2007-11-07 13:08:33.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hi Everybody!
2007-11-07 13:10:00.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Hey Jen
2007-11-07 13:10:38.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: Hi, Jen
2007-11-07 13:11:28.0 Administrator2: Hi all, and welcome to the Travel Chat!
2007-11-07 13:12:11.0 Administrator2: We've got L.A. Times travel staffers Rosemary McClure, Jane Engle and Vani Rangachar and your favorite Daily Deal blogger Jen Leo! Welcome, guys!
2007-11-07 13:12:44.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: While we wait for questions, we can talk about our own holiday travel plans
2007-11-07 13:13:39.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Hi back! As we wait for some more questions, here's an overview of the holiday madness this year: People are booking earlier, so the peak dates over Thanksgiving and Christmas are producing sky-high fares. But you can save by staying flexible, varying your dates a bit and watching for sales. Yes, sales! Not a lot on the peak days, but in and around the holidays we're seeing from sales.
2007-11-07 13:14:10.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Make that...some sales!
2007-11-07 13:14:15.0 Schecky: Hi - I need to go to Australia in January...the fares are super high. any suggestions?
2007-11-07 13:14:35.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: I am going to Goa, India, and suffered sticker shock when I bought the airfare.
2007-11-07 13:16:43.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Vani says she has a couple of ideas on Australia, and will post soon.
2007-11-07 13:16:47.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: I just saw an aussie airpass on Qantas the other day for about $1,000 or so. Also you might try vayama.com, a site that focuses on international flights.
2007-11-07 13:17:45.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Schecky, I recommend the Qantas Aussie Airpass for added value. They have a pass that gives you the flight over, plus three more domestic flights within Australia.
2007-11-07 13:17:54.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Here's a link to the Qantas airpass: http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/us/specials/webDeals217
2007-11-07 13:18:08.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hi Schecky, I highly recommend the Qantas Aussie Air Pass. The pass gets you over to Australia and then gives you 3 domestic flights within Oz. http://www2.qantasusa.com/airpass/?id=latimes&alt_cam=us:176
2007-11-07 13:18:11.0 Administrator2: Hi guys-- I'm planning on going to visit family in Seattle sometime in the vicinity of the holidays...but I'm thinking of splitting it down the middle and traveling sometime BETWEEN Thanksgiving and Christmas. Is that a good way to get better fares, or are a lot of people doing this and canceling out any benefit there might be for choosing an "off" time?
2007-11-07 13:18:58.0 Administrator2: Sorry about double-answers, guys, we had a bit of a glitch there for a moment! Don't you just love technology?
2007-11-07 13:19:23.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hotwire put out a great Travel Planning Calendar for the holidays that gives you an idea of which specific dates are cheapest to travel. Get the pdf at: http://press.hotwire.com/index.php?s=expert
2007-11-07 13:19:33.0 Administrator2: Ah, I'll check that out! Thank you!
2007-11-07 13:20:28.0 Administrator2: Does staying over a Thursday really improve fares?
2007-11-07 13:20:36.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Hi! Yes, you should see good fares during that time. In fact, some of the lowest fares and lowest hotel rates can be found between the big holidays because everyone is so focused on shopping and preparing. An exception is New York City. People flock there to do holiday shopping and hotels get booked.
2007-11-07 13:20:59.0 Administrator2: Ah, that makes sense. Well...good for me that I'm not going to a shopping mecca!
2007-11-07 13:21:06.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I've also used BootsnAll.com to get a round the world ticket (via AirTreks) and that gave me a value-added flight to Australia.
2007-11-07 13:21:11.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Priceline also has a calendar: http://www.priceline.com/bestdays/BDTF_depart.asp
2007-11-07 13:21:31.0 Administrator2: I'll check these all out-- thanks a bunch.
2007-11-07 13:21:49.0 Administrator2: I've never heard of BootsnAll.com-- is that exclusively for international travel?
2007-11-07 13:23:45.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Re:Getting good fares by staying over on Thursday. Yes, weekday fares are usually better.
2007-11-07 13:23:52.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: One way I reduced fares on holiday travel was to fly on the day of the holiday, Thanksgiving day or Christmas or New Years' Day
2007-11-07 13:23:55.0 schmulka: here's a tough one...my brother moved his family to Rhode Island and it looks like Thanksgiving is going to be there. Any interesting suggestions for Rhode Island?
2007-11-07 13:24:16.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: Jane mentioned that it's tough to find cheap hotels in New York, but the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan has a Thanksgiving holiday deal for $245 a night between Nov. 18 and 23. For reservations, call 888-833-3969 and ask for the Thanksgiving special.
2007-11-07 13:24:49.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Schmulka, I don't even know the airport code for Rhode Island, but I can look it up :-)
2007-11-07 13:25:19.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Providence is an alternative airport to Boston, and sometimes fares to those airports are cheaper.
