TRAVEL TIPS

Marathons in Athens and Dublin. On Oct. 23, runners will follow the original route Pheidippides is said to have run when he spread the word of an Athenian victory over the Persians. Or, for those who prefer an easier course, a marathon celebrating Dublin's millennium will be held Oct. 31. Temperatures in Dublin average about 50 degrees F., and the second half of the course is relatively flat; 93 percent of the runners have made it over the finish line in the past four years. For more information on either of these events, write Marathon Tours Inc., 108 Main Street, Boston MA 02129; or call (617) 242-7845. What to pack for a cruise. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has come up with list of must items: Dress clothes for evening meals - jacket and tie for men, dress, skirt, or slacks for women (Some ships have a formal evening and a costume party; check with a travel agent on this). Casual clothing for days ashore - but use discretion; in some ports, scanty dress is frowned upon. Use a mix-and-match approach to selecting clothes that allow for numerous combinations with a few items. Of course, bring a swimsuit and cover-up, as well as comfortable shoes with good traction, sunglasses, sunscreen, and sun hat. A sweater or windbreaker for breezy evenings on deck, as well as an umbrella or light rain gear, should complete your kit.

`Dine around' program in San Juan. The Condado Plaza and the El San Juan hotels in Puerto Rico have joined forces to offer their guests mealtime variety. Guests at either hotel can shuttle to the other to dine at their restaurants. The cost is $63 per person, per day, including transportation on a bus that departs each hour. For further information and reservations for the Condado Plaza call 800-568-8588 and for the El San Juan call 800-468-2818.

Leave the planning to the pros. When the Hyatt Regency Waikola, on the island of Hawaii, opens this month, guests will be able to ask for ``Vacations by Design.'' The hotel will coordinate and schedule events to suit travelers' interests. This means more time - well, a little anyway - to spend frolicking on the beach. The toll-free number for Hyatt Worldwide Reservations is 800-228-9000.

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Fall foliage in Colorado. Not to be outdone by other parts of the United States, 12 towns in southwestern Colorado have banded together to celebrate fall. ``Colorfest'' features art and culinary events, rodeos, bicycle tours, film and hang-gliding festivals, footraces, four-wheel-drive tours, and much more. Towns involved are Cortez, Durango, Ignacio, Mancos, Montrose, Ouray/Ridgway, Pagosa Springs, Purgatory, Silverton, Telluride, and Vallecito. For a calendar of events for this month and next, the latest on peak foliage dates, and recommended tour routes, you can contact the Telluride Chamber Resort Association, PO Box 653, Telluride, CO 81435; tel. (303) 728-3041.

Beat Japan's high costs. To keep travel costs down, Visitours Inc. and Japan Air Lines (JAL) have developed a 10-day program, ``Three Faces of Japan Tour,'' that takes in the cities of Tokyo, Beppu, and Kyoto. The tour will depart twice monthly through next April. The starting price of $1,699 per person includes some meals, sightseeing, and hotels. Call a travel agent or JAL for more details.

Fun for kids on cruises. Carnival Cruise Lines offers onboard activities for children year-round. Kids are divided into a ``Junior'' program (4 to 12 years old), and a ``Teen'' program (from 13 up). In addition to planned activities, children can use the onboard playrooms, children's pools, and game rooms. Carnival also welcomes babies to its infant facilities and provides baby sitters for a nominal fee. The fare for children under 17 sharing a cabin with two adults is $195 for a week-long cruise, or $95 and $125 for the three- or four-day cruise. Contact a travel agent for specifics.

Great walks in the US. Gary Yanker, a leading expert on walking for exercise and recreation, has traveled the US looking for America's greatest scenic paths. He compiled a list of of his 10 favorite walks for the June-July issue of AARP's Modern Maturity magazine. Included in the list are Palisades Park, Santa Monica, Calif.; Assateague Island, Va. and Md.; Steep Rock, Conn.; the Long Trail, Vt.; Fifth Avenue in New York City; Golden Gate Promenade in San Francisco; the Freedom Trail in Boston; Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania; the Historic District in Savannah, Ga.; and Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.

Murder in luxury. Travel across the continent by train with a famous mystery writer. Blyth & Co. is offering a New York-Los Angeles ride in private rail cars with Dick Francis, the superlative mystery writer, as well as a Toronto-Vancouver journey with the incomparable P.D. James. The Dick Francis trip starts Oct. 23 and costs $2,495; the trip with Ms. James starts Oct. 7 and costs $1,895. For information, call Sam Blyth at (416) 964-2569.

New Zealand: One brochure does it all. Air New Zealand's Mount Cook Line's new brochure, ``Downunder Vacations,'' should eliminate the need to search through stacks of pamphlets for information. It tells about short-stay options, farm stays, and walking tours in New Zealand, as well as the ``Downunder Coach Pass'' (limitless coach travel within Australia and New Zealand). Contact a travel agent or the Mount Cook Line at 800-468-2665 from the US, or (213) 649-2882 from Canada.

N.Y.C. on a four-day package. Gray Line has come up with some all-inclusive rates for stays in New York City. The top-priced ($457, double occupancy), four-day, three-night package includes orchestra seats at a selected stage show, plus one other theater option; a choice of hotel accommodations; dinners at well-known restaurants; a sightseeing tour on land or water; and tickets to two New York attractions. Other packages start at $333 for four-day stays. For details, contact a travel agent.

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