Q: How can I figure out the country code to countries like China when making a phone call?
-- C. Pyke, Mississauga
A: Helpful websites such as CountryCallingCodes.com offers some simple solutions in cracking the code to country calling codes. For China, the country code is 86. Once you are at the website, click on the link city area code as well as the country of origin for your phone call. I clicked on Canada and Beijing and was instructed to dial 011+86+10+the local China phone number.
Howtocallabroad.com is another useful web tool that provides country calling code information.
Q: We'll be celebrating the holidays with family in California this year, and would like to save money wherever possible. Any tips?
-- J. Castro, Newmarket
A: The American Automobile Association estimates some 42.5 million people will be flying or driving at least 80 km to reach holiday destinations this year, so be prepared to wait and pack some patience.
Check your credit card to see if it offers any perks. For instance, many card companies partner with hotels that allow you to pay with points.
Marise Montrose of Avios says RBC British Airways Visa Infinite cardholders can use their points to book stays at more than 20,000 hotels worldwide.
"The cardholder might also be eligible for extra cost savings like free in-room Internet, complimentary continental breakfast or even free valet," Montrose said, adding if you collect points on a credit card, these can often be used to book air travel. And many cards that offer travel rewards also give bonus points for signing up.
Buying travel insurance is also advised. But shop around for the best package, and check the reviews posted by the Canadian Travel Insurance Review at travelinsurancereview.ca.
Before heading to the airport, pack snacks, magazines, and other essentials in your carry on bag. You can buy these at the airport but you will pay more. Remember not to bring beverages and other liquids, though.
Q: I'd like to try cross-country skiing in the Barrie area, but not at a resort. Are there any parks in the area worth checking out?
-- R. Neal, Richmond Hill
A: Springwater Provincial Park, just north of Barrie, was a favourite with hikers and cross-country skiers but it closed in September. There are other provincial parks a little further away that have good facilities. The closest is Wasaga Beach , which has 30 km of track-set trails (ontarioparks.com/english/wasa-winter.html).
To the north, Arrowhead in Huntsville grooms 29-km of trails and has a 12-km skate-ski trail. The adult day use fee is $11. In January, there's an annual Loppet -- a large cross-country ski event with 15-and 30-km races. See arrowheadnordic.ca.
In the east, Silent Lake Provincial Park near Peterborough has 40.5-km of groomed cross-country ski trails and heated yurts where visitors can warm up. The day fee is $16 per vehicle. Access to the cross-country trails is included in the day use fee.
Ontario Parks' unlimited day-use winter pass ($70) is good from December 2012 through March 2013. It provides access to any park that operates in the winter and can be purchased at those locations or online at ontarioparks.com or ontarioparks.com/english/parksstore.html.
Send your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org