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SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR WOMEN WHO TRAVEL By Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer O'Reilly and Associates 147 pp., $12.95

Travel writers Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer cut right to the point: Women face different traveling challenges than men do. It's no slight to the gender, just a fact of modern-day travel.

But what becomes clear in "Safety and Security for Women Who Travel" is that, with some preparation and common sense, travel-itinerary hiccups can be eased. While in the opening pages, you may feel briefly compelled to hire an armed guard before embarking, keep reading. Once past the initial tone of alarm and focus on medical issues, the book is a cache of valuable advice.

You won't find a single recommendation on the most romantic spot in Paris or the best place to sample sushi in Tokyo. But the advice inked here - like how to deal with aggressive officials - could be far more useful.

Each chapter follows the same pattern - an introduction followed by several pages of bulleted tips peppered with amusing vignettes of travel snafus and practical suggestions from recreational travelers. Tips cover everything from what to do before you even board the plane to driving in a foreign country and finding your "scene" in a new city.

But among the exhortations, keep travel's true purpose in focus, the authors say. It's a mind-broadening experience that shouldn't be threatened by excessive worry or naivet.

They write, "We hope this book will help women travelers find an important delicate balance: enough consciousness ... to help you get home healthy and happy without raising your anxiety level so that the journey becomes an exercise in paranoia and avoidance of those things that make travel so rewarding."

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