For college students, the summer starts early and ends earlier. But that, along with many breaks along the year, is the perk of higher education, and now's the time to plan your summer vacation if you haven't already. There are a number of places that will assist you in the process of finding good deals; it's often worth it to book through companies that cater to students because of discounts and experiences tailored to your interests. It also takes a lot of guesswork out of the planning, even though many 20-year-olds fully embrace the guesswork of a summer trip with friends through Europe, across country, or the like.
Busabout (tel. +44/20-7950-1661; www.busabout.com) is designed for flexible travel through Europe, for changing your mind at the last minute, for staying an extra day, and planning as you go. The company's travel network covers 10 countries and 30 destinations. The passes do not include accommodations, although the company does make recommendations, and the buses stop in front of inns and hostels. When you buy a pass, it is valid for the entire travel season (in this case, May through October) and there are departures from each city every other day. Right now its hop-on, hop-off Busabout Explorer is on sale for $579 for one loop trip and $879 for two-loop trip. What does this mean? Well, the zones are divided into loops -- for example, the Northern Loop goes through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Austria and the Czech Republic, whereas the Western Loop goes through France, Spain and Switzerland, stopping in many cities along the way included Bourdeaux, Avignon, San Sebastian, Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, and Paris. There is also a southern loop, which goes through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. If you book more than one loop there is a savings of five percent.
You can also book a Busabout Adventure that includes accommodations, a guide, transportation and some meals. Choose from Croatia, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Italy and Greece. The eight-day Morocco Explorer, for example, is priced at $499 per person, with six nights of camping and one night in a hotel. Departures are available on Saturdays starting May 12 and every Saturday in June, along with July 14, 21, August 4, 11 and 25.
Contiki (tel. 866/CONTIKI; www.contiki.com) offers tours and trips for those 18-35 to destinations such as Europe, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The company seems to thrive on deals, and right now, it's offering half off companion flights when you book any trip that's eight days or longer and involves airfare. It's valid also for trips that start and end in London, Paris, or Rome. You must book by May 4, though, and the travel must take place between May 28 and September 3. If that's your interest, the Simply Italy trip, which starts in Rome and takes you through Sorrento, the isle of Capri, Florence, La Spezia, Milan, Venice and then back to Rome, might be worth considering. Included are sightseeing fees per itinerary, eleven nights in superior tourist class hotels, 17 meals, an experienced tour manager, and an air-conditioned coach. Traveling to Italy in the summer is no bargain, but this trip, for land only is priced from $1,679 for May 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29 and 31 departures; land and air start from $2,589. There are plenty of departures throughout the summer.
The Canadian Rockies tour offers something different for a summer trip, and right now Contiki has a special offer for $150 off this trip if you book and pay in full by June 30 and travel through September 30. The special is not valid for online bookings; you must call. The 12-day excursion takes you to Seattle, Whistler, Banff, Jasper, Vancouver, and Vernon; you can join the tour in either Seattle or Vancouver. The area is perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and there are plenty of departures to choose from, starting May 11, 21, and 25; June 4, 8, 18, 22 are also available and all of these dates start from $1,549 for land only. The price goes up a bit for July (20, 27) and August (3, 10, 24) departures, priced from $1,625 for land only. The accommodations include ten nights in twin share hotels (except for Banff, where it's four to a room in a chalet), eight meals, a tour manager and driver, air-conditioned coach, along with city sightseeing fees.
STA Travel (tel. 800/781-4040; www.statravel.com) helps you book flights, hotels, packages, bus and rail trips, insurance, tours, and trips in destinations in America, Canada, Europe and more (the company has offices more than 90 countries). At press time, some of its top domestic flight offers include San Francisco to New York for $267 roundtrip, Atlanta to Los Angeles, $238 round trip, Minneapolis to Memphis, $170 round trip. To give a sense of the international savings, flights from Los Angeles to Paris are advertised from $480 round trip, New York to Madrid, $322 round trip, Denver to Amsterdam, $491 roundtrip.
STA has a few specials for tours, including a new trip called Eastern Europe Escape, with departures available now through October 2007. You'll stay at three-star hotels on average, transport in air-conditioned coach, spend 12 days in Europe, and visit Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest and Vienna. The May 20 departure, for example, is priced at $1,349 for a twin share -- which means traveling alone and sharing with same sex. June 17, July 1, 15, and 29 and August 12, 26 are also guaranteed departures priced at $1,399. The trip's cost includes eleven breakfasts, six dinners, eleven nights of hotel accommodations, transportation and escorted services of a tour leader. Although the trip does not include airfare, booking through STA can save you money. Also, you can purchase an International Student Identity Card, which gives you access to all kind of discounts -- it's only $22.
Want to know what's happening when you get there? Search for summer events in Europe.
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