Readers' travel tips keep giving
Regarding "Before You Go," Feb. 17: In response to Sheila Maynes' tip, "Scan your passport (main and endorsement pages and any visas), your birth certificate, airline tickets or vouchers, hotel and car booking confirmations. Email them to yourself," you might want to take extra security measures using WinZip or WinRar.
Zip and Rar files do about the same thing, which is to shrink your files, but they use different math functions to do the compression. One additional feature of this compression is that you can add encryption to the compressed file.
Think of it as a password that acts as a padlock on your confidential documents: Anyone who intercepts your email or hacks your account can unlock and view your documents without the password, so if you've scanned your passport, visa or other travel documents, then ill-intentioned rogues cannot access them.
Royal Wootton Bassett, Britain
Your Feb. 17 airport parking maps were terrific. Thanks for also noting "no car" options, such as the LAX/Green Line shuttle, Amtrak and Metrolink. Your readers might want to know about the free shuttle that connects Burbank/Bob Hope airport to the Metro subway. It runs, upon request, between the airport shuttle island and the Red Line/North Hollywood station. Details at http://www.metro.net/riding/maps/go-metro-bob-hope-airport/.
More benefits of travel agents
On behalf of travel agents everywhere, thanks for Catharine Hamm's insightful, detailed account of the benefits of booking through a travel agent, "A Case for Travel Agents" [On the Spot, Feb. 17].
Not only do you receive excellent service but usually better prices because of memberships in various consortiums and affiliations. To those who insist on booking online, I would add, to paraphrase a line from the movie "Alien," "In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream!"
I would like to share my experience using AAA to book a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I am a schoolteacher and widow, not wealthy. Thanks to an unexpected inheritance, I decided to realize a dream and take my grown children and their spouses to the small town in Bavaria where my late husband was born. I researched through Rick Steves and online and learned a tour would not suit our needs. I attended the L.A. Times Travel Show to hear Steves and was encouraged but realized I needed help. I made an appointment at AAA in Rancho Cucamonga. A very helpful agent, Estella, spent more than an hour asking me what my family wanted to do on our trip. I provided her with the total cost I wanted to spend, the dates of travel, the cities we wanted to visit, the modes of travel we wanted to use and what we needed in hotel accommodations.
She suggested including travel insurance, which proved to be important. Within two weeks I had a schedule for five adults listing the flights to and from Paris, Eurail passes to travel to Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, transportation for each stop to and from our hotels, a city tour for each city, hotel rooms with their own bathrooms and breakfast included for 14 days.
After reassuring me about rail travel and time schedules, I booked everything through her. Unfortunately, my daughter and her husband could not join us. Estella took care of contacting the insurance company, and I received almost a full refund for their part of the trip.
The trip was wonderful. Our only difficulty was the rental car we arranged ourselves with a German rental car company. We agreed that we should have asked Estella to do it.
Gail M. Zacher