Questions & Answers:
Q: What is the best age to start traveling with children?
A: Taking the kids to see the relatives at an early age is common. Keep in mind that infants are more sensitive to changes in air pressure, and in todays jet liners - althought the cabins are pressurized - they are pressurized to a higher elevation and the child may be feeling the discomfort of the pressure difference but has no way of telling us. Also, babies cry for many reasons, and too often it seems that they start just as the doors are sealed and stop just as the plane lands. However, taking a child to visit the relatives is different than taking him or her with you on an extended vacation. I have seen people take thier seven and eight month olds to Mexico; where it can be hot and miserable, the food and water may be questionable, and the sunburn unavoidable. Little Johnny or Mary is not going to have fun, and neither will you nor the people who may have booked such a trip to get away from the kids. Even Disneyland - as much fun as it might be for the child in all of us - won't give your son or daughter the unforgetable experience you may hope for. It is best to wait until they can communitcate with you and understand the rules of travel (sit in your seat with the seat belt fastened, don't kick the back of the seat in front of you, etc.), no sooner than three or four. When you do travel with children, bring something along for them to do. A four hour flight can seem like an eternaty to a toddler. And bring some gum to avoid the earache that comes with the changes in pressure.
Q: When is the best time of the year to avoid hurricanes when traveling to Florida and the Caribbean?
A: The rule of thumb is that hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th, but the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorolgical Laboratory (AOML) warns that hurricanes can - and have - occurred outside of these six months (Mother Nature doesn’t follow any calendar.) However, over 97% of tropical activity occurs within this time frame. While the peak of the season is typically from August to October, it reaches its height being in mid-September.
Q: I am planning to take a Caribbean cruise that leaves from Puerto Rico. Will I need a passport?
A: Although you may be able to fly from the United States to Puerto Rico without a passport (it's a U.S. Territory and American citizens are not required to carry a passport to travel there), you must have a passport with you whenever you travel on any international journey. The cruise ship will not allow you to board without one.
Q: When visiting the Galapagos, is it better to take a cruise or stay on land?
A: While staying on land might be the cheaper travel package, it may not offer the best travel experience. If you stay on land, your outings to see the wildlife will leave in the morning (usually after breakfast) and return in the late afternoon. You will be out during the hottest part of the day, and will be limited to islands close to the hotel you are staying at. If you take a cruise, you will find yourself at the more remote islands every day, and will return to your cruise boat for lunch (when the day is hottest) and the availablility to go for a swim or take a short nap in the air conditioned comfort of your cabin. For my money, I would highly recommend a cruise over the land based tour. Also, if you have a choice between a large and small cruise ship, take the smaller vessel.
Q: Is it true that there is a resort in Africa that has a tennis court with a net strung on the Equator?
A: Yes, it is true. The resort is the Mount Kenya Safari Club, which was financed and built (at least in part) by the actor Willliam Holden. One of its tennis courts has a net strung at the equator, so that while playing the game, the ball constantly crosses back and forth between the northern and southern hemisphers.
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