Ask Joan: Wild about a US road trip

Driving the Applachian Trail, Nice is nice in winter, self-catering in London

Appalachian Trail: this historic route is more than 30,000km long. Photograph: Getty

Appalachian Trail: this historic route is more than 30,000km long. Photograph: Getty

Sat, Oct 12, 2013, 00:00

I want to book four/five days in Nice, but I am finding this difficult as I would like to fly direct from Ireland. – NMC, Dublin

Aer Lingus will operate flights four days a week direct from Dublin to Nice until the end of March and fares are from €120 return. There are many hotels to choose from, most in the range of €80-€120 per night. You could book through aerlinguspackages.com and five nights with flights will cost from €342pps.

Otherwise, some of the specialist online travel agencies have good packages for Nice in and around the same price and even less. See ebookers.ie, gohop.ie, and lastminute.ie. If you book hotels directly, I like the Hotel Massena for its convenience and very French feel and the Mercure Marche aux Fleurs for being across from the beach and beside the flower market.

We are travelling to London from Cork for four nights in late October. Have you any recommendations for self-catering accommodation that would be fairly central and accessible? We are two adults and three children (12, 9 and 7). – JH, Cork

Housetrip. com has thousands of rentals and is a secure way to book accommodation. The costs vary but for an apartment suitable for your family you would be looking at about £600-£900 (€709 - €1,063). As that week is half term for most of Europe there will be more availability in the corporate market. You will find apartments to rent from about £150-£200 per night from sacoapartments.com, or Oakwood. com. See also visitlondon.com for ideas of things to do and cheap travel for families.

My wife and I are planning a trip to the USA in April 2014 – we plan to visit Boston, Massachusetts, Washington DC and then head south to Georgia (or perhaps start in Georgia and head north). We would value your advice regarding hiring a campervan / RV for the trip down south and also any recommendations regarding a route to follow and where to stay en route (having read Bill Bryson we’d like to experience the Appalachian Trail and visit some national parks). – AH, Dublin

That will be quite a trip, more than 3,000kms for the complete Appalachian Trail. Take advantage of sales – flights will be about €650 -€690 with Aer Lingus or Delta and you can book into one city and out of another, ie in Boston out Atlanta. Keep in mind Easter traffic and be prepared to juggle dates. From Boston, heading south would probably bring you through late winter into early spring in the Appalachians.

The US National Parks Service is a brilliant keeper of American sites of historic, cultural, national and environmental interest. On your journey you will pass through some very interesting places. Look at nps.gov to see which you should choose. I would recommend the Hudson Valley – a very scenic and historic route, hudsonrivervalley.com.

The Appalachian Trail runs for thousands of kilometres, but you can meet it around Pennsylvania and continue to Georgia. Much of the trail is dedicated to hiking and off-road but you can do it by RV. There is also appalachiantrail.org website with lots of information and maps.

Your online friend will be campusa.com, an online guide to RV camping sites all over the United States. Generally, the campsites are good, cheap and safe places to stop overnight.

When it comes to renting an RV, cruiseamerica.com is one of the biggest renters and will do a one-way rental. Renting an RV will cost about $80-$110 (€59-€81) per night.

Things to remember when booking RVs are to book early, especially one-way rentals, also they are not usually onsite at airports, they may not be open every day and you can only pick up or drop off at certain times.

If you need help finding an RV, try flydriveusa.ie.

Send your travel queries to jscales@irishtimes.com