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Ask T+L: Beginner Rafting, Parisian Apartment, Name Changes, Voluntourism

June 2007

Can you recommend rafting operators in North America that offer tours for any skill level? —Connie Bowers, Akron, Ohio

For beginner-friendly tours, check out O.A.R.S. (800/346-6277; www.oars.com; trips from $1,471). Their six-day Main Salmon River trip traverses Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. For a shorter, two-hour journey, try Inside Out Experience (877/999-7238; www.insideoutexperience.com; from $72) in the Canadian Rockies and ride the blue-green Elbow River with a guide. And Southeastern Expeditions (800/868-7238; www.southeasternexpeditions.com; trips from $79) leads a six-hour ride over a mellow 13 miles of Georgia’s Chattooga River, part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

What’s the best way to rent an apartment in Paris this summer? —John Fischer, Miami, Fla.

With both stateside and Paris offices, the husband-and-wife team behind Paris Perfect (415/287-3397; www.parisperfect.com; apartments from $1,309 per week) has more than 30 apartments in the Seventh Arrondissement, and they outfit them with a mix of antiques and contemporary furniture. Chez Vous (415/331-2535; www.chezvous.com; apartments from $1,820 per week) has been renting apartments in central Paris for 25 years, ranging from a one-bedroom in the Marais with a private terrace to a three-bedroom on the Left Bank. For more on renting an apartment abroad, see "Short-term Rentals 101."

I was recently married and took my husband’s name. Do I need to update my passport before I travel? —Wendy Ross, Los Angeles, Calif.

For any trips in the near future, the safest bet is to book plane tickets under your maiden name. Many airlines insist that the name on your ticket match your passport. If the names don’t match, call your airline to see whether they will allow you to check in using additional documentation. You can change your passport by mail, using form DS-82, as you would with a renewal, being sure to include an official copy of your marriage license. The $67 fee is waived if your passport is less than a year old (use a DS-5504 form). Forms and instructions can be found at www.travel.state.gov. The site also contains information on entry requirements at travel destinations. Processing currently takes up to 10 weeks, so attempting to do this before an immediate trip would be impractical unless you choose to pay a rush fee.

I’m interested in taking a volunteer vacation. Can you suggest a few options? —Doug Griffin, Portland, Oreg.

With Cross-Cultural Solutions (914/632-0022 or 800/380-4777; www.crossculturalsolutions.org; trips from $2,489), you can teach HIV/AIDS prevention, help healthcare workers promote basic hygiene and nutrition, or work for women’s rights—in one of 12 countries. Try Global Volunteers (651/407-6100 or 800/ 487-1074; www.globalvolunteers.org; trips from $1,595) if you want to teach conversational English, build homes, repair and paint classrooms, or improve health services in places like Jamaica, Peru, or Ghana. Looking for a green option? Global Vision International (888/653-6028; www.gviusa.com; from $2,625) pioneers environmental preservation efforts such as conducting wildlife research in the South African bush, surveying the patterns of nesting sea turtles in the Seychelles, or gathering biodiversity data in the rain forests of Costa Rica.

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