Q: Has anybody tried to rent a car lately? We are attending a family reunion in Minnesota in September, so I thought I’d jump online and lock in a great rate with an advance booking. But holy smokes — the rates are semi-astronomical. Do car rentals ever hit a sweet spot, like how airline tickets are allegedly at their best price 54 days before travel? Any suggestions on when to buy?
A: I’d try looking at off-airport rental car locations. You’ll have to factor in the cost of getting to the site, but sometimes it’s much cheaper away from airport. I’ve also had some luck with getting cheaper rental car prices via Costco.
I am about to have my first child and am looking for travel ideas for a trip in the first year. My husband and I travel frequently but we’re not really sure what is a good idea with a baby. We’re not the kind of people to just sit on a beach for a week, but I don’t think taking a baby on a Galapagos cruise (which I really want to do someday) is the best idea either. Trips we’d like to take include Greece/Turkey, Hawaii, New Zealand, and maybe eastern Europe. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we don’t want to make ourselves miserable either.
Good for you for not stashing the passport for the next 18 years!
First think of the flight. Flying nonstop is best, so you don’t have to disturb baby a lot with connections, or look for one-stop flights with short layovers. Also consider sanitation. You will need proper bathrooms and clean water. I would definitely recommend New Zealand, but that flight is long. But once there, you feel so relaxed.
Prague and Budapest are good options, because they are walkable cities, so you can throw baby on your back and stroll around. Same for other major cities in Italy, France and England. In fact, Italians love babies, so your wee one will be welcome in most places — within reason. (I believe Galapagos cruises have an age requirement.)
When looking at lodging, consider a place with a kitchen and laundry facilities. And if you plan to drive, remember the car seat.
I’ll be traveling solo this year for the first time in decades if I want to travel, and I do! My usual travel companions are unavailable. I’m a female in my late 50s. A recent solo long weekend in Florida didn’t go too well. I was lonely and had some social anxiety.
What could I try next that’s likely to go well so I don’t lose my travel mojo? My interests include Montreal, Prince Edward Island, and a river cruise in Europe. Do you know of travel groups that would be welcoming and friendly?
I love traveling solo because I can set my own pace and be selfish — lingering at a museum, park or coffee house, depending on my mood. I also meet such characters during my wandering, but you need to reach out to people to make a connection.
If you prefer to travel with a group, however, consider signing up for a tour that caters to solo travelers. Some tour operators have special trips that cater to the soloist or keep the numbers small, so it feels like you are traveling with a close clan of friends. Check out Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Overseas Adventure Travel and Abercrombie & Kent.
Big cruises can be tough because people often sail as couples or families. But Tauck River Cruising and Uniworld have specials that attract solo travelers.
Another option: Take several day tours; hopefully you will meet people that you click with. Also consider doing a homestay, taking a language or cooking class or volunteering — all great ways to meet locals and visitors.
Excerpted from a weekly online chat hosted by The Washington Post Travel section editors and writers.