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Given the high costs of travel to and in French Polynesia, it's not surprising that the islands are not on the usual backpacker trail across the South Pacific. There are many pensions (boardinghouses) here, and a few dormitories and campgrounds, but they are expensive compared to the Cook Islands and Fiji, the two hot college-age destinations out here.

If you're going on to New Zealand and Australia, you'd be wise to get an international student ID card from the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) (www.istc.org), which offers savings on plane tickets. It also provides basic health and life insurance and a 24-hour help line. You can apply for the card online or in person at STA Travel (tel. 800/781-4040 in North America; www.statravel.com), the biggest student-travel agency in the world; check out the website to locate STA Travel offices worldwide.

If you're no longer a student but are still under 26, you can get an International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) for the same price from the same people. The card offers some discounts (but not on museum admissions).

Travel CUTS (tel. 800/667-2887 or 416/614-2887; www.travelcuts.com) offers similar services for both Canadians and U.S. residents. Irish students may prefer to turn to USIT (tel. 01/602-1904; www.usitnow.ie), an Ireland-based specialist in student, youth, and independent travel.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.