Safety Tips for Young Travelers

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

Two new free publications that give basic tips on safety, packing and budgeting money are available to young travelers.

The first, "Travel Safety Tips for Youth and Student Travelers," is a leaflet for those planning group trips, and for their parents. The advice is solicited from members of the Student Youth Travel Assn. of North America (SYTA), which includes tour operators and retail travel organizations. It covers tips ranging from packing suggestions to what parents should ask the tour operator running the trip that their children are planning to take.

Some of the advice is common sense: Don't leave valuables in your room, and keep the hotel room door locked and don't open it to strangers. Other tips are especially useful to the novice traveler:

* Keep a few small-denomination bills in your pocket to pay for small purchases such as a drink or snack so that you don't have to open your wallet in a busy place. The rest of your money and valuables should be kept in a pouch under your clothing.

* Keep a photocopy of your passport on you and lock the passport in the hotel safe (except in certain countries where tourists are required to keep passports on them at all times). When you use a safe to store valuables, such as extra money, put them in a sealed envelope and sign it so that you can tell if it's been tampered with.

* Make sure you have comfortable, flat, worn-in shoes.

* Use disposable cameras. If you lose or break them, you've only lost a memory, not an expensive camera. Disposable cameras also are unlikely targets for thieves.

* Carry a photocopy of all current prescriptions (medication, eyeglasses and contact lens prescriptions, etc.) so that these items can be replaced if lost. Keep prescription medication in its original package and keep a photocopy of the prescription handy. (Some customs officials may question the drugs, and you may need proof that it is a prescription.)

For a copy of "Travel Safety Tips for Student and Youth Travelers," write to SYTA, 1730 I St., Suite 240, Sacramento, CA 95814; telephone (916) 443-0519, fax (916) 443-8065.

A second publication, geared toward more independent travelers, is from Hostelling International--American Youth Hostels (HI-AYH), which just released its 1998 edition of the 40-page Travelers Resource Guide. It's for those planning their first trip abroad, and includes advice on where to get pre-departure health information; how to obtain passports and visas, student and youth (under 26) discount cards; traveling with your bike; the variety of European rail passes available; buying a backpack (loaded, it should equal 25% of your body weight); and how to estimate your budget.

For a free copy, write the HI-AYH Travel Center at 1434 2nd St., Santa Monica, CA 90401; tel. (310) 393-3413.


Camp iAfrika, an intercultural exchange program held in South Africa, has announced three three-week programs for this summer. It's designed for those age 15 to 17 from all parts of the world. Activities include sports, drama, music, and arts and crafts. Counselors travel with participants to and from South Africa. For details contact Camp iAfrika, c/o Adventures in Language and Culture, 3 Lane Road, Box 264, E. Derry, NH 03041; tel. (603) 432-1445, fax (603) 434-8612, or e-mail

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