You may be eligible to use rental bicycles free during your travels in Germany this year.
The free bike program is offered to all travelers who hold valid German Rail Tourist Cards. German Rail Tourist Cards offer unlimited travel for 4, 9 or 16 days. A junior version of the pass is available for 9 or 16 days to anyone under age 26. The junior tickets are valid for unlimited second-class rail travel.
About 250 stations in Germany have bicycle rental facilities. Your train pass will allow you to use the stations' bike rentals free, and you are allowed to take one from one station and return it to a station in another area of the country.
German Rail Tourist Cards can be bought from travel agents in North America or at rail stations in Germany. The junior passes cost $75 for nine days or $95 for 16 days, when bought in North America.
In addition to unlimited rail travel, you can take advantage of several other extras when you have the train pass.
From now until November you can travel for free on the bus routes of the Touring Co. (Europabus) in Germany. This includes the Romantic Road and Castle Road.
Between mid-April and mid-October you can use some of the sightseeing steamers of the KD-German Rhine Line on the Rhine, Main and Mosel rivers.
Your ticket will also be honored for a reduced rate on round-trip rail travel to Berlin, and you get a free transit visa and a coupon for a free sightseeing tour of Berlin.
It's a good idea to contact the German National Tourist Office before you leave home. It publishes several free brochures designed specifically to help young travelers.
"Rendezvous in Germany" includes a brief description on youth travel services in 12 sections of the country. It includes tips on budget accommodations, eating activities and events. In the back of the booklet you'll find a detailed map of the country showing locations of youth hostels, castles, rail and ferry services, and tourist information offices.
"Young People's Guide to Munich" is a detailed guide to the city that includes maps and covers transportation services, youth accommodations, bicycle rentals, tourist sights, entertainment, food services and travel agencies that specialize in students and youth.
Free copies of the brochures are available from the German National Tourist Office, 444 S. Flower St., Suite 2207, Los Angeles 90071.
One of the most popular youth travel adventures is Operation Raleigh, a four-year round-the-world expedition involving 40 nations and 4,000 venturers between ages 17 and 24.
Prince Charles is patron of the project, which places the young travelers on science expeditions and social projects, for three-month periods in some of the most remote areas of the world.
Projects include studying blind dolphins in the Indus River, helping to build a school in Kenya and diving for shipwrecks off the coast of Africa.
A total of about 1,000 young Americans will be able to participate. The one drawback is the cost. Young venturers will be responsible for raising $5,500 each. Some scholarship money is available.
From the applicants, small groups are chosen for challenging selection weekends, which are held around the country.
For details contact Operation Raleigh at 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, N.C. 27611; phone (919) 733-9366.