By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: My girlfriend and are planning a trip across Europe this fall so any web sites or companies you know of would be really helpful.

A: Backpacking across Europe remains popular and you’ll find this out soon enough as you spot other like-minded tourists walking around the cobblestone streets with their gigantic backpacks strapped to them like they’re ready for the next heavy weight competition.

There are several agencies and web sites that offer a host of advice and memberships for backpackers. Sponsors of UNICEF,, have staff all over the world ready to assist. The company which has won such awards as last year’s webby award winners by Time Magazine and emerging entrepreneur by Ernst and Young in 2003, conducts online bookings for hostels, package tours and gives detailed city and country guides. If you need advice, there’s a list of travel gurus you can pose questions to which is available at their Community section.

And if you want to tap into your inner self for that travel writing dream, even has a section for posting travel diaries, message boards and travel stories.

In Toronto, you’ll find Hostelling International, a not-for-profit membership organization, has a Toronto chapter which supplies ample info on backpacking anywhere in the world. To join Hostelling International in Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or resident. The card costs $40.25. The card is valid worldwide and gives you access to member prices at all International Youth Hostel associations, HI-affiliated hostels as well as other travel discounts wherever you go.

So Hostelling International encourages you to ask about discounts at each hostel you visit. Hostelling International is located on 76 Church Street, and is open 24 hours a day. You can call them at 416-971-4440 or toll-free at 1-877-848-8737.

For a list of hostels click on


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