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Carry-ons

Look how far we've come

No monument in Washington, D.C., is more moving than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Ceremonies this fall will mark the 10th anniversary of the wall, inscribed with the names of more than 50,000 service people who lost their lives in that war. The U.S. government recently dropped its trade and travel sanctions against that country. At least three firms are offering tours to Vietnam (with stops or other trips in Laos and Cambodia). Contact Adventures in Paradise, 155 W 68th St., Suite 525, New York, NY 10023, (800) 736-8187, Mountain Travel-Sobek, 6420 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530-3606, (800) 227-2384, or Orbitours PTY Ltd., Seventh Floor, Dymocks Bldg., 428 George St., Sydney, N.S.W. 2000, Australia, or call toll-free from the U.S., (800) 235-5895 . . . Air France has three 747 flights from Paris to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) each week, and Japan Airlines has opened an office in Hanoi, an interim step before beginning service to Ho Chi Minh City.

Flitting here, there

A seven-night trip through Ireland, during the chill months of March and April, is being offered for $1,086 _ including the airfare from New York or Boston, hotel rooms with private baths, breakfasts and five dinners, plus guided tours. Contact CIE Tours International, 108 Ridgedale Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960-4244, (800) 243-8687, or a travel agent . . . Callaway Gardens is staging its annual workshops for Southern gardeners: native azaleas is the topic on March 26, Southeastern wildflowers on March 27. Fees for each of the five-hour sessions are $25. Contact the Education Department, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA 31822, (404) 663-5153.

Saving pesos

The Fiesta Americana hotels of Mexico have three- and seven-night honeymoon packages through April 24, in Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. Both packages feature breakfast daily, two dinners, bathrobes and a framed photo. Prices for the three-night stay range from $561 to $1,116 a couple, depending on the location; the range for seven nights is $1,043 to $2,244 per couple. For information, call (800) 221-9748.

Saving francs

An American firm named The French Connection says it rents fully equipped apartments in Paris for as little as $110 a night. Other apartments sleeping up to four are $170. (Discounts on rentals of six nights or more.) For $378 per person (double occupancy), The French Connection will provide an all-inclusive package that includes four nights in a studio apartment, airport transfers, a three-day pass to 60 museums in Paris (plus the Palace at Versailles), a couple of sightseeing tours, a cruise on the Seine and a three-day pass good for unlimited public transportation in Paris. Contact The French Connection, 370 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Different vacations

Hal Taussig, a former university professor, operates Untour, for leisurely vacations in Europe. Instead of being constantly on the go, travelers settle in for two to three weeks in chalets, cottages and apartments in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and France. Vacationers shop with the neighbors, attend their festivals, sightsee at their own pace. Contact Untour, c/o Idyll, P.O. Box 405, Media, Pa. 19063 (215) 565-5242 . . . Considering a walking tour in England, Scotland or Ireland? For a 28-page catalog, contact British Coastal Trails, 1001 B Ave., Suite 302, Coronado, Calif. 92118, (800) 473-1210. More than 30 tours, most averaging 6-7 miles a day, with accommodations in historic inns-hotels. Season: April through October.

Putting miles to good use

A number of carriers invite their best customers to trade in chunks of frequent-flier mileage for special treats such as a stint at the controls of the on-ground flight simulator used to train pilots (United Airlines), but American Airlines and Canadian Airlines also let passengers donate mileage points to children's charities. American has set up a special foundation, Miles for Kids in Need. Canadian Airlines has designated three charities, including The Children's Wish Foundation. The mileage points, which can be cashed in for free trips on the airlines, are used by the organizations to fly sick or needy children on special vacations or for medical treatments in distant cities.

DOLLAR'S WORTH

The currencies listed below are shown in U.S. dollar equivalents as of Feb. 18, 1992, with the exchange rates of a year ago. Rates are comparable abroad but may be more favorable for large transactions.

COUNTRY/CURRENCY NOW '91

BRAZIL/Cruzado 1,157 179.2

BRITAIN/Pound .5393 .4888

CANADA/Dollar 1.129 1.094

FRANCE/Franc 5.283 4.764

GERMANY/Mark 1.546 1.404

GREECE/Drachma 173.9 144.2

ITALY/Lire 1155 1053

JAPAN/Yen 121 124.3

MEXICO/Peso 2825 2786

SPAIN/Peseta 96.11 86.08

SWISS/Franc 1.546 1.404

Source: Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange, Orlando, (407) 351-4334.

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