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If you're a student, prove it

October 27, 2002|Lucy Izon | Special to The Times

A 35% discount on VIA Rail in Canada, up to 30% off at Days Inn and a two-for-the-price-of-one bungee jump in New Zealand (with A.J. Hackett, the company that introduced the sport) are only a few of the deals available to students who carry the card when they travel -- the International Student Identity Card, that is.

The 2003 ISIC, which is honored for discounts in more than 90 countries, is available now. It's valid from the day you buy it through Dec. 31, 2003, for discounts on accommodations, car rentals, cultural activities, adventure sports, meals and admission to museums and historic sites.

With an ISIC, you won't have to pay a commission to exchange currency or traveler's checks at Travelex offices, located in many large international airports, including ones in London, New York, Paris, Sydney, San Francisco and Hong Kong. You can also purchase a buy-back option, which entitles you to return any unspent currency notes or traveler's checks commission-free at the original purchase rate.

The ISIC also can be used as a phone card to make international calls and receive voicemail worldwide.

Cardholders also can access an international help line in case of legal, medical or travel emergencies.

The ISIC was created 50 years ago by the not-for-profit International Student Travel Confederation (, a collective of student travel services, because it needed an easy, common way to identify students throughout the world.

The card comes with a booklet listing key discounts and benefits, with a focus on gateway cities worldwide.

It also provides contact addresses for affiliated foreign student travel offices, where students can find travel assistance.

Even if a service doesn't list a student rate, it pays to present the card and ask if there's a discount.

Endorsed by UNESCO

The card, endorsed by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is issued in more than 100 countries and is carried by about 5 million students each year. Only full-time students older than 12 (there is no upper age limit) can obtain the photo card, which costs $22. Applications are available from STA Travel, 920 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024; (310) 824-1574,

If you are not a student but are younger than 26, you haven't lost out on travel deals completely. You are eligible for the International Youth Travel Card, which comes with discounts negotiated by the Federation of International Youth Travel Organizations. This $22 card is also available at STA Travel offices.

*, a worldwide online reservation service for hostels and other youth travel services, has grown exponentially in the last six months.

The site was created in 1999 by Tom Kennedy, owner of Dublin's Avalon Hostel, and Ray Nolan, a software programmer, as a way for hostels to efficiently handle online bookings.

The online service now books 6,000 beds a day.

Through the site, backpackers can book a bed at more than 2,000 budget properties in 100 countries and arrange more than 300 budget and adventure activities and tours. But the convenience costs: There's a 10% deposit and a small booking fee on top of the cost of lodgings or service.


Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer and author of "Izon's Backpacker Journal." Contact her through her Web site,

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