On this Saturday Midday, Catherine Watson, travel editor for the Star Tribune, discusses various world travel. Topics include Mexico, outdoor experiences, and handicapped travel. Watson also answer listener questions.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:00) To the Minnesota Public Radio Studios, Katherine Watson Star Tribune travel writer. Thanks a lot for coming in this morning Catherine. I know when you're in town time is at a premium for you and you make time for us more than once. I appreciate it. Well, thanks. It's fun to be back. If you're trying to plan a trip somewhere now would be a good time to get in on the discussion with Katherine Watson as many of you know from her work in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She has visited places all over the world and she always returns to Minnesota full of information. So we hope to hear from you this morning. If you're listening in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and you have a question about the vacation destination, whether it be near or far you can join our conversation by calling to to 76 thousand that's 2276 thousand in the metropolitan area outside of the Twin Cities. You can ask a question of Star Tribune travel writer Katherine Watson by calling toll-free. The toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 number 1-800 to 422828. Well first off I have to ask you Catherine because you're going to so many interesting places all the time where Your job taking you lately (00:01:01) lately. I was in Crete in April and May and I'm heading for Honduras in August and at the moment. I'm sort of in between doing laundry and cleaning up the house and things that I've been putting off for the last six (00:01:12) months. What were you doing in Crete? What's going on (00:01:14) Crete wandering around we went I went with a friend of mine that I had studied in the Middle East with about 30 years before and we thought always that we'd go back to Crete because it was easy to get to it's been 30 years. So we finally thought we'd better do it and we went just to really wander around and rest for a couple weeks and got wrapped up in looking at minoan ruins and it turned into a kind of a how many palaces can we see and in a day kind of tour? So we did a lot of a lot of walking around ruins and a lot of hiking and little bit of resting (00:01:43) and then off to Honduras. What are you gonna do there? (00:01:46) Look at areas along the North Coast that I wrote about about 20 years ago. When I was covering a University of Minnesota program that was taking students into sort of what sort of a baby Peace Corps but taking kids into study. That had not really had much development or much help from the West the larger developed world. And the idea is to look at what's happened in the last 20 years, which way did it go (00:02:09) and that's become at least my understanding is more of a vacation destination. (00:02:13) Yeah anyplace really any place with a good beach. I think is becoming a vacation destination around the world in Honduras has a lot of beautiful diving areas on the North Coast Bay Islands, (00:02:24) especially as you get around some of these countries and some of these beaches in this sort of thing. You see them sort of developed you from your Vantage Point see them as sort of being (00:02:31) grown. Oh, yeah. Yeah my own personal view is that that it's better if there's an in any hotel there and if you just put your hammock up on a couple palm trees, but that isn't the way the world is going what what I think I hope for personally is that that you can have sort of control development on some beaches some areas and then keep some wild Mexico has tried to do that in the area around the base of what tool Co not far from Oaxaca. (00:02:55) Okay. Well, no doubt. We'll be talking more about that. Probably later in the program ten minutes now passed. One o'clock you're listening to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. Katherine Watson is here. You may know Katherine Watson from her work at the Star Tribune. She's the travel writer there. Let's go to the phone lines, which are jammed Arthur's listening in Minneapolis. Good morning. Good morning. I recently was out in Los Angeles and was enjoying Orange County. So I ran into a problem using a frequent flyer award found that Northwest had changed some things and wondered this imagine comes up occasionally and travel when you get to an airport and find that gosh that took it that you thought you could use they've changed it. What do you do you pay the fare you do what they tell you (00:03:39) there isn't really very much you can do particularly if it's a frequent flyer if they have whatever line it is controls the rules and you pretty much have to abide by there's (00:03:47) okay. What and where do you like to go out and either Northern or Southern California any particular recommendations for fall or winter (00:03:53) travel? I like Sonoma Valley like it better than Napa. (00:03:57) Okay. Well, let's try to get another call in here back to the phone lines. I think we have somebody there. Maybe not maybe sold. Hello. You're on my question to you is have you ever been to Australia and specifically the Great Barrier Reef and what locations on the review into and what places would you want to visit? (00:04:16) Okay, the answer is yes, and no I've been to Australia and I've been to the part of Australia that's along the Great Barrier Reef. I've never been on the reef itself so I can't help you with (00:04:24) that. Australia will talk a little bit about Australia's destination. How long does it take to fly to Australia? (00:04:29) What is it? It seems like forever. I went here Fiji and stayed a couple three days in Fiji and then went on from there and it was nine hours from Honolulu to Fiji. It seemed more. Like I may be wrong. It may be more like about 20, but it felt like half my life (00:04:44) in Australia is a big popular place for people who dive and stuff. (00:04:47) Yeah. The Great Barrier Reef is some of the best diving in the world. I'm not a diver and when I was there I was on assignment when you're on assignment, you're always kind of juggling between boy. It would be neat for me. See that but is that going to make a story? And in this case? I decided to better stay on land on Mainland. Okay, (00:05:03) let's take another call. Robert is in Stillwater. Good morning around with Katherine Watson. Good morning. I'm I lived abroad when I was in college and I'd like to live abroad again, but I'd also like to work and I'm interested in what she has any advice on working and traveling abroad through like teaching English abroad or something. (00:05:24) There are some ways to do it. One of the things you will run into is rules that we also have against having non-citizens working full time. You can get around that you get the paperwork is usually tremendous and it depends on what country you're in. I would check the public library and research what you can on living abroad their number of