Travel

Live Los Angeles Times Travel chat transcript: October 8, 2007

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2007-10-08 13:03:24.0 Administrator2: Hi all, and welcome to the Travel Chat!

2007-10-08 13:03:40.0 Administrator2: Welcome to Jen Leo, Jane Engle and Andrew Nystrom!

2007-10-08 13:04:01.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Welcome travel fans. Thanks for joining in our live chat. We're going to be talking today about how to find good online travel resources & deals, value travel in Europe, and new passport rules. You are chatting with consumer columnist Jane Engle, travel deal blogger Jen Leo, Interactive Travel Editor Andrew Nystrom Feel free to watch and read along, or select a color for your text and chime in with a question or comment.

2007-10-08 13:04:07.0 Scott: hello?

2007-10-08 13:04:08.0 john: Hello

2007-10-08 13:04:14.0 Administrator2: Hi Scott and John, we're rolling!

2007-10-08 13:04:23.0 Administrator2: Send your questions now!

2007-10-08 13:04:30.0 Dawee: Hello all

2007-10-08 13:04:33.0 Dawee: what is the best country to visit for great beers?

2007-10-08 13:04:58.0 lindy: i;d like to read the transcript

2007-10-08 13:05:16.0 Administrator2: Hi Lindy, the chat transcript will be available in about two hours. Stay tuned! : )

2007-10-08 13:05:19.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Belgium!

2007-10-08 13:05:41.0 Dawee: Belgium great

2007-10-08 13:05:46.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I've also experienced great local pubs with large European beer selections in Amsterdam

2007-10-08 13:05:54.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Welcome travel fans. Thanks for joining in our live chat. We're going to be talking today about how to find good online travel resources & deals, value travel in Europe, and new passport rules. You are chatting with consumer columnist Jane Engle, travel deal blogger Jen Leo, Interactive Travel Editor Andrew Nystrom Feel free to watch and read along, or select a color for your text and chime in with a question or comment.

2007-10-08 13:05:58.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: I have actually grown fond of warm ale in Britain.Guess it's an acquired taste.

2007-10-08 13:06:05.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Besides Germany? You just missed Oktoberfest

2007-10-08 13:06:27.0 schmulka: HI all, I was looking for a destination where the dollar isn't quite so weak

2007-10-08 13:06:42.0 Dawee: my mouth is watering now. any special places to hit in Belgium?

2007-10-08 13:07:01.0 Dawee: or amsterdam?

2007-10-08 13:07:23.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: We featured El Salvador over the weekend. There's some nice beer throughout Central America.

2007-10-08 13:07:43.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Great question Schmulka, GoBudgetTravel just did an article on this very subject. Here's the ink, check it out: http://gobudgettravel.com/budget-travel-destinations/where-your-dollars-arent-so-weak

2007-10-08 13:07:54.0 Dawee: i have never been below mexico. sounds great.

2007-10-08 13:08:23.0 schmulka: thanks

2007-10-08 13:08:30.0 Administrator2: Hi chatters, if you've sent a question and haven't seen it appear in the chat window yet, don't worry -- they haven't been lost and we haven't forgotten you! Just trying to give the travel folks time to type. : ) You'll see your question shortly.

2007-10-08 13:08:57.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, Schmulka! South America is often a good bet for making your dollar stretch. Argentina is a favorite. But bear in mind: The dollar's value has been fallng wordlwide.

2007-10-08 13:09:38.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Here's the exchange rate for the dollar and the Euro today: Today's exchange rate: In U.S. Dollar/ Per U.S. DollarBritish Pound 2.03625 0.49110Euro 1.40528 0.71160

2007-10-08 13:09:46.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: We've been getting lots of emails recently about the U.S. passport application process. Are you and your friends getting your passports on time? How long has it been taking? Jane has been reporting extensively on this issue.

2007-10-08 13:10:13.0 schmulka: Ok, I've been thinking about Costa Rica, actually how will I do there?