2007-11-07 13:25:34.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Kayak.com and Airfare Watchdog routine get me some of the lowest fares in my research, but I also use Farecast, FareCompare, and Sidestep.
2007-11-07 13:26:41.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: And earlier this week we did an interview with Yapta CEO Tom Romary - their website lets you know when the price of your flight has lowered and how to get a refund, http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=929
2007-11-07 13:26:49.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Good lead, Rosemary. Yes, out-of-towners head to New York City to shop, but they're more apt to fly to visit relatives in, say, Des Moines, over Thanksgiving. So some big-city hotels give deals over Thanksgiving.
2007-11-07 13:27:22.0 Administrator2: I haven't flown for quite a while and will need to for the holidays...what is the current situation as far as bringing liquids? Like...am I better off just buying toothpaste, shampoo and the like when I get there, just to avoid the headache?
2007-11-07 13:27:41.0 Administrator2: Or have restrictions eased up a bit?
2007-11-07 13:28:29.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I put my bigger liquids like shampoo and toothpaste in my checked luggage, and I buy water after I've crossed security
2007-11-07 13:29:12.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: But, I felt like I just got away with something because in flying from SFO to LAS the other day, I had my make up in a Sephora bag instead of a ziplock sandwhich baggy and they didn't say anything
2007-11-07 13:29:19.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Ah, liquids! No loosening of rules there. You're still limited to 3 ounces for each liquid in your carry-on, and all the stuff has to fit in a one-quart bag.
2007-11-07 13:29:31.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: I have a travel kit with 3-ounce or smaller liquids like shampoo, sunscreen and toothpaste.
2007-11-07 13:30:10.0 Administrator2: Is it an extra headache getting through security with that stuff? Is it all searched? Should I just bite the bullet and check some luggage?
2007-11-07 13:30:19.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Smart move, Rosemary. And Jen: Shame on you!
2007-11-07 13:30:32.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: schmulka, which airport in Rhode Island do you need, I found these BID Block Island UUU Newport OQU North Kingstown - Quonset Airport Nearby Hotels PVD Providence - T F Green Airport Nearby Hotels WST Westerly
2007-11-07 13:30:47.0 Administrator2: And also...how about prescriptions? Can I bring one of those little pill-a-day box thingies, or do I actually need to have the prescription bottle showing it's mine?
2007-11-07 13:31:12.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: If I am traveling abroad I like to buy some toiletries in my destination country because it's fun try new stuff that you may not find in the U.S.
2007-11-07 13:31:39.0 Administrator2: Oh, that's true. Or maybe I can just take the liberty of mailing some shampoo and toothpaste to my mom...
2007-11-07 13:31:50.0 Administrator2: ahead of time of course. :)
2007-11-07 13:32:06.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: I haven't had any problems carrying a pill-a-day box, but I've probably been lucky. TSA can require labeled prescription bottles.
2007-11-07 13:32:20.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: So, lets talk about the airlines that still have airfare sales around Christmas
2007-11-07 13:32:33.0 schmulka: I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my bro. Are there any great restaurants or nightclubs or anything that I shouldn't miss? II ask hopefully, but doubtfully...
2007-11-07 13:33:13.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Schmulka, I don't know, I haven't been to Rhode Island, but I hear Providence is really great. I hope you're going near there.
2007-11-07 13:33:31.0 Administrator2: There's gotta be something fun and kitschy with a Rhode Island Red rooster theme...right?
2007-11-07 13:33:48.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Travel with your prescriptions in the prescription bottle, because it helps to identify them. Travel Editor Catharine Hamm has these tips on traveling with medications: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-spot23sep23
2007-11-07 13:33:52.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Jen. good idea. Amazingly, some airlines do have sales. Aloha just annonced a sale for travel Dec. 1 to 19 and Jan. 9 to Feb. 13.
2007-11-07 13:34:53.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Back to holiday airfare sales - Booking Buddy sent me an email yesterday saying that American, Northwest and United still had holiday sales going on (and until Nov. 21)
2007-11-07 13:35:35.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: Regarding that Aloha sale, Jane, I noticed the fares from Los Angeles to Hawaii were as low as $129.
2007-11-07 13:36:01.0 Administrator2: Are these sales to places where people don't normally travel over the holidays? Like, sales to Hawaii rather than Des Moines?
2007-11-07 13:37:07.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I cashed in on a Southwest sale. 2 tix on Dec. 23 one-way,Vegas to San Diego. $118 for both of us on Southwest including taxes and fees. Cha-ching!
2007-11-07 13:37:29.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: The Aloha sale isn't during the holidays; it's during the slow periods before and after Christmas.
2007-11-07 13:37:39.0 Administrator2: Ahhh, gotcha!
