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Ask T+L: Road Trip Tips, Affordable Barcelona, and Cultural Tours of India

Q: What’s your best advice for making the most of a road trip? —Wendy Roberts, Arcadia, Calif.

“Rather than just rely on GPS, always bring along a map. It will give you the bigger picture, show you the region’s topography, and help you choose the most interesting itinerary. On a recent trip through California for my Ovation TV travel show, Scenic Route, I discovered great field-to-table restaurants by asking growers at farmers’ markets and roadside stands which local dining rooms they supplied. When booking a hotel, ask if they offer special rates for AAA cardholders (the membership fee of $58 often pays for itself). If you arrive at a chain hotel without reservations after, say, eight o’clock in the evening, request a reduced rate. The later you arrive, the better you should fare.” —T+L Los Angeles correspondent David A. Keeps

Q: I’m looking to stay in a stylish—yet affordable—hotel in Barcelona next month. Any ideas? —Christian Massey, Hudson, Ohio

A: In Las Ramblas, the 147 rooms at Grand Hotel Central (doubles from $225) have dark wood floors and spacious bathrooms; head to the rooftop infinity pool for spectacular views of Barri Gòtic and the city’s ancient walls. The Hotel Actual (doubles from $185), a stone-and-glass town house in the Modernist Gràcia district, has 34 natural-toned rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and two Belle Époque–era suites with frescoes. Meanwhile, the Hotel Villa Emilia (doubles from $157) is a 10-minute walk from the historic city center and has 53 rooms and a lounge with a grand piano.

Q: Can you recommend a few options for in-depth cultural tours of India? —James Seargent, Spencer, W. Va.

A: The 15-day Heritage India tour from Cox & Kings (from $7,885 per person, double) includes village excursions with members of the royal family of Nimach—plus visits to major sites such as the Taj Mahal. Greaves India (from $4,440 per person) offers the nine-day Southern Delights, where guests view sixth-century sculptures on Elephanta Island, near Mumbai Harbour, and attend a performance of the ancient Kathakali dance. Finally, Gap Adventures (888/800-4100; gapadventures.com; from $1,549 per person, double) has a 14-day India Culture & Cuisine itinerary that brings guests from the Dilli Haat food stalls, in Delhi, to Mumbai’s Sassoon Docks (one of the city’s largest fish markets).

Q: My wife and I are planning to spend a weekend in Nantucket. Where should we stay and what should we do? —Lee Fry, Wells, Nev.

A: The Veranda House (doubles from $309), a circa-1684 manse, has three wraparound porches with views of the harbor; the concierge will arrange day trips to the beach of your choice (we suggest the nearby and secluded Madequecham). The next day, stop by the ’Sconset Café (lunch for two $25) for a bowl of house-made quahog chowder before exploring the village’s rose-covered fisherman’s cottages. Come evening, try the halibut with creamed artichokes at the Summer House Restaurant (dinner for two $110), in Siasconset, the island’s easternmost point.

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