2007-10-08 13:10:39.0 Dawee: i was surprised when i was able to get my kids passports in only 2 months

2007-10-08 13:10:46.0 jetwithkids: Do all the new US passports have the new chip in them?

2007-10-08 13:11:09.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Also, re: the dollar. If you travel wisely, you get by fairly cheaply even in Britain. Get your lunch from a market. Get an Oyster card to cut Tube rides in half or more. With cash. they cost $8 each way.

2007-10-08 13:11:34.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: You can check exchange rates worldwide via this link on our site: http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic?user=latimes

2007-10-08 13:11:37.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: FYI re: the U.S dollar -- has actually risen slightly in value in Canada this past weeek.

2007-10-08 13:13:02.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dawee, Here's a recent trip we put up on Costa Rica: Tropical engagement tour in Costa Rica

2007-10-08 13:13:16.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Costa Rica Link: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-costarica7oct07

2007-10-08 13:14:33.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: We also have an article about Costa Rica from last year, "For big savings, think small: Costa Rica". I think the prices would still be close: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-budget13aug13

2007-10-08 13:15:41.0 Chris H.: I'll be heading to Belize on Thursday, what is the best way to search for inexpensive local tours

2007-10-08 13:16:20.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: RE: U.S. passports with the RFID chip -- here's the State Dep't. FAQ. It uses the term "proposed," so I'm assuming they haven't been issued yet. Have they? http://travel.state.gov/passport/eppt/eppt_2498.html

2007-10-08 13:16:46.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Here's Jane's most recent story on the U.S. passport application situation: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-insider30sep30

2007-10-08 13:17:43.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Re; Passports. I'm not sure about the RFID chip status at this point. But I can offer this advice: Get your passport now. Starting next year, you'll see new rules that will require more people to have passports. So delays are likely.

2007-10-08 13:17:53.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: It's a bit too complicated to summarize here in the chat, but here's the intro:"By many accounts, a meltdown in processing that held up passports for thousands of Americans earlier this year has eased. But new delays may be on the horizon."

2007-10-08 13:18:38.0 jetwithkids: Good to know... Thanks

2007-10-08 13:18:39.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Chris, we're not ignoring you...where in Belize are you going to?

2007-10-08 13:19:04.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: I haven't been to Belize, but in many other Latin American countries (Andrew, you can chime in on this, I know) the best way to find local tours is to ask after arrival at local guesthouses, restaurants, even shops where you find a friendly atmosphere and sincere locals. Always shop around for the best price. Also, ask yourself: do I really need to take a tour, or can I do it myself just as easily?

2007-10-08 13:20:08.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Has anybody used the Latin America Travel Speialist - Exito? Here's a link to their page on Belize

2007-10-08 13:20:09.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: http://www.exitotravel.com/tours/belize/index.htm

2007-10-08 13:20:11.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Great advice, Sara. Chris, depending on how much time you have for vacation, I'd avise holding off on booking any tours until you can talk to some locals and ask for advice.

2007-10-08 13:20:26.0 aechavez: if i wanted to travel to russia and adjoining countries, when would be the best time to do so?, as well as economically?

2007-10-08 13:21:15.0 Chris H.: I'll be flying into Belize City, then renting a car to drive to San Ignacio

2007-10-08 13:21:30.0 Chris H.: Staying at a new resort, Ka'ana

2007-10-08 13:22:01.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, aechavez: Weatherwise, summer is best by far. But you may find better pricing in wnter or even shoulder seasons, like fall and spring. As always with travel, it's a trade-off: money versus ease and comfort.

2007-10-08 13:22:12.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Our recent story about Roaming Russia compares the pros and cons of visiting St. Petersburg, with and without a guide: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-stpetersburg23sep23

2007-10-08 13:22:47.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Aechavez, good question. Go Budget Travel just did an interview about Russian travel and talked about low winter fares. Here's the link: Winter Travel in Russia: Interview with Ruth Imershein, http://gobudgettravel.com/budget-travel-destinations/winter-travel-in-russia-interview-with-ruth-imershein

2007-10-08 13:22:52.0 Administrator2: Hi chatters, if you've sent a question and haven't seen it in the chat room yet, don't worry! We'll get to it ASAP-- just trying to give the travel experts time to type their responses. Don't fret!

