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How to Cope With an Overzealous Tour Member

tour group

Do...

Book trips where multiple guides are present at all times. One is there to handle special situations just like this.

Talk to your guide, not to the traveler in question. Guides are trained to handle a variety of personalities.

Don’t...

Isolate the individual. That will only make him more likely to further monopolize your guide’s attention.

Be too quick to judge. As the group dynamic shakes out, needy travelers tend to settle down.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

Illustration by Larry Jost

Do I Really Need to Arrive Two Hours Early for an International Flight?

international flight

Trip Doctor’s Answer

Here’s the official rule: you and your luggage must be checked in at least an hour before departure, and you’ve got to be at the gate 30 to 45 minutes early. (There are a handful of exceptions; check with your carrier.) If you check in online and only have a carry-on, you’re free to play it closer—just don’t forget about the security lines.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

 

Photo by Don Wilson/Courtesy of Port of Seattle

Is It Better to Book Flights with a Cruise or Separately?

cruise

Trip Doctor’s Answer

Cruise lines negotiate set fares based on volume, so their flights are often more affordable than what you’ll find on your own—especially for business-class tickets. Perhaps more important, cruise fares protect you if you literally miss the boat because of flight delays; you’ll be flown to the next port of call without any change fees, says Dwain Wall, senior vice president of CruiseOne & Cruises, a network of 1,400 cruise agents.

Still, while you’ve got that cruise airfare on hold (you often have a full 10 days to cancel without penalty), you’ll want to shop around. Sale fares and tickets on low-cost carriers are sometimes a better deal than the cruise rates, which are restricted to specific airlines. And because the number of cruise-fare seats is limited on each flight, your itinerary might include an inconvenient overnight stay. If you do book on your own, be sure to purchase travel insurance in case your flight is delayed.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


Photo courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Spring 2013 Arts Calendar Highlights

spring performing arts

Coming attractions on the arts calendar: reinvigorated classics and celebrated traditions. Here, some of the highlights.

New York City: The two-month-long Season of Cambodia festival is a collaboration between the Phnom Penh–based nonprofit Cambodian Living Arts (a T+L Global Vision Award winner) and dozens of cultural institutions citywide. Dancers, sculptors, puppeteers, and others will showcase Khmer heritage, both traditional (Royal Ballet of Cambodia) and contemporary (rock band Dengue Fever). April 9–May 25.

Amsterdam: It’s an artistic double Dutch: both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum reopen this spring after major makeovers. The former, closed for 10 years, has added an Asian pavilion; Rembrandt’s Night Watch now takes pride of place among Vermeer’s pensive maidens and Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress. At the latter, van Gogh’s sunflowers and self-portraits come home again to Gerrit Rietveld’s Modernist building.

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Trip Doctor: How to Find Affordable European Flights for Summer

Q: Is there such a thing as an affordable European flight this summer? If so, how can I find one? —Catherine Mills, Westport, Conn.

A: Remember when flying to Europe was, at most, a $600 commitment? These days, that’s often just the baseline cost of a transatlantic ticket. According to Rick Seaney, cofounder and CEO of Farecompare, the average airfare to Europe includes about $450 in surcharges (including fuel) and $160 in taxes and fees. Tack on what the carrier itself charges, and it’s no wonder you can find yourself paying more than $1,000 for an economy-class ticket. But you can still fly for less. You just need to know the tricks.

Pay attention to shoulder seasons. Summer flights, hands down, are the most expensive. But if you look around the edges of summer—early June; the last week of August—you’ll find better fares. They’re even more affordable in early May and mid-October. Of course, winter fares are still lowest, and they stay that way from mid-November until mid-March (excluding the winter holidays).

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Trip Doctor: Why Can’t My Family and I Find Airplane Seats Together?

airplane seats

Major domestic carriers have put premiums on an increasing number of main-cabin aisle and window seats, making them available only to high-ranking frequent fliers or people willing to add $20 to $60 per trip leg. Though these seats sometimes open up to regular travelers as the flight date approaches, this policy in effect forces families to pay up or risk sitting apart. New York Senator Charles Schumer and others have decried the practice, but their efforts will have little impact in the short term. If you can’t (or won’t) pay the premium, your best bet is to log on to your airline’s website 24 hours before your flight—when carriers begin releasing premium seats to the public.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: What’s the Best Place to Exchange Currency?

currency

Find out if your bank has an affiliate abroad: it will offer the best exchange rates and may waive ATM fees for withdrawals. Stay away from airport and hotel exchange counters, which typically have poor rates and high commission fees. Keep tabs on the current exchange rate, so you’ll know whether you are getting your money’s worth.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: How to Deal with Hotel Bill Shock

Do...

Heed the warnings. If the hotel informed you of resort fees and the like, you share some of the blame.

Play up your loyalty. Point out that you are a member of the hotel’s program, or a repeat customer.

Don’t...

Accept responsibility for fees buried in fine print. They should be clearly presented to guests.

Be afraid to stand your ground. If the front desk can’t help, ask for the general manager or guest services director.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Trip Doctor: U.S. Issues Warning for Travel to Peru

Machu Picchu

The U.S. Embassy in Lima has issued an official security message for American citizens warning about travel to the Cusco area of Peru, including Machu Picchu. The message, issued Thursday, says that the embassy received information that a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap American tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area. The report adds, “possible targets and methods are not known and the threat is credible at least through the end of February 2013.”

The embassy is currently prohibiting personnel from visiting the area on personal travel, and is restricting official visits. Though the embassy urges non-consular U.S. citizens to “maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security” if traveling to the region, at this point the threat has not been elevated to an official Department of State travel alert or warning. (The embassy says it “remains confident of the Peruvian government’s efforts to ensure the safety of all tourists in the region.”) That, however, could change in the coming days.

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Trip Doctor: Carnival Triumph Updates: More Photos and Stories from Aboard

Carnival Triumph

The disabled Carnival Triumph limped into port in Mobile, Alabama late Thursday night four days after a fire stranded it off the coast of Mexico and left it with limited power, air conditioning, and functioning toilets. Conditions aboard the ship had deteriorated, and its decidedly untriumphant return to the States was watched closely by the media. Here’s what’s being said:

CNN delivers an iReport compiling tweets and photos from Triumph passengers. Among them: shots of people sleeping in hallways and a tweet from a passenger thanking the ship’s crew for taking care of the ship.

Read More

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