books on the subject. You can live abroad pretty well. The catch is making a living abroad teaching abroad if you can do it through the international schools network is much easier it getting hired depends, you know on how good your qualifications are. But the international school system that has schools all over the world diplomats children's children often go to them these teachers usually our American certified or American citizens. So that's an (00:06:09) option and maybe even in a situation like that. You wouldn't need to know the language of the host country would be (00:06:14) going there essentially American high schools. (00:06:16) Somebody's interested in that. How would they get out and get ahold of them (00:06:18) again? I'd check the library the the local school system Minneapolis or st. Paul Public Schools central office probably has some information on that the Department of Education at the you certainly would (00:06:30) okay Katherine Watson is here this morning on. Midday. She is the travel writer for the Star Tribune and we are talking travel. If you have a question, we have a couple of lines open. Now. The number in the Twin Cities is 2276 thousand outside of the metropolitan area anywhere. You can hear the broadcast. You can call toll-free with your question at one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight and if you get a busy signal I encourage you to hang up and try again because we're going to try to get through as many calls in the next hour here as we can. Let's go back to Phones ad is in Malacca. Good morning. Good morning. We're going to be in Monterrey Mexico and we're going to be going down to a San Luis potosí and we're trying to decide whether to go through ciudad Victoria or Zacatecas and Agua Calientes. Do you know either of those routes or with be the most scenic for mountains and stuff? Yeah, I'd start up like sort of giving us an idea where he's talking about in Mexico (00:07:21) Mexico. This is well sort of all over actually. I've been through both routes, but I haven't been there in probably 30 years. My family did a lot of trailer camping and we went into Mexico twice or went down one way and came back the other way. I would go Inland for mountains a good topographical map will show you that you might also want to talk to Sanborns which is which you probably know about Saint Burns does insurance for people entering Mexico, but they also put together a kind of not exactly roadmap in a road guide from Mexico and you drive in your u.s. An insurance stops being good. So you need to buy Mexican insurance and Sanborn says one of the Brokers that has places along the border that you can buy Mexican insurance from San Juans puts together maps and driving instructions for wherever you want to go and it will say things like take the third dirt road on the left and drive 1.5 miles. I would give one of the saint Burns office has a call and tell him exactly what you're looking for mix is what they can recommend (00:08:22) Mexico in general is a destination obviously is very popular with people who live in this part of the country during the winter. What's up? What's hot for lack of a better term in Mexico? (00:08:30) Right? I always kind of dread that question because any place is hot depending on what you're looking for Backpackers and budget travel. People are probably going to beaches that none of us have ever heard of and finding tiny Villages that were you can't get restaurant meal just living woof woof local people. The are at the tip of Baja is Big by husband been a lot in the news in the last few years desert camping has been big kayaking off that area in the waters between in the Gulf of California and Mexico has done some things like putting in oil stations gas stations along the routes that you can actually drive in and have gasoline at at necessary points. It's much less rugged much less risky going in they've developed as I mentioned before around what tool Co the base of what Tocco south of Oaxaca anywhere actually along that. The I think Mexico has something like 6,000 miles of beaches and they The government is timing when it will do developments. So there are plenty of places that have good beaches that just aren't developed in (00:09:34) anything you'd recommend people stay away from if they're trying to plan a trip to Mexico because of overcrowding or whatever. It might be. (00:09:41) Well the major Resorts that you've heard of forever Acapulco being probably the best-known if you like big cities, if you like this or Waikiki atmosphere, they're fine. Cancun is pretty pretty big and pretty busy too. If you don't well if you want something private, I'd pick one of the smaller ones obviously, but but the biggest warning for Mexico is probably water still you still don't drink water even in really good hotels without some penalty and (00:10:07) Okay, Katherine Watson is here on midday this morning 20 minutes. There are coming up on 20 minutes past eleven o'clock 17 minutes actually past 11:00. If you have a question about travel, you can join the conversation by calling to to 76 thousand in the Twin Cities outside of the Twin Cities anywhere you can hear the broadcast. You can call toll-free with your question at one eight hundred two, four two 2828 Lea's listening in Baldwin, Wisconsin. Thanks for waiting. You're on now. Yes. Hello. Hello. Yes. I'm going to England next month and I want to take some Travelers checks with me in English Pounds because we're going to be staying at a lot of b&bs. Where's the best spy in the st. Paul for those kind of checks? (00:10:46) I'm a mini epaulet and I'm stuck. I would I would do some phoning check with American Express, which as I understand it for about the last year has stopped charging fees on its on its foreign currency and exchange has in its foreign Travelers checks. I would check what rate they can give you and a couple You might check a couple of the bank. She might check tell a ticket at the airport, which also does traveler's checks. I believe for England, but when I did some checking on this about two months ago and the best rates seem to be American Express, but they also have an enormous range of foreign checks available. (00:11:22) What do you recommend for people who are planning a trip. Should they bring a lot of traveler's checks or is that now almost getting old that you can survive with a cash credit card or Cash (00:11:30) Card Cash Card seems to be everybody's favorite right at the moment. If you've got a cash card to your own bank and your bank had or your your system has a number of outlets overseas cash card is instant credit card is also good and I use that one because I can never remember my cash card number. I'm sorry to say that but those are probably the quickest ways to get yourself foreign money at a pretty reasonable exchange rate without lots of standing in line and without paying a commission on top of it. Sometimes even with foreign Travelers checks even with checks in English Pounds or in French francs you sometimes