The Student’s Guide to Travel and Planning

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Student traveler?  Lucky you. The travel world is brimming with great deals, discounted vacations, and free or reduced-price entry to the must-see landmarks if you can answer just two questions – where do you want to go and can you afford it?

Where do you want to go?
Luckily, your schedule is flexible so you can hit Europe or Asia in the off season and save big. Asia has the beaches and emerald islands. Europe has the world cities – London, Paris, Madrid – timeless villages and must-experience festivals.

Cash, Flickr: TheTruthAbout...'s photostream Can you afford it?
Work out your budget. Figure out how much you will need each day, then multiply that number by the number of days you’ll be away. And put a few dollars on top of that, to cover incidentals – the souvenir your mom would love, departure taxes at an airport, having a coffee in a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

If you’ve got good answers to both questions, then here are are a few tips on safety and careful planning:

Investing in an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is essential. The ISIC is the only card recognized internationally as proof of student status. It will get you discounts on meals, tours, bike rentals, museums, international phone calls and shopping.

Do your homework on the type of flights you need. A round-the-world? A multi-stop? And then shop around. We’d be remiss if we didn’t say compare the cost of flights at Cheapflights.com. Statravel.com and studentuniverse.com are other, student-focused travel sites as well.

Book accommodation as far in advance as you can. It’s often the cheapest option. Crashing in a dorm room is okay, but a bit of planning will turn up exceptional places to stay. The YHA in Sydney’s Rocks district has five-star views of the Harbour for budget prices.  Factor in what’s included in the price of a room. A free breakfast and free WiFi will save you money.

Stay safe. Walk confidently, but it’s best not to call attention to yourself. Try to blend in if you don’t want to be the obvious tourist.

Avoid trouble spots. Check out the US Department of State for more up-to-date information.  As well as the general risk to life and limb, traveling to a country with a Travel Warning may impact on your health insurance and/or your trip cancellation insurance.

 

Must-haves:

  • Multiple ways of accessing your cash: Set up a separate bank account for your travels, one that can be accessed, without penalties, around the world. Traveler’s checks, a Prepaid Currency Travel Money Card, Credit Card or Debit Card are all ways of carrying your money. 
  • Passport, Flickr: swimparallel's photostream Up-to-date travel documents:  A passport valid for at least six months after your return to the States; photocopies of travel documents, or a scan of them (that you have emailed to yourself); an International Driving Permit.
  • A little local knowledge: Familiarize yourself with the local conditions and laws and try to have a couple of words in the local language – thanks, hello and goodbye will do.
  • Insurance: When you’re searching for a travel insurance policy, check the fine print. What’s the medical coverage?  Are you covered for winter sports? That bungee jump you plan on taking in New Zealand?  What if your flight is grounded due to a Volcanic Ash cloud?
  • Shots: do you need immunizations for where you are going?
  • A sleeping bag: It’s bulky, but you never know when you’ll need it for warmth, or maybe to make that airport seat a little more comfortable while you catch a nap.
  • A basic first-aid kit: With painkillers, travel sickness pills and, if you’re going where the tap water is not safe to drink, purification tablets.

Travel, Flickr: *Micky's photostream Most of all, have fun and make sure to fully appreciate the open and fascinating opportunity to see the world.