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Next Stop: Gold Medal Atlanta

May 26, 1996|LUCY IZON

The East Coast Explorer, the backpacker's bus service that operates between New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., will be adding a special three-day Olympics tour program this summer.

During the Olympic Games (held July 19 to Aug. 4 in Atlanta) the 14-passenger tour buses will travel from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla., and make a one-day stop in Atlanta en route.

The tour route winds through the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park before the stop in Atlanta. The $149 fare includes transportation, the services of a guide, and accommodation one night in a hostel and another night camping (equipment is provided). The third night is spent in transit.

For more details, contact the East Coast Explorer at (718) 694-9667 or (800) 610-2680 or the Florida Council-Hostelling International at (500) 443-5294.

The East Coast Explorer has begun its regular summer tour program along the back roads between New York, Boston and Washington.

Every Monday the bus travels from New York to Boston. The fare is $29 and stops are made at the Gillette Castle, Mystic Pizza and Newport, R.I.

Every Tuesday the bus travels from Boston to New York. Stops are made at Pioneer Valley, Sugarloaf Mountain and Pepsico Sculpture Park. The price is also $29.

On Thursdays the East Coast Explorer travels from New York to Washington. The price is $32 and a stop is made to visit the Amish people of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

On Fridays the bus goes from Washington to New York for $32. Stops are made at Newcastle, Del., Independence National Park in Philadelphia and Princeton University in New Jersey.

The 14-passenger bus will pick up and drop off passengers at most budget hostels and hotels.

The fare includes transportation, tolls and guide. Stops are made where passengers can purchase inexpensive meals (or you can bring your own).

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The 1996 edition of the "Hostel Handbook" is now available. It's a handy little 56-page booklet listing more than 570 places in the United States and Canada where you can stay very inexpensively.

Some of the facilities are affiliated with international networks, such as Hostelling International, and some are independent. Most listings are lean, containing little more than addresses, rates and a brief listing of amenities. Guidebooks are much better for insightful comments.

But this booklet is an inexpensive source of current information. While guidebooks are often researched the summer before a traveler uses them, this booklet was updated just several months before the peak summer travel period.

Travelers can buy the handbook at more than 200 hostels in the United States or Canada, or they can order it from Jim Williams, 722 St. Nicholas Ave., New York, NY 10031. The price is $2 per book, plus $1 shipping/handling.

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Travelers 16 through 25 can get a special break on British rail passes if they use them before June 15.

The BritRail Youth Flexipasses allow you to choose your own pace and travel any direction that you want. They are valid for rail travel in England, Scotland and Wales for any four or eight days in a one-month period, or any 15 days within a two-month period. Each day you can choose from 15,000 departures to more than 2,400 destinations.

A special 50% discount on Flexipasses is offered to those who complete their travel by June 15.

The pass that is valid for any four days of travel within one month is $80; for eight days within one month, it's $113; for 15 days of travel within two months, it's $170.

Passes must be purchased before you leave North America. For more details, speak to a travel agent or call BritRail direct at (800) 677-8585 or (212) 575-2667.

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