Fun family ideas for Hawaii, and other questions answered

by The Washington Post
The Washington Post

The Washington Post's travel writers and editors discuss your travel stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are some edited excerpts from a recent discussion:

Q: My family is planning a trip to Hawaii next summer. Do you have any suggestions on where to start or any fun ideas a family would enjoy?

A: Each island has its own personality, so I suggest you check out the Hawaii tourism office's website and see which island is a good match for your family. You also didn't mention the ages of your family members, so if you have younger ones, you might consider Oahu, the Big Island and/or Maui, which have many family-friendly resorts. Depending on your time, you can easily visit two islands. On my last trip, I rented a VW camper and explored Maui and the Big Island, and spent the day eating shaved ice on the North Shore of Oahu. To save money, rent a place with a kitchenette and you will definitely need a rental car and snorkel gear.

- Andrea Sachs

Q: What is the absolute must-do while in the Turks and Caicos?

A: The Island Fish Fry, held every Thursday evening at Bight Park in Providenciales.

- Carol Sottili

I know this has been asked before, but -- I know when I want to travel, but I don't care where I go (well, I care, but...) -- I'm really open to somewhere close by, but it doesn't matter where. I'm on the West Coast, if that matters. Is there a website where I can put in my city, and then say: find me a deal nearby!?

A: Airfarewatchdog.com allows you to put in your city and then will list airfares to a long list of destinations.

- C.S.

Q: My sister in law wants to take a family cruise next year. We have never been, and next year we will have a three year old and twins who will be about one. Do you recommend any lines? We know Disney should be great, but we don't want to pay that much when they won't get much out of it, and I don't think their daycare is included in the price. Do any lines offer free daycare? Do you have any better ideas? Her kids are teens so they should have fun on any line I think.

A: Look at Norwegian Cruise Line. It has programs for both toddlers and teens. The Norwegian Escape also has a fee-based nursery program for little ones.

- C.S.

Q: Any advice for how to minimize chance of contracting zika (traveling to Costa Rica). I have heard of things you can put in the wash with clothes that contain repellant? any advice appreciated

A: The only bulletproof way to avoid Zika is to stay home. (I guess it depends where you live - I'm in Florida.) If you go, use lots of bug repellent, cover up and avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, say experts.

- Christopher Elliott

Q: My mom and I are planning a trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando. We don't want to go in the summer, but we want to go when it is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor hotel pools. I know there can be random cold spells, but in general are there months we should avoid?

A: I would avoid December, January and February, which can have intermittent cold snaps. But conditions vary. Last year, temperatures were in the high 80s well into December.

- C.E.

Q: I will be in Italy for four months. Do you have any advice on what to do for a phone?

A: Contact your cell phone company and ask about your international data plan. T Mobile, for one, offers coverage in more than 140 countries. Your company can also unlock your phone and you can get a SIM card. Or you can rent a phone with international calling capabilities. Or you can buy a cheap phone in Italy with a plan.

For calls back to the States, you can use Whatsapp or Skype, as long as you have WiFi.

- A.S.

Q: I find the major travel search sites to be woefully inadequate for trying to figure out where you can go non-stop from a given starting destination. Say I want to fly somewhere non-stop from DCA and don't want to be in the air more than four hours. It's nearly impossible to figure out where I can get to from my starting point. I wish there were better or more helpful travel tools available.

A: I'm told Google Flights, which used the ITA search engine, is the closest thing to letting you do this. But you make a good point. These booking sites are not there for us; they are there to make the travel companies money. If a tool like that could make a company money, everyone would be offering it.

- C.E.

A: Also, always go to the airports' websites. They typically list nonstop routes.

- C.S.

Q: We're going to Grand Cayman for a week. We already have plans to go diving and snorkeling, and will probably end up doing Stingray City. Any other can't-miss things? What about great food (preferably local cuisine and food we can't get at home)?

A: Grand Cayman is fairly touristy (it's a favorite for cruise ships), so the restaurants are heavy on hamburgers and fish tacos. Big Tree BBQ is basically a picnic table under a tree, but it offers excellent jerk chicken. I spent all my time snorkeling and swimming, which is why you go. I also did something called SNUBA, which is SCUBA light, but since you're already diving, that's probably not going to appeal.

- C.S.

Q: I just finished two demanding legal cases and want to go to a nice hotel, sit by the pool, have three excellent meals without leaving the hotel. I don't want Bahamas, Bermuda, or any place in the Caribbean or hot - I have had enough of that here in town the last few weeks. Anywhere in Maine, New England, Cape Cod would be fine. Just point me in the right direction!

A: Take a look at Inn by the Sea in Portland, Maine.

- C.S.

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