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Youth Beat

Networking Through Atlanta Streets

June 19, 1988|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

ATLANTA — This Southern city is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the United States, but it doesn't have student residences, hostels or central motels that can provide inexpensive lodgings for young visitors.

Four years ago the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau tried to solve this problem. It formed an International Youth Travel Program, the only one of its kind in the United States.

Arrangements have been made with five central tourist-class hotels to cut rates and provide affordable, clean, safe accommodations. Rates are $22 single and $27 double a night. But there is a hefty 11% hotel tax.

The program was created to assist students from foreign countries. About 138 young travelers from Japan took advantage of the program last year. Also Americans and many visitors from France, England, West Germany and 12 other countries.

Wait for Reservations

To participate, visit the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau office on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Its address is 233 Peachtree St. N.E., Suite 2000, Harris Tower. Reservations are made while you wait.

Ask the visitors bureau for a free copy of the "Atlanta and Georgia Visitors Guide." It offers information on sightseeing and how to use the public transportation system, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

Rapid transit is a bus and rail system running through the city for 75 cents a ride. In addition, the rapid-rail system operates from the airport into the city center.

With MARTA you can reach a variety of economical tourist attractions, such as a behind-the-scenes look at Cable News Network headquarters, or you can get to meeting points for walking tours offered by the Atlanta Preservation Center.

A variety of 90-minute, $3 tours are being offered every day until October, except Fridays, holidays and when it rains.

Many young travelers are visiting Georgia because it's popular for "drive away" vehicles. Drive-away companies provide cars to those willing to drive to a specific destination. The telephone directory, under Automobile Transporting Companies, lists such businesses.

The usual arrangement is that you get a car and a tank of gas. You must travel a determined distance each day, from 350 to 400 miles, and pay the rest of your fuel expenses.

Your best chance of getting a vehicle is if you are traveling across the country or on a north-south route. Spring and fall are the busiest seasons.

Most companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old because of insurance requirements.

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