Forever Student Tips #03: Travelling
Travel Tips for Student
Alisa regularly blogs for Student Tours Scotland giving some wisdom to current students. Here is the latest tip from her on travelling while studying in the UK.
Possibly the best advice I can give you whilst you're on exchange is: travel. Once again, whether it's with Student Tours Scotland or another operator just get out there. In Scotland alone there are so many beautiful things to see. But don't just stop there.
I know a lot of you are from Europe, and some of you may already have a ton of travel experience - but I always feel you can never have enough. For those of you who have come across from North America like myself, or other far away places (or maybe you even live in Europe but just haven't done that much travel) get out there!
I am a huge advocate of doing and seeing as much as you possibly can, and I used my exchange as an excuse to get a bunch of it in. So, to help you all have amazing experiences as well, I have put together a list of helpful websites and tips to get you cheap travel. You may already know some of these, but if you don't- they will change your life.
Ryanair - Literally the "Greyhound of the Sky" as one of my friends put it. I won't bother lying to you - it is the worst airline you will ever come across, but it is super cheap if you can do it with only a moderate sized backpack as luggage. Anything else, they will charge you. Forget to print off your own ticket? They will charge you. Basically, if they can - they will charge you extra. I managed to do most of my travel with them for super cheap and yes there were times when I had to wear six layers and put all the contents of my purse in my pockets so I could squish it in the bag (sorry ladies, purse is an extra bag too), but it was all worth it to get by on the cheapest possible fares. Sometimes it will be a hit and a miss, but it never hurts to check it first as it will generally give you a cheaper flight than anyone else. Another caution though - always google the airport they get you into as it is usually the most obscure location humanly possible, but there is always a cheap bus into the city centre. Just know where you are headed.
Another one to check out is EasyJet - Same basic idea as Ryanair, but a step up, and usually will get you into a main airport. I've found it cheaper before, but the times are usually less convenient. Once again, always good to check.
HostelWorld - I personally think hostels are the best way to travel while you're young. For those of you who may not of stayed in one before, here are some pros and cons.
Pros: Cheap; Great locations worldwide; An awesome place to meet people (especially if they have a bar); They usually all either put on events, or know where they are happening (pub crawls are a hostel favourite); Most hostels have kitchens so you can cook your own food to keep it cheap; You and a friend/ partner have the option of a private room so you still have your own space, but you can still mingle; Run by travellers like you, so you get great advice on where to go and how to do it cheaply; Often hostels have this special map that highlights all of the attractions- I've never seen them in any hotel, but they are incredibly useful and the staff will usually take the time to explain it to you.
Cons: Depending on prices you are looking at sharing a room with other people; Can be noisy as people get in at different times; Cleanliness (lots of people coming and going mean not everyone cleans up they're own mess); Always read reviews (I have heard horror stories of bed bugs and other germy dangers, but this can all be avoided by using your judgement and heading warnings when you see them in other people's comments); You have to be street smart (you never know who will be in there with you so locking up your stuff and sometimes even keeping them on you at all times is a good way to go).
Hostelworld is a fantastic site that will help you differentiate between the good and the bad. They lay out all the hostels matching your dates in the city and give you a description, list of amenities, map of the location, and a rating. I said it once but I'll say it again, always read the reviews! The review section is what makes this site so great because it gives you a chance to see what other people who have stayed there thought. Now, remember that there will always be that unfortunate case who got there and had the worst time of they're lives - don't always let this throw you off. The best way to judge a place is to scan through several reviews and try to come to a consensus of opinions. For example, I might find that the hostel has a great location, but that I should expect small rooms. Take it all into account, and you should be good.
Smaller cautions: Sometimes hostels take the "Ryanair Approach" and try to get you for extras. Try to find ones that have things like breakfast and linens (aka bedding and/or towels) included to get the best for your money.
If you don't think a hostel is for you, there are a million sites out there to help you find cheap hotel deals. All inclusive, 4 star for 2 star prices, you name it - it's out there somewhere. The best tip I can give you for this is to book early. Sometimes last minute bookings get you cheap rooms, but I find the earlier you book the better. If you want to take this route, just put some specific search terms into google and make sure you include words like 'cheap' or 'discounted' and you will get a bunch of results.
Hopefully those those main websites will get you started. I'm no expert, and I'm sure a lot of you have some great tips too, so be sure to pass around what works for you to others. The great thing about being on exchange is that you get to meet people from all over with completely different perspectives than you. And eventually when you go home, hopefully you will have made friends from all these wonderful places so that when you do go to visit them you have added incentive and a free place to stay with your own built in local tour guide. I have been so lucky to keep in touch with the people I met on my exchange, and next month alone I will be seeing several of them.
Basically, your time abroad is your oyster - make the most of it you can, because I can tell you from experience, it will fly by!
Posted on 14th March 2013 : permalink