2007-10-08 13:22:59.0 BTTOV: I was wondering if there is a time of the year to go to Europe for the best value? I would love to go but have a budget.

2007-10-08 13:23:05.0 cbtrav: I'm planning to travel to Europe in January....should I wait to buy my plane ticket?

2007-10-08 13:24:09.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Sounds like there's a consensus here in our physical chat room at winter is, in many ways, the best time to visit Europe. I'll let Jane expand...

2007-10-08 13:25:06.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, cbtrav: Good call. You've picked the cheapest season to go to Europe. And since so much fun stuff is indoors--food, concerts, museums and more--weather isn't big factor. As for when to buy: I'd buy now, if I saw a good fare. From L.A., that's anything less than about $800 off-season.

2007-10-08 13:25:32.0 Chris: Any travel deals available in Italy, especially Florence?

2007-10-08 13:25:58.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I spent part of the winter in Europe about 3.5 years ago and loved the difference. I spent two weeks in Belgium (Waterloo) and traveled around. I particularly enjoyed the holiday fairs

2007-10-08 13:26:20.0 mediapile: In December and January, if you avoid the holidays by a good few weeks, you can sometimes get to Europe for somewhere in the $600-700 range (not including taxes and fees).

2007-10-08 13:26:29.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Jen, how's the beer there?

2007-10-08 13:27:03.0 BTTOV: That sounds great.

2007-10-08 13:27:05.0 mediapile: Belgium has the best beer in the world. They have a saying, 'Germany, land of beer. Belgium, land of good beer.'

2007-10-08 13:27:16.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Mediapile and Chris, I read the EuroCheapoBlog to stay on top of all Europe deals and to gather resources: http://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/

2007-10-08 13:27:26.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, mediapile: Great info about Europe. Yes, $600-$700 can happen. With package deals, you may be able to get a hotel and airfare for a a few days at least, for that same total.

2007-10-08 13:27:30.0 DavidC: I just joined the chat and have some questions about flights to London from LAX

2007-10-08 13:27:32.0 dpriess: Have you tried Virgin's new domestic airline and if does it match the hype?

2007-10-08 13:27:32.0 DavidC: My wife and I want to visit London before the end of the year. Since we don't particuarly care to fly in the first place (delayed flights/baggage, crying babies, etc.), we care more about the flight experience more than the cost--though business class is probably the most expensive tix we want to buy. Which carriers do you think offer the best experience on LAX to London flights?

2007-10-08 13:28:40.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: For all interested in Europe in winter: I've been to Montmartre in Paris while it was snowing and it was awesome, and cheap. As Jane said, lots to do indoors--and the best part is there are fewer tourists to contend with. Just make sure you check winter hours for everything you may want to see.

2007-10-08 13:28:44.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dpriess, I've already tried out the first class experience on Virgin America and loved it

2007-10-08 13:28:57.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: David: While Jane works on a reply, here's a link Jane recent reporting on a quick trip from LAX to Heathrow: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-europe23sep23

2007-10-08 13:29:08.0 dpriess: Expensive?

2007-10-08 13:29:17.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dpriess, But I would suggest that you just fly main cabin on VA up and down California because the ride is so short that it's hard to enjoy the amenities

2007-10-08 13:29:57.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dpriess, I believe that one-way tix on main cabin flights between LAX and SFO are $39-$44

2007-10-08 13:30:30.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: $39 being the sale prices. But there are regular flights beneath $50 (pre-tax) each way. And they're opening up Vegas, too

2007-10-08 13:30:32.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: DavidC: I just got back from London and was a tad disappointed with Virgin Atlantic. I had flown them before, but the features that were fun and new now seem familiar if you're a JetBlue flier. The inflight crew was great and, unlike other carriers, they still serve full hot meals.

