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Backpack & Budget

Discounts for Card-Carrying Youths and Students

December 17, 1995|LUCY IZON

Thousands of discounts are available to students and young travelers who carry internationally recognized identification.

Students heading for Europe, for example, will find their international identification entitles them to half-price entrance fees at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. In Rome, students will save 40% at the Vatican Museum, and a similar discount is available at the museum at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

Some services that offer student reductions will not accept the identity cards issued by individual schools. But a single, uniform card, called the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), to be recognized worldwide, was created in 1968. It's administered and distributed by members of the International Student Travel Conference (ISTC), a network of not-for-profit organizations that negotiate with airlines, governments and other service providers for student benefits around the world.

The card is now carried by students in more than 90 countries. David Jones, ISTC director general, says that 2.2 million cards are issued a year. In recent years the ISTC has offered grants to increase the number of discounts available for students traveling in Asia. The ISTC is focusing on increasing coverage in Latin America.

Here are some of the discounts available to ISIC cardholders:

* VIA Rail Canada has introduced a 40% discount on economy-class travel anywhere at any time.

* In Australia, Qantas, Ansett, Greyhound/Pioneer and Bus Australia offer reductions from 20% to 25%.

* In Turkey, student travelers can expect a 30% reduction on rail travel, plus special rates on some buses and at museums.

Other services honoring the card include AT&T and Ruesch travelers' checks. Cardholders also receive basic sickness and accident insurance coverage.

Cardholders receive the ISIC Handbook '96, which includes samples of discounts available in the United States and a listing of affiliated student/youth/budget travel agencies worldwide.

Non-students under the age of 26 are also eligible for many special discounts. The 20-year-old internationally recognized card that is honored for youth discounts in more than 50 countries is called a Go25 Card. Its discounts include: ferry travel in Greece, budget accommodations in Hong Kong, tours in Israel and sea passage from Denmark to Britain, Holland, Belgium, France and the Faroe Islands. It's administered by the Federation of International Youth Travel organizations (FIYTO) and is endorsed by UNESCO. The Go25 card is valid for one year from date of purchase.

A 24-hour Help Line is available for both ISIC and Go25 cardholders. The toll-free hotline offers pre-departure information on required immunizations. During your travels you can access it for assistance with medical, financial and legal emergencies. Using the hotline is free, but the services of the people you contact are not.

ISTC and Go25 cards cost $18 each. Both cards are sold by Council Travel and STA Travel offices nationwide. ISIC cards are also sold at 475 colleges and universities.

To locate your closest Council Travel office, call (212) 661-1414, Ext. 1109. STA Travel can be contacted at (800) 777-0112.

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