Special to MSNBC
updated 8/12/2005 5:46:45 PM ET 2005-08-12T21:46:45

Got a question about travel? Want to know how to save money on vacation? Looking for the best destinations?  Need help solving a travel problem?  Send your questions to Charlie Leocha, and look for your answers on the air. SEE BELOW for answers to your questions!

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Charlie answers your questions this week!

A special note: With the possibilities of demonstrations in Israel because of the Gaza pullout and sporadic reports of violence and kidnappings in Central and Central America, many viewers have asked about whether it is safe to travel to these places. What is the best way to get the facts?

In general, violence against U.S. tourists is very rare. However, I know that many of you have concerns. The best place to get up-to-date information is from the State Department. They have a web site that provides information about every country in the world that includes entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special information about driving and road conditions. They also provide addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates. In general, the Sheets do not give advice. Instead, they describe conditions so travelers can make informed decisions about their trips.

Sometimes a travel warning is issued in addition to the Consular Information. It can all be accessed on the Web at: travel.state.gov.


Name: Todd
Hometown: Philadelphia, Mississippi

Question: Two of my interests are cooking and horses. I know of culinary vacations and equine vacations. I was wondering if there is such a destination that incorporates both horseback riding and cooking classes in Europe or in the Americas?

Answer: I was intrigued by this question. It seems like an tough combination, but I found a several programs.

Italy came up with plenty such tours. One is in Reggio Emilia. There an organization Reggio Lingua organizes a program where participants learn enough Italian to shop in the markets, they learn to prepare meals and have time in the afternoons for other activities, among which is horseback riding.
Website: http://www.reggiolingua.it/eng_new/italian_culture_courses.htm

Another program in Massignano on Italy’s east coast also provides that combination.
Website: http://www.agriturismo.net/massignano-452/activities_eng.html

And they have programs in Tuscany as well.
Website: http://hiddentrails.com/europe/italy/gourmet-cooking.htm

In Arizona Rancho De La Osa guest ranch outside of Tucson has food and gourmet culinary classes with plenty of horseback riding just outside your door.
Website: http://www.ranchodelaosa.com/

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, at La Posada, you can combine a gourmet cooking program with a horseback riding program and still enjoy the sophisticated city life of Santa Fe.
Website: http://laposada.rockresorts.com/

Poke around on the web and you’ll find more.

Name: Mike
Hometown: Temecula, California

Question: If I buy an airline ticket and the company goes into bankruptcy what happens to my ticket?

Answer: It depends on what kind of bankruptcy you are talking about. If you are talking about Chapter 11, you won’t see any change. United Airlines has been in bankruptcy for more than 32 months. US Airways has been in and out of bankruptcy for the past three years, eventually it was rescued by America West.

In the case of an airline going into liquidation, you are protected by a new law that requires other airlines to honor your tickets on the bankrupt airline within 60 days for a $50 fee per flight or $100 round trip.

Name: Gayle
Hometown: San Diego, California

Question: I am getting ready to head with my family to the Bahamas. I have heard that the food is rather expensive. Do you think it is a good idea to buy the food plan from the hotel for $57.00 a day per person. There are 4 people in our party?

Answer: This question comes up frequently. The best deals money-wise are almost always the hotel meal plan, whether you are in the Bahamas or Europe. Try to make sure that the hotel you are staying in has a good kitchen. Nothing is worse than to have paid for food you can barely eat. Even if the food is heavenly, you will be limited to only that hotel’s dining experience.

Eating out will get you into the town and surrounding community. You’ll see more and you can change restaurants for dinner or for lunch. Plus your choices will be far greater.

Myself. I’d opt for eating out. Heck you’ve already spent a pretty penny to get there. $20 or so more for food and freedom a day is worth it.

Charles Leocha is nationally-recognized expert on saving money and the publisher of Tripso. He is also the Boston-based author of "SkiSnowboard America & Canada." E-mail him or visit his Web site. Want to sound off about one of his columns? Try visiting Leocha's forum.

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