2007-10-08 13:30:58.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi David C.: Great question. I flew Virgin-Atlantic, LAX-Heathrow, in August in coach and had a good experience. They give you little extras, like socks and eye masks, and the food was decent. They were also competitive on fares. Another idea is try one of the business-only airlines, such as MaxJet, which just came out to L.A. They may have lowere business-class fares.

2007-10-08 13:31:14.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: What I like about VA (besides the sexy interior and individual media monitors) is that you only have to book a week in advance to get a good rate if there are seats still available

2007-10-08 13:31:29.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Dpriess: Here's a link to Jen's first-hand account of flying Virgin from LAX-SFO: http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=619

2007-10-08 13:32:10.0 jetwithkids: What sites do you recommend for vacation home or apt. rentals in Europe? I have used VRBO in the past but am not finding too much for our upcoming trip to Amsterdam, Brugge, and Heidelberg.

2007-10-08 13:33:08.0 mediapile: Those going to Belgium...places to see...Brugges if you're looking for romantic (small canals), Antwerp, Brussels (have to see the Grand Place, and if you're into art nouveau, there is some interesting architecture), Ghent if you're there around the feasts (summer, I think) which is a big party, and Namur in the south, which has some nice, relaxed kayaking on the river. No whitewater. But whitewater will only make you spill your delicious trappist beer.

2007-10-08 13:33:48.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, jetwithkids: The list of websites for home/apt rentals in Europe changes all the time. Anyone out there found one they like?

2007-10-08 13:34:53.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Mediapile, do you think it's funny that Stella Artois is popular over here but more of a snubbed beer in Belgium?

2007-10-08 13:35:11.0 Dawee: amsterdam, is there any great places to eat there? like a must go type of place?

2007-10-08 13:35:58.0 dpriess: Great info...thanks!

2007-10-08 13:36:05.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dawee, My favorite cafe in Amsterdam is called Cafe Luxembourg near the casino

2007-10-08 13:37:01.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Dawee: Here's a list of Amsterdam suggestions from a story we ran in May: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-amsterdambox20may20

2007-10-08 13:37:07.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: It sits near this corner (I forget what it's called) with 4-5 bookstores nearbye. The inside of the cafe has long wooden tables with reading material, and the outside has chairs and tables that look out onto the courtyard. I think they called it the Spui. I'd have to double check.

2007-10-08 13:37:19.0 calla: Tell us about the casino in Amsterdam, Jen.

2007-10-08 13:37:24.0 DavidC: I've heard the same thing about Virgin Atlantic, so thank you for seconding that opinion. I also just came across an ad touting Air New Zealand's flight from LAX to LHR--a flight which seems so counter-intuitive. Thoughts on that flight in particular or the experience that ANZ provides in their premium economy or business class? Thanks, guys.

2007-10-08 13:38:17.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Amsterdam suggestions include www.detaart.com for morning sweets, and www.pancake.nl, the Pancake Bakery.

2007-10-08 13:38:29.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Dawee, One last comment on Amsterdam. I used the TimeOut guide and loved it. It led me to some fantastic local pubs/cafes

2007-10-08 13:38:41.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi David C: Haven't flown ANZ, but I know they recently upgraded their lounge at LAX, which looks great.

2007-10-08 13:39:00.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: DavidC: I did that flight awhile back and the service was excellent. I don't know current extras vis a vis meals, take-aways, etc.

2007-10-08 13:39:38.0 Chris H.: Are there any good travel deals to Greece now due to the recent fires?

2007-10-08 13:40:43.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: G'day Chris: A relative jumped aboard a cruise ship in Athens recently and found that prices and her trip weren't adversely affected.

2007-10-08 13:41:57.0 schmulka: I am wondering where to go where the dollar isn't so weak?