if you're working if you're cashing them at a You will still pay some kind of changing fee simply for the convenience of the bank above and beyond whatever you paid to get them the money into that form. It's not supposed to work like that like that. But sometimes make slap on their own fees that you have to figure in in terms of what what money are actually (00:12:22) walking away with have cash machines basically made their way throughout the entire modern (00:12:26) world the modern world what the developer will you bet? Yeah. Okay. I don't know that I'd try it in the third (00:12:31) world. All right, let's go back to the phone's bills listening in St. Louis Park. Good morning. Can you (00:12:42) can go back now? Hawaii Hawaii was the one that was the hardest hit and they had a hurricane Action Line that you could call for updates on what was going on with hotels and so on and that went out of business, I think about six months ago. They they had it running for about a year or 15 months. One of our our staffers was back in the winter and there are still some things that are down in some things that aren't open. But yeah foliage goes back pretty fast. Aston virtually all the hotels are open (00:13:09) Hurricane Hugo was big in the news couple of years ago, maybe even more than that are some of those countries I think Jamaica and they still hurting from that (00:13:18) none of their tourist. Not that I've read read read lately What Hurts the Caribbean countries the most is political stuff. Especially Jamaica lots more. I mean for the year after Hurricane. Yeah, but if it's being hurt now, it's political and also reports of attacks on Western tourists particularly those staying in Villas where they've had Villas broken into we've had I think three or four minnesotans in the last two years had different parties attacked while he was sleeping (00:13:48) are there any places and maybe you're making the recommendation right now, but are there any places you just recommend people do not go (00:13:54) War zones amazingly enough. We would get questions when they were problems in Nicaragua and Salvador other still temporarily so still are realistically but but when things are really really hot in those countries As we get we get calls from people wanting to drive across all of Central America and was that going to be a problem and the answer is maybe probably we don't know but but there are areas that are just too hot Rhonda, you know, you don't want their places you don't want to go but there are plenty of places that Americans get scared off of Tourism to Central America as a whole will drop if there's any kind of political problem in one of the countries. So we tend to think a lot of things are contagious (00:14:34) whatnot. Is there some state agency or government government agency go give wanted to give that (00:14:39) information. I can't give you the phone number off the top of my head, but it's this the Citizens emergency center in Washington DC. It's run by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is part of the state department and it puts out and updates periodically couple times a year reports called travel advisories on all countries of the world. So you when you call, its you go through a really elaborate menu keying in the countries you want to hear about and I think you can hear up to three at a time. / phone call and they will tell you what the health risks are at. The political risks are even what kinds of conventions are likely to happen that will make hotels crowded at different times. They aren't perfect there. Sometimes there will be the Jamaica wants for example, they were we were getting complaints from minnesotans who had had problems in Jamaica and the Jamaica travel advisory didn't mention that kind of thing. So they've got loopholes but but that's a real good cheap way to get up-to-date information. (00:15:32) Okay, I think that same information to is available through the internet on (00:15:35) the computer so you can access it and you can also get this stuff facts to (00:15:38) okay. Let's go back to the phone's Marvin you're on with Katherine Watson. Good morning morning. We're going to Aruba in August and I was just wondering if you'd have any information that would be valuable to (00:15:50) us. Nothing specific. That's an island. I've not been to and I don't know about summer travel in the Caribbean except that it's cheaper minnesotans tend to go every place in the winter and people in other parts of the country have figured out that the bargains are there in the summertime and the weather's still lovely. I Check with your travel agent check a couple of good guidebooks. There is a Caribbean tourism office a number of nations have joined together to run one office in New York, but I don't have that address in my head. (00:16:19) Okay Jane in st. Paul you're on with Katherine Watson. Yes. I've been abroad several times and I prefer going on smaller tours and not the ones that have 40 people to a bus. I used to find these smaller Tours and Travel notes on Sunday, but I see you decided not to put them anymore. So I've had to buy the Pioneer Press and other major cities newspapers, and I was wondering why you don't do (00:16:41) that. It's real simple. There are the last time I did a look at the number of Tours available in adventure travel alone. There were something like 30,000 we were being bombarded with requests that we print announcements of Tours and they were essentially free ads and our decision, which has annoyed some readers was that we would print anything that in travel notes which are little squibs telling you You can do on your own we used to run things like Historical Society tours, which I think are really wonderful. But we decided that we would stop running tours in general and would run only information on slideshows informational things courses, you could take in how to travel how to go on a budget that kind of thing things that were either very very inexpensive or free to the public that would help them travel better, but that would not promote commercial interests for particular tour operator and it was kind of a hard decision because there are a lot of small tours that fall kind of in between or nonprofit group tours, but we had to lose those in order to sort of put the lid on the commercial (00:17:45) ones. Is it true the right now basically there's a tour for any type of group that you want to be associated with almost any place people like to see orange buildings in California will be leaving in a month for that or I (00:17:55) mean very specific very specific and you can also put together your own if you enough people together, the there's a wonderful publication called the specialty travel index that you can get through the you can find a copy of the public libraries. And take a look at it. It comes out twice a year and I think it's ten dollars a year. It's something really cheap and it lists thousands of Tours usually small ones on specific interests. Like if you want to go watercoloring