Q: I’m going to Italy next year. Our flight leaves around 5 p.m. and lands the next day. I really want to be able to sleep on the plane to avoid jet lag. Are those neck pillows any good? What about noise-canceling or -reducing headphones? Any other tips?
A: Sleeping on a plane is possible, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult as airlines remove legroom from the seats in the main cabin to add bigger business- and first-class seats. I do recommend the neck pillow. I prefer the inflatable variety, because it takes up less room in my luggage. If you like to sleep on your side or toss and turn, a noise-canceling headset will do you no good. Use earplugs; they’re cheaper. Also, don’t forget an eyeshade. The crew likes to turn the cabin lights on to wake everyone up before landing, and it’s a terrible way to be woken up, in my opinion.
Q: We’d like to see the area in Mexico where the monarch butterflies gather. What’s the best city to fly into, and do you recommend a tour?
A: Before you go, see the new 3-D film “Flight of the Butterflies." It’s an excellent documentary, with plenty of human emotion, about monarch migration. If you’re going it alone, your best bet would be to fly into Morelia, although you could also fly into Mexico City. You’ll want to go in January or February. The closest town to the largest sanctuary is Angangueo. Zitacuaro is a little farther away. You could rent a car and do it yourself, but you might feel safer going with a tour. Day and overnight trips are available from both Morelia and Mexico City, or you could go with an organized tour from the United States.
Q: I’m looking for an interesting New Year’s Eve experience somewhere in the United States. I’d like something different, but that’s pretty much the only criterion.
A: How about Niagara Falls? Not in the States, but close: On the Canadian side, you can say hello to 2013 at Queen Victoria Park, where there’s a free concert that’s nationally televised — plus two fireworks displays — in a park overlooking the falls.
Q: We’ll be getting cash from a relative when we arrive in England next year for a vacation. We’d like to use it for trip expenses but would prefer not to carry it around. The only option for a cash card we’ve heard about requires that the person be a U.K. resident. My partner’s a U.K. citizen but not a resident. Any ideas to avoid carrying around a couple of thousand pounds in cash?
A: I read all through the terms and conditions for the Thomas Cook Cash Passport and didn’t see anything about a residency requirement. All they ask for is a valid picture ID, such as a passport or driver’s license. If your partner’s a U.K. citizen and has a U.K. passport, I’d think that would be all you’d need.