TRIP TIP

Unlocking the truth

In a recent story, I noted that because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) must be able to inspect bags, it is best to keep them unlocked or to use a TSA-approved lock, which screeners can open with a key. "I cannot tell you how many TSA-approved locks I have had cut off by screeners. Apparently they didn't get the memo that they have a key," reader Kathy Burke of Chanhassen wrote in an e-mail. Kathryn Christenson of St. Peter, Minn., phoned to say that her TSA-approved lock was slashed by inspectors in England. "I think you should tell people that those locks are for travel in the United States only," she said. Good point. So perhaps the best advice is to follow Burke's example: "I now use a twist tie to 'lock' my luggage," she wrote.

KERRI WESTENBERG

book brief

Travel writer revisited

Anglo-Welsh travel writer Jan Morris is one of the best known and most beloved of contemporary members of that profession. In "Traveling Genius: The Writing Life of Jan Morris" (University of South Carolina Press, $39.95), author Gillian Fenwick examines the canon of Morris' writing, including her writing methods, to explore both the person and the professional. She also discusses Morris' ardent Welsh nationalism and how it affects her work. Fenwick maintains that three places greatly influenced Morris: Oxford, England, and Venice and Trieste, Italy. Fans of Morris and her work will relish this book.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

WEB WATCH

ONLINE TRAVEL TOOL IMPROVES

On the heels of partnering with the professional networking group LinkedIn, TripIt.com has solidified itself as a leading trip management tool. TripIt builds a master itinerary that contains all your travel information, including maps, weather, restaurants and confirmation numbers for flights, hotels, trains, cruises and car rentals. You can access it from e-mail, a personal calendar or a mobile device. When I first encountered TripIt, I didn't think I traveled enough to make it worthwhile. Several weekend jaunts and one car-rental problem later, and I'm sold. Now I simply e-mail my confirmations to planstripit.com, and I become a model of efficiency. The service is free, but takes time to figure out. Use the TripIt Help page for quick-start guides.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

HOLIDAY CHEER

The gift of travel

BedandBreakfast.com sells Getaway Gift Cards online in amounts from $25 to $2,000, and in $50 and $100 denominations in many retail stores. Visit the website or call 1-800-462-2632. Gift cards can be printed instantly online or mailed with free shipping with a complimentary 64-page directory worth $5.95.

BOSTON GLOBE

REOPENING: CHICAGO

Water Tower Place

After more than a year of extensive renovations, Chicago's Water Tower Place has not only updated its look-- including a new grand staircase and revamped food areas -- but also added eight stores to its retail mix. Look for trendy clothing hot shops Forever 21, Aritzia, CUSP and Betsey Johnson. A 52,000-square-foot American Girl flagship store is celebrating its opening Thursday with a day of ice skating at Navy Pier followed by dinner at the American Girl Place Cafe. (For reservations, call 1-877-247-5223.) Other promotions can be found at www.shopwatertower.com.

ELIZABETH LARSEN

SIDEROADS

HOWLING GOOD TIME IN ELY

It's wolf country in Ely, Minn., and the International Wolf Center is offering "Mush With Dogs and Howl With Wolves" Jan. 23 through 25. On Friday participants will learn how wolves communicate and take a field trip to test their howling skills. Saturday's schedule includes snowshoeing to look for wolves in the Superior National Forest and a program about wolf hunting and their feeding behavior. On Sunday visitors will spend a half day dog-sledding through the area's white-capped forest with White Wilderness Adventures. The cost is $470 per person for ages 16 and older and includes transportation, lodging, meals and activities (1-800-359-9653; www.wolf.org).

COLLEEN COLES