By Drew Goldberg
I studied abroad in Prague in the spring semester of 2012. During my experience, I traveled to 21 different countries. This included several weekend trips and a one-month backpacking journey after my program ended.
Let me tell you that I am NOT rich. Traveling around Europe can be cheap if done correctly. I use many travel resources and spend my money wisely. There are many budget-friendly websites and student agencies are there to help you travel cheaply.
Below is a breakdown of the most useful travel resources that I use.
Finding a student agency
Student agencies are great resources to find cheap flights, accommodations, tours and expeditions. They will give you a ‘complete package,’ unlike another company can offer. To gain access into most student agencies, you must verify that you are enrolled at a university and pay a small fee for their service. Examples of a student agencies would be STA Travel (statravel.com) and Student Universe (studentuniverse.com). Both organizations provide customer service and offers student travel discounts.
In addition, I strongly recommend getting an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). This card will save you loads of money on travel arrangements, accommodations, cultural events, restaurants, etc. There are over 33,000 discounts in over 100 countries that are available through your ISIC card. Anytime you are buying a ticket for a tour, show, transportation or cultural event, just show your ISIC and chances are you’ll get a discount. There was a pizza restaurant near my old apartment in Prague that gave me a 50% discount for showing my ISIC card. It’s just that easy- don’t travel without one!
Booking an airplane ticket
I’ve probably booked over 100 different plane flights in the last 3 years alone. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding the cheapest flights on the market. I will never finalize a flight purchase until I’ve checked all three of the websites below.
Kayak is my go-to website for booking any flight. It is very simple to use, and gives you the best value out there. Just type in your flight details and Kayak will sort through hundreds of online sources in a matter of seconds to find the cheapest deal for you. You can also select your preferred flight time, search for vacation activities (like skiing or golf) and check the weather at your destination.
I use this website a lot when I booking flights around Europe, because this company is based out of Copenhagen. I think they have a special niche with many Europeans airlines. Their deals are extremely reasonable and comparable to any other flight on the market. Users can also search for direct or indirect flights to more than one destination.
Yapta is unique because you can check airline prices AFTER your purchase your flight. If the price drops after you have purchased the ticket, then you can claim a refund for the difference of the price change. It can get a bit confusing, so I suggest that you read more about it on their website. Overall, Yapta is very easy to use and you can always find a special deal that they are promoting.
Finding the right accommodation
Accommodations are one of the most important things about traveling. Believe it or not, my experience in each city revolves around my hostel. If I stayed at an awesome hostel with really cool people, then I felt more comfortable with my living quarters and had a blast. The times that I’ve stayed at a disgusting hostel with a rude staff, I usually end up not fully maximizing my experience. Here is a list of the resources that I use for accommodation.
This website is by far my most used website for booking accommodations. It has every city in the world that you imagine traveling to. The search filter lets you narrow your results down price, location proximity, wi-fi availability, etc. Also, there is a helpful map view of all the hostels in a given city, so you can find one that is closet to the city center or near public transportation. Perhaps the best part about hostelworld.com is the reviews from actual people who stayed at the hostel. I usually just read about other people’s experiences and judge my decision off that. You can also sign up to receive information at http://www.hostelworld.com to get even more special deals and promotions!
Couch Surfing is one of the best travel communities out there. It’s a great way to met people, because you are actually finding locals who will let you sleep on their couch for free! You basically just type in the city you are looking for and find a person who doesn’t mind your company in their own home. This website is also packed with useful information for any city, all from a local’s perspective. Sometimes, it is much better to steer away from the lonely planets and other mainstream tour guides, and get a taste from a local’s point of view!
I hope that you will use these resources so you can see much of the world without burning a hole in your pocket. Please contact me if you have any more questions! Have a good time and happy travels 🙂