2007-10-08 13:42:33.0 mediapile: Stella isn't snubbed in Belgium so much as it's just average. It's everywhere, like Budweiser, and it's still decent. Jupiler is a lamer alternative that's eveywhere, so really I think that's their budweiser. But really, if you're in Belgium, you want to try the darker trappist beers. Those are the most interesting. Rich flavors. Lots of character. I was in Brussels once and stumbled on a beer tasting, which was great fun. If you're in Brussels I recommend at small shop/bar called Beer Mania. I know it's a dumb name, and it's not particularly atmospheric (the front part is a shop, the back is a small bar) but you can sit there and try a slew of different beers and if you tell the guy which you've tried and liked, he'll introduce you to other beers that are similar in character. But I for one am glad for the Stella invasion of America.

2007-10-08 13:42:47.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, Chris H.: It's worth checking out. But since so many people cruise, with limited time onshore, it may not make much difference. Anyone out there found great Grece deals?

2007-10-08 13:42:51.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: schmulka: Argentina is a fantastic bargain, and our winter is their summer.

2007-10-08 13:42:55.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I think our dollar always does well in South East Asia. Even if we've dropped a bit, there's still lots of value in traveling to Thailand

2007-10-08 13:43:15.0 LeBonRobert: Your money still goes really far in Argentina....but finding bargain airfare rarely happens.

2007-10-08 13:43:42.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Also, if you have any interest in traveling to Australia, flights go up considerably after Dec. 8. So you want to make sure you book your flight to leave before then.

2007-10-08 13:44:37.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: November to February is the cooler, drier season in many parts of SE Asia, esp. Thailand. But finding airfare for under US$800 is a challenge. I usually book through a travel discounter in S.F. for a flight that includes a free stopover in Japan.

2007-10-08 13:44:51.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: Here's a great little story on bargain shopping in Buenos Aires...it made me want to go! http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-bashopping17jun17

2007-10-08 13:45:22.0 LeBonRobert: Buenos is one of the most exciting large cities in the world right now

2007-10-08 13:45:26.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hey everybody, I think Rob Meyer of Go Budget Travel might be in the house. Rob, do you have anything to say about Argentina?

2007-10-08 13:45:37.0 mediapile: Anyone know the best time to go to Peru?

2007-10-08 13:46:05.0 Rob Meyer: Hi, sorry, the entire city of Quito lost power earlier today

2007-10-08 13:46:10.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I'd like to encourage our visitors to reply to questions as well.

2007-10-08 13:46:14.0 Rob Meyer: argentina in what regards?

2007-10-08 13:47:02.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I haven't been to Peru or Argentina but I know that some of you out there have been recently

2007-10-08 13:47:19.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: I've been to Peru several times. Where do you want to go: the beaches, the Amazon jungle, or the Andean highlands?

2007-10-08 13:47:43.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Rob: SHOPPING a big attraction for many in Buenos Aires. Here's a recent story we ran: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-bashopping17jun17

2007-10-08 13:47:47.0 mediapile: Machu, and beyond that I'm open to suggestions

2007-10-08 13:48:02.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: BTW, flying to Peru first, then getting a flight on a S. Amer. airline to Buenos Aires can save you a lot of money on the total airfare.

2007-10-08 13:48:24.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: A little off topic, but did you hear about that meteor that landed in Peru? I'm curious to hear more abou that

2007-10-08 13:48:26.0 Administrator2: Daily Deal Blog reader Linda sent an advance question: Why can't I knit on the way back from Europe when it is no problem on the way TO Europe? I'm on an American carrier and it's very frustrating. Hard to believe knitting needles are a threat.

2007-10-08 13:48:38.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: For Machu Pichu, I've even gone during the rainy season. But optimal time for the train trip or trekking is May-Sept., the colder but drier season in the highlands.

2007-10-08 13:48:49.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Avoid Machu in the rainy season (early in the year, when the Inca Trail is closed), otherwise it's a year-round destination

2007-10-08 13:48:51.0 Rob Meyer: Shopping is definitely a big attraction in Buenos Aires, probably the most cosmopolitan city in South America, rivaled only by Rio in my opinion...

