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Backpack & Budget

Don't Leave Home Without ID Card

July 28, 1996|LUCY IZON

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

The International Student Identity Card is recognized worldwide. Students heading for Europe this year, for example, will find this identification entitles them to half-price entrance fees at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. In Rome, students will save 40% on the cost of visiting the Vatican Museums, and a similar discount is available for visiting the museum at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

The card is administered and distributed by the International Student Travel Conference , a network of nonprofit organizations that negotiates with airlines, governments and other service providers for student benefits.

The ISIC is carried by students in more than 90 countries. David Jones, director general of the ISTC, says that 2.2 million are issued a year.

In recent years, the ISTC has offered grants to increase the number of discounts available to students traveling in Asia. Currently, the ISTC is trying to increase its coverage in Latin America and is also in discussions with UNESCO in the hopes of arranging a blanket discount at all World Heritage Sites. And the organization is also trying to arrange international work exchange programs connected to the sites.

The ISTC has a home page at http://www.istc.org on the Internet. By the end of this month, the updated online discount listings will cover about 15,000 special deals worldwide. Keep in mind that other transportation services, accommodation facilities and cultural sites may offer a reduction even if it's not posted. It's always wise to just pull out your card and ask.

Here are some of the discounts available with the card:

* VIA Rail Canada introduced a 40% discount on economy-class travel, anywhere at any time. The reduced tickets are sold at selected VIA Rail stations and through the national student travel service.

* In Australia, Quantas, Ansett, Greyhound/Pioneer and Bus Australia offer reductions ranging 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.

* In Egypt, a 50% discount is offered at state museums, state archeological sites and on some rail services.

* In Latvia, students are offered a 40% reduction on ferry travel to Scandinavia and Germany.

* In New Zealand, a 10% discount is offered on Kiwi Experience and Magic Bus (backpacker) bus services.

* In Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Travelex--the world's largest operator of passenger terminal Bureaux de Change--offers a commission-free foreign service to all ISIC cardholders. You can find them at airports and retail outlets.

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.

Nonstudents under 26 are also eligible for many special discounts around the world. The 20-year-old internationally recognized card that is honored for youth discounts in more than 50 countries is called a Go25 Card. Cardholders' discounts include: ferry travel in Greece, budget accommodation 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 and is endorsed by UNESCO. The Go25 card is valid for one year from date of purchase.

Both ISIC and Go25 cardholders can use a toll-free 24-hour Help Line that offers pre-departure information on required immunizations, and assistance with medical, financial and legal emergencies. Using the hotline is free, but the services of the people you contact are not.

ISIC 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 college and universities.

To locate your closest Council Travel office, call (212) 822-2600. STA Travel can be contacted at (800) 777-0112.

*

Free copies of the fall edition of Student Travels magazine are now available. The magazine is published twice a year by the not-for-profit Council on International Education Exchange. This edition focuses on Costa Rica; Alpine skiing on a student budget; Sydney, Australia; and student experiences working and studying abroad.

Copies are available at the CIEE's Council Travel offices nationwide, or by calling (800) 358-5971.

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