Posted October 20, 2015
By DIANA RODON
When a student finally makes the decision to study abroad, he or she should prepare for the experience of a lifetime and should be ready to take every opportunity to travel to nearby destinations.
After spending so much money to participate in a study abroad program, the last thing a student would think to spend their money on is more travel.
I studied abroad this past spring semester in Canterbury, England, and was able to see and experience so much of Europe even on a small budget. With so many means for budget transportation and accommodation as well as youth or student discounts, it would be hard for any student to travel outside of his or her means.
Norwegian Air is your choice budget airline for transatlantic flights. Its airline tickets sell for far cheaper than the average ticket to Europe from a competitor airline. Norwegian Air operates in a few major airports across the U.S. such as in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK). While prices can vary by country and season, there are many round trip flights that can be found for under $500.
The cabin crew and aircraft do not differ significantly from those of other larger airlines. The seats are slightly smaller and placed closer together than the average transatlantic plane. As a person of average height, I never felt cramped, except on the rare occasions when the person directly in front of me decided to recline his or her seat.
Norwegian Air boasts the same in-flight entertainment system as most modern aircraft, with a touchscreen personal screen at your seat. And just like any budget airline, food and checked baggage come at an extra cost to the customer. The small sacrifices travelers have to make to travel for less are worth it, especially considering the money you wouldn’t expect to save in flying to your host university.
easyJet and Ryanair
Both of these budget airlines operate in Europe and feature low-cost rates to almost any European destination you can think of. Round trip tickets often won’t put you far out of pocket, usually around $60. Flyers often complain about the service, cramped seats, and size of overhead compartments.
Each has its own specific downsides, Ryanair uses unseemly yellow lights that bother the eye, while easyJet doesn’t allow you to take a personal item onto the plane in addition to your carry on. With both these airlines, it’s best that you print your boarding passes in advance to avoid extra charges. If you follow all directions perfectly and don’t get sucked in to purchasing food or duty free items on the plane, the airfare, even with all its hassles, is a true bargain.
The great thing about studying abroad is that you will make friends from all over Europe and more often than not they’ll be gracious enough to host you in their home countries, and show you what the locals do.
But on occasions when that doesn’t happen, Couchsurfing is a site that helps to link you with a Couchsurfer who will host you in their home, usually on a couch, free of charge. Oftentimes hosts will be exceptionally accommodating, showing you around the city and cooking you meals. As with Airbnb, reviews are very important. Students should stray away from Couchsurfers without any or with a small amount of reviews. The hosts with many positive reviews are the ones with which you should feel safe to stay.
Railcards and Passes
Many countries have railcards that give you a discounted price on train travel, one of the biggest modes of transportation in Europe. Interrail is a popular option that offers a selected amount of days in a month you can travel by train for one price, within one country or multiple. If you use all the days you sign up for, at the youth price, it’s a better deal than purchasing each ticket individually.
In England, they also have a youth railcard that you can purchase, which then gives you a third off the price of most train tickets. The railcard will pay for itself in the amount you’ll be saving in just a couple of train rides. Anyone studying abroad in a European country should search for a similar program in their host country.
Traveling can certainly add up when there are so many new places to see and experience. Travelers however should expect to pay less on average for each trip, especially when taking into consideration the many youth prices that Europe has to offer as well as these money saving tips.