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A Fresh Look at Some 15 Frequently-Posed Travel Questions, And Our Sometimes Infuriating Responses to Them

While most of the questions posed to this blog are quite unique. an almost equal number fall into several recognized and familiar categories--and these tend, on occasion, to be fairly controversial.  Here they are, along with my responses to them--some of which you may strongly dispute:
1) Should parents travel with their very young children?  My own answer is No.  They--the children--will derive very little benefit from those journeys, while your enjoyment of adult attractions and institutions will be severely limited
2) Should I travel independently or as part of a group?  Almost always independently, in my view; group travel is, with some exceptions, anathema to learning or intellectual growth.
3) A relative of mine is physically handicapped; how can I learn of travel facilities for them?  Contact the Society for the Advancement of Travel by the Handicapped ("SATH"), which studies such solutions.
4) Where can I find short duration stays at apartments or vacation homes?  From,,,, or, among many others.
5) How much credence should I give to "user-generated" recommendations on websites?  Very little; such websites are subject to massive manipulation by the hotels and restaurants listed in them, and even when composed legitimately, the persons penning comments on them are frequently sheer amateurs whose opinions are not well grounded.
6) How important is it to pack lightly?  Exceedingly important; taking too much makes you a prisoner of porters and taxicabs, and much of your time on vacation is spent laboriously packing and unpacking.
7) Shall I scrimp on accommodations or splurge?  Scrimp.  The difference between various categories of hotels is usually psychological only; there's very little difference between the actual comfort of beds in budget hotels as opposed to elegant hotels.
8) On a cruise making port stops, shall I book the land tours offered by the cruise line or simply sightsee on my own two feet?  Do it on your own.  In the overwhelming number of instances and with some exceptions, you can sightsee on your own much better.
9) Are hostels suitable, comfortable and safe?  Most are, and they can now be used by persons of all ages.
10) Shall I change my money from home, before departing on an international trip?  No, you make yourself a target for pickpockets if you do.  Obtain foreign currency periodically from ATM machines at the destination, always in small quantities that you can afford to lose.
11) I demand to stay at hotels.  Where can I find the best rates?  At,,, and numerous other hotel search engines.
12) How best to eat cheaply?  Share courses with your travel companion.  Order one appetizer for the two of you, and one main course for the two of you, and you'll still send uneaten food back to the kitchen.
13) Is Egypt safe?  Is Thailand currently safe?  Is India safe?  Egypt very definitely--in my personal view--isn't yet safe to visit.  Thailand is currently iffy, because of a much-disputed military takeover.  And women traveling alone might well want to avoid India, where attacks on unaccompanied women travelers are worrisome.
14) How can I best rent a villa overseas for a family reunion of as many as 20 people?  The decision is so important that you should send one of your group several months in advance to the proposed location to make the choice.  You wouldn't rent such a vacation home sight unseen in the United States, and you surely wouldn't want to do so for an overseas.
15) Where can I find an inexpensive hotel in New York City?  Book one in the outer boroughs or suburbs (Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey), or take a room without private bath at hotels containing many such lodgings, or consider such low-cost religious homes as Leo House or House of the Redeemer.