2007-10-08 13:49:12.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: It rains year-round in the Amazon, so when you go doesn't matter much, tho some roads are washed out Dec.-May.

2007-10-08 13:49:29.0 Rob Meyer: I would say September is the best time for Machu Picchu, goo weather but far less crowded

2007-10-08 13:49:31.0 Sara Benson, Travel Deal Detective: Andrew is right: Inca Trail is closed in Feb. for clean-up.

2007-10-08 13:50:02.0 Warren Cowan: What time does the Megabus leave from LA to San Francisco?

2007-10-08 13:50:11.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Since S. America spans a great latitude, you can find somewhere pleasant to visit year-round. For example, the Galapagos, on the equator, is great year-round, except in September, when the water gets a bit choppy around the islands.

2007-10-08 13:50:53.0 pbb: Hey Jen, we covered that Peru meteorite over at Jaunted: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2007/9/20/135329/160/travel/Dangerous+Travel%3A+See+Crater%2C+Get+Sick+In+Peru

2007-10-08 13:51:37.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Warren, I found three times for LA to SF on Megabus: 7:30am, 2:30 pm and 11:30 pm

2007-10-08 13:52:12.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Warren: We've covered the Megabus lots recently. Mary jumped on an 11:30pm bus from LA to SF. Here's a summary of our coverage: http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=769

2007-10-08 13:52:14.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Nice, thanks pbb! I'll go check it out. I love all the fringe pop culture travel items on Jaunted!

2007-10-08 13:53:07.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Pbb, do you have any good travel gossip for us today from Jaunted? Anything exciting from the weekend when I was mostly offline?

2007-10-08 13:53:09.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, Linda: Great question on knitting needles. Virgin Atlantic advises that indeed, you can't take knitting needles onboard when flying out of Britain. (It's pretty hard to find this info online; British airports site just says don't bring sharp objects.) But even the TSA wobbly on this. Officially, at www.tsa.gov, it says you can bring knitting needles onboard. But it adds: "However, there is a possibilty that needles can be perceived as a possible weapon by one of our security officers." So they may bar them.

2007-10-08 13:53:25.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: Warren: I believe there's a 7 am, a 2:30 pm and an 11:30 pm. I took the 11:30 pm Megabus from Union Station and loved it...woke up at 6 a.m. in San Francisco. Walked over to Union Square for breakfast and it all felt so easy. The bus was clean, comfortable and very smooth; hardly anyone was on it and that was in August. What I liked most was going from city to city--no airport transfer needed.

2007-10-08 13:54:31.0 pbb: Well, Jen, I can tell you that fall travel deals are big right now. As we're between peak summer season and the holidays, it's a good time to pick up cheap airfare, which for lots of people is the biggest chunk of their trip budget

2007-10-08 13:54:43.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Warren: the Megabus website is the best go-to source for definitive schedule details: http://megabus.com/us/schedules/

2007-10-08 13:55:01.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: Warren: Here's a great story on megabus that on our website. http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-megabus23sep23

2007-10-08 13:55:06.0 LeBonRobert: Changing the topic; do our travel experts think SWA will start flying out of the US in 2008? Likely markets?

2007-10-08 13:55:25.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Pbb, too true. I'm going to San Francisco in a few weeks and I have the choice of flying Virgin America, Southwest or JetBlue

2007-10-08 13:55:27.0 pbb: and the NY Times wrote about this on Sunday: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/travel/07pracdeals.html?ref=travel

2007-10-08 13:55:50.0 Mary Forgione, Travel Web Deputy: Warren: Also, I think I paid about $25 or $30 roundtrip. Everyone we asked on the bus paid a different rate! My colleague Rosemary McClure got the prized $1 rate, as did some fellow riders. So it is out there if you book early.

