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Booking Time for Travel Adventures

July 10, 1988|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Rand McNally has two 1988 Travel Planners available: the detailed, large "Road Atlas and Travel Guide--United States, Canada and Mexico," which includes maps of major cities ($5.95), and the "Compact Road Atlas" ($4.95), a tad less detailed but well worth space in the glove compartment.

Visitors in the mid- to upper-income brackets or business travelers will find A-to-Z coverage in the American Express Pocket Guides to "Tokyo," "Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok" and "Mexico" ($9.95 each), and to "Venice" ($8.95). The compact guides offer comprehensive advice on the basics in major cities and towns, including hotel and restaurant recommendations. The maps and transportation availabilities will get you around, while the tips on local customs and etiquette should keep your foot out of your mouth (Prentice Hall).

John and Jane Perry declare that 95% of all travelers in the United States annually flock to the areas described in the "Guide to the Natural Areas of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming." The sightseer, camper, hiker, fisherman, skier and many others will find the information to state and national parks, forests and preserves, plus much more, enlightening and worthwhile (Sierra Club: $12.95).

For a more rewarding trip to the Continent, "Europe--Off the Wall" by Arneli S. Rufus and Kristan Lawson is a take-along must for anyone looking for the unusual. Although a sewer tour in France or visiting a cat museum in Switzerland may not turn you on, there are more than 750 places and sights to take in--such as creepy catacombs, eccentric art, ancient relics and a sex museum. For $10.95, it's a fun-to-browse guide (John Wiley & Son).

Frommer's "Beat the High Cost of Travel" ($6.95), by Tom Brosnahan, offers inside information on ways to save up to 35% on airline tickets, rental cars, hotels, etc. Another Frommer guide, "Where to Stay U.S.A." ($10.95), lists places to hang your coat for $3 to $30 a night in hundreds of American cities. It also includes places to eat and what to see (Houghton Mifflin: $16.95).

The "Let's Go" series has put out a new title: "The Budget Guide to California and Hawaii" by the Harvard Student Agencies. First-time visitor or a seasoned pro should find that most of the tips and advice could save a few dollars. The guide also touches upon values in Reno, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Baja California. Another "Let's Go" guide, "The Budget Guide to the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada and Alaska," is just as enlightening. (St. Martin's: $10.95 each.)

"Journey to the High Southwest" by Robert L. Casey describes where to see Monument Valley or where to stand on four states at the same time. It's an excellent guide that covers all four corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, and offers opportunities for visitors to view dinosaur tracks and a meteor crater. You'll also find out where to stand on a 275-million-year-old rock ledge and view the Colorado River 2,000 feet below (Globe Pequot: $17.95).

You'll find 150 useful and amusing words and phrases listed in "They Have a Word for It" by Howard Rheingold. The guide offers good direction for better worldwide communication where there are no equivalents in English. So you won't farpotshket (foul up) your travels, or not know how to tell someone about your katzenjammer (hangover), get a copy for $7.95 (Jeremy P. Tarcher/St. Martin's).

Mark Abley's "Beyond Forget--Rediscovering the Prairies" is not a guide but observations of a present-day journey to sites of a bygone day. It reflects visits to farms and ranches, plus meetings with cowboys, farmers and medicine men. Revelations of the past include country music, former brothels, Indian petroglyphs and wildlife. Visitors to the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba should find the material good background (Sierra Club Books: $9.95).

The ninth edition of "China Guidebook--1988" by Fredric Kaplan, Julian Sobin and Arne de Keijer is basically an updated reprint. But it is an invaluable reference and source of information that has been expanded to include more than 125 tourist cities and locales, with descriptions of 1,000 significant sites and places of historic importance. As a refresher for the old hand or for the first-time visitor, you'll find 764 pages of detailed advice and observations, including suggestions for hotels, restaurants and shops (Houghton Mifflin: $16.95).

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