The Tripologist: Your travel questions answered

My husband and I would like to cruise to Britain in 2017, and return by sea. We have been unable to find a way to do this without a flight. Haight Ashbury, San Francisco. Photo: iStock
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WE TWO ARE FIRST-TIME TRAVELLERS TO SAN FRANCISCO AND ORLANDO FOR TWO WEEKS. IS IT BETTER TO BUY AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL SIM IN AUSTRALIA OR IN AMERICA TO INCLUDE DATA, TEXT AND CALLS? ARE THERE ANY BAKERIES OR SUPERMARKETS TO BUY FOOD ON THE GO? HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD WE CARRY ON THE TRAVEL MONEY CARD AND IN HARD CASH? IS IT BETTER TO HIRE A CAR OR USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT? SHOULD WE BE WARY OF BEING RIPPED OFF BY TAXI DRIVERS?

M. AMARAL, KOGARAH

What you could do is buy a SIM card from the Sim Corner outlet in Sydney’s International Airport. They can fix you up with a prepaid AT&T card which offers excellent coverage all over the USA and great rates. Sim Corner also has other SIM cards with phone and data plans if you plan to be a heavy user. For example you can have a SIM card that gives you unlimited data, local calls, texts and incoming calls for $129 and that’s a great price but if you can rely on Wi-Fi services at your hotels it’s probably not necessary. You’ll find Sim Corner in the airside part of Sydney Airport’sinternational terminal, after you pass through immigration and security.

Bakeries and supermarkets are everywhere, nobody goes hungry in America if they have a dime in their pocket. America invented takeaway food.

How much money is a tough question. On a tight budget, you could travel, eat and sleep for $US100 per person per day, but a reasonable budget is US$200-$250 per person daily. Don’t carry a whole lot of cash around –just about everyone takes credit cards–and if you have a travel money card, you have the convenience of withdrawing cash from ATMs when you need it, although you will pay a fee for every withdrawal.

Hiring a car is a great way to go in the US, but only if you’re travelling around and seeing the sights. If most of your travels involve cities, then a car will be more trouble than it’s worth.

Taxi drivers in the US are no more inclined to rip you off than taxi drivers anywhere else, and that’s to say very little.

MY HUSBAND AND I WOULD LIKE TO CRUISE TO BRITAIN IN 2017. WE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO RETURN BY SEA. WE HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO FIND ANY WAY TO DO THIS WITHOUT A FLIGHT. IDEALLY, WE WOULD LIKE TO SPEND SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS IN BRITAIN,PREFERABLY IN LATE SPRING OR SUMMER.

J. WOOD, BUFF POINT

There are several cruise lines that can make this happen. For example, Princess Cruises have a World Cruise Liner – Sydney to Britain, departing in May 2017. This is a 51-day cruise with stops at Perth and Colombo, at several ports in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Ireland and finally Dover. This would get you into Britain in early July. Spending six to eight weeks in Britain would give you a departure date of early to mid-September.Most cruise operators have not yet released their schedules for the second half of 2017 but it should not be difficult to find a cruise that would suit your needs. Presumably you’d want to travel in a westerly direction via the Panama Canal rather than backtracking on your return voyage to Australia, and again, this is not asking too much. You might get in touch with Cruise Express (cruiseexpress老域名出售备案老域名)and Cruising老域名出售备案老域名 (cruising老域名出售备案老域名)and see what best fits your plans.

WE ARE PLANNING TO GO TO SRI LANKA IN MARCH OR APRIL THIS YEAR AND WERE WONDERING IS IT SAFE NOW AND OK TO HIRE A CAR AND DRIVE AROUND ON A SELF-GUIDED TOUR? WHAT’S THE BEST PLACE TO STAY AT YALA NATIONAL PARK AND WHERE CAN WE DO SOME WALKS IN OTHER NATIONAL PARKS? WE ARE QUITE ADVENTUROUS AND WILL PROBABLY HAVE A BORED TEENAGE SON WITH US;WHAT IS THERE TO KEEP HIM INTERESTED?

S. HOMEWOOD, BONDI

I wouldn’t. Driving anywhere in the Indian subcontinent is foolhardy for those not born to it. I drive all over continental Europe and, after about a dozen trips to India and a couple to Sri Lanka, there is no way I would dream of getting behind the wheel there. This is not like driving anywhere in the Western world. The road rules as they are practised are opaque and the behaviour of other road users often unpredictable to our way of thinking. It might even be difficult to find an operator that will hire you a self-drive vehicle. You’d be much better off hiring a car with a driver. This will probably end up costing less than a self-drive vehicle and it’s stress free.

Jetwing Yala [jetwinghotels老域名出售] is a resort-style hotel in the vicinity of the national park. Another good option is Leopard Trails[leopardtrails老域名出售], a tented safari camp that comes with a fair degree of luxury.

Horton Plains National Park and Bandarawela, in Sri Lanka ‘s hill country, are both excellent areas for walking. Take a look at the Eco Team Sri Lanka website[srilankaecotourism老域名出售] for more information.

As for safety, just take the normal precautions and you should have no problem. And as for that teenager, you could show him whales leaping from a sea strewn with icebergs and he’d probably still yawn, but they get over it. CONVERSATIONOVER TO YOU…

The question was “I recently had my Visa debit card scammed in Singapore and $500 sucked out of my account in Indonesia. Anything similar happened to you and if so, where?”

D. Dempsey writes “We negotiated a price for earrings with a jewellery shop in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. We completed the purchase at the agreed price of CZK2500 ($130). When we got to Vienna three hours later we found that the shop had charged CZK25,000. An immediate phone call to the shop to notify them of the error was followed by calls to card issuers GE (Aust) and MasterCard (US). Despite all the above facts being verifiable, GE paid the shop. Apparently, no creditable circumstances exist where, if the PIN is provided, GE will recognise that a fraudulent transaction has occurred. I was able to get the Cesky Krumlov Tourist Agency involved and they negotiated a full refund on my behalf.”

From S. Alexander, “Not only overseas! Twice in Sydney –Visa card scammed to buy a pre-paid phone and $100 credit; two attempts to withdraw $1000 (unsuccessful) and $800 (successful) at an ATM. NAB were right onto it – ‘Have you been in Kingsgrove lately? Not since I played netball for St George Girls High in the 1950s.’ All refunded.”

J. Asche writes “I had my CBA Travel Card skimmed at an ATM in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2012. It was after hours in an ATM room next to a bank. There was someone hanging around but I didn’t think anything of it. When I returned home, I discovered two amounts had been taken by the bank and also there had been attempts at using the card a few times in different parts of the world. CBA refunded me the lost money without any issues.”

Next question: Cabin crew will often request that passengers close window shades on long daylight flights. Do you prefer a darkened cabin, or would you rather fly in natural light?

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