Q&A: winter sun. Plus; do you need an Esta to fly through US airspace to Mexico?


Q. We are two couples looking for somewhere warm at the end of February, not too far away from the UK. Where would you recommend under £1,000 per person? Emma and Alan (Shropshire), Leanne and Dave (Gloucestershire)

A. For a strong likelihood of fine weather, combined with good resorts and a superb hinterland, it is hard to beat Tenerife (pictured). The largest of the Canary Islands is easily accessible from airports across the UK in about four hours; it offers excellent hotels and apartments in a wide range of resorts; and should you wish to explore, the options range from the beautiful colonial town of La Laguna to Spain's highest mountain, Teide.

If guaranteed sun is what you crave, then Egypt's Sinai Peninsula should deliver. But the flying time, at around six hours, is longer; package prices are higher, partly because of the extra distance and also due to the absurdly high Air Passenger Duty (£65 for Egypt, compared with £13 for Spain).

So choose a package to Tenerife through a company such as Thomas Cook, Cosmos or Thomson. The resort of Las Americas is big and brash; Puerto de la Cruz, on the other side of the island, is quieter. So long as you can avoid the school half-term (16-24 February), you should keep comfortably within your budget: the top price for the following week at the five-star, Thomson-only, all-inclusive Tenerife Sensatori is quoted at £1,001, but there are other decent properties at under £500.

Q. I am travelling to Puerto Vallarta, via Manchester, Amsterdam and Mexico City. Do I need an Esta? Sue Goward, West Yorkshire

A. Because your flight does not involve a stop in the US, you need not register under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta). But because your KLM transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Mexico City flies through American airspace, the Department of Homeland Security insists on airlines supplying the names and dates of birth of the passengers on board at least 72 hours before departure. Your travel agent or airline should ask for the necessary information well in advance.