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Youth Beat

Flash a Card, Get a Discount

April 05, 1998|LUCY IZON

Young travelers who are not full-time students are eligible for thousands of special discounts at home and abroad through a program that was initiated in 1975 by the Federation of International Youth Travel Organizations. The federation's members arrange reductions on services in their countries. But this year the look and administration of its international youth identity card is changing.

The Go25 International Youth Travel Card, which is available to travelers under 26, is now being handled by the International Student Travel Confederation, the same organization that administers the International Student Identity Card. Cardholders will not always get the same discounts as students, but the Go25 Card will be honored by 85,000 services in the Countdown discount network. Discounts on transportation, accommodations, telecommunications and currency exchange services are included, as well as at restaurants, theaters and cultural sites.

A few examples of savings: Travelers get a 25% discount at the Vienna Group of Hotels in London, or a 15% discount at the Saga Hotel in Copenhagen. They get a 20% discount on regular admission to the Empire State Building observatory in New York, and save 25% on renting a scooter in Rome. The International Student Travel Confederation handbook gives the addresses of youth travel offices that specialize in finding deals on transportation, accommodations, tours and excursions, language courses and insurance. The Go25 IYTC photo-identity card is officially endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It's sold for $20 by STA Travel, 7202 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046; tel. (213) 934-8722; and Council Travel at 10904 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90024; tel. (310) 208-3551.


Lonely Planet has just released its eighth edition of "Africa on a Shoestring" ($29.95). If you're contemplating independent travel in more than one African region, this book is excellent for its overview of the whole continent while still giving details.

In 1,000 pages 15 Lonely Planet authors provide information on every African country, from finding e-mail services in Cairo and learning to haggle in the marketplaces of Morocco to locating a backpacker hostel on the edge of South Africa's Kruger National Park. It includes details on visas; border crossings; staying healthy; popular and safe travel routes; budget lodgings; Internet cafes; and the history, politics, culture and environment of each country.

"Traveling in Africa is certainly no package tour. It requires determination, patience and stamina," the authors warn. "There's one thing you can be certain of in Africa: There's never a dull moment!"

On the financial front they suggest: "Budget for at least $10 per day in the cheaper countries (such as Egypt, Malawi and Morocco) and $25 in the more expensive ones (such as Gabon, Libya and Togo). This should cover the cost of very basic accommodations, food in local cafes or street stalls, and the cheapest possible transportation."

Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at

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