Griffith Park and the Getty Center are good adds to a Los Angeles itinerary
Mondays, at 2 p.m., The Washington Post’s travel writers and editors discuss your travel stories, questions, gripes and more at live.washingtonpost.com. Here are some edited excerpts from our most recent discussion:
I will have one Sunday in Los Angeles. Beaches are not of particular interest, and I want to check out the Chinese Theater handprints at some point. What else should I add to my list?
Depends on your interests and whether you have transportation. Griffith Park is a nice place to hike and take in the views and it has a neat observatory. The Getty Center is a great choice if you’re interested in art. I’m also a big fan of the Getty Villa, but it’s out of the way in Pacific Palisades. People-watching on the boardwalk in Venice Beach is always interesting. — Carol Sottili
Do you have any experience and/or feedback on using the Chase Sapphire credit card? The $450 annual fee is steep. Is it really that easy to convert the award miles? I’ve also heard that Southwest is accommodating, but what about other carriers? What about getting the annual $350 kickback for travel expenses? Am I going to spend hours on the computer redeeming all the benefits of the card?
That’s a lot to pay for a card. As a committed loyalty program skeptic, I know you’re probably expecting me to say “Don’t do it!” But if you’re really into points collecting, and have the time to read all of the mileage blogs and are dedicated to your hobby, it might be worth it. For 99.9 percent of the folks reading this, I would strongly advise not playing this kind of game. It’s like Vegas: House always wins. — Christopher Elliott
What is the best means of transport from Barcelona to St.-Jean-de-Luz, France? We are looking for a route that is inexpensive and does not take too much travel time.
You could drive, which is the most direct way but also the most exhausting for the driver (about six hours of car time). Or fly Vueling to San Sebastian (fares from $30 one way) and catch a bus to St. Jean for about $5 or $10. — Andrea Sachs
I’m in need of some new luggage. In an ideal world, it would be a set of three pieces, easy to maneuver (four spinning wheels, perhaps) and a reasonable cost. I’ll pay more for quality, but up to a point. No strong preferences on hard- or softsided. Any suggestions?
I’m a convert to the hard-sided luggage. I like the Bluesmart, but it scuffs easily and I’ve found myself not using the built-in gadgets. — C.E.
We are a group of 12 (six adults and six young children) going to Jamaica in June. We will have a 16-passenger van and a driver for the week. Do you or anyone have any suggestions on what to see and do?
It depends on your interests. My kids liked Dunn’s River Falls and the bioluminescent lagoon in Falmouth. Since you have such a large group, you can also do your own catamaran boat tour. Shaw Park Botanical Gardens is nice for nature enthusiasts. Keep in mind that Jamaica is a very large island, so choices may be determined by where you are staying. — C.S.
How much authority do frontdesk personnel usually have in giving room upgrades, food and drink vouchers, et cetera, without consulting a manager? Is it appropriate at all to “tip” before or after receiving an upgrade?
The front-desk staff can offer such perks, within reason, but you need to have the correct approach. I think kindness is a better incentive than cash, though. At the end of your trip, you could hand the front-desk employee a tip for a great stay. If you had a rough trip to the destination, the staff person might try to cheer you up with an upgrade or free drink at the bar. If you are a frequent guest, tell the employee how much you enjoy the hotel and how you often stay there when on business or visiting family or whatever the reason is. The hotel’s main goal is to attract — and keep — repeat visitors. Also, write a complimentary review and mention the person’s name who helped you. Telling the manager how great your stay was can also boost your chances of an upgrade on a future stay. — A.S.
Yesterday, I flew with husband from London Heathrow to Dulles. When we booked our seats months ago, we paid an upcharge to select two aisles seats across from one another. Between the booking and the flight, British Airways changed the flight to a different, smaller plane. In doing so, they reassigned our seats to one aisle and one middle seat. When we checked in online, we could see there were no other seat options, so we took it. What can I do to reclaim that upcharge on one seat? Is there anything else we would be entitled to?
The refund should be automatic, but I would send a brief, polite email to BA asking about it — just in case. — C.E.
We are considering hiking the Grand Canyon in September and there are many different outfitters. Have you had any experience with guides going to Phantom Ranch? We’re currently looking at the Wildland Trekking Company.
I’ve just spent hours researching Grand Canyon white-water rafting outfitters, so know that differentiating between companies is not simple. It’s also possible to do it yourself.
Phantom Ranch books up way in advance, however, so make sure you have reservations, unless you want to take the chance on a last-minute cancellation. — C.S.