By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: My 18-year-old son is planning a backpack trip to Europe, the Far East, and possibily Africa next year. I would appreciate any information you could provide on travel books he could read that would help him plan his trip. Any information or advice I could pass along to him would be great.

A: The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has valuable information for all travellers. I always consult with them prior to embarking on any overseas trip. Besides daily travel advisory reports that can be emailed to you, the DFAIT lists consular services abroad, and has free publications available for download among other services. Brochures for consideration include: Travelling Abroad: Assistance for Canadians, a five-page booklet available for download from the DFAIT web site. See

This compendium gives your son the ins-and-outs on Consular Services, web site addresses for on-line travel reports covering over 225 countries including security and health issues and visa requirements. "Bon Voyage But," is another free government brochure that helps you plan ahead. This easy-to-pack brochure fits perfectly in his luggage and should be read before his departure. The handy reference guide is chockfull of travel advice, important telephone numbers and addresses of Canadian government offices around the world. Among the 10 topics, you'll find such useful sections as: "Before You Go," "Seeking Assistance," "On The Road," and "When You Return." For more travel information, contact the DFAIT's Consular services for Country Travel Reports at 1 800 267-6788 (in Canada and the U.S.) or (613) 944-6788. Publications also can be ordered by telephoning toll-free 1 800 267-8376 in Canada or (613) 944-4000.

The world's largest budget travel organization, the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF), which includes 4,500 hostels in 60 countries is aimed at the youth traveller with chapters around the world. Hostelling International-Canada (HIC) ( provides its members access to thousands of travel-related goods and services, from savings on admission tickets to discounts on restaurants or even bus transportation. According to HIC, the average cost of a hostel overnight is about $18-$22 Canadian per member. For first-time solo travelers, you'll find that the hostels are a great springboard for off-the beaten path exploration and also is a great meeting spot to meet other likeminded solo trippers.

Lastly, over the years, I've found the "Let's Go" travel book guide series is a great resource aimed at the budget savvy traveller. Compiled by well-traveled students who have rolled up their sleeves and dove into the centre of their destination, these books are jammed with informative descriptions on all the country's cultural hot spots popular for travellers. Around since the sixties, this series was started by a group of Harvard University students who handed out a 20-page pamphlet offering travel tips to Europe. Since then, every year the company recruits over 300 student travellers to bring back the skinny on their part of the world. These rugged researchers have traversed their locales combining a plethora of facts on how to visit countries on the cheap. Now in its 43rd edition and translated into seven languages, Let's Go: Europe has been rated as the world's bestselling travel guide. The "Let's Go" travel guide series are available at major bookstores.


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