Festival of Books
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Festival of Books: Tips for travelers from safety expert Kevin Coffey

Visiting other countries should not be scary and compromise your safety. But if you take some basic precautions, it could save you a lot of headaches -- and your wallet.

In the "Street Smart, Street Safe" presentation Saturday at the Travel Smart Stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, former police detective and safety consultant Kevin Coffey gave a lively talk about how to stay safe while traveling overseas and around the U.S.

Coffey has done extensive research and makes presentations for traveling businessmen.

He was quick to point out that though most people are "honest law-abiding people," there have been pickpockets ever since they invented pockets to pick.

Coffey says travelers needs to plan for the "what-ifs" before heading to the airport.

For example: What will you do if you lose your credit cards, passport, keys and/or your medical information? Coffey recommends keeping your valuables with you in your carry-on bag rather than packing them in checked luggage.

"What if...

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Festival of Books: Pros share tips on travel deals; panel set for Sunday too

'More for Your Money: Finding Hotel and Airfare Deals" with Travel editor Catharine Hamm, Fly.com's Warren Chang and Trivago's Jon Eichelberger takes place 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Look for the Travel Smart Stage; the event is free.

If you’re looking for a good travel deal, check your email.

That's the advice given by travel experts Johnny Jet (a.k.a. John DiScala) and Gabe Saglie at Travelzoo on the “More for Your Money: Travel Bargains in 2015” panel Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Travel writer Jen Leo moderated the panel about how to stretch your vacation dollars.

The good news for Americans is that the dollar is strong this year. Saglie said Norwegian travel agents are "predicting that the dollar is stretching 30% more in Norway than it did a year ago.”

But back to those emails. Sign up with travel entities to get their deal alerts and newsletters, the pros said.

"The best way to find deals is to sign up to every single ariline,...

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Festival of Books: Cuba beyond the cliches; panel continues Sunday

"Moving Beyond the 'Cuba Cliche' and Getting to the Real Cuba" at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books repeats at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds will speak about Cuba with travel writer Catherine Watson. Look for Booth 47, also named the California Pavilion, on the corner of Trousdale Parkway and Downey Way at the festival at USC. The event is free.

For many Americans, Cuba is a mystery, a forbidden place that until now has been difficult to reach.

The small California Pavilion Stage at the Festival of Books on Saturday was packed with people eager to talk about Cuba now that President Obama has opened the door for us to peek in.

On Saturday, Times Assistant Managing Editor Alice Short, who recently visited Cuba, sat down with Catherine Watson, who has traveled to the island nation as a journalist several times since 1999.

Watson said she stopped going in 2003 because “it was just too sad to find so many bright, educated people who couldn’t get out.”


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Digiboo a movie-rental option for jet-setters

Think Redbox for jet-setters who prefer to download rather than stream. Say what? It's a new movie-rental option found in several airports in the U.S. and Canada.

Name: Digiboo

Available: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Requires iOS 6 or later. Also available for Android 2.3 or later on Google Play and Windows. Requires 4GB available space

Cost: The app is free; movie rentals are $4.99.

What it does: It's an app that works in conjunction with a digital rental kiosk.

What's hot: It was just what I needed at just the right time — on a 31/2-hour layover in Houston before the last leg of a return flight home. The kiosk directions were easy to understand, the app was quick to download to my smartphone and although the movie took 15 minutes to download, I was told in advance and continued because I had the time. The best part? I didn't have to rely on sluggish airport Wi-Fi because the Digiboo kiosk has its own.

What's not: User reviews are fairly poor on both the iTunes Store and Google Play....

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Letters: Add New Salem, Ill., to Abraham Lincoln's stops

It's incredible that the story "They're All Players in Lincoln's Story" [April 12], a collection of places associated with Abraham Lincoln, managed to omit Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site in Illinois, 22 miles northwest of Springfield and re-created on the site of the original New Salem, where Lincoln lived from 1831 to 1837.

During his time living in that frontier village, he was a general store owner, a soldier in the Black Hawk War, a postmaster and a surveyor. It was there that he was first elected to the Illinois state assembly.

As a bachelor who didn't own a home, he boarded for a time with my great-great-great-grandparents, Isaac and Susan Burner. Even then he was highly regarded by his fellow villagers.

During the summer of 2006 our family was delighted to attend the first-ever Descendants Reunion at New Salem. Before that the eyes of my sons would too often glaze over when I mentioned family history. They were so taken with their visit to the village and to the Burner...

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Travel tips at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books


Travel Smart Stage

Learn money-saving tips and hear Gavin MacLeod of "The Love Boat" on the Travel Smart Stage.

When, where: 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, USC

Admission, info: Free. latimes.com/FestivalofBooks



Hostelling International will conduct a workshop on how to travel safely and inexpensively to Australia and surrounding islands.

When, where: 7 p.m. Thursday at the REI store in Huntington Beach, 7777 Edinger Ave.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (310) 393-9913, Ext. 3104



John Marshall, author of the new memoir "Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives Forever," will discuss how he, his wife and two teenagers spent six months volunteering their way from country to country.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.



Diana Trombley will discuss the Kalimantan region of Borneo as...

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