somewhere if you want to try archaeology you can you can find a tour that is dovetailed to (00:18:23) that. As the population shifts and more and more a greater percentage of the population is older senior citizens people who are just starting to retire are there more opportunities in terms of travel for these folks to and more programs geared specifically to their (00:18:40) needs. Yes older travel at it for lack of a better word. We used to call it senior travel and then it dawned on me that I was writing about my own age group, which I shook me up travel by people whose kids are grown as probably the best way to put it people either who are either still working or are newly retired and in good health is a huge huge chunk of the travel industry and growing at a lot of these soft Adventure trips that that you read about anything from rafting the Grand Canyon to group hikes in the Andes. There are many many guided Adventure Tours that are really aimed at that market because they're extremely expensive that group has money in health and the whole soft Adventure trend is part of is a response to that the very the tough Adventure Done by 18 and 20 year olds and they don't need any guides throughout their mountain biking on their own (00:19:29) but you'll see more of that given the cost and the commitment associated with going on. I mean if you're gonna go hiking in the Andes it's going to be going to pay for it. And also you're going to spend a lot of time. Is there any probably putting yourself in a situation that you're not familiar with? Is there some group to call to find out whether the tour group you're using is reputable and know they know what they're doing and you're (00:19:50) getting your money's worth that's trickier. You can call the Better Business Bureau in the state where the tour operator is located and that's a good bit of advice. Even if it's especially if it's a deal it sounds unbelievable. Unbelievably good the travel scam industry is also growing because vacations are popular people will invest money in a vacation when they would do tons of research if they were investing in anything else, but they'll do it because the deal sounds go to the airfare sounds low. So if you're in doubt about anything check the BBB 44 the home state of the organization that's offering what you're talking about. You can also check travel agencies locally. Usually a we live in an extremely clean part of the country and travel agencies are responsible here and and very good. So if you take a tour and it works out badly usually can get some some help from your travel agency and also check with the American Society of travel agents asked which has an office in the Washington DC area. They have a consumer affairs department and you can ask them what if they've had any problems or complaints now, it's about what you're looking at (00:20:52) as this case of any big purchase. It doesn't hurt to put it on a credit card. That's right gonna back you up a little bit Katherine Watson is here on midday this morning and we're talking travel Teresa's listening in Minneapolis. Good morning. You're on what a morning? Hello? Hello? Hello. Yes. I would like to know what the precautions and the kind of shots, you know, we needed to travel to it your Pia. (00:21:17) I don't know them off the top of my head. You can find that out. Probably the easiest way is to call a Travel Clinic in the Twin Cities area. If you have a health care provider that has a Travel Clinic of its own call their first. You can also call The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. It's a federal organization and there is a hotline again, I don't have the number memorized but you can get that number from the phone (00:21:44) book. What is a Travel (00:21:45) Clinic a Travel Clinic is aimed at providing good health care preventive health care for people going overseas, whether it's to Western Europe or Ethiopia or you name it Timbuktu (00:21:56) and presumably they know what (00:21:58) disease is up-to-date on on every single thing. You're going to need what inoculations whether you need malaria, which is needed in a lot more places than most Americans think what kind of precautions to take in terms of accidents. Are they having particular kinds of problems rabies you name it and they can provide Not only the information but also all of the the necessary prescriptions and (00:22:21) shots. Okay. Let's go back to the phone's Fran is in Long failure on Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson. Okay. We're at work. We have grandchildren who are going to be going to school to Salzburg and Prague Nick Prague next fall and we want to visit them probably in October and then go down to the Greek Islands. We've been to Athens and Crete but could you suggest a couple of other islands where we could spend several days and just kind of relax (00:22:46) and I'm not sure if you can relax and a lot of the Greek Islands now, they're so popular with with especially with Europeans one that I would recommend you see if you haven't seen it is Santorini, which is the widely believed to be the source of the legend of Atlantis. It's a the island is the remains of an old volcano and it's really sort of the outer ring of a sort of donut-shaped Island and it is fascinating to read about interesting to be at very beautiful and by October should be pretty quiet relatively quiet. (00:23:14) What's the best way to get around Europe right now? (00:23:17) It's still real password. (00:23:19) How about traveling the former Eastern Europe? How's that working out? If you've been over (00:23:22) there recently not since 89 I was there right before the various pieces of the Iron Curtain finally frayed and blew away. I think if you haven't traveled there before I would say rail again, but but driving is perfectly fine to (00:23:39) okay and maybe in some of the former Eastern Bloc countries, the infrastructure might not be what you would see in Munich or something to be honest. Yeah, things are (00:23:48) even even East Berlin is not the same as West Berlin still but but it's there they're trying to to modernize quickly. Even Romania has terrific roads doesn't necessarily have terrific places to stay or when I was there food in the restaurants, but the roads were great. (00:24:05) Do you recommend a specific line of guide books or any specific travel books right now for people who want more information about some (00:24:11) place? We have two favorites, although there are a ton of real good ones and And more coming out. It's a real hot corner of the publishing industry. But my two favorites are Lonely Planet, which is aimed at budget Travelers in really exotic places. I'm every corner of the globe literally has a Lonely Planet guide and they're small and they're portable and then for background reading before you go somewhere look at the Insight Guide Series. These are large format paperbacks with terrific information on culture culture history background as well as some nitty-gritty modern stuff. Okay. (00:24:46) It's 