Guides help young travelers see the world

Books stress bargains, night life, fun events


October 29, 2006|By Sarah Marston | Sarah Marston,[Special to the Sun]

Traveling is hip, thanks to the Internet and new rules at some colleges requiring students to spend time studying abroad. This effort to shape global citizens has more students signing up to see the world.

The number of U.S. students participating in study abroad programs has almost tripled since the mid-1980s, with nearly 200,000 Americans studying abroad each year, according to the Institute of International Education's 2005 report.

As more American students go abroad, travel information is becoming increasingly tailored to a younger demographic. Publishers and brands such as MTV are responding to the trend, eager to provide fresh material geared toward young globetrotters.

Whether they are spending a semester teaching in China or backpacking across Europe, young travelers want to hit the major sights, experience the night life and take home stories that they can exaggerate to friends for years to come.

To do that, students are looking for a different kind of travel advice. Forget about those large, clunky travel books that scream tourist. These new guides are offbeat, punchy and hip. They go beyond the typical family-friendly advice, giving the lowdown on hot bars and clubs, celebrity hangouts, cheap dining, reliable hostels, online booking, study abroad tips, freebies and more.

Here's a look at some of the newest guides for younger travelers as well as a couple of resources for students who are going abroad for the first time.

MTV Travel Guides / / Perhaps most appropriate for the MTV generation, this guidebook series premieres this fall with its first three editions: MTV Europe, MTV Ireland and MTV Italy. The cable channel joined forces with Frommer's, the popular travel guide company that employed the 2003 cast of MTV's The Real World Paris, to create progressive, student-authored guides.

MTV's college network, mtvU, inspired the decision to delve into the travel guide industry, said Jacob Hoye, publishing director for MTV. "We just felt that we should be in this category. Kids today are growing up with a stronger sense of the global community," Hoye said. "Flights are shorter, travel easier, and we wanted to help connect them and encourage them to visit these amazing destinations."

The guides offer information on such unique experiences as kite surfing in Italy, castle accommodations in Ireland, a 700-beer pub in Belgium and whale-watching in Iceland. The guides also give practical yet unique information, like how to talk to locals, where to get complimentary bar food and where to find the best university towns. The books include detailed city maps and easy-to-scan information. (Frommer's; $21.99)

10Best Travel Guides / /, an online travel guide that covers cities both in the United States and abroad, launches its guidebook series this month. The books supplement the Web site with fold-out maps, special codes for online exclusives and quick, straightforward travel advice. Although the first five guidebooks only cover American cities, international guides will follow, complete with each city's top 10 restaurants, sights, night life spots and shopping venues. The tech-savvy company also features 10Best Mobile, which provides last-minute travel information, including weather reports and driving directions, via cell phones and PDAs. Go to for more information. (Synergy Books; $9.95)

Wallpaper* City Guides / / Arts publisher Phaidon and ultra-hip magazine Wallpaper* translate stream of consciousness design into an easy on the eyes travel guide focused on cities. While not aimed specifically at younger travelers, the colorful, photo-driven books released last month are sure to appeal. "That's the beauty of these guides: they work for the business traveler or the student studying abroad," says a spokeswoman for Phaidon. The pocket-sized guides feature section tabs for hotels, shopping, sports and more, including a description of urban life and an "architour" of the city's most iconic buildings. The 24-Hour section offers up a timely schedule for seeing the best of the city in just one day. Perfect for the student on the go. (Phaidon; $8.95)

Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring / / Travel guide giant Lonely Planet targets young jet-setters with this budget-friendly book. Besides offering cheap places to sleep and eat, the guide lists popular bars and clubs, suggests itineraries and advises which purchases are worth a splurge. The book also reveals quirky activities like cheese-rolling in Britain, wife-carrying in Finland, tomato fights in Spain and bizarre European festivals. (Lonely Planet; $26.99)

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