Bicycling vacations in New England and Ireland. Bicycle through scenic country in New England or southwest Ireland, eat gourmet meals, and spend restful nights at picture-perfect wayside inns. These are the promises the Vermont Country Cyclers has been making for six years. Tours are popular with both adults and families. The tours, limited to 24 cyclists, run from May to October and range from two to 12 days. Each trip is rated for difficulty and distance and led by two expert cyclists. A van follows, carrying luggage and picnic food. Bikers supply their own bikes or rent well-tuned 12-speed models. Write Vermont Country Cyclers Inc., Box 145, Waterbury Center, Vt. 05677. For cyclers interested in weekend or longer trips in Maine staying in charming New England lodgings, contact Maine Coast Cyclers, 9 Pepperell Square, Saco, Maine 04072; (207) 283-1086. Packing your bags. At Ventura Travelware Inc., packing for a vacation is considered a science. ``Lay out everything on a bed. Then remember, if you put it on last, it goes into the bag first,'' says Walter Bialo, Ventura's chairman. Mr. Bialo says the whole process should take no more than 10 minutes. He also recommends that shoes, which go in first, should be stuffed with a roll of socks to protect the shape, then wrapped in cloth, not plastic. Then add pants, skirts, and finally underwear. And don't stuff your suitcase to the point of having to sit on it to close it! That is, if you don't want to pop your suitcase zippers or split the seams. For more ``roll and fold'' packing tips, write Ventura Travelware Inc., Long Island City, N.Y. 11101.
Summer study at Yellowstone Institute. Each summer, the Yellowstone Institute provides two- to eight-day seminars covering such topics as animal tracking, birds of prey, outdoor photography, astronomy, and women and wilderness. Classes are kept small, and some cater especially to youngsters and families. The institute is in the northeastern, more remote part of the park, once the site of a turn-of-the-century bison recovery project and now known as the ``Buffalo Ranch.'' Classes are held in June, July, and August. Write the Yellowstone Institute, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. 82190.
Trekkers help clean up Machu Picchu. A Second Annual Inca Trail Preservation Trek is being planned for July 31-Aug. 14. The purpose of the 35-mile, six-day trip along the famous Inca trail is to clean up and help preserve the ancient trail through the Andes Mountains of Peru. Since some 6,000 people hike the trail each year, it is important to have an annual pickup. Volunteers supplement the national park budget by carrying out debris left by careless trekkers. Last year 14 North Americans worked with 40 Quecha Indians from nearby villages. In addition to the cleanup hike, there are stops in Lima and Cuzco and rafting on the Urubamba River. Cost of the trip is $1,700 including equipment (tax deductible). Write to the Earth Preservation Fund, Inca Trail Project, Box 7545, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48107; 800-255-8735.
Arizona adult community ``summer fling'' vacations. For the 50-plus crowd, special summer rates for three- or seven-day vacation packages are available at Sun City West, Ariz., an adult community respected worldwide for its extensive recreational facilities. Rates are in effect from June through August: three days for $98 and seven days for $175 ($395 in winter.) The 40-acre R. H. Johnson Recreation Center offers opportunities to swim, play tennis, bowl, and jog. The Hillcrest Golf Club, site of the Senior PGA Tour Roundup, is one of five courses in the community. A large performing-arts center, restaurants, stores, and churches are nearby. Visitors are lodged in furnished, fully equipped garden suites. For more information, write Del E. Webb Communities Inc., Public Affairs Department, 13950 Meeker Boulevard, Sun City West, Ariz. 85375; (602) 876-3461.
New Zealand by motor home. Ron Armstrong's World Adventures and Continental Airlines offer a unique way to see the subtropical inlets, thermal geysers, and forested ranges of rugged New Zealand. World Adventures rents two types of fully equipped motor homes for a minimum four-day period. A staff member meets clients on arrival in Auckland or Christchurch, and service centers are open throughout the country to assist visitors during their trips. Each motor home rental includes maps and travel information on New Zealand, along with a discount book for specific outdoor activities such as ``flightseeing.'' For details, write to Ron Armstrong's World Adventures, Box 3009, Newport Beach, Calif. 92663; (714) 645-8873, 800-221-8687 nationwide, or 800-222-8687 in California.
Visit Old Testament sites on Bibleland tour. The Biblical Archaeology Society's Jerusalem Congress Tour, Aug. 21-Sept. 7, features visits to some of Israel's most famous archaeological sites, along with a banquet at the Knesset, Israel's parliament building in Jerusalem, and dinners with world-renowned Old Testament scholars. Tour members may attend lectures held during the Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, meeting in Jerusalem on Aug. 24. Among the topics to be discussed are the Dead Sea Scrolls, textual criticism, and prophetic literature. Archaeologist guides will conduct tours to Beersheba, Capernaum, Dor, and Nazareth. Field trips to Tel Aviv and the Sea of Galilee are also scheduled. For more information, call the Biblical Archaeology Society on weekdays at 800-221-4644, or write to BAS Travel/Study Programs, 3000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20008.
Arts and crafts in Brazil. A 10- or 16-day Fiber Arts and Crafts Tour around Brazil, Oct. 12 to 24 (or 29), will feature four days of instruction in needlework while guests stay on a Portuguese colonial-era plantation. Visit artists' studios and private museums and purchase authentic folk art at local craft fairs. The tour, sponsored by the Brazilian Views Inc., features a visit to Madeleine Colaco's studio and will be conducted in English. Other cities to be visited are Rio, Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto, and, on the 16-day tour, San Salvador and Sao Paulo. Write Brazilian Views Inc., 201 East 66th Street, Suite 21-G, New York, N.Y. 10021; (212) 472-9539.
Overnight stay at African manor house. Safari-bound travelers can now add an overnight to their trip. Giraffe Manor, in a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, is headquarters of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and is open to overnight visitors. The cost of the visit helps support the fund and is tax deductible. Surrounding the manor is a 60-acre, densely forested nature sanctuary, with 168 species of birds, wart hogs, and dik-diks. Unique to the sanctuary are eight Rothschild giraffes, a subspecies that was saved from extinction by the fund's founder, Betty Melville. Overnight visitors stay in a three-room suite with a private bath. But for a small fee, daytime visitors can have access to the freely roaming giraffes, which they may feed, as well as to the education center. Write KLR International, 1560 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10036; 800-221-4876, (212) 869-2850 in New York.