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Backpack & Budget

Students: The Privileged Class

October 23, 1994|LUCY IZON

Full-time students are eligible for thousands of special discounts when traveling, ranging from reductions on bus travel in Australia to free entrance to all of the national museums of Spain. Identity cards issued by individual schools are not always honored in foreign countries, though. The only internationally recognized proof of student status is the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) and 1995 versions of the card are now available.

The ISIC (pronounced "eye-zic") was created in 1968 by the ISIC Assn. (a network of more than 120 student organizations in 82 countries) so that businesses offering discounts to foreign students would not have to deal with the thousands of different styles of identification issued around the world.

Members of ISIC have negotiated discounts on travel goods and services, including airline fares, rail, bus and ferry prices; discounted and free entry to museums, art galleries, historical sites and sites of cultural importance; accommodations and meals, sports and entertainment.

In 1993, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization offered its support for the ISIC. Through cooperation with UNESCO, World Heritage sites, museums and galleries, as well as a wide range of cultural events, can now be made accessible to ISIC holders. Here's the kind of difference getting a student discount can make. During a recent visit to Vienna, I found that for students the entrance fee to the main building of the Kunsthistorisches Museum was reduced by nearly half to $4.

Even when a business does not indicate a student discount you should always ask if one is available; they may have discounts for local students that they will also offer you. Student discounts reach to the far corners of the world, ranging from discounted backpacker accommodations in Capetown South Africa to a 40% reduction at the Vatican Museum.

Closer to home, discounts are available at more than 6,000 hotels in North America. This includes Days Inns, Econo Lodges, Comfort Inns, Scottish Inns, Quality Inns, Ramada Inns and Howard Johnson's.

Card-holders also receive a 10% discount on AT&T services, service-charge-free traveler's checks, a free trial month on CompuServe, a $10 American Express Money-Gram rebate, basic sickness and accident insurance, plus access to a 24-hour, toll-free hot line that can provide help in case of a medical, financial or legal emergency while abroad.

The ISIC issued now will remain valid until Dec. 31, 1995. The price is $16. To obtain an ISIC, or a similar-styled International Teacher Identity Card ($17) in the Los Angeles area, contact: Council Travel, 1093 Broxton Ave., Suite 220, Westwood, Calif. 90024; telephone (310) 208-3551, or STA Travel at 920 Westwood Blvd., Westwood, Calif. 90024; tel. (310) 824-1574.

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