29 minutes before 12 noon, you're listening to midday and Minnesota Public Radio Katherine Watson is here. She is a travel writer for the Star Tribune newspaper Joe is listening and Horton Minnesota. You're on the air with Katherine Watson. Thanks for calling. Sure. I know what Michigan by the way. Okay, Houghton, Michigan. Yeah. Okay Captain. I have a chance to go to Venice in November and I have two questions about it. What's the weather going to be like then do you think and how about the money exchange? I'll shut off in the snow the radio, (00:25:16) okay. There's no way to predict what the u.s. Dollar is going to do and I and I even when there is it's I'm not the person to do it. I would simply check check with banks or check with your travel agent or the Italian government tourist office in Chicago before you go to find out what the exchange rate is that that probably shouldn't be a condition of deciding to go or not. I think the weather can be rainy and chill on the other hand. There will be very few tourists there in November, and it's a beautiful city even in the absolute dead of winter in pouring rain, but again a travel agency a good guide book. There's a fine inside guide on Venice alone, and the Italian government tourist office should be able to help you. Okay, (00:25:59) I'm gonna give that phone number out again. We have some lines opening up. If you have a question for Katherine Watson, if you're listening the Twin Cities you can call in at 2276 thousand that's 2276 thousand if you're listening in the Twin Cities outside of the metro area anywhere, you can hear the broadcast. You can call Katherine Watson toll-free with your And at one eight hundred two four two 2828 Pat in Belle Plaine. Good morning. You're on first I want to tell Miss Watson how much I enjoy all of her travel article. Thank you. Wondering if she has any plans to update her travel book. (00:26:33) Oh the basics book, sometimes I have plans to do that actually, but we have nothing formal right now that the book that the caller's referring to came out in 1986 and was a collection of tips to beginning Travelers that we put together about two years before that. We have talked about coming up with another kind of series that would meet the same needs. So in a way we think it will be back in some form whether will be book form or not. I'm not sure I think thank you. (00:27:00) Anybody would agree that you have a very very interesting job. How did you get involved? How'd you become a travel writer? (00:27:06) I started by being a very dissatisfied little kid. I wanted to go to exotic places from the time. I could read and my best friend and I spent our childhoods playing acting out the tars. And books not the movies. We had to be very specific about that with adults. We were using the original books and planning to go to Africa. We never never did get to Central Africa its place. I'd like to go still and I simply traveled all all my childhood in life with my folks. I was an exchange student in high school and in college and ended up in journalism and kept traveling when the Travel section started about 15 years ago. I applied for the (00:27:42) job. I wanted to ask you how did the Travel section of the newspaper evolved for a lot of people including myself that's a real highlight of the Sunday paper Canada pull that section out and read about some exotic Place far away and look at the pictures and then maybe check out some ticket prices in this sort of thing has it always been as popular as it is now (00:28:00) and almost from the beginning it was started in 78, I think are 79 late late 78 and the idea behind it was it was average advertising driven like most most things are in this world. The advertising Department said they felt they had enough support from the travel community. To to support a separate section and it was true from the beginning. It's sort of took off and has remained. Well supported by advertising right through the various recessions. We've had (00:28:28) what any thumbnail rules what can and can't appear in the Travel section when what will make the paper and what won't make it in terms of travel our homes, aren't they? (00:28:37) Well, it's the week debate that a lot. We have an ongoing debate and this is true in the in every paper. I know of with a Travel section between whether you you emphasize utility which is exactly what you need to know to get on the bus going from Heathrow and to London or whether you emphasize armchair travel which lots and lots of readers like even if they might not go to the place you're writing about they will do exactly what you said read the read the dream story and then check out the ads for what they can do that weekend. We're trying to do both of those things. Now, we've got standing features that are done by another staffer on Midwestern and USA. Guys every week that are very very specific specific to the trip. And then we're doing a range of other kinds of stories including the the one that is simply a good read in the tradition of old-fashioned travel writing. (00:29:29) Okay Randall and or Mardell and Randall Minnesota, you're on Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson Watson. I was just going to say to that. I've enjoyed your travel pieces for many years in the paper, but we were recently I was recently with a travel the tour group in Spain. We found the people rather rude to it at the general generally thought is that true or is it was it just our (00:29:54) grouper? Well, it's always hard to generalize on on rudeness overseas some some places people Paris has the worst reputation probably of any in Europe in terms of the French were nice to us, which is the question of the complaint we get a lot. The problem is that in any tourist town in this is true in the states as well people. Darn, tired of tourists and sometimes of perfectly nice tourist gets the reaction that somebody else actually actually caused if if a waiter is very very tired in the last person who waited on was an American who was rude to him the next American who sits down is probably not going to get really great treatment, but that's true in northern Minnesota Resort towns that's true in Illinois. That's true. Every place I've ever been where there's a mass of tourists you get Hawaii for that matter you get service people who are tired. So I would say it's generally not true. If you're if you're away from places that are that are crowded with tourists. Most people most places are nice. (00:30:58) What kind of responsibilities to people have as tourists (00:31:02) try not to make judgments try not to get angry. If something doesn't go your way. If something isn't what you expected take it as slowly and easily as you can if you didn't get the room you thought you were promised. Don't throw an American fit. That minnesotans have a slight Advantage here because we have this reputation for being so Minnesota. Nice be a Swedish you can you usually do get farther. There are there are things like like the frequent flyer call before