Travelers' Intercom

The 5-story pagoda at Sensō-ji Buddhist temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. Photos by Bill O'Connell

When you "spring" for Tokyo, the metropolis is full of not only sakura (cherry blossoms) but hordes of people, millions of them. If you can stand the crowds, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

I may have just missed the cherry blossoms, but by taking my trip to Tokyo from May 1 to May 9, 2018, I was assured a seat on United Airlines and a room at my hotel, as heavy tourist traffic had let up when the last petal fell. The azaleas were in full bloom,...

Havana is an open-air museum for classic cars. A one-hour ride in one around the city cost about $100. Photos by Josip Palić

My husband and I cruised to Havana, Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, in January 2019. It was the first visit for Josip, but it was my second visit after a lapse of 40 years.

On my visit in 1979, the land tour was very restricted. Our time in Havana was delegated to mandatory visits to a maternity hospital, an elementary school, the Museum of the Revolution, the Cuban National Ballet's theater and the Tropicana Club. Those sites were informative and interesting,...


There are two ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, in the tiny ocean fleet of Crystal Cruises (Los Angeles, CA; 888/722-0021, Pretty much a matched set, with rotating crew, routes and entertainment, they carry roughly 900 passengers each.

My wife and I have taken about three cruises a year with Crystal since 2011. Our most recent cruise on the Serenity was from Lisbon to Florida in November 2018. Our most recent on the Symphony was from Los Angeles to...

Podil Synagogue in Kiev. Photos by Irma Gurman

My husband, Sol, and I took a Dnieper River cruise in Ukraine with Viking River Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 800/706-1483, in May 2018.

We embarked in Odessa, passed through a few smaller towns and ended in Kiev. One of the optional excursions offered was a visit to Jewish Odessa; another was to Jewish Kiev. We also spent a day in the city of Dnipro, which has one of the largest Jewish community centers in Europe.

• In ODESSA, we visited...

Blowholes in Savai’i. Photos by Anne Taylor

Samoa is an authentic tropical South Pacific paradise. My friend John Harmon and I wanted to find the right base of operation that would allow us to truly explore the country and its culture. We ended up experiencing it all in a week at an unbelievably low cost of about $80 per person per day.

On Aug. 31, 2018, we arrived at Lynn's Getaway Hotel (Salanesa Rd., Motootua, Apia, Upolu 1561, Samoa; phone +685 20272, without any plans or particular...


Mark Gallo's article "Traveling ultralight" (Feb. '19, pg. 43) is the type of packing I do anytime I go on a trip (unless my wife is along, and then we have to have a checked bag). I use a different approach, however, in that I don't wash my own clothes on the road.

I've found that laundry places are ubiquitous and cheap in the areas where I travel, which is Latin America and Southeast Asia. On a recent trip to Cozumel, Mexico, I paid MXN35 (about $1.80) for...


I read the readers' letters about "Managing Things at Home During an Extended Trip" (Feb. '19, pg. 32 & March '19, pg. 36). You don't have to be away for an extended period for things to become a problem at home.

Early one winter morning a few years ago, I awoke to the sound of water gushing in the basement. A pipe through the siding from the basement to an outside faucet had frozen and burst.

Luckily, I caught this in time, because if the water...


After reading the subscribers' letters about "Senior Drivers of Rental Cars" (Dec. '18, pg. 38 & Jan. '19, pg. 32), I decided to add my 2¢.

I'll be turning 86 in April 2019. In September 2018, I returned to Austria for the 10th time since 1988. I rented a car from Hertz because I received a 20% discount card from Marriott Corporation; my wife and I are timeshare owners with Marriott Vacation Club.

I called Hertz to make the reservation, and...