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Adventure Tours

In the U.S. -- For overall adventure travel, including skiing, hiking, and biking, the best bet is Borton Overseas, 5412 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55419 (tel. 800/843-0602 or 612/822-4640; www.bortonoverseas.com), which offers sea kayaking and backpacking expeditions in Sweden. Tours should be arranged before you go.

In the U.K. -- The oldest travel agency in Britain, Cox & Kings, Gordon House 10, Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1PH (tel. 020/7873-5000; www.coxandkings.co.uk), was established in 1758; at that time, the company served as the paymasters and transport directors for the British armed forces in India. Today the company sends large numbers of travelers from Britain throughout the rest of the world and specializes in unusual -- if pricey -- holidays. Scandinavian tours include cruises through the region's spectacular fjords, bus and rail tours through sites of historic and aesthetic interest, and visits to the best-known handicraft centers, Viking burial sites, and historic churches. The company's staff focuses on tours of ecological and environmental interest.

Those who would like to cycle their way through the splendors of Scandinavia should join Britain's oldest and largest association of bicycle riders, the Cyclists' Touring Club, Cotterell House, 69 Meadrow, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3HS (tel. 0844/736-84-51; www.ctc.org.uk). Founded in 1878, it charges £35 ($70) a year for membership, which includes information, maps, and a subscription to a newsletter packed with practical information and morale boosters, plus recommended cycling routes through virtually every country in Europe. The organization's information bank on scenic routes through Scandinavia is especially comprehensive. Membership can be arranged over the phone with an appropriate credit card (such as MasterCard, Visa, Access, or Barclaycard).

Learning Vacations

One good source of information about courses in Sweden is the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), River Plaza, 9 W. Broad St., Stamford, CT 06902 (tel. 866/906-2437; www.aifs.org). This organization can set up transportation and arrange for summer courses, with room and board included.

The biggest organization dealing with higher education in Europe is the Institute of International Education (IIE), 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212/883-8200; www.iie.org). A few of its booklets are free, but for $47 (£24), plus $6 (£3) for postage, you can purchase the more definitive Short Term Study Abroad. Visitors to New York can use the resources of its Information Center, which is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 11am to 4pm. The institute is closed on major holidays.

One recommended clearinghouse for academic programs throughout the world is the National Registration Center for Study Abroad (NRCSA), 823 N. Second St., P.O. Box 1393, Milwaukee, WI 53201 (tel. 414/278-0631; www.nrcsa.com). The organization maintains language-study programs throughout Europe.

Home Stays

Friendship Force International (FFI), 34 Peachtree St., Suite 900, Atlanta, GA 30303 (tel. 404/522-9490; www.friendshipforce.org), is a nonprofit organization that fosters and encourages friendships among people worldwide. Dozens of branch offices throughout North America arrange en masse visits, usually once a year. Because of group bookings, the airfare to the host country usually is less than the cost of individual tickets. Each participant spends 2 weeks in the host country -- one as a guest in the home of a family, and another traveling throughout the country.

Servas, 1125 16th St., Ste. 201, Arcata, CA 95521 (tel. 707/825-1714; www.usservas.org), is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental, interfaith network of travelers and hosts whose goal is to help promote world peace, goodwill, and understanding. (Its name means "to serve" in Esperanto.) Servas hosts offer travelers hospitality for 2 days. Travelers pay an $85 (£43) annual fee and a $25 (£13) list deposit after filling out an application and being approved by an interviewer. (Interviewers are located across the United States.) They then receive Servas directories listing the names and addresses of Servas hosts.

Home Exchanges -- One of the most exciting breakthroughs in modern tourism is the home exchange. Home exchanges cut costs: You don't pay hotel bills, and you also can save money by shopping in markets and eating in. Sometimes even the family car is included. Of course, you must be comfortable with the idea of having strangers in your home, and you must be content to spend your vacation in one place. Also, you may not get a home in the area you request.

Intervac, U.S. & International, 30 Corte San Fernando, Tiburon, CA 94920 (tel. 800/756-HOME [4663] or 415/435-3497; www.intervacus.com), is part of the largest worldwide exchange network. It publishes four catalogs a year, containing more than 10,000 homes in more than 50 countries. Members contact each other directly. The cost is $65 to $195 (£33-£98) plus postage, which includes the purchase of three of the company's catalogs (which will be mailed to you), plus the inclusion of your own listing in whichever one of the three catalogs you select.

Home Link International (tel. 800/638-3841; www.homelink.org) will send you five directories per year -- one of which contains your listing -- for $80 (£40).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.