Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3 Travel Tip Tuesday: Young At Heart

Turns out being young, broke, and unemployed has it's perks. All around the world, students are recognized as very a special class of traveler. They get cheap train rides, museum entry, and hostel stays. They even get their own discount travel agency and cut-rate flight search engines. Lucky ducks.So if you do happen to be a student, milk it for all it's worth! Make sure to get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), really the only student ID recognized outside your own country, so that you can cash in on all the discounts. You just need to show that you are currently enrolled as a full time student at some institution; a current college student ID should be enough. Entry to most sights in Prague costs half as much for students, and in Russia, flashing your ISIC card entitles you entry to the Hermitage, arguably the best museum in the entire world, for free! And the Great Pyramids of Giza? About $3 USD for students. Ridiculous.

Non-students under 26 can get their very own International Youth Travel Card. The benefits aren't quite as extensive, but in some countries they don't know or care about the difference and you get the full student discount.

But what about those of us who are just young at heart?

Unfortunately that argument doesn't work at the Hermitage, or explaining that you are a "student of the world". They want to see the plastic. Shameless discount hunters that we are, we found a few loopholes, some more legit than others:
  • Completely kosher: are you a teacher? You qualify for your very own special card from the ISIC people. Lucky you!
  • Questionable morality: did you ever go to college? Check your old ID. Patrick graduated from Boston College seven years ago, but it turns out that his ID doesn't have an expiration date. Add to that the grainy picture, and he qualified no questions for an ISIC card which we then toted around the world for six months and used liberally.
  • Super shady: know an aspiring entrepreneurial youth? Those same kids that make each other fake IDs to buy cigarettes and liquor would have no trouble making a college ID. Way easier to replicate than a driver's license, and who knows what anyone else's college ID is supposed to look like anyway? This option will make you feel very young at heart. Bring your new ID to an STA office and have them whip you up an ISIC. Done and done.
  • Equally super shady: buy a fake ISIC on the streets of Bangkok. They make grade A knockoffs of just about everything.
Just keep in mind that if you are falsely posing us a young student, you might have to ham it up to act the part. When Patrick quit shaving for a while he looked...his real age. We even got rejected a few places because they said the discount was only for students under 26. (Yet if I handed over the card while Patrick lurked in the background, no one ever brought up the age restriction.) Have the youngest person in your group handle ticket transactions. Maybe bring a backpack as a prop. And if you have a college sweatshirt, wear it proudly.

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