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Curious Traveler

My favorite time to take a long road trip to the Northeast is in the fall. I decided this year that I want to take my two best friends with me…my dogs! It was always so easy in the past to just pick an adorable New England B&B and not give two thoughts about it. But now, when I call to book, they all seem to be saying the same thing: "no pets allowed." What are some of the best ways to find hotels that accommodate guests with pets?
—Tim, Denver, CO

Editor: As you've discovered, traveling with pets can limit your choices at times, but luckily there are many pet lovers in the world working to make vacationing with your four-legged friends easier. People traveling with animals in the USA should first consult sites like Pets Welcome (http://www.petswelcome.com) and Trips With Pets (http://www.tripswithpets.com). These pet-friendly search engines allow you to select your desired location and see hotels in the city and surrounding area that have pro-animal policies. Both also have detailed information about the hotel-specific policies, be it an extra charge, weight restrictions, or the number of pets allowed. Also, many hotel groups are known for going above and beyond for pets. Kimpton (http://www.kimptonhotels.com), for example, has zero fees for pets and no restrictions on size. Their hosPETality program provides dogs and cats with beds, dining bowls, and special treats. Another pet- friendly hotel chain is Loews (http://www.loewshotels.com), which gives pets a pet tag, bowl, and special treat upon arrival, but owners are charged a $25 room cleaning fee. W Hotels (http://www.starwood.com) charges a non-refundable $100 fee for clean up, but your dog or cat will be living the good life with a special bed, a pet toy, a treat, a food and water bowl, a pet tag, and even special turndown service.

I am on my way to Japan for a business trip next month, and I know the customs are quite different there. I don't want to make any cultural faux pas and embarrass my company and myself. What are some tips I should take with me?
—Michael, Charlotte, SC

Editor: The prime reason why you should have a decent knowledge of etiquette is to show respect for the people of the country you are visiting and their culture. Trust us, the people you're doing business with will take note of your effort. Don't worry, though. In this globalized world we live in there are so many resources available to learn all about etiquette in Japan. A nice, Japan-specific website is Japan Guide (http://www.japan-guide.com). For most destinations, Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com) has quick tips available online on how to behave in many countries, with a particularly extensive section on Japan. Print sources are another option. One of our favorite book series that deals exclusively with etiquette and customs is Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (http://www.kuperard.co.uk). Not only will you get a hearty dose of dos and don'ts, but you'll gain a true insight into the people. Another series called Etiquette Guide to… (http://www.tuttlepublishing.com), also has useful information on how to behave around the globe. Looking for information on a specific destination while on the road? Be sure to check the Android and iTunes stores where you can find country-specific applications. A good one for you to check out is Be Careful! Japanese Biz Manners (itunes.apple.com), which delves deeper into how to behave during business meetings, how to exchange cards, and when the right time is to seal a deal. Don't forget to utilize the greatest resource of all—actually talking to someone who has conducted business there before or is originally from Japan. He or she will probably give you better advice than any website, book, or application.

I often have to travel at the last minute on business, but the fares for the flights I need are often exorbitantly high. Are there any options available to travelers like myself who need to fly at a moment's notice, but at a reasonable price?
—Douglas, Los Angeles, CA

Editor:Your first step should be to scope out what the fares are going for online using airfare search engines like Kayak (http://www.kayak.com), Mobissimo (http://www.mobissimo.com), or Bing (http://www.bing.com), and other standard flight searches. This way, you can gage the average price flights are going for. Feeling lucky? The major online booking agents like Expedia (http://www.expedia.com), Orbitz (http://www.orbitz.com), and Travelocity (http://www.travelocity.com) all have last minute-deal sections. There, you can select your departure city, but not your arrival city. If the airline gods are in your favor, the desired destination will be listed at a serious discount. It's not just about luck; you'll be surprised with the result of simply calling up an airline. Talk to a sale representative who knows if a plane is set to fly under capacity. Usually, these empty seats go unused so airlines try to fill them at the last minute by offering a discounted rate. Most of the time the representative will have unadvertised rates that are just what you're looking for.

If you have a question regarding travel, or would like to share one of your experiences with our readers, please write to us at curious@passportmagazine.net

[Published: September, 2011]