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Backpack & Budget

Rail Discounts Go to Those With Mates

March 01, 1998|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer

Young travelers to Britain who want the freedom to take off at a whim are eligible for special rates on BritRail Passes, which are valid for unlimited use of rail services in England, Scotland and Wales. This year BritRail has also introduced a special pass with even larger savings for those touring in groups of three or four.

The BritRail Classic Pass is valid for unlimited travel throughout the system for a consecutive number of days. Those who will be under age 26 on their first day of travel can purchase it at a reduced youth rate, but they are limited to traveling in standard class. The Youth Classic Pass for eight consecutive days of travel is $205; for 15 days, $318; for 22 days, $410; and for one month, $475.

You can get those fares for even less with the new BritRail Party Pass, designed for groups of three or four traveling together. The tickets are linked by numbers and packaged together so you and your companions can't split up. One person can take a day off, but he/she can't head in a different direction. All four tickets must be presented for any member of the group to travel. If three are traveling together, the per-person cost of the Party Pass is $171 for eight consecutive days of travel, $265 for 15 days, $342 for 22 days and $396 for one month. For four traveling together, the per-person cost would be $154 for eight days, $239 for 15 days, $308 for 22 days and $356 for one month.

For those who don't want to travel every day to get the most value from their rail pass, there is the BritRail Youth Flexipass. A pass valid for four days of travel within one month, is $175; for eight days of travel within one month, $253; and for 15 days of travel within two months, $385.

Groups of three under age 26 can purchase the Party Pass version of the Youth Flexipass. The per-person fare for four days of travel within one month is $146, eight days of travel within one month is $211 and 15 days of travel within two months is $321. For more information, see a travel agent or call BritRail at (888) BRITRAIL.

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When you pick up a hostel handbook in Australia, there's a good chance you'll see several backpacks beside a name. It's a rating system provided by the Australian Automobile Assn. (AAA) that was introduced in 1995.

The AAA was asked to do an independent assessment of hostels and backpacker accommodations. Awards run from one backpack, offering clean simple and basic facilities, to five backpacks, offering the highest levels of cleanliness and amenities.

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

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