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Tips for Travelers With Limited Time

When you're planning a short trip, travel experts say, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

*Wherever you go, try to travel north-south, rather than east-west, in order to avoid time changes and the adjustments that may come with them.

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*If you fly, make sure your flight is nonstop.

*Try to find a flight that takes off early the day you leave and late the day you return, in order to get the most time at your destination.

*To cut down on travel time, don't fly at all, says veteran traveler Arthur Frommer. Choose a venue somewhere within a two- or three-hour driving distance instead.

*For package deals, ask to see on a map where your hotel is in comparison with the attractions you want to see. Be aware if the package allows you to be moved to a "comparable" hotel if the company so deems, says John Whitman, author of "The Best European Travel Tips" (HarperCollins).

*Ask what the the earliest time is that you can check into your hotel room.

*If you are traveling alone, expect to pay a "single supplement" - an extra charge for a single room. Packages and cruises usually only have double-occupancy rooms.

*Take very little luggage. Carry it on the plane if you can.

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*Try to get off work a bit early so rush-hour traffic won't rob you of vacation time.

*Make sure the sites you are going to see will be open on the days you will be there.

*Before you buy a package, talk to your travel agent and see if you can put together something cheaper on your own, suggests travel-book writer Rick Steves.

*Read up on the places you are going to visit and be well organized. To make your trip seem a bit longer, spend the days beforehand planning it, Mr. Steves suggests.

*Take along a good guidebook.

*For a short cruise, make sure the destination is appealing. Short cruises have limited places they can reach.

Even more important for a short cruise, Whitman notes, is that you go to a travel agent who knows cruises and can match you to the best one for you. Cruise lines vary in the types of individuals they cater to, he notes. Currently, 19 cruise lines offer short cruises.

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