Kerri Westenberg
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As Travel editor, I get lots of questions from readers.

My upcoming trip to Napa just took a different direction.

If you have airline tickets to San Francisco, skip the change fee and stay in the city, despite the tragic wildfires to the north. You could spend a whole day eating and drinking well at the Ferry Building, a food market on the waterfront. Plus, the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant there often brings in vintners for special events. But beware: Smoke currently envelops the city. If you’re traveling soon, check out Carmel. It’s nearby but further away from the fires, and the shopping and scenery are top-notch.

I am taking my outdoorsy mom on a girls’ weekend. Ideas?

How about Seattle? Or consider Charleston, S.C., where you can take a kayak tour through a marsh and replenish with great Southern food. Or keep it close to home and drive to Grand Marais, Minn., for great restaurants and glorious hikes.

Is Rome safe? Rick Steves goes on about pickpockets.

Yes; don’t let fear keep you home. The worst I encountered on a recent trip to the city were guys who tried to slip bracelets on tourists’ wrists to extract cash. Just be aware of your surroundings and extra vigilant at tourist sites.

I recently booked a cruise. The cruise line’s quote for travel insurance seemed high. Can I compare it with other policies?

There’s a wide array of policies. A good source for trip insurance comparison is squaremouth.com. Most insurers give you a 10- to 14-day cancellation window so you have time to evaluate the policy.

Clearly, Minnesotans travel a lot — and are intrigued by all things in the travel realm. If you have questions or just want travel inspiration, head to the Star Tribune’s Vacation and Travel Experience. Travel experts (yep, my colleagues and me included) will be there, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Oct. 28-29. For more info and a full schedule of events, go to startribune.com/escape.

Contact Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.