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Youth Beat

Summer Economizing in Iceland

February 22, 1987|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

Students considering stopovers in Iceland during the summer of 1987 can get help in continuing inexpensively by sea from Iceland's student travel service. It has arranged special discounts on ferry travel to the Faroe Islands, Norway, Denmark and the Shetland Islands.

Between June 7 and Sept. 6 travelers who have International Student Identity Cards can arrange to make the 18-hour ferry trip from Seydisfjordur, Iceland, to the Faroe Islands for 745 IKr (about $23 U.S.) one way. The cost to travel from the same point to Bergen, Norway, is 1170 IKr ($36); to Hanstholm, Denmark, 1345 IKr ($41).

A further 25% discount is available to students traveling between June 7 and 20 or between Aug. 30 and Sept. 9.

Student Travel Aid

Iceland Student Travel is at University Center, Hringbraut, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland. Through this organization students can also get discounts on travel within the country. For example, between June 1 and Sept. 9 students can get a 5% discount on special bus "passports."

The Full Circle Passport can be used for travel around the main road (ring route) of the island. You can take up to a year to complete the journey but you can only travel in one direction. The cost is $97 U.S.

The Omnibus Passport is valid for unlimited travel on all scheduled bus routes but it does have a time limit. A seven-day pass costs $115, 14-day tickets $140, 21-day passes $180 and the 30-day version $200. This pass will also be honored for some discounts on lodging (including campgrounds and youth hostels), tours and ferries.

Sleeping Cheaply

You can also keep your lodging expenses low by using several services including campgrounds, 18 youth hostels and country hotels, which can provide sleeping-bag accommodations for budget travelers for as little as $6 a night. In uninhabited areas there are also hut shelters available, which are owned by the Touring Club of Iceland.

Another inexpensive lodging service is the "Sleep as You Please" voucher program. It allows you to buy a minimum of seven nights of budget-priced sleeping-bag accommodations in a selection of 29 summer hotels, dormitories or farmhouses. In 1986 the price for seven vouchers was $60.

You can write to the Iceland tourist information office in New York for further information about the voucher program, trekking trips and budget car rental packages, which include dormitory lodging or camping equipment.

For example, in 1986 two people could rent a VW Jetta with 62 free miles a day, third-party liability insurance, sales tax, delivery and camping equipment for $226 each, for six days. If you wanted the same vehicle but lodging in dormitory accommodations, the cost was $263 per person.

Budget travelers who want to join a guided trek will find that one of the least expensive is the six-day Iceland Mini-Safari, which costs $265. It departs every Monday between June 30 and Aug. 18. The fee for this trip includes guide service and meals. The emphasis is on walking but a kitchen van accompanies each tour.

Because of the Gulf Stream, Iceland's summers are cool and the winters are mild. The average mid-summer afternoon temperature in the populated lowlands is 50 to 54 degrees. So keep in mind that you'll be most comfortable in lightweight woolens, sturdy shoes and a rainproof coat. Also pack a swimsuit for use in the numerous hot springs.

One of the many things that makes Iceland intriguing is that from the end of May until the beginning of August there is daylight almost around the clock. In the capital, Reykjavik, only two hours separate sunset from sunrise.

You'll also discover that in Reykjavik and many other towns natural hot water is so plentiful that it's used to heat houses and swimming pools. In fact, the word geyser was derived from Great Geysir in Haukadalur.

Campers looking for wildlife will also learn that with the exception of the reindeer, arctic fox and mink all wildlife in Iceland is winged. There are about 800 species of insects but no ants, reptiles or amphibians.

For further information on Iceland contact the Iceland Tourist Board, 655 Third Ave., New York 10117.

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