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Europe: Sound of Music

January 06, 1985|ERIC FRIEDHEIM | Friedheim is editor-publisher of Travel Agent magazine

Question: I'm told 1985 will be "Music Year" in Europe. What musical events are scheduled?

Answer: Many European countries are staging festivals throughout the year devoted to jazz and classics, notably England, Greece, France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium and Austria. Celebrations include the 300th anniverrsary of Back's birth. For dates and details, contact European Travel Commission, 630 Fifth Ave., New York 10111, or your travel agent.

Q: I want to take a charter flight but how can I be sure I won't be stranded if the operator goes bust?

A: Civil Aeronautics Board rules state that you check must be paid to the operator's bank escrow account. You can make your check out to a travel agent but he also must remit to the escrow account less commission. You also can telephone the CAB Special Authorities Division at (202)673-5088 to make sure that proper financial and other documents have been filed with the board and approve.

Q: I'm planning a business trip to the Near East and also will have some leisure time. Are there recreational facilities in some of the Arab countries?

A: While travel to the Arabian area is primarily commercial, there are opportunities for sightseeing and other tourist recreational activity. "Business Travel Guide to the Arab World," available free from KLM, Dept. NYC/MD, 437 Madison Ave., New York 10022, contains information on restaurants, what to do, and local customs.

Q: With the dollar so strong, won't I get the best deal abroad by paying most of my bills in currency instead of credit cards and travelers checks?

A: Generally, dollar traveler's checks get the best rate at foreign banks. Hotels and shops accept dollars but frequently tack on a charge to protect themselves against fluctuations, which also affect credit-card bills. You also should buy some foreign money before departure for tips and taxis on arriving overseas.

Q: On our vacation my wife and I will be using rental cars. Are we both allowed to drive them?

A: Most rental firms permit an immediate relative or business associate to drive but the rental contract should include their names to avoid legal problems involving accidents, insurance, etc.

Q: While abroad I want to buy a mink or other fur coat. Are there restrictions on bringing back such items?

A: Mink is OK but coats from endangered species such as spotted cates, including leopard, tiger, ocelot, and cheeta, as well as certain vicuna and seal products are prohibited.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in China?

A: Credit cards are beginning to gain acceptance, but a surcharge is usually applied to purchases made with them.

Q: Some time ago you said many campgrounds prohibit pets. We're traveling to Florida in our trailer and wonder if we can take our dog?

A: Most privately operated campgrounds allow pets. However, they are prohibited at all camping facilities in Florida state parks.

A: I've heard it said over and over that the machines our bags go through in airport don't damage film. Is this really true?

A: Ordinary kinds of films are not damaged by X-rays. A new kind of high-speed film rated ASA 1000 definitely could be damaged. Holders of this kind of film should request a hand search. Cautious travelers can use lead bags, available at most photo stores. They hold up to 20 rolls of film and, with only a thin layer of lead, are not heavy.

Q: I have a physical handicap that limits my travel. Is there anyone providing up-to-date information about places that have special facilities for the disabled?

A: Your travel agent or the Society for Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, 26 Court St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11242, should provide you with such information. There's also a quarterly newsletter, LTD Travel, edited for the handicapped tourist. Write for a free sample copy to 116 Harbor Seal Court, San Mateo, Calif. 94404, phone (415) 573-7998.

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