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Crash Course in Low-Price Lodging : Travelers can take advantage of campus accommodations during school holidays.

March 15, 1992|LUCY IZON

You don't have to be a student to take advantage of the economically priced lodging available at hundreds of university and college residences during school holiday periods.

Many schools are prepared to rent out their empty rooms or small apartments to travelers. The cost is often less expensive than a hotel room, especially in city locations, but you may have to deal with some minor drawbacks.

For example, you might have to rent or provide your own linens, or you might have to share a washroom located down the hall. On the other hand, there can be some special advantages to staying in residences. For example, you may find that you have free use of the institution's parking and sports facilities, and that you have access to the same economical food services provided to the students.

For the past 12 years, Campus Travel Service has collected information on more than 700 residences around the world that welcome travelers. This year, the 76-page U.S. and World Wide Travel Accommodations Guide has been updated with a four-page insert detailing changes.

Listings in the guide include rates, the time periods that rooms are available, student and teacher discounts, restrictions (such as alcohol on campus and if children are allowed), who to contact to make reservations and activities in the area.

More than 400 residences in Canada and the United States have accommodations available. Rates, usually for single or twin rooms, average $12 to $24 per night.

Popular foreign destinations such as Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Vienna also have campus accommodations. For example, this year you can find single rooms at University College UCD Village in Dublin for about $27 per night. London is the one city where the rates have shot up in the last year. You can expect to pay at least $36 per night for residence lodging. Also included in the guide are addresses for bed and breakfast associations in North America and abroad, drive-away companies that need travelers to deliver cars, home exchange and youth hostel organizations and a listing of 43 YMCA-affiliated lodging centers in 39 North American cities and 26 overseas countries, which this year is offering single and twin accommodation at an average rate of $25 to $35 per room, per night.

Copies of the U.S. and World Wide Travel Accommodations Guide are available for $13, plus $1.50 for first-class postage, from Campus Travel Service, P.O. Box 8355, Newport Beach 92660.

Information on the 80 residences offering accommodations across Canada between April and late August also is available in "Sleeping Across Canada: Economical Accommodation at Universities and Colleges," by Keys Enterprises. Listings range from a room for a couple on Vancouver Island for $30, and 33 residences in Ontario, to information on how a senior couple can stay at the second-oldest university on the continent (Laval University, Quebec City) for $25, plus 15 residences in the Maritimes that welcome travelers. The booklet is available by mail for $5 from Keys Enterprises, Box 130, Grafton, Ontario, Canada KOK 2G0.

You may have heard stories about travelers being able to get great deals on air travel by working as couriers, and in some cases that's true. But before you commit yourself, you should thoroughly research fares to make sure that you are saving enough to make the restrictions you have to deal with worthwhile.

"I probably wouldn't do it again," said a traveler from Toronto who paid $375 in exchange for working as a courier on a return flight to London, England. She had signed up a month in advance, was limited to taking hand luggage only, was restricted to 10 days away and spent "forever" clearing seven bags of mail through customs on her return journey. Looking back, and considering price-war rates, she's decided "for a little bit extra I'd rather be able to stay longer and take more luggage."

The courier business was created because of a need by companies to have time-sensitive documents, and items such as medicine, delivered quickly. They clear customs faster when being sent as personal luggage.

Courier companies (see "international couriers" in your telephone directory) have been offering greatly reduced air fares to travelers, who have, in turn, been willing to travel with hand luggage so that the company can use its allotted luggage space.

However, the success of this system has hurt it for would-be couriers. As author Susan Griffith points out in "Work Your Way Around the World" (published by Vacation Work): "The industry is taking advantage of the huge supply of hopeful couriers by charging them a hefty portion of the fares, which they call an administration fee."

Your best bet these days is to shop around and compare the cheapest flights available before committing. Remember, it's possible to travel on inexpensive charter flights from many major U.S. cities without having to buy a tour package. Often a good place to investigate cheap fares is through student travel agencies. Many of the products they offer are also available to non-students.

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