Travel TipsLearning to enjoy time by myself. At first it was a bit isolating, but once I made myself get out and do things on my own, I had a blast.
Dominique Ellis, Scotland
Be independent - be willing to go somewhere you've never thought of visiting.
Anthony Ortenzi, Morocco
Your overseas experience extends beyond the classroom. Students on tight budgets will find more activities, people and adventures in and near their study sites than they can take advantage of in a semester or year. Think about doing more local travel within your host country. It's greener, and riding a bicycle through the Loire Valley or backpacking to Macchu Picchu will be more memorable than stopping in that 15th European capital! (Click here for more information on Green Study Abroad.)
- While on study abroad, many students say they lived by their travel guides; so get a complete and updated one.
- Host Country residents are a great source of information on local sights and festivals. Talk with students about the best places to visit and the cheapest ways to travel. Making friends with host country students frequently results in invitations to homes and visits with families. Make sure to inform your family of your travel plans, and it can be a good idea to email them an itinerary if you have one.
- Traveling during vacation periods can be a fun, but occasionally, a costly experience. If you plan to travel during vacation periods, remember to plan for the additional costs of this travel.
- The International Student Identification Card (ISIC) is your official card for obtaining reductions at certain restaurants, theaters, stores, museums and student lodgings, as well as reduced student airfares. This card costs about $25 but is worth it with all the discounts you will receive (especially in Europe). The ISIC card offers proof of student status, is recognized internationally, and can be used as a pre-paid phone card. The ISIC automatically provides you with limited accident and medical insurance outside the U.S. as well as medical evacuation and repatriations coverage. Make sure that your card will not expire before you return to the U.S. It is strongly recommended to obtain the ISIC card before leaving the U.S. The ISIC card can be obtained at any STA Travel Center or on www.isic.org. This website also includes an extensive list of discounts by country.
- International Youth Hostel membership provides inexpensive lodging while you travel. Membership is available through STA Travel or at www.iyhf.org.
- Hitchhiking can be dangerous, and for this reason, you are strongly advised NOT TO hitchhike.
- Ways to travel in Europe:
- There are a number of rail passes you can get if you are studying abroad in Europe. The Eurail pass allows for unlimited first-and second-class travel. Eurail Youthpass (Student rail) gives unlimited second-class travel to anyone under the age of 26. Eurail Selectpass is a shorter version of the traditional Eurail pass. It is good for train and ferry travel in any three bordering countries for 5, 6, 8 or 10 days in a two-month period. Rail passes are most useful if you will be traveling for a long period of time. Once purchased, rail passes must be validated within 6 months. From the time of validation, depending on the pass purchased, you have up to two months from the exact time of validation to use your pass. Once in Europe, passes can be purchased online; but they have to be sent to a U.S. address. This means if you do not buy a pass before going and want to buy one while abroad online, you have to have it sent to your parents/guardians/friends house; and then, they must send it to you at your foreign address. For more information on rail passes go to www.raileurope.com.
- Individual countries also offer special deals for student rail travel. The Inter-Rail pass is available to students who have resided in Europe for 6 months and is split into zones for various regions of Europe. Some students have indicated the Inter-Rail pass is a better bargain than the Eurail pass.
- Air Travel is another alternative for traveling. Some cheap European airlines are:
- U.S. Customs: Become familiar with customs regulations before you leave. The brochure "Know Before you Go" is available at most travel agencies, passport offices and the Customs Bureau. Note in particular that personal belongings purchased in the US (cameras, cd players, mp3s, computers, etc.) that are not American-made may be subject to duty upon re-entry. Be sure to carry the sales receipt for the item with you.
- Traveling Solo: We recommend that you travel as much as you can while you are overseas. While it would be great if you have the opportunity to travel with family or friends, often it is hard to coordinate schedules and interests. Traveling solo can be a very rewarding experience and allows you to meet interesting people, but you should take additional precautions.
- Two excellent methods for travelers to avoid hassles are to behave and dress in ways that allow one to blend in with the culture and to understand and conform to standards of gender roles in the culture in which one is traveling. Some things to keep in mind when you consider traveling
- Avoid being out alone at night in unfamiliar territory-on the street, in parks, on trams or in trains. For example, if you suddenly find yourself alone in a train car, move to another one where others are sitting.
- Keep a low profile wherever you are. Avoid traveling in large noisy groups.
- Always carry extra change or a local phone card for emergencies and money for a bus or taxi.
- Look as if you know where you are going (even when you don't!) and consider approaching shopkeepers, couples or women when asking for directions. (Use your own discretion and common sense!)
- Carry a whistle on your key chain to use in an emergency.
- Do not react to verbal harassment. Seek out the police or passersby for help.
- Don't take unnecessary risks but don't lose your sense of adventure either.
- Think before you act. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't wander through unfamiliar areas alone and always remain alert.
- Carry a good book, a diary or postcards and take advantage of evening hours in your hostel or hotel for resting and recording your adventures or sharing with family and friends back home.