Q A few years ago, my passport got very wet. Now the automatic readers at passport control sometimes can't read it. In those cases, passport control has just entered my number into their computers. But on my recent return to the States, the guy at the airport told me I needed to replace my passport (which doesn't expire for five years) or some foreign countries might not admit me. What do you think?

A He's right. Although you may not have problems coming in and out of the States, some countries are very strict about damaged or mutilated passports. Get a new one.

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Q My husband and I want to do a small group trip to Southeast Asia next year, hopping around to at least three destinations. Is two weeks enough time? Is it better to go through a travel agent or plan it ourselves?

A You can make it easy and have a travel operator organize the whole trip, from flights to hotels to tours, or you can book the flights, then get help with day tours and smaller details, such as train passes. For Asia, planning the trip yourself can be a challenge because of language and time differences. Also, you might be packing too many places into two weeks. Spend the entire time in Japan, or do Vietnam and Cambodia, or Singapore and Malaysia.