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Kelly Regan and author Mary Herczog, a New Orleans resident, discuss the indefatigable Big Easy.
If you're home from college and you're spending far too much time lounging around the house, playing too many video games, or updating your Facebook account, perhaps it's time to get off the couch and plan your summer vacation. Fortunately, there are still options available, from sheer escapism to European exploration to humanitarian endeavors, if you want to commune with nature and make a difference.
No matter what your destination, there's a train trip awaiting you, whether you choose it as a means of transportation or as a vacation in itself. Here are a few suggestions of some of the world's great train journeys, but beware, your wallet may take a beating.
Jason Sheftell rounds up a bevy of current deals on hotels, airfares, special events and more in the Windy City.
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Reader's Voice
From drhumbug: "I know that since 9/11 the travel industry and the alphabet soup government agencies have become overly paranoid regarding their ability to correctly identify passengers flying on airplanes. I guess this also applies those taking trains and buses. I can appreciate their perspective but some of their methods have gone overboard. When I check in at the airport in the US, I am asked to present the credit card I used to purchase the ticket. I don't understand what this proves."
From Poozy: "My 20-year-old-son will be doing volunteer work near Krabi and has 6 days to sightsee before the start of his project. He is inexperienced at international travel, but he is independent and has better than average judgment for his age (a small consolation). He plans to spend a couple of days in Bangkok, then head north. Any suggestions for a young man in his situation would be greatly appreciated, as would reassurances for his mother who wonders if she lost her mind in thinking this trip was a good idea."
From Brian Brooks: "Can any of you China travel experts recommend to me a good program for learning to speak, read and write Mandarin Chinese? I've been planning a trip to China for several years now and hopefully will get it off the ground this coming October but would also like to start delving into the language as far as learning the basics."
From kyscully: "My husband and I are planning a 7-day driving trip starting in Seattle the end of July and can go either north or south, but want to drive along the ocean as much as possible. Can you get near the beaches on a driving trip, or is it all private property these days? Any other recommended sites are appreciated."
From Carl Nelson: "My partner and I are planning a trip to Spain over Christmas and are considering going to the Canary Islands. Has anyone been? Is it fun? We've been to Ibiza and weren't really into the party scene there, maybe the Canaries are different. I'm looking for first hand knowledge. Anyone have a personal experience there?"

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