News & Features by Adam Taplin

  • Israel: Try the bus to get around

    You can get almost anywhere in Israel by bus, and the central bus station is a fixture in most towns. Ask for the tahana merkazit. The Egged bus cooperative handles all bus routes, except those in Tel Aviv, where Dan operates. Fares are a flat-rate per journey, not based on distance. For both local and intercity travel, bus drivers accept payment for tickets (payable only in shekels). They don't make change for a bill over NIS 50. It's faster to buy tickets at the bus station.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on June 17, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EDT Tagged: Israel
  • Avoid unlicensed taxis

    So-called "gypsy" cab drivers are sometimes legit, but you generally have no way of knowing this before you hop into the vehicle. And if you are overcharged or mistreated, you have little chance of disputing the incident. Use authorized cabs. And if you're unsure, check your guideback or ask at your hotel the tourist board for information about which cab companies are reputable.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on March 01, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Write down your hotel info on a slip of paper

    In places where you don't speak the language, jot down the name, address, and phone number of your hotel on several pieces of paper, along with the same information for any restaurants, attractions, or other sites you're planning to visit, and present these to cab or bus drivers as you travel.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on February 28, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Frances Mayes Twitter Giveaway

    In her new book Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes shares the original story of renovating her thirteenth-century stone-roofed house in the mountains above Cortona, Italy, along with many of her experiences since Under the Tuscan Sun came out. Tweet or email us for the chance to win a copy.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on February 17, 2010 at 9:00:00 AM EST
  • Ask for help deciding what to eat

    Ask, "If I could only eat here once in my life, what should I order?" Food servers will usually have lots of great advice when you put it to them that way. (Although you could simply ask what's popular, you might not approve of the local clientele's selection.)

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 25, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Call your hotel if your flight is delayed

    It's one of the last things you may think of when faced with the chaos and uncertainty of a delay, but your failure to do this could result in your reservation's being dropped because your hotel believes you to be a no-show.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 24, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Opt for a voucher instead of a round-trip ticket

    Free roundtrip air tickets usually come with many restrictions and usually only apply to domestic destinations. It's a far better deal to get a voucher of several hundred dollars that can be used toward any future flight.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 23, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Buses: Ask what a "direct" or "nonstop" trip means

    Even when a bus is supposedly a "direct nonstop" there's usually a quick stop if the ride is over three or four hours. Sometimes passengers have time to dart into a convenience store or truck stop to buy food or use the bathroom. Sometimes not.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 22, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Consider a cruise to nowhere

    If you're a first-time cruiser unsure about committing to a longer trip, ask your travel agent about a short "cruise to nowhere." There are no ports of call and no real itinerary. You set sail, fl oat at sea, and return home. That's it. These cruises last between two and four days, usually over a weekend, and they cost just a few hundred dollars. If you are concerned about seasickness, look for a single-night cruise from New York, Miami, or Fort Lauderdale so you can test your sea legs.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 21, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST
  • Costa Rica: Hire professional, bilingual guides

    To get the most out of your trip, hire someone who can turn what looks like a mass of green foliage to the untrained eye into a widely diversified trove of plants and creatures great and small—one of the highlights of a trip to Costa Rica. For the full effect, bring or borrow binoculars.

    Posted by Adam Taplin on January 19, 2010 at 2:00:00 AM EST Tagged: Costa Rica