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Heading to AustraliaIJ Take time to see Uluru

November 11, 2012

Adapted from the Washingtonpost.com Flight Crew chat conducted weekly by the Travel staff of The Washington Post:

Q: I’ll be visiting several cities in Australia next month. Is getting to Ayers Rock/Uluru worth the extra time and expense? If so, any tips on having the best experience? (Everybody seems to recommend watching the colors change during sunset.)

A: If you have the chance to go to Uluru, go for it. Yes, it’s worth the extra time and expense. I haven’t been, but everyone I know who has says it’s mind-bending and awe-inspiring. Yes, it’s supposed to be most awesome at sunset, but you can also hike the six-mile track around the base and get a good look at its formations and crevices. It’s considered a sacred site and climbing up it is discouraged.

— Zofia Smardz

Q: I have to take medication (Dramamine) whenever I fly in a plane or ride a bus. Do you think I can go on a river cruise in Europe?

A: A riverboat cruise is no problem for someone with motion sickness. I get seasick in a bathtub, but when I did a Viking River cruise a few years ago in Germany and Austria, I had no issues at all.

— Christopher Elliott

Q: My boyfriend and I are looking to go somewhere with a beach for good snorkeling, preferably somewhere that doesn’t require a passport. Can you recommend an all-inclusive in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico or Florida?

A: I’d suggest St. John in USVI. The island, accessible by ferry from St. Thomas, has the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, 12,708 acres of protected underwater area, and tons of secluded beaches and hiking. Plus, it’s so charming. You can stay in any range of lodging, from high-end Caneel Bay, created by John D. Rockefeller’s grandson, to the rustic cabins at Maho Bay Camps and Concordia Eco-Resort.

— Andrea Sachs

Q: I’m looking at flights for February, and some of the best prices are with American. Do you have info on their status? Is it safe to make reservations?

A: I wouldn’t have any problem booking on American. Its bankruptcy and restructuring efforts are moving along, although there’ve been a few hiccups.

— Christopher Elliott

Q: I jumped on a cheap ticket on United to Southern California for the December holidays. Unfortunately, my layover in Chicago is only 40 minutes and I’ll be traveling with two young kids. If I call the airline, will they rebook to a more reasonable flight? What are my rights if we miss the connection?

A: I’m guessing that the airline won’t change your reservations without charging the hefty change fees. If your flight is delayed, and you don’t make your connection, they’ll put you on the next available flight at no charge. The key word is “available.” Around the holidays, planes go out full. To prepare, get seats in the front of the plane, check your bags (even though this will cost you) and find out the connecting gate and plot how to get there before you go.

— Carol Sottili

Q: My family would like to spend about 10 days in the Oaxaca and Chiapas regions of Mexico next summer. Is it safe to rent a car and travel to these regions on our own? Will the hot weather be a deterrent?

A: Gangs and drugs aren’t a big issue in these regions. There are occasional political demonstrations, but I would rent a car there. It will be hot and humid.

— Carol Sottili