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Our Most Recent Radio Travel Show (Sundays at Noon, Eastern Time) Received a Number of Challenging Questions from Listeners, of Which Ten are Representative

If you didn't listen to our most recent, Sunday Travel Show on radio (it is streamed live every Sunday, starting at noon Eastern Time on—the podcast can be downloaded at, you missed a lively interchange of travel questions between our listeners and ourselves.  In the thought that some of this discussion may be helpful to travel planning, we're showing some ten of the condensed questions and our answers below:

Q.  Must I carry my passport with me at all times during my stay in Italy and other European countries?

A.  Emphatically no.  There is scarcely a single legitimate request that can be made to show your passport to anyone other than the hotel clerk on registering (in some countries, the hotel must keep it overnight and display it to police authorities, but they then return it to you the next day).  Keep your passport in the hotel safe, and do not carry it about with you.

Q.  Where can I stay cheaply in London, but in a standard hotel, not a guesthouse?

A.  Two low-cost hotel chains have recently increased the number of their properties in London--and offer thousands of rooms there:  Travelodge (which is not to be confused with the U.S. Travelodge chain; it's entirely separate) and Premier Inn.  Look them up and with advance purchase you'll be pleasantly surprised by the low price level of their room rates.   

Q.  Why aren't river cruises of Europe heavily discounted for actual sale to the public?

A.  Because the lines operating those cruises don't need to do so.  To the surprise of nearly everyone in travel, European river cruises are enjoying enormous popularity, and rarely have to reduce their rates in order to fill their ships.  On many river cruises, you face a minimum charge of $300 a day per person, not including airfare to the starting point of the cruise.

Q.  Why has American Express ceased its sale of travel insurance policies?

A.  No explanation has been given.  But it is undeniable that in a series of messages, American Express has stated that it will no longer be accepting applications for its various forms of medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and other travel-related policies.  Which is a shame, because American Express travel insurance was highly regarded and inexpensive for the coverage it afforded. 

Q.  Is it possible to subscribe to podcasts of your weekly radio program, The Travel Show, so that we will automatically receive them each week?

A.  Unfortunately, no.  You will need to go directly to, click on the word "podcasts", and then select the specific programs you want to hear, one at a time. We also have them streaming right here on this website at

Q.  We're taking a river cruise in France, from Arles to Avignon.  Our friends want to visit Marseilles afterwards, but I think there are more attractive places.  Your opinion?

A.  I side with you, vastly preferring a visit to the highlights of the Riviera:  Nice, Cannes, Monaco, St. Tropez.  Despite a valiant effort by the city to add museums and new buildings to its run-down sections, Marseilles apparently remains an unattractive city to most touristic visitors.

Q.  I've heard it's hard to drive in Ireland.  Shall I hire a car and driver?

A.  Definitely not; doing so would set you apart from the outgoing people of Ireland, that you might otherwise be able to meet.  Driving a right-hand car requires only a few minutes of practice and concentration, and after that driving in Ireland is no different than driving anywhere else (but requiring care and concentration when you approach intersections).  Millions of Americans have enjoyed self-drive tours of Ireland, stopping for their overnight accommodations in b-and-bs along the way. 

Q.  I fear that low-income Americans are unable to vacation well in the United States.  Are the poor doomed to a life of no vacation travel?

A.  You are largely right in your concerns.  By contrast to us, several European countries have adopted policies of "social tourism" (tourism for the poor), granting poor people a yearly, free-of-charge, round-trip on the nation's train system, and otherwise subsidizing vacation stays.  The only way a low-income person can travel in America is by bus (especially on such "budget buses" as Bolt, Megabus and Vamoose), and using low-cost hostels for overnight stays; there is no longer a maximum age limit to using hostels, and a great many middle-aged and elderly travelers make heavy use of them.

Q.  How bad are the pickpockets in Rome, Venice and Florence?

A.  No worse than the pickpockets in New York and Chicago.  The smart traveler minimizes the problem by never carrying large amounts of cash on their person.  Especially overseas, the smart traveler makes small, constant withdrawals from the ATM machines, only of enough cash for a day or so at a time. 

Q.  What is there to do and see in Glasgow?

A.  Glasgow, largest city in Scotland and second largest in Great Britain, is a giant seaport on the River Clyde and an industrial center of commerce and trade with, among other things, some of the best shopping opportunities in Britain.  It has more than two dozen major museums and remarkable libraries, theaters and concert halls, well-preserved architectural masterworks of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a major cathedral, and everything else you'd expect in a city of its size.