How to plan a dream trip
We know you'll never want to leave your student accommodation in your respective city, but you can't ignore the fact that it's a big, wide world out there! Whether your experience of travel is a few family holidays as a kid, or just a trip to London from ‘Up North’, it’s never too late to go out and see the world as you really imagined. Although money often tends to be tight as a student, you’ll never again be handed seemingly endless loans and bursaries, so if you get a job on top, it’ll be a lot easier to save. When you get into the real world (hate to break it to you…) your employer isn’t just going to let you swan off for weeks or months at a time, so there really is no better time to start planning than now. Where should you start? What should you know? Here are a few ideas…
1. Learn a language. You don’t have to be an absolute genius or anything, but getting to grips with a few select words of the country’s native language will get you a long way. In some corners of the world, English isn’t really spoken (why should it be…?), and so not only is it polite, it could be your saving grace. Try and learn some words of thanks (and asking for forgiveness!), as well as some basic directions and compliments.
2. Sort out your money. Make sure you have enough to take with you… or at the very least, have enough to fall back on. Plan to get your currency changed in advance – in many places, it’s not so easy to find a bureau de change, they aren’t on every corner like here in the UK! You can also get some great prepaid debit cards for certain countries, which make handling money easy, plus you can track your spends online. Failing all of that, you can always get mum and dad back home to help you out. There are some great services out there now, for example Azimo – it lets family and friends send money abroad without tons of costs, and it can even be used over Facebook.
3. Travel off the beaten path. This one might seem a little risky, but this doesn’t mean you need to traipse through ganglands and ghettoes. Package holidays often frustrate the more imaginative traveller with their very own ideas about what they want from their trip. If you’ve always dreamed of road tripping the USA, rent a car and grab some friends, and do it. Don’t just go where everyone else you know goes, either – whilst places like Thailand are absolutely breath-taking and a ‘must- see’, you should only go because YOU want to go, not because everyone else you know does. Explore the world one step at a time, with your starting point being your first choice. Remember, there is a lot more to the world than Ibiza and Magaluf, and whilst they’re fun for a holiday, you don’t really get to see much! If you need a little bit of a hard with your tailor made trip, why not pop into STA Travel? They’ve got tons of tours especially for young people, and experienced staff who will make the ultimate trip that’s perfect for you.
4. Live abroad. Whether it’s Camp America, a working holiday Visa in Australia, volunteering in Uganda, or the Study China programme, there are loads of ways you can get out of England for more than a week or two. This will look great on your CV, and give you some actual culture points, too.
5. No matter where you venture – get ample travel insurance! Make sure you know what it covers – and what it does not. Almost everyone knows someone in some other country who has had an absolute horror story, so make sure it isn’t you. Some insurance won’t cover you if you’ve had a drink, so be extra careful when you’re out partying. Hospital bills can be in their thousands, and healthcare is often a serious business, with no NHS to take the fall.
Wherever you go, make sure you’re safe and not making decisions that you wouldn’t ordinarily make at home. Your life is precious, and as mumsy as it sounds, you only get one. Saying that – it’s too short to waste, so go live it.
Posted on 10th April 2014 by Claire L.
Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.