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Backpack & Budget

Connecting Tales in a Big World

March 02, 1997|LUCY IZON

Some of the best information you can get for planning a budget trip often comes from other travelers who have made their way around under similar financial limitations. But connecting with those travelers isn't always easy. Big World, a relatively new publication, provides an outlet for the tales that young adventurers have to share.

Big World's editors say it was conceived on the road between Taos and Santa Fe by two young travelers lamenting the sorry state of travel periodicals in the United States.

The publication's aim is to focus on the traveler who "yearns to find the untouristed regions, meet with the local people, wants to learn foreign languages, to experience life as the locals live it."

Slim (less than 50 pages) and lacking in the big, bold color photographs found in most travel magazines, what Big World does deliver are intriguing, intimate first-person accounts of foreign adventures.

In the first two years of its existence, topics covered included: Katmandu, roller-blading through Morocco, Japan on a budget, ailing in Indonesia, skiing in Turkey, a road trip in Sri Lanka, the temples of Thailand, climbing Kilimanjaro, Tibet and independent hostels in Europe.

Big World also includes a column called Virtual Traveling with tips on researching in cyberspace.

Subscriptions can be ordered from Big World, P.O. Box 8743, Lancaster, PA 17604. One-year (six issues) subscriptions are $20. You can also contact Big World at http://www.paonline.com/bigworld.

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Contiki Travel, the worldwide tour company for 18-to-35-year-olds, is adding tours to Mexico to its North American program this year and a Turkish cruise, a Greece land tour and an Eastern Europe adventure to its European schedule for this summer.

Contiki, now 34 years old, offers tours that are especially attractive to solo travelers, who don't have to worry about single supplement fees. The company will always arrange for a roommate or roommates of the same sex. A disadvantage can be that bus groups can be large. Buses on North American programs take up to 47 passengers and on European routes they can carry up to 51.

There are 19 North American itineraries this year, covering the United States, Mexico and the Canadian Rockies.

The new Mexico programs are a nine-day Mexican Highlights tour that begins with three nights in Mexico City, a night in Taxco and two nights in the resort areas of Acapulco and Ixtapa (from $785); and a 14-day Mexico Grande, which extends the previous tour with overnight stops in Merida, Isla Mujeres and three nights in the resort of Cancun, including a visit to the ruins at Chichen Itza and Uxmal (from $1,735). Accommodations on Mexican tours are in twin-share rooms.

In Europe Contiki offers 27 superior or (hotel) tour itineraries and 12 budget tours, which use hostel-type accommodations. Tours include daily breakfast and several dinners, and a professional guide and driver.

New is an eight-day Turkish Cruise on a 12-passenger vessel, from $865; a 15-day Bohemian Rhapsody tour circling out from London and visiting Brussels; Frankfurt, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna; Budapest, Hungary; Krakow and Warsaw in Poland; and Berlin (from $1,349); and an eight-day Classical Greece tour circling out from Athens and visiting Olympia and Delphi (from $749).

For more information contact a travel agent or Contiki at (800) CONTIKI. You can also visit its Internet site at http://www.contiki.com.

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Earthwatch has introduced a college credit program.

The 25-year-old nonprofit organization is a clearinghouse for volunteers for scientific research projects; it's not free or cheap. The concept is that the fees volunteers pay help to support the fieldwork. It offers an opportunity to work with experts on projects ranging from studying dolphins in New Zealand, whales in Hawaii, glaciers in Sweden and insects in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

The college credit program has been arranged with Drexel University of Philadelphia. For details, contact Earthwatch, 680 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA 02171; tel: (617) 926-8200 or (800) 776-0188. Earthwatch can be found on the Internet at http://www.earthwatch.org.

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