we're being nice isn't going to help you sometimes sometimes if there is a way to bend a rule being nice is going to get it back quicker and (00:31:37) just sort of don't have expectations that something you don't (00:31:40) understand don't don't make great conclusions based on a single event. There's an old tip from cross-cultural communication. It's sort of like the advice where if you're lost in the forest. The first thing you should do is hug a tree to calm yourself down if you find yourself getting overly emotional whether it's wildly angry or madly in love quite often. There's a there's a cross cultural misunderstanding going on. Usually it's the anger one. That is the big problem. But if you find yourself getting horribly frustrated and angry in a situation overseas stop and think about whether there's another interpretation for the cause because you may be Across cultural glitch where what were your behavior signal something and their signals I'm going to do to you and they don't match (00:32:22) your listening to midday on Minnesota Public Radio 21 minutes now before 12 noon Katherine Watson is here. She is the travel writer for the Star Tribune newspaper and we are talking about travel and vacations. If you have a question and you're listening in the Twin Cities 2276 thousand is a number to dial if you're outside of the metropolitan area in you have a question anywhere. You can hear the broadcast. You can call toll-free with your question at 1-800-222-8477 for waiting. You're on Minnesota Public Radio. Hi. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for travel especially outside the United States for people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users (00:33:06) in terms of specific places. My hunch would be Britain which has done a great deal for to make it it's sites accessible. But what you really should be doing is contacting one of the organizations that specializes in handicap travel. There is one flying Wheels in Owatonna Minnesota, which is known nationally and there are several others Wilderness inquiry does trips Wilderness trips for all sorts of ability levels and and there are several others in town flying Wheels can put you in touch with them. (00:33:41) I just got a book the other day, too. I wish I remember it was one of the big travel guides. It was a whole inch and a half book full of information about travel for people with disabilities that said probably a (00:33:53) Going Market is definitely yeah, there is another organization and the name absolutely escapes me that is also minneapolis-based that does great deal of tailor-made travel for people with disabilities. And if you want to give me a call at the Star Tribune office next week, and I'll look it up for you (00:34:10) another good place to start probably once again right at the library find all that information. Let's go back to the phone's Joan is listening somewhere in northern Minnesota in an undisclosed location. Hi. Hi. I'm interested in volunteer teaching. I'm a teacher summer teaching. I saw an article in the treble few years back and I haven't been able to contact that. Please don't know how to get to the information. (00:34:38) If you're looking for an all summer kind of thing. I probably can't help you but I would try the Department of Education at the you and see what they what they know there are a number of short term volunteer programs including one up there a couple locally-based the best known as global. Is which is based in st. Paul that takes people to developing countries for too weak stance building schools doing whatever a particular Community needs their sort of their again, sort of like baby Peace Corps short-term Peace Corps projects and those are volunteers any anybody can do those sorts of things with with a I think even a minimum number of skills volunteer teaching for full summer would be a different deal and you'd need to be in touch with school systems (00:35:21) these mini piece cars refer to do they fly you down to these countries. Did they do? (00:35:25) Yep, you you are essentially are spending your vacation helping somebody you pay a fee the way you would to any tour group and it includes airfare and you're living costs and it's usually very cheap and because they're doing public service work their tax deductible. There are similar thing is is the earth watch study tour kind kind of thing where you help a researcher for two weeks stance or longer and those are also tax (00:35:51) deductible educational vacation. So to speak. Okay, let's go back to the phones. Dick is listening in Wayzata. You're on Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson. Hello. Well, maybe dick is not listening. Wasn't it? Let's take another call. See if we can get somebody on here. Hi. Hi, you're on the air. Thank you. Catherine. Love your column. Thank you Storyteller. Thank you. You take us along on the journey. We're going to London for the first time coming up in a couple of months and I don't really understand that tax the VA T. Was it value-added (00:36:25) tax value added tax you run into that all over (00:36:26) Europe. So how they indicated there was a way to bypass it. I don't know what that means (00:36:33) there is and it's complicated and I if you're doing a lot of shopping if you spent a lot of money it's worth doing it's worth trying to bypass it the British tourist Authority in Chicago can give you the details on it and probably send you a form. I used this once in Italy about a year ago where I'd made a large purchase you fill out forms at the time of purchase or you get statements on particular forms that that verify that you are not Citizen of the country and months later. I think it was six months in this case. You get a check for the difference for the refund on the taxes that you (00:37:10) paid What percentages are these (00:37:11) valuing about 18% It's high and you paid on rental cars as well, which is sort of a shock when you come to pay your rental car bill. (00:37:18) Okay, let's go back to the phone's Jim's listening and st. Paul. You're in Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson. Yes, Catherine. Well, you'd like to take a golf vacation after Labor Day and the trouble is if you go north a lot of the resorts are either shut down or cold and we're looking for information south of the twin cities (00:37:40) in Minnesota though or in how far south you want to (00:37:43) go. Well, probably not south of Des (00:37:46) Moines. Okay, your best bet really is to talk to the state tourism offices in Minnesota and Iowa, both are well set up to answer that question. I can probably give you a list of golf courses and what their opening dates are, but I would go that route or golfing magazines (00:38:04) Okay, let's take another call, Virginia is listening in Brooklyn Center. Good morning. Good morning. And my question is I have traveled quite a bit. But I do know that there are customs in different countries that you can make a gesture or safe in that is offensive to the person and I wonder if you