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Going by the Travel Book

September 21, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Subtitled "A Travel Survival Kit," two guide books, "Tibet" by Michael Buckley and Robert Strauss and "Fiji" by Rob Kay, cover the spectrum of information worthy of the traveler. The facts and color photos provide an excellent foundation to prepare for an enjoyable trip (Lonely Planet: $7.95 each).

The ups and downs or strolls on an easy trail described in "The Hiker's Guide to California" by Ron Adkison should whet the appetite for exploration. Trail markers, excellent maps, rules/regulations, hazards and admonitions are clearly outlined so one can relax and enjoy the outdoors. Each of the leisurely half-hour walks or the more demanding excursions will reveal an enjoyable and exciting experience (Falcon Press: $9.95).

For those who demand more than what's known only to locals, "A Touch of Geneva Guide--From Business and Banking to Ski Resorts" furnishes complete information. First-timers, seasoned travelers or residents will be delighted with the guide (Bookpeople: $7.95).

"1,001 Questions About Canada" by John Robert Colombo is a compendium of in-depth answers about the world's second-largest country. It's a revelation about our next-door neighbor's business technology, people, society, geography, history. The information is arranged in categories by subject and features a 2,200-entry list. Browsers, researchers, teachers or trivia buffs will recognize it as a quality reference book (Doubleday: $18.95).

Even seasoned travelers can benefit from "1986 Fly/Ride Europe" by Ed Perkins. It discusses what he calls the "four C's" of travel: cost, convenience, comfort and contingencies. Once abroad, the section about travel options by air, rail, auto, bus or ferry should prove helpful. It's only available direct from the nonprofit organization, Consumer Report Books, 540 Barnum Ave., Bridgeport, Conn. 06608 ($12 plus $2.15 handling).

"The Camper's Companion to Northern Europe" by Dennis and Tina Jaffe describes how you can vacation in Europe alongside the Europeans. It's a campground and roadside travel guide that rates more than 700 places to spend a day or two. It demonstrates a free-style way for the young, seniors or families with children to hit the road by rented vehicle or bicycle, whatever the budget. The tidbits and vignettes of general information are good (Williamson: $13.95).

Should your plans include a sea voyage, "Ford's International Cruise Guide" will help find the right one for you. The calendar of departures from Atlantic and Pacific Coast ports, including those from the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean. Photos and histories of cruise ships, lines, air/sea programs and on-board accommodations are clearly defined. The guide is published four times a year for advance information on seasonal bookings (Ford: $8.95 per copy).

First-time visitors are usually awed by the international atmosphere and the wealth of things to see, do and enjoy in a city known for its cable cars. A favorite pastime, for local or visitor, is choosing from the many restaurants of various sizes, elegance or ethnic cuisine. In "How to Enjoy 1 to 10 Days in San Francisco," Jack Shelton suggests the places he considers best but still allows the reader a freedom of choice, as he nudges you away from the tourist traps. Included are useful notes on getting around, shopping, important road turnoffs. If only for discovering the Buena Vista cafe for its Irish coffee, the guide is worth the $4.95 tab. Or you can order by mail for $5.95 postpaid to Shelton Publications, Box 391, Sausalito, Calif., 94965.

Phaidon Cultural Guides are textbooks on the architecture, art and cultural history of the country or regions they describe. Using lavish color photography and an intelligent text, their guides for "Athens and Attica" and "Florence and Tuscany" maintain the reputation. They are compact, impressive and would make an excellent travel companion (Prentice Hall: $14.95).

Anyone who enjoys a touch of the grape will like "The Wine Lover's Guide to France" by Michael Busselle. It's an above-average guide with in-depth text and superb color photographs and maps. Specific tours, on established routes utilizing Michelin maps, include pleasant detours to towns, villages and points of interest such as chateaux, museums, hotels and restaurants. There's a wine-buying guide, a calendar of events and a glossary. The guide reveals the beauty and charm of rural France (Little/Brown: $24.95).

Those who are captured by the lure of the sea will enjoy its mystery and power in "Tracking Treasure--The Romance and Fortune Beneath the Sea and How to Find It" by Philip Z. Trupp. The guide contains an up-to-date survey of clues and advice for people who want to get their share of the booty (Acropolis: $12.95).

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