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Youth Beat

In Touch While Traipsing the World

April 26, 1998|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at http://www.izon.com

Keeping in contact with home is going to get much easier this year for many budget travelers. Hostelling International, an association of more than 4,500 youth hostels in 60 countries, is introducing communications kiosks at key gateway hostels worldwide.

At the association's new International Communications Network (ICN) kiosks, travelers will be able to receive and send e-mail messages, faxes and telegrams; retrieve and send voice-mail messages; browse the Internet; view local tourist information; post messages for other travelers on a bulletin board; check bed availability at many affiliated youth hostels worldwide; and place telephone calls at competitive rates.

The kiosk will have a touch-sensitive screen, a printer to retrieve hard copies of messages and a telephone receiver to listen or record voice-mail messages. Travelers can purchase cards for units of time, and each cardholder will be able to set up an e-mail address that family and friends at home can use to reach them.

The ICN kiosks will be at HI locations in Sydney, Australia (Sydney Central Hostel); Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; the Hampstead Heath and Rotherhithe hostels in London; Lyon, Strasbourg and Paris, France; Munich, Hamburg and Berlin, Germany; the Dublin International hostel in Ireland; Florence and Rome, Italy; Vondelpark hostel in Amsterdam; Oslo; Edinburgh, Scotland; and HI hostels in New York and San Francisco.

For more information on Hostelling International, call HI Santa Monica at (310) 393-6263.

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The East Coast Explorer, which offers budget bus transportation between New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., is now offering tours to Niagara Falls.

The three-day trip, leaving from New York City on Tuesdays, is $175 and includes accommodations at the Niagara HI-AYH youth hostel. Passengers are taken to see the nighttime illumination of the falls and have a full day free to explore the area or join the driver for an afternoon trip to Fort Niagara State Park. The route back to New York City on the third day takes travelers through the Finger Lakes of central New York State.

The 14-passenger air-conditioned vans cover back-road routes and include stops at sites of natural, historic and cultural interest. At the end of the trip, passengers are dropped off at hostels, hotels and bus and rail stations.

For more information, call (800) 610-2680 or visit the East Coast Explorer Internet site: http://www.pipeline.com/~nyguide/ece.

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The popular "Let's Go" budget travel guidebook series researched by Harvard students has launched a free newsletter called Yellowjacket.

The first issue offered information and advice on finding cheap air fares by telephone and the Internet, a feature report on Sarajevo by a "Let's Go: Eastern Europe" researcher and letters from travelers who use the guidebooks.

For a free copy, contact Let's Go: Yellowjacket, 67 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at http://www.izon.com.

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