2007-11-07 13:38:23.0 Administrator2: Are there also good fares to be had in the early weeks of the new year, when most people have already done their traveling? I'm thinking Vegas...
2007-11-07 13:40:56.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: JetBlue is giving $25 holiday gift cards towards RT flights when you purchase a JetBlue flight with an American Express card
2007-11-07 13:41:26.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: There are some great lodging deals during the pre-Christmas period. Most national parks have terrific packages during the off-season.
2007-11-07 13:41:29.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Europe fares usually go on sale after New Years and often through mid March.
2007-11-07 13:42:11.0 Administrator2: So to get a good deal, I have to deal with being cold? :)
2007-11-07 13:42:30.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Pack that parka!
2007-11-07 13:42:38.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: That's funny. But dare I say yes? ...
2007-11-07 13:42:41.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: You can stay at Zion for $91 a night or at the Grand Canyon for as low as $78 a night.
2007-11-07 13:42:57.0 Administrator2: Haha, I'll be wearing the parka on the plane!
2007-11-07 13:43:04.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hey, did any of you see the Holiday Travel Tips from Real Seimple Magazine?
2007-11-07 13:43:13.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Here they are: http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/package/1,21861,977662-677206,00.html
2007-11-07 13:43:31.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: That would be Real Simple Magazine...
2007-11-07 13:43:35.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: There are activity packages, too, at the parks. You can stalk wolves at Yellowstone or play golf at Death Valley.
2007-11-07 13:44:18.0 Administrator2: Wolf-stalking...can you wear a deer-stalker hat for that?
2007-11-07 13:44:21.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: stalk wolves? really?
2007-11-07 13:44:42.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Wow, that sounds fascinating. Someone needs to do an article on winter wolf stalking! I'm serious
2007-11-07 13:45:14.0 AmyC: lovely time of year for Big Bend National Park (warm there)
2007-11-07 13:45:33.0 Administrator2: Now you're speaking my language...
2007-11-07 13:45:53.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: The wolf package includes a snowmobile ride between Old Faithful and Mammoth, a wildlife tour of the Lamar Valley, home to one of the park's biggest wolf packs, and two nights at park hotels for $359 per person.
2007-11-07 13:46:05.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Las Vegas isn't that crowded between Christmas and New Years, you should be able to get some good deals then.
2007-11-07 13:46:14.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Big Bend is a good place for birding too.
2007-11-07 13:46:19.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Wow Rosemary. I really want to do that.
2007-11-07 13:47:19.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: If outdoor adventures aren't your thing, you could soak up some desert rays at the four-diamond Lowes Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson for $209 per night.
2007-11-07 13:47:25.0 AmyC: yes - great birding spot. And definitely stay at the Gage Hotel in Marathon before going into the partk - http://www.gagehotel.com/
2007-11-07 13:47:53.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Nice, thanks AmyC
2007-11-07 13:48:21.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: That reminds me, I want to make sure all of you know that you are welcome to share your travel tips too. It's not just all about us. :-)
2007-11-07 13:49:00.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Schmulka, I feel like we didn't give you a fair shake - here is a website where you can find a lot more infor about tourist activities in Rhode Island: http://www.visitrhodeisland.com/
2007-11-07 13:49:40.0 Administrator2: I'm thinking next year...rather than visiting my family in Seattle (which is freezing!)...I might try to get them all to rendezvous somewhere south. Any tips or ideas on a good place to convene the fam? We're talking ages 3-70.
2007-11-07 13:49:54.0 AmyC: Providence is a great restaurant town - not far from the Mystic Seaport - and of course my fav place :Foxwoods Casino
2007-11-07 13:49:56.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: If you're booking Thanksgiving at thelast minute, traveling on Thanksgiving day is your best bet for saving $$ on your airfare.
2007-11-07 13:50:06.0 wesbay: Anything going on in New Orleans over the holidays?
2007-11-07 13:50:57.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: I did a fam reunion a couple of years ago, and found a cruise was perfect for everyone and we ranged from 4 to 70.
2007-11-07 13:51:18.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: There's the Papa Noel celebration. Several Marriott hotels in New Orleans are offering great deals that coincide with the big Christmas celebration.
2007-11-07 13:51:31.0 schmulka: Foxwoods! I forgot about that...I now have a place to go...thanks
2007-11-07 13:51:47.0 wesbay: Thank you, Rosemary.
2007-11-07 13:52:17.0 Administrator2: Now that's an idea! As long as it's not an Alaska cruise, that sounds like a good plan. Are there good cruise deals around the holidays (since I'd expect more people probably go in the spring or summer)?
2007-11-07 13:53:05.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: There are always great cruise deals in the Caribbean these days.
2007-11-07 13:53:10.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Actually, winter holidays cruises are among the most expensive. They're really popular!
