Ask our travel experts about travel and get answers to reader questions
Q: Now Retired And Plan To Fly To Philly Family Frequently PDF Print E-mail

I’m living in Los Angeles and expect to visit my married kids in Philadelphia at least every other month. Need some advice on how to deal with getting the most comfort and economy during long airport stays and flights. PLJ, Burbank CA

A: Quick thoughts. Keep checking ticket prices and fly cheaper nights (redeye) during midweek. Get TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for quicker processing. Fly business class with access to airport lounges. Uncrowded and comfy, they often offer free food and drink, magazines and newspapers. Avoid pre- and post-flight checking bags by traveling only with a small carry-on containing essential clothing and meds.

Q: Should We Give Money To Street Beggars And Homeless? PDF Print E-mail

In our travels in New York. San Francisco and LA, we’re encountering more and more people asking for hand-outs. Is it OK to help them? LRM, San Jose CA

A: On the streets of popular tourist cities around the world, travelers are seeing larger numbers of the homeless. With continuing inflation, loss of jobs, illegal immigration and other current problems, more people are forced to live on the streets. For many, they see begging as the only way they can cope.

However, especially in the most popular tourist areas, be aware that not all people there are homeless. Some clever opportunists choose to make money by pretending to be poor. A recent news article reported a young street guitarist boasted of earning $1,000 a day tax-free on a choice New York City corner where thousands of tourists roam daily.

You can help the homeless more effectively if you don’t hand out money on the street. Donate to those organizations that deal with the problem professionally. They include the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other recognized charities. And when you give legally, it’s also a tax deduction.

Q: What's Best For Senior Travelers: Hotel Or Airbnb? PDF Print E-mail

Each time we book a favorite resort hotel over the past few years, the price jumps five, ten or more percent from the previous charge. Friends now tell us it’s much cheaper to stay in a private Airbnb home in the resort city. Expert opinion? NLR, Houston TX

A: The Airbnb explosion on the travel scene has been both good and bad. A positive scenario is when you’re traveling with a group of four more. An upscale private home or apartment with several bedrooms and kitchen can be considerably cheaper than hotel rates charged for several single rooms.

A negative is that in some popular world tourist cities, Airbnbs are being reduced or totally forbidden by local governments. The list includes Venice, Barcelona, Prague, Amsterdam and others. The reason is that travel agencies often book Airbnb homes and apartments to large groups of tourists, many young celebrants.

The results are loud drink and drug parties that spill out noise onto nearby Airbnb residences at night. If you want to explore the bargain appeal of Airbnbs, try to book one that won’t be a 24-7 adult playground for a mob of loud and loaded young people.

Q: Are All Travel Ads And Customer Testimonials Fake? PDF Print E-mail

After seeing exciting ads for a seaside resort hotel, we booked a weekend. In the ads, it showed happy visitors enjoying lush rooms, pool, beach and dining in fancy restaurants. Actually, for us the hotel was old and dirty, the food awful and the beach worse. How can we avoid this kind of rip-off? PLJ, NYC

A: Take all big-promise TV, smartphone and print travel ads with caution. Like the miracle drugs, fancy cars and other flowery product ads that are endlessly repeated, most is exaggerated promotion. Before you book, check several independent websites such as TripAdvisor that sensibly review travel destinations.

Help My Aging Mind And Body Cope With Long Flights PDF Print E-mail

Q: I need to fly frequently, but as I get older the ordeal becomes more and more uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. I still have another five years of frequent business travel before I retire. Any suggestions on how I can cope? MJMcC, Portland OR

A: Try meditation. Block out aircraft noise, confusion and discomfort. Look for local services that teach the ancient practice, and/or scan online meditation websites for instructions. There are also basic ways to pass the long flight time with smartphones and other portable electronics in your ears and eyes. Fill them with prerecorded books, music and videos. And don’t forget to bring a brimmed hat or cap you can pull down over your eyes to blot out the crowded, noisy aisles and seats around you.


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