How Neighborly

I READ with great interest the story "Travels With My Neighbors" [Aug. 29], as it could have been written by myself. Since 1999 I have been organizing group travel for my neighbors on yearly trips to various European destinations. We all live in Alexandria and the idea started at a party when a few of us discussed going to Paris.

What started as a weekend in the City of Light has turned into an annual weeklong trip with all the trimmings.

I do all the organizing and have some suggestions. If you work with agents, plan on asking a lot of questions. Read maps and get a sense of distance from site to site so your itineraries work.

Remember that you're not just planning a trip for yourself, but you have others under your care. It takes me a full year to thoroughly plan a trip. But there is nothing like traveling with people you love and have fun with. Thanks for the article.

Robyn Webb


Q&A and You

YOUR ADVICE on South African wildlife parks was good [Travel Q&A, Aug. 29] but for one significant omission: Those going to Kruger are advised to take anti-malaria medicine. That's not the case for Shamwari and other malaria-free wildlife parks. Given the side effects and unpredictability of this medication, we personally wouldn't be inclined to take it if we were going to Cape Town for business. We chose Shamwari for that reason (we didn't want to subject our kids to the anti-malaria medications) and had a terrific time.

Kurt and Stephanie Wimmer


I JUST returned from a week at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda [Travel Q&A, Aug. 22].

The walking in Hamilton and St. George is difficult as there is no evenness to any of the sidewalks. The alleyways to other shops are also cobblestone or uneven brick. The towns are quite hilly, the streets busy with traffic, and there are steps everywhere.

I would highly recommend the Fairmont Southampton, which is quite accessible. The property just reopened after a renovation due to Hurricane Fabian, thus allowing for even more accessible accommodations. Everything you would want to do is on the property, and there is a shuttle running between the many restaurants and the beach club.

Mary E. Gallagher


Surprise Package

I'D LIKE to share our experience with package deals [Lab Report, Aug. 15]. A package to London was advertised for $499; we booked it and added two days, increasing the cost to $608. The package included air (Virgin Atlantic) from Dulles and rail from Heathrow to Paddington Station. Our hotel in the Bayswater section was pleasant; the room was small but not minuscule.

The hotel was about four blocks from a tube station and six blocks from Kensington Gardens and Palace. We thoroughly enjoyed our eight days in London and returned home with great memories.

This package deal was a bargain -- airfare alone would have been $350 round trip, and the hotel was rated at $75 a night (so seven nights would have been $525). Add on the train, and you can see the package definitely saved us money.

Carol Dixon

Dale City, Va.

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