Q: Do you have any thoughts for a trip, preferably in the western United States, for a group of women ages 45 to 80? We'd like a package so we can dine together, and we like activities such as hiking, yoga and horseback riding.
A: An upscale dude ranch may be a good option, or you could go with a tour operator that specializes in trips for women.
Tour operators include:
Adventure Women (800-804-8686, www.adventurewomen.com), founded in 1982, which caters to women over 30. The company has 17 trips scheduled for 2005, including a week at the 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Mont., on July 16-22; cost is $2,295 per person double.
Explorations in Travel (802-257-0152, www.exploretravel.com), which is geared toward women over 40. It will offer 20 trips next year, including a week-long hiking/rafting trip on the Klamath River in California on May 14-21 for $2,395 per person double.
Canyon Calling (928-282-0916, www.canyoncalling.com), for women over 30. In 2005, it has a dozen trips scheduled, including an Arizona itinerary to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell for $1,695 per person double.
Adventures in Good Company (877-439-4042, www.adventuresingoodcompany.com), a Baltimore company with 36 trips set for 2005. A New Mexico tour May 8-15, for example, starts at $1,459 per person double.
Q: I bought Samsonite luggage in January, but my red bags are now dirty. Are there any products I could use to clean my luggage and perhaps protect it from further staining?
A: For general care of soft luggage, Samsonite recommends spot cleaning with a mild soap (such as dish soap) and water. If this doesn't work, its product specifications recommend trying a "product used for spot removal on clothing such as Spray 'n Wash" or "a foam-type cleaner used to clean car mats or automobile carpets."
To clean hard luggage, Samsonite recommends using a gentle soap and warm water, rinsing well. "If you would like to wax the case after cleaning, any good silicone-base automobile or furniture polish will preserve the luster and add resistance to the covering," says its product-care brochure. "We do not recommend, however, that you try to clean the luggage with a combination cleaner-polish."
Nora Alonso, communications manager for Samsonite, said you could also try a "little bit of rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush or small brush" on stubborn stains, but test it in an inconspicuous place to make sure it won't discolor the bag.
Michele Marini Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association, said you might also try a product called Apple Polishes if the luggage is leather. Info: (800) 322-6569, www.applepolishes.com.