You applied to a great international study program, got accepted and now you’re ready for your epic international student travel big move. Congratulations!
Are you a bit worried though right? Not sure where to begin. Is there a checklist you should follow? What should you pack? Do you need travel insurance? How should you handle money while abroad?
So many questions!
Don’t worry, I’ve put together an extensive guide that will answer all your questions and help make your desire to enjoy cheap study abroad a dream come true. Read on for the best tips on how to travel abroad for your studies.
Once you have your acceptance letter you can now start preparing for your move abroad. The first thing you need to do is get your travel documents in order.
You must have a valid passport and visa to be able to travel and study in a foreign country. The sooner you start this process the better.
If you already have a passport be sure to check that it hasn’t expired and that it will still be valid for at least the next 6 months. If you don’t have one, make an application at least three months before your intended travel date as the application process may take up to a month.
Once you get your passport, apply for your travel visa. Different countries require different types of visas. For instance, if you are going to study abroad in Europe you will get a Schengen student visa that allows you to stay in any of the European countries within the Schengen area.
Do some research on the visa requirements for the country where you will be studying before you make your application to make sure that you present all the necessary documents. You can also inquire from the embassy or consulate of the country you plan on going to.
Ask about any possible special travel restrictions to avoid being caught off guard. Remember to make your visa application in good time as the process can take time to be completed.
The next preparation item on your list should be travel insurance. Once you get your travel documents buy travel insurance.
It’s important that you have a reliable health and accident insurance policy all the time when studying abroad just in case you face a medical emergency.
Even though you may already have a health insurance policy that covers you abroad, you still need travel insurance because there are a few more things that travel insurance will cover that your health insurance won’t.
Search for student travel insurance providers as most of these will offer you some pretty good discounts and will have covers that are tailor-made for international students meaning all your travel incidents will be covered.
Before you leave for your studies abroad take into account that you will be living in a totally new environment. You will be living with people with different customs, culture and practices.
If you want to fit in with the locals and make your stay abroad easy, it’s important that you learn the way of life of the locals. So take the time learn as much as you can about your study abroad country.
Learn about the country’s history, government, geography, economy, culture and anything else you can find. This way, you will not feel out of place of face too much culture shock. Armed with this information, you will feel right at home in no time.
For safety measures, your bank will flag your account as a fraud risk whenever you make any transactions abroad. They may even block your account making it hard for you to access your money.
To avoid this, let your bank know that you will be going to a particular country for a certain period of time and you’ll be accessing your account from that country. That way, the bank will be aware that it’s you making the transactions.
This shouldn’t be much of a hassle, you could simply give the bank a quick call or send them an email informing them of your travel plans.
You’re getting closer to leaving home!
This is probably the hardest part of the preparation for most people and we all could do with a packing guide. My advice; pack light!
Sure you’ll be staying abroad for at least four months or longer before you have to come back home. This is, however, no excuse to carry your entire closet.
Always remember that most of the items you feel you must carry with you will be available abroad so only take the essentials such as clothes. You can inquire from your international school for a suggested packing list in case you’re not sure what to take with you.
When packing your bags have one checked bag, a day bag such as a backpack that you can use as your carry on and one personal item such as a purse. This will make it easy for you to deal with airline baggage rules.
Once you get to your study destination and want to travel around either within the country or to nearby countries, follow the same packing rule of keeping it light. This makes your movement easier allowing you to enjoy your trip and not have to worry about too much luggage.
Depending on when your classes are starting, there are certain days that are much cheaper to travel than others.
Whenever you’re making travel plans always plan to travel on less desirable days such as after breaks when everyone is busy with work and on weekdays instead of weekends. Watch out for days such as Fridays and Sundays which are usually more expensive due to high demand.
The time of day is also important if you want to save yourself some money. It’s cheaper to travel at dawn or overnight than any other time of the day.
Some routes are also cheaper than others. For instance, flying a non-stop route, though convenient, will cost you more than using a connecting route. Do a route comparison before you book your flight just to be sure you’re getting the best deal.
