The Washington Post’s Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:
Q: I read recent news about the businessman with three U.S. passports, including one in a different name. In view of the documentation (including birth certificate) anyone must submit in order to apply for a passport, how is it even possible to get one in another name? And why would someone need more than one (whether in the same or a different name)?
A: Some countries (Lebanon, Libya) will not let you in if they see that you have visited a country (such as Israel) that they don’t acknowledge or support. So, travelers will carry the passport without the controversial stamp. Sometimes people need a second passport if their first one is stuck in the visa process at a foreign consulate. I, like many dual citizens, have two passports for my two nationalities. However, I am guessing that the businessman and his ilk have multiple passports for nefarious reasons: So U.S. Customs and Immigration can’t track his travels.
– Andrea Sachs
Q: My family has never done an all-inclusive trip, but it’s what we need now. I got all fired up, and then read a little more about Mexico’s Ixtapa area and Cancun. I’m just not thrilled with those options. Where can a find a great deal for a flight/hotel package (even better if there are some organized on-site activities or off-site tours) for a family of four (two teens)? They are Spanish learners, so we’re thinking Panama, Belize or other Central or South American destinations. We hope to travel in late January.
A: All-inclusive packages with flights are most popular to Cancun and nearby areas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as those locations have many resorts that fit that bill. But take a look at Apple Vacations, Vacation Express and Liberty Travel, as they may offer packages to your choices.
– Carol Sottili
Q: My husband and I (early 40s) are looking to take a trip to the Caribbean in January. We are looking for nice beaches and swimmable water (ideally at an oceanfront hotel or rental), snorkeling, hiking and some shopping. We’ve been to Aruba, Curacao and the Yucatan, and we’re looking for somewhere new. We are not particularly interested in Jamaica, Bahamas, or other places where large cruise ships dock. While we’ve done all-inclusives, we’d like a destination where we can explore and eat at local restaurants.
A: Grenada is a great island, especially if you like spices and cocoa. I would also recommend St. Lucia, which has a wonderful hiking on its volcanic mountains, the Pitons. You might also consider Belize or Costa Rica.
Q: We’re planning a trip with our kids (ages 6 and 8) and the grandparents to Sedona, Arizona, at the end of March. Do you have any suggestions on where to stay? We’re open to traditional hotels/resorts or vacation rentals. We’d like to do some sightseeing in the area, age-appropriate hiking, and possibly have a heated pool for the kids.
A: I recently visited Sedona, and it was amazing. My family’s favorite trails include Cathedral (difficult, but really fun), West Fork (great if you like midday hikes, because it’s shaded), and Devil’s Bridge (keep the kids off the bridge, though). I would recommend a vacation rental in the area. It doesn’t have to be in Sedona. Cottonwood is really pretty and it has our all-time favorite pizza restaurant, the Anvil.
– Christopher Elliott
Q: I am traveling to Paris with some high school friends in July 2018. We have booked our apartment and now are looking at flights. I can’t find flights for less than $1000. I am wondering if the prices might go down if I wait to book a flight until closer to July?
A: That is about the going rate for a flight to Paris during high season. The closer you get to the summer, the fewer options you will have for flights and seats.
Q: Can you please share your thoughts on whether it makes sense to rent a car in northern Ireland and return it in Dublin (our arrival/departure airport). We will arrive in Dublin, take the train to Belfast for a few days, and are hoping to rent a car for the rest of our vacation in Donegal/West Coast. We are a family of four so paying a premium to drop off at a different location may balance out any other transportation costs we’d otherwise incur. I just want to be aware of any logistical or other issues.
A: Ireland is such a wonderful country to explore by car. I would vote for keeping the car, so that you can have a more spontaneous and fluid trip and not have to break up your adventure to deal with flights or trains.
Q: I have a week off from work in the Middle East in the third week of January and am looking for inspiration for a European city to visit. I’ll need some culture (museums, concerts, historic sites, etc.) and good casual food. Access to decent outdoor activities (especially day hiking or cross-country skiing) is a bonus. I don’t mind cold weather but would rather not be freezing and under lots of snow. I was thinking Madrid but am wary of current political climate in Spain.
A: I would not let the situation in Catalonia influence a decision to visit Madrid. And dozens of cities throughout Europe might also work for you. I’d first consider which are accessible via nonstop flight from location. I have lots of personal favorites. Perhaps Vienna?
Q: My wife and I are considering where to take next years’ vacation. I saw some great tickets to Moscow and also Cartagena, Colombia, but we’re open. Any advice? We did Europe this year and are would like to see another continent.
A: I absolutely loved Cartagena, which has long stretches of beaches right in the city as well as the 16th-century Old Town, which is thrumming with shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes, dancing and musical performance and more. Prices are quite cheap, too, which is the opposite of Moscow. Of course, Moscow has amazing museums, performing arts centers, churches and architecture. So I would base my decision on budget, weather and, if you are this type of traveler, conscience.