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Booked for Travel Adventures

March 06, 1988|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

The secret to a more enjoyable vacation is selecting the one that most fits your life style. Beware of brochures and guidebooks with generalized photos and too many adjectives describing the scenery, ocean views, etc. You might be disappointed.

A travel agent can usually offer the best advice, save you air fare dollars, verify accommodations and help you avoid other potential obstacles. The following is a selection of international guides previously reviewed that are worth another mention (prices quoted were at time of review).

Antoinette DeLand's "Worldwide Cruises" rates more than 100 ships with one to five stars; barges and river boats are included. It does not give offhand observations but presents in-depth information right down to the featured wines and their prices on many ships, plus personal services, activities, et al. Each itinerary outlines the cost, best time to go, ports of call and much more (Fielding's: $12.95).

A major concern after landing in Europe is how to get from one place to another. With "Fly/Ride Europe," by Ed Perkins, you can find out how to get the best transportation and values to and around Europe. The guide furnishes hundreds of tips for saving $100 to $200 on air tickets, auto rentals, Eurail-passes and more (Consumer Reports: $13).

Most of us want to travel organized, and Chris Evat explains how to do it better in "How to Pack Your Suitcase . . . and Other Travel Tips." It tells ways to improve on the once-in-awhile packing experience, especially when you're in a foreign country and wondering what to do with old underwear or socks to make room for purchased goodies (Fawcette Columbine: $4.95).

If you have the extra bucks and are looking for places of luxury, then read Steven B. Stern's "Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World." It describes 80 of the poshest resorts, including a highlight of their best feature--i.e., sports, food, service, accommodations, etc. Everybody will find the information useful while searching for a resort (Stern's Travel Guides: $14.95).

For any budget, consider "New Zealand Handbook," by Jane King, among the best to take along on a visit. The guide's 512 pages are loaded with information. The 82 maps, 146 illustrations and lots of photos, many in color, capture most of this South Pacific nation (Moon: $13.95).

Rick Steves explains how to get the most out of three-plus weeks of travel in "Europe in 22 Days" and "Spain and Portugal in 22 Days." The guides are exceptional because they show how to jump in or out of suggested itineraries in case you want to linger a bit longer in certain spots. Maps and information about bistros, small hotels and more are provided (W. W. Norton: $5.95 each). Steves is also the author of "Europe Through the Back Door." The advice and information are great, and the books include helpful language phrases. It's well worth the $11.95 (John Muir).

Gerda Pandel has compiled an authoritative source of information in the "Canadian Bed and Breakfast Guide." Accommodations are highlighted with easy-to-read symbols. Many hosts are offering cozy escapes in friendly surroundings. This guide should help you discover a pleasant change of pace (Fitzhenry & Whiteside--Chelsea Green: $10.95).

"The South American Handbook" fully deserves the description of the "definitive travel authority on South and Central America and the Caribbean." It furnishes a vast amount of detailed information on various topics, including politics, recent history, crime and health information and much more. The price is $26.95 and worth it (Rand McNally).

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