Prague? Been there. Delhi? Done that. Decca Aitkenhead offers a guide to this year's destinations for the young traveller
An old farmhouse in the Dordogne? A Tuscan villa with pool attached? A traditional Engligh beach house? Forget it, if you want a real holiday try hanging out on the remotest beaches of Morocco, staying with the gypsies of Romania, floating down the Amazon or cruising across America as Thelma and Louise.

STA, the specialist student travel agents, handle 350,000 young people a year. America is still the most popular destination but south-east Asia and Latin America are becoming more fashionable. But the adventurous are still searching for the ultimate exotic, unusual and risky destination from Alaska to Bolivia.

So to find out just how hot or not your holiday plans are, here is the hip holidaymaker's guide to the summer's best getaways.

The Thelma and Louise drive across America

The drive across America remains an institution. The classic Greyhound trip, much travelled in the 1960s and 1970s, is less enduring. More young people can drive these days; hiring a car is cheaper. Sophie Ross, 23, a public affairs consultant, spent six weeks on the road.

"The way to make friends is just to go to the bar and buy a drink, and everyone wants to know you - especially when you are two English girls. You get so much attention. That's all we did all the way across America. Just drive and get drunk.

"A hurricane struck while we were in New Orlearns. We sat it out in a motel room watching Miss Teen America, getting drunk and playing poker with security guards. I fell in love in Santa Fe but got horribly drunk and fell out of a car.

"The small towns were odd. You see all those American films where weird things happen in little towns, and you kind of expect them to happen to you, but of course they don't - you just buy your coffee, get back in the car and drive off.

"Motels cost $30-$40 a night between us, and petrol cost next to nothing. I couldn't have done the Greyhound thing - all the people we saw doing it just looked totally miserable.

"In all, we drove over 12,000 miles. There were moments that were pure Thelma And Louise. Two girls in a car, completely free - you really do believe you're in the movies. It's incredibly liberating."

The Right-On Break: Romania

The fall of the Iron Curtain installed the Eastern bloc on the hip holiday circuit. In the early 1990s Prague played the role San Francisco performed in the 1960s, drawing in idealistic young people from around the world. Now Prague is seriously overcrowded, commercialised and full of Americans. The seriously hip are travelling further afield in search of real people and real experiencs. Tom Allen, 22, just spent two months in Romania.

"I travelled around on trains, which were dirt cheap and very interesting, but you have to watch out not to get your stuff stolen. You meet lots of interesting entrepreneurs carrying bags of things like flip-flops for sale.

"Life is incredibly cheap there, but hotels are very expensive. I tended to stay with people I met.

"I stayed with some gypsies for a while. They are absolutely everywhere, and all the stereotypes are true - you really have to watch your possessions.

"Romanians couldn't understand what I was doing there. They just say 'Why? It's such an ugly country and we are horrible Balkan people." They are all bored with foreigners asking them if they were persecuted by the Communists.

The unpolitically correct destination: Serbia

War zones enjoy a perversely fashionable allure. One of the hip destinations this summer is the Yemen. Kasmir still excites the young despite the risk of being taken hostage. War zones are topical, butch, and even a short visit will prove how brave you are. It's bound to trump all the other Boy's-Own holiday stories sloshing around the pub on your return. From Romania, Tom Allen dropped in on Serbia for a fortnight.

"Belgrade is a bizarre place - there are people there who are very happy, and there are people just back from the front, running around with guns.

"I had heard that Belgrade was very quiet, and one thing I did find was that during a war, people pretend it's not going on. But the war was apparent - the poverty is the most striking thing, and then there are ridiculously high fines for speeding. It was a fun place to be, and it was easy to get quite cheap accommodation. I was disappointed Hip holidays (continued)

about the architecture, though - there was none left. "

A Bit Of Rough: Latin America

Latin America is notorious for muggings, drug cartels and wandering bands of Maoist terrorists. It is therefore very cool. Pip Pank, 25, first visited South America when he was 18. He returned again this year.

"On my first trip there, I travelled all around Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, staying in guest houses and B&Bs for about pounds 1 - pounds 4 a night. To get to Caracas, to my flight home, I took a river boat through the heart of the Amazon jungle.

"For the first three days I was so hemmed in I couldn't get out of my hammock. It was overcrowded, because another boat had sunk. The only food was porridge made with water from the river. You could taste the mud. Then next boat took us down to Manous, a huge city with skyscrapers in the middle of a rain forest. We spent 10 days swinging in our hammocks, watching the rain forest go by, looking at pink dolphins. It cost about pounds 30, including food.

In Search of the Spirit: India

Few young people seriously set off East in search of themselves any more. It is a cliche too far. More are travelling for Thailand and Vietnam in search of cheap South Pacific idyll. But eastern promise comes cheap. Clarissa Newman, 23, spent less than pounds 700 for two months in India with friends.

"We stayed up in the mountains at Ladakh. It was the most incredibly beautiful place, but it took a while to get used to the altitude.

"The bus journey up there was a nightmare. It took 48 hours, and we drove through a mad landscape. It was like being on the moon. Overnight, we stayed in a old army tent - it was vast, permanent, full of Tibetan refugees, and 15,000 feet up in the mountains. A policeman asked my boyfriend if he could buy me.

"The accommodation in Ladakh was amazing - villas with 180-degree views for a few quid a night. And it was incredibly friendly. Young kids would roll you hash in the morning. We would wake every morning to the calls of all three religions - Christian, Bhuddist and Muslim. We went to a Buddhist Harvest Moon Festival, and saw a man in an extraordinary outfit dance himself into a trance."

The Ultimate Beach bum's Eden: Morocco

The search for the perfect surf is the Holy Grail of beach bums. This search is inescapably and avowedly elitist. If many others happen upon your hallowed slice of sand, you know it cannot be The One. Alex Payne, 24, a club promotions manager, found it after days of travel on the west coast of Morocco.

"We drove down in an old VW van, to a beach half way down Morocco's west coast. We slept in the van, hung out on the beach and windsurfed every day. It was exceptionally good windsurfing - big waves, very windy, and sunny. There were a few old hippies around, left over from a commune in the days when Jimmi Hendrix stayed there, and some French surfers.

"We cooked couscous and risotto on the beach. There was one bar, but it couldn't sell alcohol and didn't have a fridge. There was one thing on the menu, and you had to order it at lunch if you wanted it for supper. It was proper wilderness. The locals thought we were mad.

"Very few surfers know about the place. There was a real sense of unity - a sense that if you had made it all the way down there, you generally knew what you were doing. It's not like largeing it on the beach in Cornwall in your Golf GTi."

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