Appalachian trail and Essex


ASK JOAN:All your travel questions answered

Autumn on Appalachian trail

I wish to do some trekking along the Appalachian Trail in the US at the end of October to see some of the autumn colours. I want to avoid bad winter-type weather and avoid paying exorbitant accommodation costs. Can you direct me? Advice about the best way of getting there would also be welcome. – LG, Dublin

The Appalachian Trail runs from Maine to Georgia, covering 3,500km and 14 states. It is the longest marked trail in the world. There is a good website, Appalachiatrail.orgwhich covers all the states and there is a page that shows the progress of the autumn colours across the trail.

Around the end of October you would be looking at going to Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia to be a leaf-peeper and the weather will be mild and autumnal. The new flight to Washington with United ( will make it easier for you to access the Appalachian Trail. It will be operating all year round and flights at the end of October will start at €580.

The Shenandoah National Park is only 121km from Washington DC and the Appalachian Trail runs through it for 161km. The Shenandoah Park has a range of accommodation from campgrounds to inns and it is possible to walk between sites.

Another idea is to consider taking a camper van or recreational vehicle (RV as they call them in the US). Then you can keep the cost of accommodation down and also get to see a lot more.

You will need a vehicle anyway because much of this area is inaccessible by public transport. The cost for a four-berth campervan would be in the region of €600 for a week. See, a company based in Waterford.

I can also suggest that you talk to Fly Drive USA, a company that specialises in driving trips through America. It can can plan and price an itinerary with flights, accommodation and car hire. For example the Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee costs from €1,400pps for 13 nights, 01-8535000 and

Holidays for a Mayo family

Could you suggest some options for a Mayo family of four for our first holiday abroad in October? We really want to fly from Ireland West Knock Airport to make things nice and relaxed since we are travelling with our two small children, aged three and four.

I looked into Lanzarote but the Ryanair flight is a very early return from Knock. I have a quote of €3,000 for seven nights in Sands Hotel Resort, Lanzarote from Dublin and this is far more than we can budget for. We are open to anything that is child-friendly.

– AC, Mayo

Having looked at the flights from Ireland West Knock Airport to sunny destinations and taking into account times of the day and distance, your best options would be to take the Ryanair flights to either Alicante or Girona. The charter flights will have ended by October.

Girona would take you to northern Spain, close to the border with France. The Costa Brava is lovely and the children would enjoy a beach holiday. You would be looking at booking hotels or apartments separately from your flights. The cost would be less than the package to Lanzarote.

Places to consider are Calella, Palafrugell, Blanes, Tossa del Mar and Lloret del Mar, all nice seaside towns and popular with Spanish people too. If you venture a bit further towards France you could consider Coilloure and Argelès sur Mer.

If you fly to Alicante in the south of Spain, there are a number of nice seaside towns that have an Irish and English flavour. Torrevieja and Orihuela are two that are popular and you will find accommodation to rent at a reasonable price. I would expect an apartment to cost about €300-€400 per week in October.

You will find apartments to rent on the following sites,,, Booking.comand Booking.comhas quite a good selection of apartments on resort-type properties with swimming pools. Car hire at this time of the year will be reasonable and you can get some great deals on

There is a possibility that you might a find good value deal with, tel: 0818-919819, on the Costa Blanca. They have some low-cost accommodation in the Benidorm area with reasonably-priced transfers, a week could cost as little as €1,000 for the four of you and your holidays would be licensed and bonded.

The Olympic way is Essex

We are travelling to London on the August Bank Holiday weekend and have tickets for an Olympic event. Our 17-year-old son will be with us. Can you recommend any events/things to do that might not be too crowded and don’t involve travelling into the centre of London. We will be staying in east London, near Ilford.

– JC, Dublin

Essex is a great location to base yourself for the trip and you will find there is lots to do. The surrounding area has the benefit of some good beaches and seaside places to visit such as Southend, Clacton and Margate. Tracey Emin will be having her first exhibition in her home town of Margate over the summer.

Essex has nice countryside, traditional villages, period houses, stately manors and country pubs to visit. The Essex tourism website is good and will give you a whole host of ideas of things to do,

Email queries, with your name and address, to