have any information on book A book that are whatever where I could get information so that I would be correct in the country that I'm busy. Today is could you travel a lot? Yes I have and why did you how's your interest peaked in this this in particular? Just out of curiosity. Well in China, I know that they're they don't like you to touch them and in some countries that they don't like you to smile at them because it's too personal and I just would like to be correct wherever I (00:38:58) go. This is this is a really good question and a piece that And a lot of us don't think don't think of when we're traveling. It's the old advice to Americans used to be just be natural just be yourself when we're ourselves. We make a lot of mistakes as this this listeners correctly pointing out. There is a the most recent book on this topic that will answer the most most of your questions about about the greatest number of places is called do's and don'ts around the world by Roger TX tell a XT e LL and I believe it's paperback and I believe it's available in most bookstores or at least could be ordered and it it covers exactly the kind of taboo. You're talking about things like you don't point the bottoms of your feet at people in certain middle eastern cultures because it's insulting you don't use your left hand eat with an India that kind of thing (00:39:53) and knowing this stuff could really make the difference between having a nice experience in the (00:39:57) country. We should go back for a second to the question of rudeness. I ran into that a lot in Paris on the first few times I was There and then was there with my husband who had lived there for a while before I got there and I was having trouble in shops because I would be as polite as I could and people were still being really kind of obnoxious to me when I would walk out even after I'd made a purchase and what he pointed out to me was that I was doing the American thing which is to focus the entire transaction at the cash register. That's where I settle oh, that's why I was polite. That's why I said thank you and goodbye and in French shops and Perry provision shops. You say hello when you come in the door and you say goodbye when you leave at the door, so I was being rude as I walked away from the cash register because I was silent when I left the door and I started to do that and shops that I was visiting regularly Food Shops and a couple of clothing stores suddenly were wonderfully polite to me coming up bots of (00:40:49) cross-cultural 12 minutes now before noon on midday on Minnesota Public Radio Katherine Watson is here from the Star Tribune and we're talking about travel and vacationing Julie's listening and st. Paul. You're on Minnesota Public Radio. I'll be traveling to Asia. And I'll be traveling about three weeks by myself. I've never been there. I don't speak the language and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for a first-timer. (00:41:14) What parts of Asia where will you be (00:41:15) no idea. I don't know much about it, but I want to try something new. (00:41:19) Okay, (00:41:20) there are times. I thought I'd try out eases their (00:41:24) okay, I would I would start at the library or a very good travel book store and take a look at the Lonely Planet series. They are written by people who have traveled in the remoter parts of any any any title has people who've been to places almost no one will go they have extremely good outlines of what the culture is, like what kinds of things you can see what to watch out for browse those books and when you've got your places pinned down then you can talk to individual tourist offices. You can talk to a travel agent. You can ask specific questions. If you call the or get specific information from the Citizens emergency center the biggest problem for women traveling. Loan in third world countries is that were perceived then as sexually loose part of that is American movies and part of that is that we're traveling alone when women of good repute in that country don't so simply by traveling alone. You've broken some rules and and you send have said across cultural message. So a lot of your behavior needs to be modified so that you don't add to that that message. (00:42:26) Okay, let's take another call Stewart is listening and Minneapolis here in Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson. Hi. I had a question about a train trip to Vancouver. I'm going to be traveling not in the sleeper car and I was wondering if you had any tips. (00:42:40) Thanks. Bring a pillow. It's long. I'm assuming you're going not from Seattle to Vancouver, but across the plains is this yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, it'll be long it'll be a lot more comfortable in an airplane because the seats reclined lot better both on us trains and on VIA Rail in Canada, but be prepared because you might want to bring a blanket to you can check with the with the train. Whichever one you're using to find out if any of that stuff is available on board. I don't think it is in coach, but bring some way of staying warm and your favorite pillow and a lot of books. (00:43:14) How would you rate the popularity of rail travel in this part of the world right (00:43:17) now? It's not very popular because there's enough of it I think but there are some wonderful train trips in in this part of the world. I took a trip from by VIA Rail in Canada from Winnipeg to Churchill Manitoba to look at polar bears. It's a wonderful trip. I Love Trains. It's there's there's a bias I ran into some tourists who hated the same trip because I thought it was boring but I like trains and I like being on him (00:43:41) talk about that. I was thinking about that that I had that in mind. I think we had spoken about that the last time you were on but talk a little bit about that trip and how people find out more information about that. That sounds like a really neat (00:43:50) trip. It is the train trip is good and the polar bears which migrates through Churchill Manitoba in the fall. Usually in October are fascinating. There's a whole polar bear industry up there in this little town of about a thousand people the Canadian. Consulate in Minneapolis has information and can put you in touch with can give you the addresses that you can use to contact people in Churchill to get more (00:44:12) information. And that's a popular fall (00:44:14) to Earth and production. (00:44:17) All right, nine minutes before 12 noon, you're listening to midday and Minnesota Public Radio. Let's go back to the phones. Joan is in st. Paul. Good morning. I know the story. It's an (00:44:38) old address the correct room one runs Sunday. This is for a book that is put together by Ana California travel agency that lists free accommodation or very very cheap accommodations. I should say in dormitories around the world mostly in the u.s. Some in Canada and some elsewhere. The address was simply their old one. So the correct address runs this (00:44:58) sunny. Okay. Well look for that reason to buy