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    Aug 25, 2014

    Tour packages with a twist for young globetrotters

    WHILE some young people are striking out on their own to see the world, others are taking a route that was once the preserve of families and senior citizens - tour packages.

    Of course, these tour packages for the young come with a twist. Many focus on music festivals, outdoor sports, camping trips and nightlife excursions.

    Contiki, which specialises in tours for travellers aged between 18 and 35, offers a seven-day Oktoberfest package where travellers stay in tents for five nights. Similarly, STA Travel offers a tour package that includes tickets to the Exit Music Festival in Serbia.

    Chan Brothers offers a tour to Tokyo and Mount Fuji area, where travellers can trek to the peak of Mount Ashiwada and bike around Lake Kawaguchi. In South Korea, they can try ice carving and zip lining.

    A My Paper check with seven tour agencies showed that all of them had seen a jump in young people taking up tour packages.

    This is especially true when they travel to more exotic destinations, said Natas chief executive Anita Tan.

    The packages can also make trips to familiar destinations like the United States and Europe more lively.

    Civil servant Vee Lim, 28, was able to ride in a limousine in Las Vegas as part of her Contiki tour in April. She was also able to enter some nightspots at a heavily discounted entrance fee.

    She paid about $2,500 for her 11-day tour covering the American West Coast, not including airfare.

    "We put in mind the 'talking point' factor, so that they can go home and share cool stories and great photos of their trips," said Kevin Khor, head of sales and marketing for Contiki (Asia).

    STA Travel's spokesman said packages for the young are differentiated by the travel style, the types of accommodation offered and the modes of transport used.

    "The guides that lead the tours aren't the usual cookie-cutter, script-rattler showman, but honest-to-goodness, passionate travellers too," said the spokesman.

    A CTC Travel spokesman said budget hotels, train journeys and rail passes are popular among youth.

    SA Tours is planning more leisurely paced itineraries with more free time for travellers to explore cities on their own, said a spokesman.

    "With the Internet being so prevalent and pervasive, we believe that youth actually prefer to do their own research on the cities that they are about to visit instead of following itineraries to a T," she said.

    For travellers like Ang Wen Xiang, 29, travelling on a package tour for youth is a way to meet people and have fun.

    The engineer went on an eight-day tour to Europe with Contiki in March, paying around $1,200 not including airfare.

    He recalled sunbathing in the Swiss Alps and wondering where the rest of his group mates had gone. He found out later they had gone up the mountain and stripped to take photos.

    He said: "If you're a party person, you can go out, and for people who just want to relax, they can just chill out in the hotel. There's something interesting to do for everybody."