Being your own tour guide in...

FLORIDA ON YOUR OWN

January 30, 2000|By Tricia Eller

FLORIDA ON YOUR OWN

Being your own tour guide in Florida has just gotten easier. The state's tourism bureau is offering seven self-directed driving tours that let you set your own pace and customize an itinerary. Tour themes vary from historical routes to scenic bird-watching, and are typically designed for five days, although trip length is up to you.

The African-American Heritage Trail winds along Florida's East Coast, stopping at Eatonville, the home of author Zora Neale Hurston. Another tour takes in Florida's lighthouses. The Outdoor Adventure Trail features nature sights in northern Florida, and the Art Museum Tour, with 94 potential stops, covers the entire state. Also available are tours of the area's Cuban and Native American historic sites.

Brochures provide directions, attractions and suggested daily routes, so you can customize your trip by mixing sights from different themes in the same areas. The free itineraries are available at www.flausa.com (with printer-friendly maps), or by calling 888-735-2872.

Flying smart: a booklet to help

Involuntarily bumped from your flight? You might be entitled to compensation. Lost luggage? Watch out for the claim deadline. These are among the items covered in a new 58-page booklet published by the Department of Transportation that details your rights and responsibilities as a flier, and provides information on how airlines work.

"Fly-Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel," offers useful information for dealing with those crisis times when your flight's been canceled or your luggage -- with all your medication in it -- is missing. Better yet, the book gives you the skills to avoid most of these emergencies and become practiced in the art of flying.

The guide is available for $1.75 by calling the Consumer Information Center (888-878-3256), the publication's full text is also online at www.pueblo.gsa.gov.

Your saddle is waiting

For city-slickers harboring a 10-gallon fantasy, the Dude Rancher's Association offers a guide to bring out the cowboy in just about anyone. The free "Official 2000 Directory" lists more than 100 member ranches and their attractions, including the nearest airports, broken down by activity and price. There's a ranch to suit most tastes among choices that span 12 states and two Canadian provinces -- from such elegant resorts as the Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado to the old-fashioned G Bar M Ranch in Montana, where guests drive cattle and haul supplies. To order the guide, call 970-223-8440, or go to www.duderanch.org.

Vacation home exchanges

Intervac International gives new meaning to the phrase "home away from home." The organization publishes five catalogs a year with more than 11,000 listings of homes in 50 countries so members can get together to swap houses and cars and enjoy the creature comforts of someone else's home while vacationing. Arranging the exchange is up to members, but Intervac gives guidelines to help the process go smoothly. Membership that gets you a listing in the catalog and online access to Intervac's database begins at $89. Call 800-756-HOME, or go to www.intervac.com.

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