Moyan Brenn, Travel via Flickr CC BY 2.0

School’s out: 12 tips for student travelers off to see the world

Whether you’ve recently graduated and you’re traveling the world, you’re about to spend your summer abroad or you’re just planning a road trip with friends, get ready for some great adventures. Whatever your travel agenda may be, we say go for it! The ripe young age of 20-something is the perfect time to explore new places and gain new experiences. We sat down with our team of travel experts working in South Africa, London, Australia and North America to gather the most helpful travel tips we could think of – a list of “I wish I’d knowns,” if you will. Now you can travel smart, safe and on a budget. There’s no need to be intimidated by the big bad world with these proven tips:

1. Plan ahead

While this might seem like the most basic tip – sit down with your laptop, pen and paper to plan out your trip. We encourage spontaneity, but planning, packing, budgeting and setting a few sight-seeing goals for yourself will make your trip more enjoyable and less stressful. Especially when you’re already in a foreign land and trying to learn another language (see tip #2).

2. Learn some of the language

It’s always important to learn a few basic local phrases for the places you’re traveling. Not only is it polite, but you might be able to charm the locals and save money on things like taxis, food and drinks. Duolingo is a great and free app that gives you the basics you’ll need for a variety of languages.

3. Check-in with your bank

See if your local bank offers any benefits like travel insurance or international student discounts. Also, give your bank a call and share your travel plans. If your bank is in the know, it greatly decreases the likelihood your account will get blocked or put on hold while you’re traveling, saving you the hassle and cost of calls back home to sort it out. For an added bonus, your bank may be able to point you to partner banks wherever you are headed that will cut down on ATM fees.

4. Stash your cash

Don’t keep all your money in one place, because, from our experience, you’ll want to have some back-up cash just in-case. Say someone lifts your wallet at a hostel in Berlin. You might have to talk to the German police about it, but at least you won’t be completely out of luck. You’ll just be really grateful that you hid money in a secret pocket of your travel pack in case of emergencies (cue victory dance!).

5. Have copies of important documents

Getting pick pocketed is a very real thing that happens anywhere you travel. Make sure that you have copies of your passport, bank cards and other identifications. You never know when your passport might get stolen or simply misplaced, and it’s pretty hard to get anywhere without it. You’ll be happy you brought backup.

6. Keep a fresh change of clothes on you

There is nothing worse than losing your luggage or traveling for 14 hours without a fresh change of clothes. Always keep an extra outfit in your carry-on. A tooth brush with travel-sized toothpaste and face wipes aren’t a bad idea either.

7. If you have a travel partner, split your luggage

Traveling with a buddy is always a blast and can be really convenient. Pack half your luggage in your bag and half in his or her bag. That way if one of you loses a suitcase, you’ll still have half your things in your friend’s suitcase and vice versa. And if both of you lose your luggage, you’ll be really happy you followed tip #6!

8. Cook meals and pack lunches

You’re probably going to end up in one or two hostels while you’re traveling and you can (and should) take advantage of the kitchen. Hostels are incredibly affordable places to stay, and also a great way to socialize. Run down to the local supermarket and make dinner or pack a picnic rather than eating out every meal. You’ll end up saving money and you might get the chance to sample fresh and local flavors!

9. Find a good international phone company

You will need a phone for emergencies while you’re traveling, and there are plenty of companies that provide international phones with reasonable rates while you’re out of your home country. You’ll end up saving money by not using roaming data on your phone. Check out Three Mobile, available in multiple countries or look at getting a “pay as you go” SIM card for your phone. And don’t overlook messaging apps like Skype and WhatsApp that let you text or call using WiFi.

10. Buy local travel cards and discount cards

Local travel cards are a great way to bundle your bus, train and ground transportation purchases and save money. Student specific offerings like the ISIC card or European Youth Card that apply in the destination you’re visiting offer significant opportunities to save. Acquiring one of these travel cards before you leave is a no-brainer. After all, aside from travel deals, it will also gain you useful discounts at cinemas, bookstores and restaurants.

11. Don’t over pack!

If you can keep it down to one suitcase or backpack that is within carry-on luggage limits, you will often save money and find it much easier to jump on and off buses, trains, bikes, Vespa’s, etc. For checked luggage, look up your airline’s weight limits and make sure you’re under. Otherwise, you might be paying a hefty charge for overweight luggage.

12. Last, but certainly not least – be in the moment

While getting the perfect Instagram or Facebook photo to make all your friends back home jealous can be important, don’t forget to live in the moment. Take in your surroundings with your own eyes and capture a moment or experience without the Lo-Fi filter. You might see something you didn’t expect, have a conversation you never thought you’d have, or dare we say, learn something.

Now you can confidently take an unforgettable adventure. Even though you may not be in school at the moment, there is a whole world out there that is ripe for exploring. Get your back-pack ready, get excited and get out there!

Tip Contributors/Cheapflights bloggers: Oonagh Shiel (UK); Brooke Parker (US): Esther Goh (New Zealand); Justine McLeary (New Zealand), Claudia Hauter (South Africa); Alexandra Oke (Australia); Victoria Elizabeth (UK); Marta Safin (UK) ; Claire Plush (Australia)


(Feature image: Moyan Brenn, Travel via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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