No-worry arrangements

TRAVEL SMARTS

November 25, 2001|By Los Angeles Times

Travel is risky. It always has been, but in the weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Nov. 12 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York, it might seem more perilous than ever. To accommodate travelers wary of committing to already-scheduled trips, major tour companies are offering deals that make it easier to change plans for trips booked before Dec. 31:

* New York-based Trafalgar Tours USA offers what it calls a "peace of mind guarantee" that lets customers reschedule trips up to 24 hours before departure without penalty. (Cancellations without rescheduling are charged the usual penalties.) Call 800-854-0103, or go online to www. trafalgartours.com.

* Colorado-based Globus & Cosmos has announced a similar policy as a type of travel insurance available for premiums starting at $59 per person. Contact the company at 800-221-0090 or www.cosmostours.com.

* Miami-based Far & Wide Travel Corp. offers a "Safe & Sound" program. Customers may cancel trips up to 60 days before departure or change or postpone trips up to one day before, without penalty. For information, go to www.farandwide.com.

If you're feeling uncertain about scheduling a trip or pending travel plans, it's a good idea to contact your travel agent or tour company to ask about its cancellation and rescheduling policies. -- Los Angeles Times

MADELINE, THOMAS ENTERTAIN THE KIDS

If you're traveling with kids for the holidays, check out the accommodations at the all-suite hotel Homewood Suites, which is offering up to 40 percent savings through Jan. 13 (rates start at $69 a night for a family of four), along with some kid-friendly incentives, including fun sacks from Zany Brainy.

The sacks contain videos (Madeline and Thomas the Tank Engine) and educational games and activities.

And in the morning at select locations, Madeline (the little French student from Ludwig Bemelmans' books) will join families as they eat. For details, call 800-225-5466 and ask about the "Homewood for the Holidays" promotion or go to www.homewood-suites.com.

-- Tricia Bishop

Baltimore to the Caribbean

Celebrity cruises found a new home port in Baltimore after the Sept. 11 attacks. The company, which had to divert ships from New York, has introduced a variety of 10- and 11-night Caribbean cruises for 2002 that will now embark from Charm City.

* The 11-night cruises (departing March 25, April 15, May 6, May 27, June 17, July 8, July 29, Aug. 19, Sept. 30 and Oct. 21) include ports of call in Charleston, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan and Nassau. Fares begin at $849.

* The 10-night trips stop in Key West, Cozumel, Belize City, Cococay and Nassau. Fares begin at $799. Cruises leave April 5, April 26, May 17, June 7, June 28, July 19, Aug. 9, Aug. 30, Sept. 20 and Oct. 11.

All trips are aboard the Galaxy, an 1,870-passenger ship with several restaurants and nightclubs and a spa.

For more information, go to www.celebritycruises.com or call your travel agent. -- T.B.

Where in the world to walk

According to Steve Razzetti, one of the best ways to see the world is to walk it. And he ought to know. Since his first full season of trekking in 1984, the writer-photographer has spent seven months of every year hiking the planet. He's trudged through the Himalayas, the Pyrenees, Kenya, the Appalachian Trail and Chile. Razzetti must have taken notes along the way, because he's just published Top Treks of the World (Ulysses Press, $40), a guide to 29 of the best hikes he's experienced.

The book includes 300 pictures, maps, trail information, cultural details and day-by-day itineraries that will help would-be trekkers plot multiday excursions. -- T.B.

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