International Travel '87 is our theme today, with features ranging from shopping and air fares to advice on staying healthy while on the road. Don James lists the best of the travel guidebooks and Jeff Frees describes the pleasure of train travel in Europe. On other pages Ladislaw Reday lets us in on plans for a "mini-expo" in Japan, Bill Hughes counsels the mature traveler and we join Robin Charteris on a motor-home adventure, London to Russia. These and other articles are featured in Travel '87.
Two companies specialize in the sale of foreign currency in Los Angeles:
--Deak International, 677 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90017. Telephone (213) 624-4221. The toll-free numbers are (800) 252-9324 (in California) or (800) 421-8391 outside the state.
--American Foreign Exchange, Suite 120, World Trade Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90071. Telephone (213) 626-0255. To call toll-free inside California dial (800) 521-1854. Outside the state the number is (800) 421-9866.
Some banks sell foreign bills, but the availability is usually limited. You're better off dealing with Deak or American Foreign Exchange. Suggestion: Buy small amounts of foreign currency at home. Only enough for tips, cabs for your arrival overseas where, generally, exchange rates are better.
To obtain visas locally, contact:
--Visas International, 3169 Barbara Court, Los Angeles 90068. Telephone (213) 850-1192. (Instructions will be mailed to you.)
--Intercontinental Visa Service, Suite 185, World Trade Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90071. (Intercontinental also deals in travel accessories: guides, maps, language books.)
--World Wide Visa Service, 1712 N. Pacific Ave. (Box 4319), Glendale, Calif. 91202. Telephone (213) 245-0934. Weekdays, or on Saturday by appointment.
As summer nears, the crowds grow bigger at the U.S. Passport Agency, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90024. To avoid long lines, Director Sakae Hawley advises travelers to apply early. Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fees are $42 ($35 for renewals), $25 for applicants 18 and under. Adult passports are good for 10 years, others for five years. County courts and post offices also assist applicants. Take a birth certificate or other evidence of citizenship plus a couple of photos (two inches square) and identification (driver's license or a Social Security card). For recorded instructions call (213) 209-7070. For a "live" line, phone (213) 209-7075. Renewals can be arranged by mail. Avoid noon crowds. They're horrendous!
International Driver's License
Some countries permit you to operate a car using your own driver's license. Others request an international driver's license. No problem. Apply to any office of the Automobile Club of Southern California. Licenses are issued to both members and non-members. You'll need a couple of photos (phone ahead for details). It's a good plan to get the license even if the country you intend to visit doesn't require one. Then if you change your mind and motor off to another country you'll be legal. The license also serves as a handy identification document.
--In San Diego you'll find dozens of travel items at Le Travel Store, 295 Horton Plaza. Telephone (619) 544-0005.
--Wahlstrom Travel Aids (a mail-order house) has published a new booklet. Details on voltage converters/adapter plugs, immersion heaters, hair dryers, safety straps for your luggage, garment bags, travel irons and other useful gadgets. For a free copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Wahlstrom Travel Aids, 21225 Nashville St., Chatsworth 91311.
--If you're planning a trip to Britain, guides, maps are available from British Gifts, P.O. Box 36558, Los Angeles 90026. This is another mail-order house. For a brochure write to British Gifts or the British Travel Authority, 350 S. Figueroa St., Suite 450, Los Angeles, 90071. Telephone (213) 628-3525.
One of the bargain fares to the Caribbean is a $399 round-trip flight by Air Jamaica to Montego Bay. (Offered in conjunction with a hotel package.) This fare increases to $459 beginning May 1 when the regular fare ($489) jumps to $599. Air Jamaica flies nonstop to Jamaica on Friday night. Sunday and Saturday flights are planned. For details call Air Jamaica toll-free (800) 523-5585.
Castles in Spain
You can stay in a castle in Spain. For a listing, contact the Spanish National Tourist Office, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 960, Beverly Hills 90211. Telephone (213) 658-7188.
Other castles in Britain, Germany, France, Ireland. See your travel agent for details, or for reservations at castles in Britain, Ireland and France contact In The English Manor, P.O. Box 447, Orinda, Calif. 94563 or telephone (415) 254-6341. (Note: This same company arranges apartment rentals in London.)