On location

Our expert steers you toward those famous movie settings you've always wanted to see, plus offers the lowdown on travel insurance, accessibility information and that elusive Dutch B&B.


Donald D. Groff
August 12, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

We enjoy stumbling onto old movie sets in our travels. Can you suggest guides to old movie locations?

Visiting the locations of movie settings has become a serious niche in the travel business. In Iowa, Madison County's annual bridge festival took on a new life after "The Bridges of Madison County" became a hit, and the baseball field from "A Field of Dreams" also remains one of that state's major attractions.

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More recently, Tunisia has tried to capitalize on the desert scenes filmed there for the "The Phantom Menace," the latest "Star Wars" movie.

A good guide to U.S. locations is the book "Shot on This Site" by William Gordon (Citadel Press, 1995). Its state-by-state chapters provide a guide to hundreds of films and their on-site shooting locations around the country, as well as TV locations and other points of interest.

Other movie-location books are "Hollywood East: Florida's Fabulous Flicks" (Tribune Publishing, 1992) by James Ponti and "Hollywood Goes on Location: A Guide to Famous Movie & TV Sites" (Pomegranate Press, 1988) by Leon Smith.

Movie-setting guides often can be obtained from tourism offices in movie-rich areas. The British Tourist Authority has an extensive brochure covering movie settings in the United Kingdom. Even Moab, Utah, has a brochure directing visitors to locations for numerous westerns and movies such as "Thelma and Louise."

Is it true that trip insurance doesn't protect you if a travel agency or tour company that you've given money to goes out of business?

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Don't count on trip insurance bailing you out if your tour company or travel agency runs into financial trouble and closes. Trip insurance protects you if something goes wrong and you can't make the trip for some reason -- but it doesn't cover a customer's losses caused by a travel agency or tour company going out of business.

If you're truly worried about the solvency of an agency or tour company you're considering using, get a new agency. If you simply want to be cautious, there are several things you can do.

  • Check if the agency is a member in good standing with a trade association such as the American Society of Travel Agents. If the company once belonged to the group but has let its membership lapse, ask why.

  • Use a credit card for all your payments. This protects you if problems arise before you take a trip.

  • Use a tour operator that belongs to the United States Tour Operators Association, which has a $1 million consumer protection plan covering its more than 50 members. The National Tour Association also has a protection program, and ASTA has an endorsement program that recognizes companies that meet certain minimum requirements.

    Many mobility-impaired people have been working and saving like most people and desire to travel. Why not -- as your last word when mentioning a destination -- indicate whether it is accessible, perhaps using the wheelchair logo that has become an international symbol for accessibility?

    Your suggestion is a worthy one, of course, and increasingly guidebooks and tourist-promotion agencies are including accessibility indicators in their material. But clearly it is going to take time for such notations to become universal, if ever they do.

    Part of the problem is awareness. There's no history among many publications for denoting accessibility, and unless those in control -- editors and design directors -- make a commitment, the use of such symbols will always be spotty at best.

    There's a practical consideration, too: the time and expense bugaboo. As you know, finding accessibility information isn't always easy. Like it or not, some publications aren't going to make the effort because it's not cost-effective. The fact is, a lot of other information is excluded from any story because of time and space limitations, too. Insensitivity isn't totally to blame.

    Recently I tried to determine whether someone who could not climb steps could be accommodated at the royal palace in Monaco. After several phone calls and e-mails to the Monaco tourism office, and two international calls to the palace itself, I still didn't have the full answer to my question. In other words, it's sometimes no snap of the fingers to find reliable information even when you have good intentions and make the effort.

    For the foreseeable future, disabled travelers and their proponents should lobby to increase awareness on this point while making efforts themselves to improve the breadth and quality of information available about accessibility. And I believe that's exactly what's happening.

    For instance, Global Access, a Network for Disabled Travelers, is one of several organizations that has dozens of worldwide firsthand travel reports from disabled travelers

    Global Access has a London section as well as a London guide in its travel books section.

    Another organization through which you can find many links is the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped.

    Where can we locate information about bed and breakfast lodgings in Amsterdam, Holland?

    Finding B&Bs on the Web is a bit tougher than locating hotels, resorts or other properties with big bucks behind them. But there are several B&B-oriented sites through which you can find B&Bs in cities abroad. Here are a few sites that have many international B&B listings, including those for Amsterdam:

  • International Bed and Breakfast Pages.

  • Travelguides.com.

    The Amsterdam Web site has an accommodations section that includes B&Bs.

    A guide to Internet B&B directories, including several international ones, is at Professional Association of Innkeepers International.


  • Donald D. Groff

    Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

    MORE FROM Donald D. Groff



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