2007-10-08 13:56:03.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: On cheap travel choices this fall/winter - If three short hop airlines are all offering one-way tix under $50, then we get to be really picky.

2007-10-08 13:56:17.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Pbb, thanks. I'll check that out.

2007-10-08 13:56:22.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, LeBonRobert: There is a lot of talk about Southwest eventually flying international. But I know of no plans or destinations at ths point.

2007-10-08 13:56:40.0 Bernie: Are there any airlines that still lower fares last minute? It seems that now that the planes are flying closer to 100% capacity that the fares are staying high.

2007-10-08 13:56:52.0 pbb: SFO is such a hot market right now, with lots of competition. It's a great time to be buying tickets from the bay area!

2007-10-08 13:58:01.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Pbb, right, so I went to get my ticket on Virgin America from LAS to SFO but the online booking was full of hassles. And it's $5 more to call.

2007-10-08 13:58:21.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: I will probably take the extra step and still take VA, but sometimes it's just easy to book on SWA

2007-10-08 13:58:36.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi Bernie: Nearly any airline will lower fares at the last minute, if it's not fililng enough seats. But you're right: Thery're flying full, and fares jump up. Southwest has great fares, but they sell out fast. You may find mainline fares lower than those on southwest f you book late, so check all airlines.

2007-10-08 13:58:50.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: pbb: We've done lots of reporting on Southwest recently, including LAT Staff Writer Peter Pae's report on SWA's plans to offer international connections via code share arrangements: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-southwest-airlines-plans-to-cater-to-international-air-travelers19sep07

2007-10-08 13:58:57.0 change100: Hey Jen Leo-- love your blog. I'm going to Australia in a couple of weeks and was wondering if you knew some good day trip ideas from Sydney? ;)

2007-10-08 13:59:22.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Bernie, sometimes I check out LastMinute.com for good flight + hotel deals, but to get the maximum benefit you need to be able to travel at odd times like first FIRST thing in the morning

2007-10-08 13:59:49.0 pbb: Jane, great point about how fares sometimes stay low. On the flip side, you have to book *really* early to get super-low fares on Skybus

2007-10-08 14:00:05.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Re Sydney, a spin around the Harbo(u)r on the first ferry you can catch is a great, cheap intro the fair city.

2007-10-08 14:00:09.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hi Change100, thanks! I've been to Australia four times and love it there. How adventurous are you. I would absolutely recommend taking the ferry to Manly (Manley?) beach.

2007-10-08 14:00:30.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi Bernie and Jen: Good website suggestion for deals, Jen. And Jen is too shy to recommend her own blog, which ahs great deals from the West!

2007-10-08 14:00:48.0 Rob Meyer: Might not be a day-trip, but the Blue Mountains are a nice place to check out for a few days from Sydney

2007-10-08 14:01:18.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: There's so much to do right in Sydney. Has anyone done that bridge walk? I'll go get a link

2007-10-08 14:01:36.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Re: deals: I also like www.smartertravel.com, because you can view lots of deals, especially packages, from several websites. Click on "Compare Prices."

2007-10-08 14:01:50.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Re low-fare airlines, do be wary of loss-leader advertisements for fares like the $10 Skybus deals, where the actual number of seats at that price is very limited. Same goes for Megabus.

2007-10-08 14:01:57.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Change, check out the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. I think I'm too much of a chicken! http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

2007-10-08 14:02:16.0 change100: I might be too, but I'll check it out. Thanks Jen!

2007-10-08 14:02:22.0 LeBonRobert: Is there one website which you think is superior to really getting great hotel deals last minute?

2007-10-08 14:02:30.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: No worries, Change

2007-10-08 14:03:22.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hey LeBonRobert, have you seen FareCast's new hotel search? http://www.farecast.com/

2007-10-08 14:03:42.0 LeBonRobert: no I have not Jen, I'll look now!!!