Speaking of deals, there are many tools such as Trip Watcher, that you can use to keep an eye on travel trends and get notifications of price changes. Sign up for travel deal newsletters to receive exclusive and flash-sale notifications.
These will come in handy even during your stay abroad and you want to take quick cheap trips during your study breaks and get away from school for a while.
In most cases, international student travel will require you to use a flight to get to your study destination. So booking a flight to your study destination will be the best means of transportation.
Once you get to your study destination though, other means of transport such as trains, buses and even cycling will be best when getting around. Research your study destination to find out which means are the cheapest for students.
There are so many airlines discounted flights you just need to know where and when to look. The cost of flight tickets will vary greatly depending on where you’re buying your ticket from and when you want to travel.
Most online ticket booking sites such as Momondo, Kayak, Skyscanner, Expedia and Google Flights will compare the flights available for your preferred dates and show you which dates are the cheapest.
There some sites that actually focus on student travel such as Student Universe that offer flexible and cheap ticket options for international students. Did you know you could get a cheaper flight just for being under 26? We’ll now you do!
Timing is everything when you’re looking for cheap flights. For starters buy your ticket well in advance before your travel date. The best time to buy your ticket is in the three month range before your departure.
Search for flights when fewer people are shopping. The best time to shop for flights is in the afternoon around midday and 3 pm
A quick reminder, your browser and search engines always keep a track of what you’ve searched for before and this tends to raise the prices since they know you want it. Beat this by doing your flight searches in incognito mode and you’ll always see fresh search results.
Lastly, set up email alerts and receive notifications via email notifications whenever the flight prices drop and you can buy your ticket when the price is right.
Always keep all your paperwork accessible when you leave home. Do not pack them in your luggage you want them with you all the time just in case you encounter any travel issues.
It’s important that as an international student you’re always able to identify yourself and have documents to show that you’re in the country legally. Your passport should be on you always as it’s your best form of identification when abroad.
Also, have the name and contact information of someone at home and at your international school who can be reached at any time in case you face any emergencies while abroad.
Never leave home before you know where you will be staying once you arrive at your study destination. You certainly don’t want to get stranded and be homeless on your first day of arriving abroad.
Check out the different student accommodation options being offered by your international program. These could include shared apartments, room dorms at the university campus and even homestay arrangements.
The goal is to pick an accommodation option that will make the most financial sense without affecting your comfort. Yes, you want to save some money but you also don’t want to live in a dump.
To make this work, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and be open to finding as many options as possible. Don’t limit yourself you may just be surprised at what is available.
Talk to your student advisor about available accommodation options both in and off campus and then pick one that is best for you. If you’re interested in a homestay, your advisor will come in handy to help you find the right local family.
When travelling around during your study break, accommodation will be a major financial consideration. You certainly want to travel on a budget so budget accommodation is the best option.
Instead of sleeping in hotels that can be quite expensive, go to hostels and save some good amount of cash that you can use for other things as you travel. You will also get to meet other students travelling and make life connections.
HostelWorld is a great site for finding reputable and affordable hostels around the world. Make sure you read reviews to avoid booking a rundown hostel.
Getting an international student card could save you lots of money as you travel abroad. The International Student Identity Card is a good option to get before you travel to your study destination.
The card is easy to use and is globally accepted in 120 countries. You can use the card to get cheap flights to your country of study. Any student above the age of 12 can apply for a student card.
Once there you can use it to pay for grocery, hotel deals, discounted or even free transportation and even free access to museums and other tourist attractions. This makes it quite possible to travel for free and explore the country you’ll be studying in without having to break the bank.
Some of the popular attraction around the world that you can access at a discount or free include:
- Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam.
- Sandeman’s NEW Europe Tours across Europe.
- Musée du Louvre, Paris.
- Churchill War Rooms, London.
- Rock’n’Roll Museum, Dublin.
The student card also comes with free basic travel insurance which is great for your school break trips around the world. You get up to $2,000 for medical bills.
There you have it, folks! The only guide that you will ever need to make your move abroad a success. Follow these international student travel tips and you should have an easy transition from your home country to your study destination a smooth one!