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Wrong Turn on Tours

August 25, 1996

A [Travel Insider] column by James T. Yenckel ("A Little Friendly Advice Won't Help If It's Wrong," July 21) stated that he had collected what he considered to be egregious examples of ill-conceived travel recommendations.

One of these examples was the advice offered by many travel writers to take a city tour in order to orient oneself in a strange city. Yenckel states that this advice is "hooey--if the tour is one of those half-day bus rides past major tourist attractions, where the driver is cracking awful jokes and spreading misinformation." He then goes on to state that he has paid for countless such tours and none of them ever has been worth the money or the precious time.

Why, one might ask, did he continue to take these tours until they became countless in number, if not one of them was worth the money or time? Presumably the only reason would be to prove that the tours are worthless so that he can advise others not to take the tours--a noble cause!

I have taken many city bus tours, the most memorable being Rome, Vienna, Paris, Florence, Salzburg and Oxford. These tours not only drove past major tourist attractions but visited them with a local guide.

And if there was misinformation spread by these guides, my history books are also spreading this false information. Not one tour that I have taken has been wasteful in time and money. To the contrary, it would have taken much more time and effort to have covered the same ground by public transport, walking or driving.

Despite having the benefit of advice from Mr. Yenckel's vast travel experience, I will not change my plans to take a city tour on my first visit to Munich in September.

NORMAN F. BATES

Dana Point

James T. Yenckel's column on July 21 has some good ideas but wrong conclusions.

He berates the "Carry-on Hassles," in which he describes travelers with "hefty carry-ons" dragging them down tight isles and attempting to stuff them in undersized overhead bins. We have no problem here, as we use the designated 22-by-14-by-8-inch bags. This is the regulation carry-on size. If you have a steamer trunk suitable for the Titanic, you must check it or take the train!

"Tour Troubles." Here, a good map, guidebook and a bus-and-rail pass will get you to all of the sights, but the city tour will give you the layout of the city in the minimum time, without getting lost. Later you can return to the most interesting sights.

"Packing Perils." With our regulation-size carry-ons, we traveled for 53 days in Europe. I packed too much! In Rome, I left two pairs of pants, a couple of shirts and a pair of shoes. Next time I will pack lighter.

JOHN SMITH

Lake Forest

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