Student travel is in danger of becoming respectable. The InterRail pass and the Hitch-hikers Guide to Europe are both well into their twenties, and now even Hollywood is getting in on the budget travel act with the film Before Sunrise, which is about love-and-romance-on-the-last-train- to-Vienna.

Fortunately, the long-term decline in the real cost of travel means that students' end-of-term horizons are expanding faster than the establishment can catch up. Instead of Amsterdam, Barcelona and Copenhagen, the new ABC of vacation possibilities includes Ashkhabad, Bogota and Calcutta. Students are indeed, as a travel industry figure called them last week, a bunch of lucky YITs (Young Independent Travellers).

Responding to the globalisation of students, Europe's travel operators are offering some tempting deals this summer. The price of the InterRail has been held steady at pounds 249 for a month of unlimited train travel in Europe. This excludes the former Soviet Union and parts of the former Yugoslavia, but it does include Morocco and Asiatic Turkey.

Participants must be under 26 and have been resident in Europe for at least six months. The pass is available from student travel bureaux, BR International appointed travel agents, principal BR stations and the International Rail Centre at Victoria, London. Further information: 01420 220902.

To get you off to a good start, the standard Eurostar fare of pounds 155 is reduced to pounds 84 for under-26s heading through the Channel tunnel to Paris. Meanwhile, Eurobus, a road-based rival to InterRail, offers two months on the Continent's highways for just pounds 169. These buses serve a limited area (basically Paris, Nice, Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Milan, Florence and Venice). Eurobus tickets are available through student travel specialists, notably STA Travel and Campus Travel - both of which have offices throughout Britain.

As a kind of high-altitude, upmarket InterRail, Lufthansa of Germany has for three summers offered a Young Europe Special (YES) deal for people under 26 and ISIC card holders under 31. Each flight costs pounds 59 (plus taxes where applicable). You must buy a minimum of four and a maximum of 10. The deal is available only through Campus Travel (0171-730 3402) or STA Travel (0171-937 9921).

This summer you can insure against academic failure, or at least the risk of having to resit. Campus Travel (see above) has built in to its insurance policies a clause covering people obliged to cancel or curtail a trip to take an exam again.

Travelex bureaux de change now offer commission-free currency and travellers' cheques to students; just show a valid ISIC card to qualify.

Students keen to find out more about the cutting edge of manufacturing technology should head for the new Kansai airport at Osaka. There are plenty of possibilities for sightseeing in the manufacturing heart of Japan. The latest edition of Plants to Visit in Osaka (from the Japanese tourist office, 0171-734 9638) includes, in addition to car and computer factories, five breweries and a distillery.

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