a copy of the Star Tribune indeed. Let's go back to the phones. John is listening somewhere. Yeah, one of the ask a question about Jamaica. We're going to be getting married. Hopefully sometime in the fall of next year and just wondering first about Jamaica as a first thing and then second of all, what do you think of the all inclusive tours as opposed to just getting a hotel and doing our own thing? (00:45:25) Let me try the last one first. It depends really on what you want one of the advantages of an all inclusive tour where you were is essentially that you're paying a fixed rate you pay it up front so that if the dollar goes through the floor or prices rise, you're protected the the catch with that is if you really like to get off on your own you may be limited because you're going to be going with a number of other people and you're on somebody else's itinerary. If you really love exploring on your own I would I would see if you can get an air hotel package maybe an air Hotel car package and and then take off those packages do exist in season in when it's when they're when the destination is really popular going back to Jamaica. The main concern I have with Jamaica comes from incidents where people staying at remote Villas even guarded once once with their own guards have had break-ins which are frightening and costly in terms of staying in a resort community that is larger not remote. We haven't heard any problems there. But again, I would check I would check with the state department Citizens emergency line tell see what the latest stuff is. Do (00:46:31) you recommend any Caribbean countries right now that maybe are not as popular as the Jamaica's and Grand Cayman and some of these (00:46:38) places are a lot about Trinidad and Tobago as a sort of alternative. (00:46:44) And if you're going to someplace like Trinidad, you're not going to find an airfare to Trinidad in the back (00:46:49) page and you might you might of the idealistic just to find a destination that is just being developed and does have Charter fairs. Then you get a break. (00:46:56) Okay, let's take another call Darlene. You're on Minnesota Public Radio with Katherine Watson. Hi, I have two questions about the cost of airline tickets is the best price available through a travel agency or directly through an airline and secondly is our do travel agencies make missions on every sale. So the more the ticket cost the more they (00:47:21) make yes as to the latter one travel agencies make their money in commissions that are paid by The Airliner by the hotel or by the car rental line. The thing that people tend not to understand is that that that is built-in. If you call an airline by and large unless there's a very unusual deal and the airline hears about it before the travel agent does which I don't Many cases where that's happened. Your ticket is going to cost you the same whether you buy that ticket from the airline or if my travel agent the airline simply pays the travel agent a portion of the price if they sell it ticket. The the reason for that is that it allows the airlines not to be in the business of selling tickets they do it but the they don't maintain separate ticket offices travel agencies are ticket offices essentially for your lines. Although they do many many other services. There are peculiar Airlines and peculiar deals that you can sometimes find out about by through other sources, but I have never found that a call directly to the airline got me a better ticket price than my travel agent could get me and in some cases. My travel agents has quoted me a price that I can't get the person working for airline X to find in her computer (00:48:31) Charter airlines are popular around here in the winter time filling up a big old 727 with a bunch of dipped in milk white minnesotans on their way down to get sunburned and Cancun or something like that to Charters also run in the summer around (00:48:44) Here do they do they went to Europe though? The charters go where the demand is and it's Europe in the summer and hot places in the winter and and they're very good deals that there are some drawbacks. They're not regularly scheduled Airlines. You usually have to show up at the airline terminal about twice as long in advance as you would for a regularly scheduled carrier. Sometimes it's like four hours in advance the flight. They can be bumped. They can be postponed. You can waste a day waiting for it to take off but I've used travel charger travel to go to Mexico in the winter probably 10 years in a row and had trouble maybe only once (00:49:20) and it can be very affordable. It's very hard to bury the main major airlines. Let's take one more call Barbara. Thanks for waiting. Hi, I often travel alone or with other women and unlike other people who like to be off the beaten path. We like to be in the Heart of the City When selecting a hotel. How can we determine the relative safety of the neighborhood? (00:49:44) That's a real tricky one. If you really want to be safe. I guess you could call the main police station and ask them and I think that that's it sounds far-fetched, but I don't think it really is. I think I think anything a woman can do to keep yourself safe is worth doing quite often good guidebooks. Most guidebooks will tell you when they list hotels they're going to list the ones that are the best known there's that problem and they're going to list once it cost a little more than you might be able to get on your own but they will be listing hotels in areas that are safe for tourists are relatively safe. So I would take a look at the guide books for for the areas that you want. You can also look at guide books that are aimed at women. There's a series there's there is also a series it's usable by anybody put out by Virago press that has a series on cities. They've got a new one on New York and that will be a little more to the point. Travel agents can also help you (00:50:40) there. Okay. Well Katherine Watson, thank you so much for coming in. We really appreciate it's always a pleasure to have you here. And I know the listeners like it you can judge that by the phone's lighting up whenever we say you're available to answer travel questions and you're off to Honduras Honduras in (00:50:55) August. And then we're next. I don't know after that. I'd like to do French Canada in the fall. (00:50:59) Okay, Katherine Watson is the travel writer for the Star Tribune newspaper and you probably know her work from paging through her articles every Sunday. Thanks for being here appreciate it. And thanks to all of you called in with your questions and to those of you who listen sorry about the people who are left on the line as the hour has ended here the technical directors for the broadcast have been David sleep and Clifford Bentley could easily produce the program. Thanks for tuning in. I marks at act like midday on Saturday is supported by the oriental rug company specializing in the sales and service of handmade oriental rugs and located in Minneapolis at 50th and Bryant.