2007-11-07 13:53:28.0 Administrator2: Hmm, so probably want to book a time around the holidays that isn't an actual holiday?
2007-11-07 13:53:43.0 Administrator2: LIke, maybe early January, or between Thanksgiving and Christmas?
2007-11-07 13:53:52.0 Rosemary McClure, Assistant Travel Editor: Good idea.
2007-11-07 13:54:14.0 Administrator2: Excellent, crossing my fingers this idea goes over well when I bring it up...white Christmases are so overrated!
2007-11-07 13:54:17.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: But the Caribbean can be a good bet all the time. And yes, those "tweener" dates should be good.
2007-11-07 13:54:19.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I'm looking at Vacationstogo.com and they have a Norwegian cruise leaving out of L.A. that's marked down 58%, I'll check Xmas next
2007-11-07 13:54:37.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: go, Jen!
2007-11-07 13:54:42.0 Administrator2: Wow, now I am getting excited!
2007-11-07 13:55:53.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Another reason to go soon: Some cruise lines are adding fuel surcharges next year. Carnival just announced a $5 per person per day charge.
2007-11-07 13:56:23.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Waht websites do people like for last-minute cruise deals?
2007-11-07 13:57:22.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: There are two Southern California cruises (Vacationstogo.com) that have been reduced. Royal Caribbean out of LA and Carnival out of San Diego. Check them out, there are so many destinations to choose from and it helps to see the red reduced labels to spot the added value.
2007-11-07 13:57:37.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: That was for Dec. 24.
2007-11-07 13:57:43.0 Administrator2: I LOVE red reduced labels!!
2007-11-07 13:57:51.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: lol :-)
2007-11-07 13:58:33.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Cruisecritic.com also lists bargains: http://www.cruisecritic.com/bargains
2007-11-07 13:58:43.0 Administrator2: I wasn't aware of the Vacationstogo.com site...is it all cruises?
2007-11-07 13:59:02.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: And don't forget your travel agent.
2007-11-07 13:59:36.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Good question - as far as I know, yes just cruises.
2007-11-07 13:59:48.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Most cruises are still booked through agents. They can pull strings for upgrades. And they get blast e-mails with last-minute cabin openings.
2007-11-07 13:59:55.0 Administrator2: Ahhh, nice!
2007-11-07 14:01:23.0 Administrator2: So how does one pick a travel agent? Phone book seems like kind of a crapshoot...is there a good website with user reviews, or anything like that?
2007-11-07 14:01:55.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: oooh, that is a good question. I've never seen a site on travel agent user reviews.
2007-11-07 14:02:03.0 Michelle: i'm having a really tough time finding direct flights from jfk to san for the holidays - everything i find is $600+ or multiple connections, any tips for finding a decent deal?
2007-11-07 14:02:09.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: One place to go is the American Society of Travel Agents website.
2007-11-07 14:02:21.0 juan : hi
2007-11-07 14:02:35.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hi Juan.
2007-11-07 14:02:39.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Here are some tips on finding cruise deals from last year, but some of the advice still holds true: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-insider12nov12
2007-11-07 14:02:45.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Where are you headed? Any upcoming travels?
2007-11-07 14:03:46.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: The website lists agents that belong to the society. Plus check friends. I don't know of websites that review agents. We need one
2007-11-07 14:03:48.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: The American Society of Travel Agents http://www.asta.org/
2007-11-07 14:03:58.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hi Michelle, the other day I did a post on Farecast and how they can send you notices when the price goes down. http://www.farecast.com/
2007-11-07 14:04:28.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Then there's Yapta that tells you if the price has gone down after you've bought your ticket and how to get a refund once it does
2007-11-07 14:04:36.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: http://www.yapta.com/
2007-11-07 14:04:58.0 Michelle: nice - thanks i'll check that out
2007-11-07 14:05:29.0 Administrator2: Folks, it looks like it's about time for us to wrap up...
2007-11-07 14:05:57.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Aw, already?
2007-11-07 14:06:19.0 Administrator2: I know, Jen, I know. But you'll be back next month with a whole NEW set of travel dilemmas to answer!
2007-11-07 14:06:22.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: Great to hear from everyone. Thanks for all your questions and tips!
2007-11-07 14:06:42.0 Administrator2: If you missed any of today's chat, a transcript will be available later this afternoon at http://travel.latimes.com/
2007-11-07 14:06:51.0 Jane Engle, Assistant Travel Editor: and...our next chat is 1 p.m. Dec. 5.See you there!
2007-11-07 14:06:58.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Thanks for sitting in with us today everyone. Good luck with your holiday travels and "carry on" as much as you can!
2007-11-07 14:07:01.0 Vani Rangachar, Deputy Travel Editor: Now I want to check out Rhode Island!