Two ways to see the new South Africa in a new light: on 18 August, Progressive Tours (0171-262 1676) launches its series of study tours to the republic. Participants see the home of Steve Biko, Soweto, and Robben Island - where Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders were imprisoned. The 16-day tour costs pounds 1,790.

The price of liberty is about pounds 400 higher for the "In the footsteps of the President" tour operated by SAA Holidays (01342 322525). It begins at Mandela's birthplace in Qunu and ends at the Union Building in Johannesburg where he was inaugurated as President 15 months ago.

Travellers renting a car in the United States face a baffling and expensive range of extra charges: collision damage waiver, supplementary liability insurance, sales tax, airport fees and environmental levies. Holiday Autos (0171-491 1111) has launched what it calls Option 3 - "an all-inclusive car rental rate". For motorists over 25, a small car in Florida costs pounds 163 for a week, while a limousine in New York City or Chicago is pounds 329. These rates do not, however, include a charge of pounds 2-pounds 3 per day for an additional driver, the high season supplement (pounds 4 a day) or cancellation protection (pounds 4 per week).

Meeting people who have "been there, done that" can help travellers to decide if a trip is for them. For those thinking about a trek in the Himalayas, Explore Worldwide is organising a discussion evening at Baden-Powell House in Knightsbridge, London, on 21 August. Admission is free, but places should be booked in advance on 01252 344161.