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I am planning a trip to the UK around Easter. Can my then 5 month old grandson travel with his mother at no charge

Do you have to purchase a ticket? No. Do you want to? Maybe. Policies vary by airline, but in general, a child under the age of two can travel with an adult for free or for a small percentage of the adult fare as a “lap passenger.”  But having a “lap child” with you is exactly what it sounds like – if the seat next to you is occupied, your child will be traveling on your lap for the duration of the flight. On a long flight, this may get quite uncomfortable for you and your child.

Yesterday’s Venice Flood Worst in Over 20 Years

Even if you’ve never been to Venice, Italy before, most people know that it’s a city defined by water–its vaporettos, gondolas, and arched bridges are essential to the city’s romantic, Renaissance charm. But much like New Orleans, Venice’s seaside perch has always been precarious, and yesterday’s flood comes as no surprise to residents whose feet in December are intimately familiar with rain galoshes.

According to the BBC, the city sees some level of flooding 200 days out of every year (locals refer to the floods as “acqua alta”), but this flood is the largest Venice has seen in over 20 years. The mayor of the city warned both residents and tourists alike to remain indoors unless absolutely necessary, meaning many tourists had an excuse to snuggle up at their hotels and just watch the waters rise. The flood waters did recede a bit Monday afternoon, but are expected to rise again with the tide in today’s early hours.

Photo: St. Mark’s Square during a December 2006 flood.

Ssshhhh, Quiet Please!

I was on a flight from San Francisco to London last week—that’s a ten-hour flight, may I remind you—and I found myself with a curious problem. In all my years of flying, I’d never seen—well, heard-–anything like it. And so I didn’t know how to deal.

The problem? The people sitting behind me would NOT. STOP. TALKING.

Seriously, they just wouldn’t stop. There were three of them and they were chattering as we sat on the runway. Then they were chattering as we took off. Then they were chattering while drinks were served, then they were chattering while dinner was served, and then they were still chattering while the shades were drawn and the lights were dimmed and everyone else in the cabin took the hint and went to sleep. And they weren’t chattering quietly—or even at a normal level, come to think of it. These people were loud.

Perturbed, I tried giving them a meaningful look. (A tad passive-aggressive, I know, but it’s my tried-and-tested method for dealing with seat-kickers and armrest-stealers, and it usually works like a charm.) Nothing happened: the talking continued. Loudly. I put my earphones on and tried to watch a movie instead.

The kicker? I COULD HEAR THEM TALKING OVER MY MOVIE.

And so I turned around.

Budget Travel in Iceland This Winter

When a good friend of mine told me last month that she was considering spending this New Year’s Eve in Iceland, I nearly laughed her right out of the room. Iceland in the wintertime? You know that’s north, not south, right? Besides, Iceland has such a high standard of living. Who has the kind of cash to travel there now given the state of our economy?

Well, maybe more of us than you’d think. Iceland’s largest bank collapsed yesterday, the last of the island nation’s three major banks to tank in recent weeks. This flurry of financial problems is bad for Icelanders, but potentially good for U.S. visitors. Earlier this year, one U.S. dollar was worth around 70 Icelandic Krona; now it trades for 100 Krona or more. Which means this island nation might actually be a splendid winter destination for budget-minded U.S. travelers.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Ksu.

Europeans to Americans: You’re Not as Ugly as You Think

You’ve heard the term Ugly American. You may have even been called an Ugly American at some point during your travels. (Although, you probably didn’t know it!) It’s a term used to describe the loud, arrogant, thoughtless and ethnocentric behavior that some Americans display when they travel abroad; characteristics that other world citizens find demeaning and downright rude.

To re-evaluate the Ugly American sentiment and find out what Europeans really think of us and each other, lastminute.com conducted a global poll, asking the British, French, Spanish, Italians, Germans and Americans what they thought about each other. Results show that perhaps we have been somewhat brainwashed by the Ugly American sentiment and have started to believe it ourselves. In the poll, Americans called themselves greedy, rude and poorly dressed, but Europeans disagreed.