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Young travelers can let others foot the bill

By JD Rinne
updated September 29, 2021
blog_contiki_eiffel_original.jpg
Courtesy Contiki

You've finally graduated -- now it's time to celebrate. There's a new way to plan (and afford) that post-graduation backpacking trip to Europe.

Contiki, a vacation-planning service specializing in travel for 18- to 35-year-olds, has a gift registry. You can post your dream trip, and your friends and family can log on to fund parts of it—including airfare and hotel(s).

After registering for free, you get a personal website with a blog and photo gallery, so your gift-givers can see what you're doing with their money. Select from 100-plus packages, and then tack on as many extras as you choose to personalize your trip. With locations as far away as Australia and as close to home as Canada (not to mention U.S. destinations), you might cure your wanderlust just enough to start looking for a 9-to-5. Not to say we’re betting on it.

Details at contikiregistry.com.

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Travel Tips

Test Drive: In-flight IM-ing on Virgin America

If its ad campaigns are any indication, Virgin America has big plans for its in-flight instant messaging service. The airline is apparently convinced that passengers will while away the hours gossiping, discussing breaking news, sharing musical recommendations—and, of course, finding true love only a few (previously inaccessible) aisles away. On a recent cross-country flight, it didn't happen that way. The IM service actually worked really well: It was instantaneous and easy to use, though the keypad was a little awkward for thumbing out your messages with the expected lightning speed. But ease-of-use is only half the battle. It turns out that the attractive woman sitting only two seats away from me wasn't the least bit interested in IMing—and didn't believe for a second that I was just trying to test the service. She was on to me. Rejected, I joined the jet-wide chat room, but there was no one there. For hours. So I toggled over to the TV chat rooms, where you can post comments about the channel you're watching and start a real-time conversation with your fellow travelers. When I saw that every TV chat room was empty, well...I decided to take drastic measures. Over the course of an hour in the CNN chat room, I took pot shots at Hillary Clinton, then George Bush, then Barack Obama—making sure to raise ire on all sides. While watching MTV, I first flamed Led Zeppelin, and then posted some truly heretical comments about the Beatles. The kind of stuff that makes rock fans of the male persuasion, especially, spew indignant best-band-ever trivia for hours. But no one said a word in defense of anybody. There was virtual silence. I finally tested the speed and reliability of the service by holding a long IM discussion with the empty seat next to me. I IM'd to myself for what must have been a half hour, picking up one keypad as I put down the other. At some point, I imagine, the attractive woman two seats away felt that she'd made a really wise decision. The technology on Virgin America is great stuff—the touch screen interface of the airlines' seatback consoles allowed me to order food when I wanted it, for example. I touch-selected a drink and a snack, swept my credit card through the slot at my seat, and the items were delivered in minutes. The airline didn't accept any cash on the flight. On-demand movie service apparently worked with the same cash-less ease, if the passengers around me were any indication. But I don't think the IM service can get a lot better—and right now, despite all the buzz and the great performance, it looks like people simply don't want it.

Travel Tips

Buenos Aires: Tips from an expert

Michael Luongo, author of Frommer's Buenos Aires guidebook and webmaster of misterbuenosaires.com, answered your questions on Buenos Aires earlier this week in a live chat on BudgetTravel.com. Here are some highlights. Buenos Aires always seems to have the young beautiful people in its advertisements. Would some gals in our young 60s enjoy ourselves there? What would we find to do and where should we stay? I love your question! I find Buenos Aires is a great place for gals your age to enjoy themselves. Part of Argentina's European charm is the respect for women of a certain age, and in fact, you'll find plenty of North American gals your age living down there permanently. I don't know if you love to tango, or plan to, but I highly suggest some nights out—which are very late, meaning, like, 2 in the morning. Some places to try are Bien Pulenta, which offers a great mix between a milonga (tango hall) and a show. You can also try afternoon places like La Glorietta which is an outdoors place. It does not matter if you tango and it is such a beautiful thing to watch. There are galleries, restaurants, all kinds of things anyone would do no matter their age group. Of course ads have beautiful people all over the place in them, but doesn't all advertising have that? I have heard that it is better to skip the meal at most Tango shows and just see the show. Can you recommend a good show where you are not required to have a meal? Virtually all of the shows have that option. I think some really high quality ones are El Querandi, in the Montserrat area, and I think for glamor and orchestral quality, you want Esquina Carlos Gardel. What these options give you are things like drinks instead of dinner. You may save about 30 percent of the ticket price. Alternatively, you could head to the milongas, which are tango salons that mix shows with the public dance time, like Bien Pulenta. Milongas are a cheaper option with no requirement to buy dinner. That said, they happen very late at night, say 1 in the morning to begin. What areas of Buenos Aires would you avoid? This is a tricky question because it can depend on the time of day or night. I would say for sure, avoid La Boca at night. Monserrat can be a little dodgy, but is generally OK with spillover from busy San Telmo. In general, use good judgment, avoid abandoned streets as you would in any big city. I'm traveling with someone who is mobility-impaired. What do you recommend? It sure is pedestrian friendly as it is just off Calle Florida. Go to the Plaza San Martin area, too. Portions of the access are high steps, but certain areas will be easier for wheelchairs, you just have to go the long way around. It is a beautiful park. Florida Street is pedestrianized. Not all the stores will have access, but major places like Galerias Pacifico will be accessible—it is a mall with shops and eateries. You can also do outdoor dining in Buenos Aires as well, and though it's heading to autumn, you should have good weather. Should you need medical attention, Buenos Aires has a great healthcare infrastructure. Hospital Britanico, the English hospital has a lot of English speaking doctors. estancias are not really designed for those with limited mobility. You could try for a day trip Santa Susana and Fiesta Gaucha. It is touristy, but designed in such a way that you should have access to most of the shows, whether the gaucho games, or the dancing inside. You might have to arrange special transport rather than use of the usual buses that take people there however. What will the weather be like? July and August in Buenos Aires can be cold and rainy. The best way to describe it is like British weather. Gray, cold, rainy, but never as cold as in say the Northeast US in winter (though Buenos Aires had its first snowstorm recently in something like 70 years.) So a jacket, coat, sweaters, umbrella for sure. You'll want to spend a lot of time indoors, so check out cafes, restaurants, and of course art galleries too. November is a really beautiful time in Buenos Aires, especially early November when the jacaranda trees are in their purple bloom. EARLIER China: Do-it-yourself travel is now possible. An editor who lived in China for a while offers his tips. Paris: An ace food blogger shares her perfect Parisian food day

Travel Tips

Airlines: A fresh seat design from Delta

Delta has announced plans for a revolutionary new seat design to be used on its international Boeing 777 and 767 fleet, beginning in 2010. The seat design first needs to receive regulatory approval for safety, says Delta spokeswoman Katie Connell. The unusual seat layout ensures that each passenger has two armrests. Delta and the seat manufacturer, Thompson Solutions, offered the following illustration: The manufacturer says that its seats will make it easier to get in and out of window seats when the other passengers stand up. It has a tip-up seat pan, like a movie theater seat that folds up, only with the seat flipping up from the inverse direction. The following images from the manufacturer's website illustrate this "tip-up" feature: hat tip to the blog One Mile at a Time

Travel Tips

Beer guide

Brewmasters and industry insiders weigh in on how to pour, store, and judge a fine beer—and survive a long night at the pub—in our Web-only story Drink Beer Better. (Happy St. Patrick's Day!) Photo, from Sandy Hook, N.J., titled "They Got One Lock Open and Then They Read the Sign," courtesy of Sister72 on Flickr.