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Saving on Long Distance Phone Bills

January 11, 1987|ERIC FRIEDHEIM | Friedheim is editor/publisher of Travel Agent magazine

Question: How can I avoid expensive service charges when telephoning long distance from a foreign hotel?

Answer: Call collect or use a telephone credit card; some hotels may charge a modest handling fee; calls from post offices abroad normally have no surcharge.

Q: As a motor home owner I've been solicited to buy a membership in a new campground. Are their operators regulated by state laws?

A: Some such ventures have gone bankrupt even though subject to commercial laws in most states. Check such offerings as carefully as any other investment.

Q: Is Japan continuing its unlimited railroad pass and at the 1986 price?

A: It's the same and good on all trains, buses and ferries, costing $174 for one week, $278 to $286 for two weeks and $355 to $366 for three weeks. Available at Japan National Tourist Organization offices or your travel agent.

Q: When is Berlin's 750th anniversary being celebrated and is East Berlin participating?

A: Special exhibitions, concerts, parades, street fairs and other events are scheduled throughout 1987. Some also will take place on the other side of the wall. Contact the German National Tourist Office, 444 S. Flower St., Suite 2230, Los Angeles 90071.

Q: I recently lost my traveler's checks abroad during a weekend and couldn't get a refund. Isn't there some way to obtain cash in such an emergency?

A: You can get Bank America replacement checks at Inter-Continental and Forum hotels around the world when banks are closed. Some American Express and Thomas Cook offices are open 24 hours. If not, you may call them collect at numbers listed on the backs of check applications.

Q: Where are the islands off Florida's West Coast known for shelling and nature preserve?

A: Sanibel and Captiva are two islands off Fort Myers and connected by causeway. Sanibel has the J. Ding Darling Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary. You can find fine shells on both.

Q: Are only low-handicappers allowed to play the famous St. Andrews Golf course?

A: Men must have no higher than 18 handicap and women 24. Reserve a tee time several months in advance.

Q: When is Carnival time in Rio de Janeiro and do package tours include the festivities and what do they cost?

A: Principal Carnival events are from Feb. 28 to March 3, and a wide variety of tour, hotel and cruise packages is available at travel agencies. Rio hotel rates average between $50 to $130 daily including breakfast; tour operators offer hotel plans for as little as $275 for five nights. Tours including air fare start at about $799.

Q: Is Sam Lord's Castle Hotel in Barbados actually a castle?

A: The resort includes a small castle built by Sam Lord in 1820 and now furnished largely in mahogany with some of the original pieces still remaining. A few rooms are in the castle and many more in the surrounding buildings on the 72-acre property.

Q: We're planning an automobile trip to Mexico. What are the highway conditions, availability of unleaded gas and accommodations along the way?

A: Major toll roads are comparable to those in United States, but many other long distance routes are two-lane. Be prepared for stretches of repair work on numerous highways. Not every gas station has unleaded, so top your tank wherever possible.

Q: We've heard about a "Meet the People" program for tourists to the Bahamas. How does it work?

A: The program on Grand Bahama Island tries to match people with similar interests. Volunteer hosts invite visitors to join them for church, a home-cooked meal, an excursion around the island, garden parties or to fraternal, social or service clubs. Contacts are made at major hotels or the local official tourist bureau.

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