A subscription to a good travel newsletter can often pay for itself many times over by saving you money and time-consuming research. A newsletter can alert you to the best deals while steering you away from vacation spots that look fabulous in print but not in reality.

Of the 100 or more travel-oriented newsletters on the market, we think a handful rate serious consideration:- Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report (P.O. Box 50, Sun Valley, ID 83353; 406-862-34800); (www.

hideawayreport.com):

Harper combs the globe for out-of-the-way vacation utopias. He learns about most of the travel Edens he features from his loyal readers, many of whom are top business executives. The newsletter's Hotel and Travel Watch reports readers' thumbs up or down on the world's finest hotels and resorts. A one-year subscription is $125.

- Best Fares Discount Travel Magazine (1-800-880-1234); (www.

bestfares.com):

No one seems to have the inside scoop on the airline business and its ever-changing discounted offers like editor Tom Parsons. His month-ly, 64-page publication is chock full of more than 300 airline deals even the best-informed traveler rarely sees or hears advertised. A one-year subscription is $59.95.

- Consumer Reports Travel Letter (1-800-234-1970):

Like the magazine of the same name, this newsletter investigates and evaluates travel bargains. The publication's reader-friendly layout features easy-to-follow comparison charts. A one-year subscription is $39.

- The Educated Traveler (P.O. Box 220822, Chantilly, VA 20153; 800-648-5168); (www.educatedtraveler.com):

Designed for those with special interests and a zest for experiential learning, Educated Traveler highlights tours designed to explore culture and history in various parts of the world. Editor Ann Waigand provides detailed descriptions of learning vacations, tours and workshops. A one-year subscription is $48.

- The Mature Traveler (P.O. Box 50400-RF, Reno, NV 89513):

Mature Traveler lists hundreds of travel discounts for seniors and exposes many not-so-great deals. A year's subscription is $29.95.