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The Independent Travel
Overcome fear of flying? Read Flying? No Fear! A Handbook for Apprehensive Flyers (Summersdale, pounds 4.99). It points out that being in an aircraft is safer than almost any other activity, and describes the sort of pilot training that takes place to make sure it remains so: "A typical simulator ride starts with a fire and engine failure on take-off from a runway which is shrouded in fog, thus making a quick return to land difficult or impossible. Thereafter things progress rapidly from bad to worse. Needless to say, the autopilot isn't working and the co- pilot will have been told to display the maximum level of incompetence of which he is capable. A simulator session goes on for about three or four hours, which is probably contrary to the Geneva Convention."

Or you could sign up for Britannia Airways' Flying with Confidence course, in March or April. Call 01582 424155 to book a place, which costs pounds 110 and includes a short "round the houses" flight.

Be ripped off in Prague? Take a taxi. As from this month, taxi-drivers in the Czech capital can charge as much as they like, because all controls on fares have been lifted. Some regular visitors to Prague will be surprised to learn that any regulations had existed. The usual way for drivers to calculate fares seemed to be to think of a reasonable price, then double it for Brits, treble it for Germans and quadruple it for Americans - and then, when you proffered a large-denomination note, to pretend to have run out of change.

Reach London from Glasgow or Edinburgh? As from this week, by bus for just pounds 13 one way on National Express (0990 010104). Reductions of around one-third are also being introduced from Aberdeen and Inverness (pounds 24.50), Perth and Dundee (pounds 22), and Tyneside and York (pounds 13). Return fares remain unchanged.

Spot a carmine bee-eater? Join a 10-day birdwatching trip to Ethiopia, departing 22 November, with Nature Trek (01962 733051). The holiday is based around the Rift Valley lakes and Awash National Park, including flights, most meals and accommodation, price pounds 990.

Head south for the summer? Look for special offers to the Gambia, where offers around pounds 300 for a week or pounds 400 for a fortnight are available for November. For example, the Gambia Experience (01703 730888) is offering a departure to Banjul on 22 November, staying at the three-star Atlantic Hotel for pounds 299 for seven nights, or pounds 395 for 14 nights.

Cycle the Exeter Ship Canal? Buy a new book, Cycling in Devon and Cornwall, by Philip Routledge (Sigma, pounds 6.95), which has 32 routes, including one along the towpath.

Prepare for the Day of the Dead? Read the Mexico special in the travel pages of The Independent next Saturday, 26 October.

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