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Guidebooks to Low-Cost Facilities

<i> Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes. </i>

A reader complained to me recently about an incident at a budget hotel in the Times Square area of New York City. She had responded to an advertisement and booked a room through a toll-free telephone number.

When she arrived she was shocked to find a person passed out on the lobby floor. She also found that the hotel had many permanent residents, some of whom she found intimidating.

The reader didn’t stay, but instead grabbed a taxi and headed for “the first decent hotel the driver could find us.”

Don’t Travel Blind

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Budget travelers don’t have to travel blind when using low-cost accommodations. Many areas of the world are served by well-researched guidebooks, written by staff who have taken a close look at budget facilities.

The best guidebooks for student-style travelers in Europe and North America are the “Let’s Go” guides produced annually by Harvard Student Agencies.

This series started 28 years ago when a group of Harvard students produced a 20-page pamphlet of tips for friends traveling to Europe. That pamphlet has evolved into an 11-book series that covers key cities and areas in the United States, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Canada, Mexico and the Soviet Union.

Each year teams of student researchers are sent out to check facts and search for information. Thirty student researchers contributed to the 1988 edition of “Let’s Go: Europe.” Few other guidebooks have the staff to be so current and thorough.

No Sleaze, Please

The researchers seek out the type of information that is most helpful to young budget travelers, and if they think a hotel or area is sleazy they’ll warn you.

They also look for various student and youth discounts, and provide tips on how to get around by public transportation, where to cash traveler’s checks late at night, economical restaurants and night spots, where to find a laundromat, how to use foreign telephones, and whom to contact in an emergency.

Two books have been added to the series this year--"Let’s Go: California and Hawaii” and “Let’s Go: Pacific Northwest, Western Canada and Alaska.” Each costs $10.95.

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The 1988 edition of the popular 877-page “Let’s Go: Europe” ($11.95) includes 47 maps and covers all European countries plus key tourism areas in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and the Soviet Union. You’ll learn where to find accommodations in Istanbul for $3 a night or ski in the Alps for $7.50 a day.

It’s a large book to carry, so consider removing the chapters when you reach each country and stapling them so you can slide them into your pocket when you head out sightseeing.

For Specific Areas

More detailed guidebooks are produced for specific areas of Europe. For example, “Let’s Go: Italy” is available for $10.95. This year’s edition includes information on Malta.

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“Let’s Go: Israel and Egypt” ($10.95) has increased its information on Jordan and added more details on border crossings, Egyptian currency regulations and hiking and work/study programs in the Dead Sea area.

The 1988 “Let’s Go: Britain and Ireland” ($10.95) includes new information on Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, and on ferry schedules from Harwich to Scandinavia and northern Germany.

The new edition of “Let’s Go: Spain, Portugal and Morocco” ($10.95) has added information on the Canary Islands, and the new “Let’s Go: France” ($10.95) has expanded its coverage of central France, the islands off the Brittany Coast, Paris accommodations and visa regulations.

This year’s 883-page “Let’s Go: U.S.A.” ($11.95) also includes 54 pages on major cities in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The 1988 edition of “Let’s Go: Mexico” ($10.95) includes information on Belize.

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The series is published by St. Martin’s Press and is available from retail bookstores.

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STI, formally known as Student Travel International, changed its name to reflect that its tours are available to all 18- to 30-year-olds, not just students.

This year STI is offering 12 European tours in two categories. Its First Class tours are from 14 to 35 days and cost $995 to $2,786 (air fare not included). The eight Supersaver tours are from 13 to 52 days and cost $499 to $2,388 (land only).

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This year STI is introducing two new Supersaver tours. The 13-day Caprice for $499 visits France, Spain and Switzerland, with six departures between late May and early July. The 16-day Sampler for $695 visits England, France, Italy and Monaco. There are 10 departures from late May to mid-December.

The Supersaver tours provide accommodations in two- and three-star hotels; rooms have private baths or showers.

For more information on STI tours, contact STI, 8619 Reseda Blvd., Suite 103, Northridge 91324.


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