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When Going Got Tough, Students Kept Going : Do-It-Yourself Tourists Return Home

July 22, 1987|DOUG BROWN | Times Staff Writer

Seven Orange County students who learned midway through a European tour that their prepaid hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation had been canceled because their travel agency had not sent money to cover the costs are back home today, having turned their misfortune "into a learning experience about how to get around Europe."

The students, most of them June graduates of Costa Mesa's Estancia High School, returned Monday night. They were unable to come back immediately after being told of their financial plight 10 days ago because of restrictions on their return airline tickets, said Geraldine Lumian, an Estancia teacher who chaperoned the group.

The Costa Mesa teen-agers were able to continue with a scaled-down version of their planned three-week tour by using the $250 in cash that each was carrying and by running up individual tabs of $250 with Lumian when she used her credit cards and checks to pay for hotel rooms and train tickets.

These costs were in addition to the $2,399 that each of the teen-agers had paid to the travel agency to handle trip arrangements. Lumian said the teen-agers' parents have agreed to reimburse her for the $1,750 that she is out of pocket.

'We Had a Good Time'

"On the whole, we had a good time," Lumian said Tuesday. "The kids were good-natured and positive. We turned it into something more than just a visit to historical and cultural sites; we made it into a learning experience about how to get around Europe."

The Costa Mesa teen-agers were identified by Lumian as Mike Amato, Maria Avila, Kayla Cornelison, Melinda Hunt and Robert Page, all of whom were graduated in June, plus Dwaine Hamilton, a 1985 graduate, and Russ Wilson, who will be a senior at Estancia in September.

Lumian identified Unique Discoveries in Los Angeles as the travel agency that failed to forward money to pay for the last half of the European trip. No one could be reached at Unique Discoveries, and repeated messages left with the company's answering service were not answered.

Lumian said students are in the process of filing written complaints with the state attorney general's office. Spokesmen for that office and the Los Angeles Police Department said they have received no other complaints about Unique Discoveries.

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