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Backpack & Budget

Hopping on New Bus Services

January 25, 1998|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer

Travelers can look for new backpacker bus services in Europe and North America during 1998, a new free information publication for young visitors to Ireland and an Australian hostel network moving into Vietnam. Those were some of the new youth travel projects announced at the World Student and Youth Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Paris in October.

On May 1, a new backpacker bus service will begin operating in the U.S. It is called the Us Bus, and passengers may purchase passes valid for a set number of days of travel within a specific period. An accommodation reservation service is available.

A 40-day America Pass, which will be valid for 15 days of travel within a 40-day period, will cost $369. Us Bus America Passes can be bought through travel agencies. For more details, call (800) TREKUSA.

In Europe a new backpacker bus service, called Busabout, will start April 1. This service is being introduced by the Travel Corp., which owns Contiki Travel, Trafalgar Tours and Insight International Tours.

Geared to independent travelers, Busabout coaches will provide a scheduled service linking 30 European cities. Departures and arrival points will be at budget hotels, hostels and campsites (including its own 10 villas in 10 cities). Passengers will be able to buy zone passes and travel at their own pace. Busabout will operate from April until the end of October.

Contiki Holidays, a travel company for 18- to 35-year-olds that operates tours of North America, Europe, the South Pacific and Africa, is introducing four "Adventure Plus" itineraries in North America this year. They'll feature hiking, bicycling, kayaking, etc., and unlike Contiki's regular escorted hotel program, participants will camp using Contiki-supplied tents.

Contiki's eight-day "California Coast Bicycling Tour" takes travelers from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Prices start at $575 per person. The four-day "Southern California Multi-Sport Adventure" includes sea kayaking at La Jolla, desert hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, mountain hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and biking at Big Bear Lake. Prices start at $310 per person.

The six-day "Yosemite National Park Hiking Adventure" starts at $359 per person. The 10-day "National Parks Canyon Discoveries," which includes nine nights of camping, starts at $665. Travelers visit six national parks, one state park, a national recreational area, Monument Valley and take a half-day mountain biking excursion.

On Contiki Tours, single travelers can be matched with a same-sex roommate to avoid paying any single supplement fees. For more information see your travel agent or call (800) CONTlKI.


The Australian Backpacker Accommodation Network known as Nomads is opening a hostel in Ho Chi Minh City. Nomads is a network of budget hostels that began with Cumberland Arms Hotel in Adelaide, Australia, in 1994 and is growing at a rate of one new location per month.

Nomads intends to provide a safe budget-priced introduction to Vietnam, with two- and seven-night packages that include airport pickups, accommodation in rooms with two or four beds (with washrooms), breakfasts and a city cycling sightseeing tour. The two-night version will cost about $66. You can book, confirm and pay for the packages through the Nomads office in Australia. Contact Nomads Backpackers, 288 N. Terrace, Adelaide, S.A. 500; telephone 011-61-8-8224-0919, fax 011-61-8-8224-0972.

Many of the Nomads hostels around Australia are in renovated historic hotels. The company sets standards for members, which include free linen and lockers in bedrooms. At the hostels you can pick up a free map of all locations.


The Irish student travel service, USIT, reports that Ireland Unplugged, a free 90-page information booklet for visitors to Ireland, will be available by March 1. Ireland Unplugged will cover budget accommodations, student travel, study programs, backpacker buses and adventure opportunities ranging from horses and hiking to kayaking and cycling. You can also look for tips on entertainment from pub crawls and traditional Irish music to blues festivals. The publication will be available from the Ireland Unplugged office, 57 Lower Gardiner St., Dublin 1, and from Irish Tourist Board (Bord Faite) offices.

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

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