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YOUTH BEAT

Getting Frequent-Flier Miles for Students

November 15, 1998|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at http://www.izon.com

Now there's another reason college is valuable: a new frequent-flier program specifically targeted for students. United Airlines has introduced United College Plus, an Internet-based program that offers students rewards for traveling on flights on United, United Express, Shuttle by United or any of their Star Alliance member carriers.

United College Plus is open to students at accredited four-year colleges and universities. It offers the same privileges as United Mileage Plus, plus some extra perks such as a kit that includes savings certificates and discount coupons for domestic travel in economy class. Other bonuses for students include a 2,500-mile reward when you take your first and third flight on United, and a 1,000-mile bonus for booking flights online. Extra points also are awarded for student referrals, and there's a 10,000-mile graduation bonus.

You can get more details or sign up on the United College Plus Internet site at: http://www.collegeplus.com. Updates, account activity and airline bookings are available on the United Airlines Internet site at http://www.ual.com. United flies to 28 countries.

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Other travelers may be your best source of practical advice on the "dos" and "don'ts" of budget travel. Two Canadians, Wayne Smits and Caryl Dolinko, who have traveled to a combined total of 80 countries in 15 years, have collected the best practical advice from their experiences and published "The Globetrotter's Guide."

The 237-page book covers the essentials for budget travelers, from trip preparation to dealing with bribes, finding suitable accommodations, haggling over prices and women traveling alone.

A lot of their suggestions will seem simple, but they're the kind of ideas that only surface after you or someone you've known has done it the wrong way and suffered the consequences. Here are some of my favorites:

* "When passing a sign warning you of the presence of pickpockets in the area, resist the urge to immediately check your passport pouch and pockets. The warning sign is often a ploy offering thieves an opportunity to locate your most valued possessions and, soon enough, to relieve you of them."

* "Try to carry a hundred-dollar bill hidden somewhere safe (sewn into your belt, for example). This stash can be called upon if you ever have the misfortune of being separated from your funds. You can always get your traveler's checks replaced, but what if you are hundreds of miles from any refund facility during a holiday or a transportation strike?"

* "Hotel staff may remove something of value from your pack and hide it in a drawer, under a dresser or on a shelf in the hope that you won't notice it when leaving. As long as the hidden item remains in your room, no one can be accused of theft. Once you check out, hotel staff return to your room . . . and remove the item."

This is why it helps to pack everything in the same place. It's a lot easier to notice when something is missing.

"The Globetrotter's Guide," $16.95, is published by Red Deer College Press.

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Consumer conventions catering to independent, adventurous travelers are a growing trend. Travel shows can be a good place to pick up information and advice. Backpackers headed Down Under will find the Backpackers Expo at the Sydney Town Hall Nov. 20-22. In Britain this winter is the Independent Traveller's World Show (http: //www.itwnet.com) at the London Arena Exhibition Centre Feb. 5-7; the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, Feb. 27-28; and the G-Mex Centre, Manchester, March 6-7.

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