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The Mature Traveler

Some Friendly Vacations via the Hostel Route

June 19, 1988|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

Mature travelers high on energy and low on cash might want to investigate the travel and tour opportunities offered by American Youth Hostels, which is now in its 54th year.

Partly because many of its more than 80,000 members have simply grown older with the organization and partly from the growing realization that there are thousands of active travelers 50 and older who like such trips, the organization now sets aside some of its 65 tour itineraries and departure dates for mature travelers only.

This doesn't mean that the trips are for all mature travelers. Far from it. The trips are still for the more active, more adventuresome, those who enjoy bicycle tours and hiking. Accommodations are in the organization's hostels or budget-priced inns and hotels; meals are often group efforts. Tour members make their own beds and often tote their own bags.

On the other hand, prices are attractive. But the pleasure is also in the sharing of a life style with others who enjoy the same type of trips.

This year the organization's World Adventure Trip catalogue has many trips and tours with multiple departure dates. Various departures are targeted for specific age groups: youth (ages 12 to 18), adult (18 and older) and mature (50 and older). A fourth and final category, open, is for all ages.

Offerings for 1988

A brief rundown on the organization's trips for mature travelers this year:

Europe: by van and staying in European hostels. European Roundabout, 16 days, $1,785, including air fare from the East Coast. Visiting Luxembourg; Amsterdam; Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Munich, West Germany; Salzburg, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland, and Dijon and Paris, France. July 30 to Aug. 14.

Also: European Spotlight, 36 days, $3,200, including air fare from the East Coast. Extensive tour by trains, ferries, vans and Rhine River cruise. Includes London, Paris and other destinations through Switzerland, Austria, West Germany, Italy and Holland. Uses hotels as well as hostels. Sept. 7 to Oct. 12.

United States: Your choice of 50-plus van tours for fall foliage in New England, visiting all five states in a leisurely two-week tour and stopping at hostels and inns.

Fall foliage van trips cost $735 per person and are set for Sept. 28 to Oct. 11, Oct. 2-15 and Oct. 8-21.

A van tour called the Northwest Borderline, visiting Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, in addition to Vancouver and Victoria, Canada, is priced at $735 per person. The 16-day tour leaves from Portland, Ore., with accommodations at the organization's hostels.

Trips for Bikers

Cycling enthusiasts will find two trips for the 50-plus groups of AYH. The Big Cheese consists of nine days touring Wisconsin, using hostels and including some camping. It costs $285, leaves from Madison and is set for June 11-19. Also: Pedaler's Palette, nine days of touring Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, stopping at hostels and hotels. It's priced at $420 per person, departing from Boston, Oct. 8-16.

A nine-day backpacking trip for mature travelers is called the Bay Stroller. It's an easy-to-take hiking tour from San Francisco along the coast to Point Reyes and back, using coastal hostels, including one in an old lighthouse. Cost is $445, departing from San Francisco. Dates are Aug. 6-14.

A bit more limited, as good physical condition and the ability to swim is a requirement, is an adventure trip called the Florida Fling. This two-week trip includes canoeing, cycling, snorkeling and sailing in southern Florida, including the Everglades and Florida Keys. Cost is $890 with two departures next April, so there is plenty of time to learn more about this trip before signing on.

Details about all trips, along with basic information on the American Youth Hostels, is in the "World Adventure Trip" catalogue.

To obtain a free copy, write to American Youth Hostels, National Office, P.O. Box 37613, Washington, D.C. 20013-7613. Or you can stop at the Los Angeles Council, American Youth Hostels, 335 West 7th St., San Pedro. In addition to the catalogue, there's also a good range of free travel material available at the San Pedro office, along with excellent travel guides and maps.

The San Pedro office also will conduct a series of travel workshops every Saturday at 1 p.m. in July. The workshops are geared to budget travel. Europe will be the topic on July 2, 16, 23 and 30. Budget travel in Australia and New Zealand will be discussed on July 9 and 23. A $3 donation is requested, and reservations are suggested. Information: (213) 831-8846.

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Also making a pitch for mature travelers on wilderness rafting trips in Idaho and Oregon is River Odysseys West, which says its itineraries aimed at seniors offer scenic float trips with moderate white water and no experience required.

"Each year about 20% of our guests are over 65 years old," says owner-operator Peter Grubb, "and even more age 50 and older.

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