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Backpack & Budget : Ah, to be Carefree, Under 21 and Able to Rent a Car

August 21, 1994|LUCY IZON

Although minimum age restrictions on car rentals vary in European countries, it's rare for anyone under age 21 to be allowed to rent a car. Here's the exception.

Kemwel Group based in Harrison, N.Y., operates the Peugeot New Car Student Plan. You don't actually have to be a student to participate.

Kemwel can arrange the rental of a Peugeot for anyone 18 years and older who has a valid driver's license.

Kemwel has arranged with Peugeot for participants to receive a new car directly from the factory. The cars can be picked up in France, or for an extra charge in Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Rental agreements are for a minimum of two weeks.

Car rentals can be economical when a small group shares the expenses. It is important, however, that you consider luggage capacity and consumption of gas when you make your choice.

Fuel in Europe can be double the price it is in the United States or more.

Car rental advantages include having the flexibility to explore back roads not accessible to train and bus travelers, and not having to lug baggage to your hostel.

A major drawback is that you insulate yourself from exposure to local residents by not sharing their much-used forms of public transportation.

Rates for the Peugeot New Car Student Plan include free unlimited mileage, full non-deductible collision insurance, 24-hour roadside assistance and a complete new-car warranty.

An all-inclusive two-week rate for a Peugeot 106 four-door hatchback, for example, begins at $429 (or $107 per person, four sharing), tax and insurance included.

Compact and larger-sized cars are also available.

For further information, contact a travel agent or the Kemwel Group at (800) 678-0678.

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Travelers to England and Scotland who want to limit transportation costs but avoid trekking with their backpacks between train and bus stations and hostels can take an economical door-to-door bus service called the Slow Coach.

The Slow Coach covers a circular, scenic route from London to Windsor, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Lake District, Edinburgh, York and Cambridge before returning to London. In summer, it will stop between Edinburgh and York at the 2nd-Century remains of Hadrian's Wall.

You can start and stop where you want and take up to two months to complete the whole journey. Tickets can also be purchased for segments of the route.

The bus will deliver and pick up passengers from the doors of the youth hostels en route.

The driver carries a list of economical alternative bed and breakfasts, YMCA/YWCAs and campsites in case the youth hostel is full.

In summer, a Slow Coach visits each hostel almost every day. During the winter, the service drops to about twice a week.

The cost to cover the complete the 1,000-mile circuit is about $106. Tickets can be purchased at youth hostels en route.

In London, you can buy them at YHA Travel Centre, 14 Southampton St., London WC2, or get information by calling (0249) 891959. (From North America 011-44-249-891959.)

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