travel, where to stay? Thank you!

Budget Travel Editors: For starters you should know that Ireland has an extraordinary network of B&Bs that are affordable and where guests pay one fee and then choose among participating properties, many of which are delightfully local and family-run. People often stay at a different B&B every night, which is perfect for visiting "ramblers."
 
As for which part of the country to visit, that depends on you. I recommend picking up a good guide book, doing some reading on the different counties, and deciding what sounds good. Once you know where, you can zero in on specific walking tours.
 
A company we highly recommend is Country Walkers, an outfitter that leads walking tours around the world. At this time they have three tours in Ireland: Cork, Galway, and the Southwest. Burren Walks is another; they guide you across The Burren on the west coast, one of Ireland's most unusual and mythical landscapes. Here are a few other links: goireland.com, southwestwalksireland.com, irishtourism.com/walking-tours-ireland.

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Boise, ID: We are traveling by car to Canada leaving August 3. What documents are required for border crossing going and returning? I have the non-resident insurance card for my vehicle. I am a naturalized US citizen, the other travelers are US born. We are going to the vicinity of Red Deer, Alberta and then to Assiniboia, Saskatchewan for family gatherings. Any other pertinent info appreciated. All travelers are adults. Thank you.

Budget Travel Editors: To travel to Canada, a passport or proof of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, and photo ID is required. Although a passport is not required until January 1, 2007, as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, we strongly recommend bringing one, especially for reentry into the U.S.
 
Find out more at the U.S. State Department website or Canada's Border Services Agency website. Read about the new requirements for travelers here.

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Kenosha, WI: 3 of us will be visiting NYC from 8/11 - 8/14. We need a good schedule for visiting the following: Empire State building; Statue of Liberty, MOMA, Ground Zero, Ground Zero Museum, Tavern on the Green, Central Park.

Budget Travel Editors: Sounds like an eventful trip! A few key strategies will help you see all of the sights you mentioned. The best advice is to tackle only one or two neighborhoods each day--there's so much to see and do! So here are our tips:
 
Visit MOMA on your first day and skip the $20 admission fee--it's free every Friday night from 4--8 p.m. More information: moma.org/visit_moma/admissions.html
 
Next, you could stop by the Empire State Building, which is also in midtown. During the summer, it's open until 2 AM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Skip the lines and order tickets in advance online. More info: esbnyc.com
 
Tavern on the Green is inside Central Park, so both destinations can be visited either in a morning or afternoon. One tip: Skip the overpriced food at Tavern on the Green and pick up a picnic lunch at Whole Foods or Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery at the nearby Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Check out centralparknyc.org and shopsatcolumbuscircle.com
 
Visiting the Statue of Liberty can take hours, especially during the height of tourist season. We've had good luck avoiding the crowds by buying tickets online and going very early in the morning. The first ferry to Ellis Island leaves Battery Park, located in lower Manhattan, at 8:30 A.M. More info: nps.gov/stli/ or statuereservations.com.
 
After returning to Manhattan, you can walk a few blocks north to the World Trade Center site. Be aware that there is only a viewing platform; the memorial and museum is scheduled to open in 2009. More info: buildthememorial.org
 For more great places to eat, drink, and play in New York City, check out our Snap Guide.

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Longmont, CO: Hi, Can you rent a car in Munich, Germany and drive into Prague, Czechoslovakia? Thank you.

Budget Travel Editors: Yes, you can but keep an eye out for the hefty one-way rental fee. Europcar, a wide-spread and well-known European rental company, charges an extra 348 euro for one-way trips. You can rent from the Munich airport (remember when searching online that it may be listed as "Muenchen") and drop it off at the Prague airport or other city locations. Also, the rental car probably will be a manual so get your clutch foot ready.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm traveling to Berlin, and want to fly round trip to Copenhagen for a long weekend (September 1-4). Can you suggest a nice, moderately priced hotel that would be a good base for a 24 year old single woman who plans to see the city by walking and using public transportation? Thanks!

Budget Travel Editors: The Absalon Hotel is just a couple blocks from Central Station and is within walking distance of Tivoli, Town Hall Square, and popular shopping and restaurant areas. The hotel sometimes runs special offers online, but a standard single in high season is 136 euro (about $175). The Absalon also has an annex, which is within the same building, with cheaper, low-frills singles and doubles with shared bathrooms (from 74 euro/$95 a night). Both the hotel and annex rates include breakfast. If you get tired of walking or public transportation, the hotel also rents bikes in the summer.

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Philadelphia, PA: I need inexpensive land package to Scotland or Ireland for late September, early October. Any suggestions?

Budget Travel Editors: Sure, there are several tour operators that specialize in Scotland and Ireland. Sceptre Tours, for one, has a land-only package for one night in Shannon or Dublin, two nights in country B&Bs, and one night at the lovely Adare Manor & Golf Resort in County Limerick, plus an economy car rental, from $499 per person in September or $379 per person in October. Dooley Vacations has a four-night stay in Dublin with an economy rental car from $309 per person. As for Scotland, Brian Moore International Tours has a package that includes two nights in Edinburgh or Glasgow and four nights in country B&Bs, with an economy rental car, from $609 per person in September or October. CIE Tours has a four-night escorted tour split between Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Nairn, with some meals, sightseeing, and a river cruise from $885 per person in September and $828 per person in October. For inspiration before you go, read our recent article Everyday Is a Winding Road in Ireland and A Tailor-Made Trip to Scotland.

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New York, NY: I am trying to plan a month long trip to Paris for myself. I've never been overseas and I've always wanted to live in Paris. This trip is a big treat for myself! My dates as of right now are October 11th until November 11th. My big problem is housing. For that amount of time I would like to have my own apartment. I was wondering if you guys could point me in the right direction...Something not too expensive (Less than $1000 for the month)

Budget Travel Editors: Our eight-page downloadable Paris Snap Guide is packed with insider tips on the best affordably places in eat, shop, play, and stay in the City of Light. Here are three short-term apartment rental agencies that we recommend: parisapartmenttours.com, parisrentaparts.com, and locaflat.com. A cheaper option would be to be rent a room in a Parisian's apartment. Check the listings on these sites: paris.craigslist.org, expatriates.com/classifieds/paris, fusac.fr/en, colocation.fr/homepage.php. Good luck!

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

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