2007-10-08 14:03:47.0 Rob Meyer: I agree, I would definitely recommend anything offered by farecast

2007-10-08 14:04:12.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: Hi, LeBonRobert: For last-minute hotel deals in Europe, especially Britain, try www.laterooms.com. My colleague vani Rangachar reivewed that for us on Aug. 26.

2007-10-08 14:04:33.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: One final Megabus tip, from their President, on booking their cheapest seats: Here's a tip: The company books about 45 days in advance, he said. "So if you plan ahead and go out 45 days, you increase your probability of getting a $1 seat. As you get closer to the date you want to travel, prices increase. There are various seats at various prices. But even our top price is competitive."

2007-10-08 14:04:50.0 jetwithkids: Any tips for a winter trip to Prague? (A quick comment - we travel to Europe every winter and LOVE it. From SFO I have gotten deals as low as $500 TOTAL price, we love the warm, cozy pubs, and the Christmas decorations in Paris, London and Vienna are wonderful! And cheaper rates as well as no tourists! More interaction with locals IMHO.)

2007-10-08 14:05:21.0 Administrator2: Hi folks, we'll be wrapping up in a few minutes-- so send any last questions you have for the travelmeisters now!

2007-10-08 14:06:08.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Jetwithkids: Once you find a cheap airfare to Prague, the beer is very reasonably priced! What's your favorite pub?

2007-10-08 14:06:15.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Jetwithkids, I went to Prague 3.5 years ago and it was in early spring. This is a great place to shop if you like garnet and crystal. Also, I found it was a good place to get a cheap massage

2007-10-08 14:07:00.0 jetwithkids: Our favorite pub was a small Irish pub in Vienna!

2007-10-08 14:07:47.0 Rob Meyer: Have you guys given any tips on travel to the South Pacific? Being from the East coast, that is one place I have never had the pleasure of visiting...

2007-10-08 14:07:55.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hey Everybody, we're about to sign off. If you had a question that was unanswered, please feel free to post it in the comment section on our blog post for this chat and we'll try to get to it and keep the conversation going. http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=826

2007-10-08 14:08:38.0 Rob Meyer: Okay, will do, thanks very much guys!

2007-10-08 14:08:52.0 jetwithkids: Thanks!

2007-10-08 14:08:56.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Rob, did you have a specific place in mind? Rosemary McClure writes regularly about this for our travel section. We'll try to dig up some links and put them on the blog.

2007-10-08 14:09:04.0 Joni: Is there an email list we can subscibe to so we know when your next chat is?

2007-10-08 14:09:11.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Rob: Our staff writer Rosemary McClure made a force march to the region several times over the past few years. Plug her into our Travel search engine, to find her tales of woe.

2007-10-08 14:09:12.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Thanks so much for all your time, questions and comments everyone!

2007-10-08 14:09:31.0 Rob Meyer: Thanks, I definitely will!

2007-10-08 14:09:57.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Joni, you can pick up the RSS for our Daily Deal Blog and we'll let you know a few days before we start another chat.

2007-10-08 14:10:36.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Here's our RSS feed subscription link: http://feeds.latimes.com/DailyDealsLosAngelesTimesTravel

2007-10-08 14:11:09.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Hey, happy travel everyone. Go cash in on the current fall and winter bargains!!

2007-10-08 14:11:43.0 Jane Engle, Staff Writer: RE: South Pacific. Times staffer Rosemary McClure just visited and reviewed Rangiroa, http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-rangiroa16sep07

2007-10-08 14:11:51.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: And let us know what happened by posting on our blog and message boards upon your return. Bon voyage, all. ~ Andrew

2007-10-08 14:12:28.0 Jen Leo, Travel Deal Blogger: Thanks again everyone. This was fun!

2007-10-08 14:12:54.0 Andrew Nystrom, Web Travel Editor: Thanks all. We'll post links to the transcript on travel.latimes.com and the Travel & Deal Blog homepage.

2007-10-08 14:13:33.0 Rob Meyer: You guys did a great job, thank, I'll check out those S. Pacific links

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