Visit Machu Picchu, Galapagos in springtime

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands: When’s the best time to visit both at the same time?

Our spring is the best time to visit both South American spots on the same trip. September to mid-October is a close second, said Jonathan Borgida of Southern Explorations (877-784-5400,, a Seattle-based company that specializes in trips to Central and South America.

Because of their location on the equator, there’s no bad time to go to the Galapagos Islands; they’re pretty year-round. But Machu Picchu is in the middle of a tropical mountain forest in Peru, with a rainy season from October to April. By mid-April, the rain is ending, the tourist hordes haven’t arrived and prices are cheaper. Temperatures average 60 to 65 degrees during the day and fall to the 30s at night.

Guided trips that combine the two sites run about $5,000 per person, which includes all internal flights, Borgida said. Airfare from the United States to Lima adds $800 or so. Plan on at least 10 days to see both attractions, although two weeks is preferable, Borgida said.

Is it true that we now have to give our middle name and birthday when booking an airline ticket?

As of May 15, you must provide your full name (including middle name or initial) when booking a domestic airline ticket. Starting Aug. 15, you’ll also have to provide your birth date and gender. As of Oct. 31, you’ll have to do the same for international reservations.

Privacy advocates oppose it, but the move is courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security to help cut down on mistakes on the government’s “no-fly” terror watch list. For details, see “Secure Flight” at

In a year or two, I’ll slow down with my pharmacy business. How do you begin planning a trip around the world?

What a fantastic goal. First, get yourself “The Rough Guide First-Time Around the World: A Trip Planner for the Ultimate Journey, 2nd Edition” by Doug Lansky (Rough Guides, $15.99).

Check out advice and ticket deals at, which specializes in round-the-world tickets and travel. Look at the airline alliance, which offers a Round-the-World-Pass multi-city airline ticket.

Mostly, figure out what kind of round-the-world traveler you want to be.

Some race through their journey, hitting as many destinations as possible in only a few weeks, checking off countries on a life list. Others recommend that you take your time, pick an interesting but less complex itinerary and see everything you can. After all, when will you ever pass that way again?

K.C. Summers, The Washington Post and Ellen Creager, Detroit Free Press