If you're traveling internationally, you'd be wise to arm yourself with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which may offer savings on some entrance fees and has basic health and life insurance and a 24-hour help line. The card is available from STA Travel (tel. 800/781-4040 in North America; www.sta.com or www.statravel.com; or www.statravel.co.uk in the U.K.), the biggest student travel agency in the world. If you're no longer a student but are still under 26, you can get an International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) from the same people, which entitles you to 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 Canadian and U.S. residents. Irish students may prefer to turn to USIT (tel. 01/602-1600; www.usitnow.ie), an Ireland-based specialist in student, youth, and independent travel.
South Africa has a large number of lodges and activities catering to the backpacker market -- in Cape Town, contact Africa Travel Centre (tel. 27/21/423-5555; www.backpackers.co.za), a recommended backpackers' resource near the center of town, with comfortable accommodations and an excellent travel desk aimed at the budget traveler.