breaking news

NEW: One flown to hospital after bus, vehicle crash in Wellington

Talk travel: Wait time for Russia visa and other questions answered


The Washington Post's travel writers and editors recently discussed travel stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts: 

Q: We're going on a trip that includes a stop in Russia. How long does it take to get a visa?  

A: Processing times depend on the volume of applicants, so you never know if it will take three days or 15 working days (typically the max wait time). Moral of the story: Always apply early.  

Russia visas are notoriously complicated. I used a third-party service, VisaHQ, to facilitate the transaction. They made sure I had all of the proper paperwork before submitting it to the consulate, and I had no problems whatsoever.  

- Andrea Sachs  

Q: I have purchased airline tickets and accommodations for two weeks in June in South Africa. Can you suggest where I may purchase trip insurance?  

A: Go to a website that compares various travel insurance policies from different companies. Try InsureMyTrip, QuoteWright and SquareMouth.  

- Carol Sottili  

Q: What's the best area of Austin, Texas, to stay in for a short vacation? We don't need it to be a super nice place, location is more important than luxury and we do want to keep costs down a little. We are okay with hotels or Airbnb. Also, where do we find the best tacos/mexican food?  

A: You can get some great deals renting from private owners through sites such as Homeaway (make sure you do your homework before handing over any money). I'd look outside the downtown proper area, perhaps south of Lady Bird Lake. I like Torchy's Tacos.  

- C.S.  

Q: We're thinking of spending about a week on the eastern side of Sicily, probably in the fall. Any suggestions on what we should plan on hitting, or avoiding?  

A: Even if you stay on Sicily's eastern end, you can visit other places on the island. Must-sees include Taormina, Syracuse, Agrigento and Cefalu. I wasn't all that enamored with Messina.  

- C.S.  

Q: My wife and I are planning a European trip next May. I have already booked a two week cruise through Northern Europe but we would like to Eurorail it for another week around Europe either before (or after) the cruise. But we won't need the same clothing for our "vagabond" train trip as we will need on the cruise. Any ideas of where I can stash a suitcase or two for a week or so? Our cruise is starting and returning to Amsterdam.  

A: Lock Luggage Storage Amsterdam, near the central train station, stores visitors' luggage.  

- A.S.  

Q: I've cruised 10 times since 1970, on smaller, older ships, with the maximum number of passengers at about 2,000. I like that size ship because I run into the same people and get accustomed to the venues and amenities fairly quickly. I'm considering a cruise next year with a group on a ship that holds 4,000 passengers. The itinerary is great, but I'm worried that there will be too many passengers, too many venues, long lines, too long to tender, etc. for my taste. Are those bigger ships as crowded as I imagine?  

A: Depends where and when it is cruising. If it's one of the newer ships with lots of amenities and you want to go to the Caribbean during spring break, expect a crowd, including plenty of kids. But I'd say give it a try if you're outside of peak travel times.  

- C.S.  

Q: I'm going to Germany to visit family stationed at Ramstein near Frankfurt for a week next month. I haven't been to Europe before but am really not into history and older architecture. I do love any an all natural wonders, food and basically walking around a city, soaking up the vibes. Am looking into the Wadden Sea and would have a great time just driving through the countryside. I hear there are tulips and windmills in Holland. Anything else that you recommend?  

A: Berlin, Amsterdam and Vienna are walkable cities with lots of personality. For natural beauty, England's Lake District,the Italian Alps (Val Gardena region) and the rural areas near Strasbourg, France are a few of my favorites.  

- C.S.  

Q: I could use some recommendations for affordable (and family friendly) central-ish London hotels for this summer. All the places that friends recommended are fully booked for when we're traveling.  

A: For budget friendly lodging in London, take a look at the Premier Inn chain.  

- C.S.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Meril, from Emeril Lagasse, looks beyond New Orleans for inspiration
Meril, from Emeril Lagasse, looks beyond New Orleans for inspiration

Even with three successful restaurants in New Orleans, Emeril Lagasse knew that there was room for a new addition to the city’s ebullient dining scene. Emeril’s New Orleans has long cultivated contemporary food in the city, while Emeril’s Delmonico offers a fresh take on Creole cuisine and NOLA Restaurant presents a taste of Acadiana...
Biggest vacation expenses and how to get them for less
Biggest vacation expenses and how to get them for less

Summer isn’t over, and already vacation spending has reached a new high. According to the Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index, the average family spent $1,978 on vacation costs in 2017, compared to $1,798 in 2016.  Even if money is tight this year, you don’t have to give up on your dream of taking an incredible vacation...
Huge demand for seniors' lifetime national park passes ahead of 700 percent fee hike

It's become a common sight at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia: People drive up to the entrance station, buy a pass and then turn around and leave, not bothering to even enter the park.  "I've been with the Park Service since 1998 and this is the first time that I've seen it like this," says Rick Moore, the park's revenue and fee...
Sold out or not, Vegas will party during Mayweather-McGregor
Sold out or not, Vegas will party during Mayweather-McGregor

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor may not have sold out yet, but that won't stop Las Vegas from putting on its party hat.  Sin City's nightclubs have booked a long list of celebrities — including one of the fighters — and high-rolling gamblers and VIPs have snagged some of the most luxurious...
What to do if your vacation is disrupted by a terrorist attack

Julie Hanahan had just checked into the Citadines Las Ramblas, an apartment hotel along Barcelona's famous La Rambla pedestrian mall, when she heard shouting and sirens.  "People were running by and screaming," says Hanahan, who flew to Barcelona from Chicago last week with her husband and two children to board a Mediterranean cruise...
More Stories