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Ask T+L: Eco-Friendly Costa Rican Tours, Frequent-Flier Miles, and More

Q: Can you recommend any eco-friendly tours in Costa Rica this fall? —Nick Sargent, Glendale, Ariz.

A: “The five-day Adventure trip from Mountain Travel Sobek (from $1,300) may include a guided walk to view endangered green sea turtles on the beaches of Tortuguero National Park, plus a stay at the Mountain Paradise Lodge near Arenal volcano. Classic Journeys (from $2,995) offers a seven-day Family Journey that stops at the last major breeding site for scarlet macaws in Carara National Park before exploring a sustainable sugarcane farm. You’ll plant trees on the Nicoya Peninsula and observe up to 270 bird species in the Nosara Bilogical Reserve on the eight-day Action trip from Off the Beaten Path (from $3,295).” —T+L special projects editor Irene Edwards

Q: I’m looking for a stylish, centrally located hotel in Prague. Any ideas? —Emma Miller, Bangor, Maine

A: The recently opened Moods Boutique Hotel (doubles from $160) has 51 colorful rooms, equipped with Mac Mini entertainment systems, that overlook the Moldau River in Old Town. Nearby, glass-and-metal staircases lead to a collection of 109 white rooms punctuated with fire-orange throws and leather armchairs at the Hotel Josef (doubles from $158). Steps from Prague Castle, the 22 streamlined rooms at the design-centric Hotel Sax (doubles from $144) channel the 1960’s with geometric wallpaper, glass tables, and lime-green sofas.

Q: Is there a way to avoid paying fees when cashing in frequent-flier miles? —Leigh Bartley, New York, N.Y.

A: Unfortunately, while your flight may be covered, baggage and security fees or fuel surcharges (which can run you hundreds of dollars on international flights) are not. If you’re considering upgrading, make sure to read the fine print beforehand: American, Continental, and United charge expensive “co-pays” when you use miles to switch to business or first class. Expect $50 to $150 in redeposit fees if you need to cancel a flight and restore your miles. If you want to share your miles, avoid transferring them—airlines usually levy one cent per mile, plus a $7 to $35 fee—and instead buy the ticket in the recipient’s name, which transfers the miles for free.

Q: We’re planning a trip to New England this fall. What are a few great leaf-peeping routes? —Ben Shaw, Woodbury, Minn.

A: The one-hour drive from Portsmouth to Concord, New Hampshire, is ideal for viewing the red maples of the Merrimack Valley. Along the way, stop to sample apples at Emery Farm founded in 1655. Scrub oak trees and harvest-ready cranberry bogs flank the 40-mile drive south from Boston through historic towns—such as North Pembroke and Kingston—of Plymouth County, Massachusetts. On the three-hour loop south from Burlington, Vermont, to Route 125, stop at the 30-foot Moss Glen Falls for a stunning panorama of golden hardwoods.

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