Travel: Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts
Sunday 24 May 1998
Advice required please on lice, fleas and bed-bugs and the like, and what to do if I find them on my children (ages four and six) while travelling through Thailand.
Dr Larry Goodyer replies: Fleas and lice are more likely to cause problems if staying in more down market accommodation or in particularly crowded conditions.
Fortunately an infestation by these creatures is unlikely to cause a serious disease, and although typhus can be transmitted by fleas and lice this is extremely rare, especially in travellers.
Fleas can be picked up wherever you rest and could find a permanent home in your sleeping bag; turning out and leaving it in the sun may persuade them to leave. Flea bites usually occur in discreet groups on the body. Bedbugs, as the name implies, will come out to bite and suck blood when you are asleep and inhabit bed frames, cracks in the plaster and underneath carpets. The bites, which will be found on parts of the body protruding from the bed, will certainly keep you awake, even if the very thought of their presence doesn't worry you. The best solution is to move the bed away from the wall and keep the light on.
Other suggestions are to tuck in the bedclothes well to prevent fleas from jumping up and standing the legs of the bed in containers of water to discourage the bed bugs from climbing. There are various types of lice, which are generally spread from person to person by direct contact.
Head lice in particular have been a big problem in the UK in recent years. If they are caught whilst away it is quite likely that they will not be noticed for some weeks, by which time you may have returned home. Treatment is possible with chemicals or wet combing with a fine tooth comb. Not often seen, except if living in quite poor overcrowded conditions, are so-called body lice which also inhabit clothing. If they are detected then wash and launder clothing well at a temperature above 55C.
Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181 889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.
Can we take a day trip to Expo 98 whilst in Portugal?
We'll be going to Lagos, Portugal for our summer holiday in July and we would like to take a day-trip to Expo 98 in Lisbon while we are there. How do you advise we do this?
The travel editor replies: I highly recommend a visit to the Expo but to be honest I do not think it is feasible to go there just as a day-trip from Lagos. There may well be organised coach trips by local operators but even if you do take these the journey each way is not going to take less than four hours (maybe more), which is not going to give you anywhere near enough time to enjoy the Expo.
A far better idea is to spend at least one night, and preferably two, in Lisbon. If you are travelling in July you should book as soon as possible because accommodation is going to be fairly tight in Lisbon this summer (though it is amazing how you can always turn up a room somewhere if you head off into the backstreets). For lists of places to stay in Lisbon, contact the Portuguese Trade and Tourism Office, 2nd floor, 22-25a Sackville Street, London W1X 2LY (Tel: 0171-494 1441; fax: 0171-494 1868).
As for how to get up to Lisbon in the first place, the simplest way will be by train direct to a purpose built train station at the Expo site. Coming from Lagos you'll have to change at nearby Faro, from where there are direct trains. Don't reckon on anything going very fast in this area - the journey will be five hours but will only cost about pounds 15 return in second class.
Entry to the Expo this summer will cost about pounds 18 for adults, with reductions for senior citizens and children.
Do any tour operators offer holidays in the Peloponnese? We are looking for something nice and quiet, as far away as possible from the crowds of the Greek islands.
Jill Crawshaw replies: Several small specialist tour operators offer holidays in the Peloponnese, largely using small bed-and-breakfast hotels and tavernas, and self-catering apartments.
Sunvil Travel (0181-568 4499) has one of the biggest selection of both stay-put and independent fly-drive holidays.
In the north where the greatest ancient sites - Mycenae, Epidavros, Argos and Corinth are located, Sunvil has been featuring a variety of accommodation in the fairly bustling resort of Tolon from which the sites are accessible by excursion, hire car or local bus. A week's B&B in a C-class hotel with flights to Kalamata from Gatwick costs from pounds 333-pounds 383, two weeks from pounds 370-pounds 447.
The southern Peloponnese has far fewer big name sites apart from Byzantine Mystras, and considerably fewer tourists, and untouched scenery. Kardamili in the outer Mani is much sought after by writers, artists and walkers. A B&B C-class hotel here costs pounds 375-pounds 410; two weeks from pounds 452-pounds 507.
A favourite Greek holiday spot in August, Methoni on the south-western tip of the Messinian peninsula is a picturesque resort with an ancient fortress and an excellent sandy beach. B&B in a B-class hotel here costs pounds 417-pounds 478 for one week, pounds 541-pounds 649 for two. Local buses are erratic: a hire car costs from pounds 160-pounds 250 a week, and should be pre-booked.
Filoxenia (01422 375999) offers really off-the-beaten-track villages with virtually no foreign tourism. Accommodation ranges from A-class hotels, stone village houses and mansions. Laconia, Arcadia, Monemvasia, the wild inner Mani and Poulithra are some of the destinations.
Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.
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