Parisian pickpockets, Seattle and hurricanes

The Washington Post /

Published Apr 21, 2013 at 05:00AM

Q: I’m going to France this summer, my first overseas trip in 15 years. I keep hearing about scammers and pickpockets in Paris. I’m a careful traveler but wonder if there is something specific that I should be doing.

A: I’ve never had any trouble in Paris. If you exercise normal caution, you should be fine. Keep your purse close at all times. Don’t respond to the “beggars” who try to hit you up outside the main attractions such as the Louvre. Don’t keep anything in a back pocket, where it can be swiped without your noticing. If you’re especially concerned about your valuables and passport, either lock them in your hotel room safe or give them to the front desk to lock up for you, or get a pouch that you can wear inside your clothing.

— Zofia Smardz

Q: My husband and I will be in Seattle in April. What are your must-see recommendations, including one side trip and some great local restaurants?

A: I would recommend Pike Place Market, the Theo Chocolate factory tour and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Even though the ride is short, taking the monorail is fun. (Yes, we skipped the Space Needle. Consider the taller Columbia Center instead.) I also really enjoyed hiking around Discovery Park. The Woodland Park Zoo is nice. Restaurants I liked: Serious Pie/Serious Biscuit, Chan, Portage Bay Cafe and Top Pot Doughnuts. Beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, would make a great side trip. You can take the Clipper from downtown Seattle.

— Becky Krystal

Q: My extended family is traveling to Mexico over Christmas, and I wanted to look into group travel discounts. What’s a reasonable amount of discount to expect?

A: I’ve not seen airlines offer significant discounts for groups. It seems as if they offer a discount of between 5 and 10 percent from their standard, rather than sale, fares. You may very well get a better deal going with an economy sale fare.

— Carol Sottili

Q: I’m headed to Atlanta in a few weeks for the first time. Will I need a car to get around to tourist destinations beyond downtown, or will public transit be extensive enough?

A: The MARTA system doesn’t extend very far. Traffic in Atlanta is also pretty bad, so I’d figure out my itinerary and then make a decision from there. But if you want to go outside Fulton or DeKalb counties, you’ll probably need a car.

— Carol Sottili

Q: I’m getting married in the fall, and we want to go on our honeymoon right afterward. Our idea is to go and relax in the Florida Keys. Is October a good month for Florida travel, or should we look elsewhere?

A: Temperature-wise, October is a great time to visit Florida, plus the crowds are down, unless you go to Key West over Halloween. Prices are also lower, since it’s shoulder season. The one risk: October is still hurricane season, and the keys are vulnerable to storms. If you’re worried about hurricanes, check out one of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) outside the hurricane belt.

— Andrea Sachs