Packed bags ready for travel

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When you’re deep into the semester and exams, your future travel and vacations are likely not high priority. But the summer is not so far away, and looking forward to it can feel good now, as well as helping to set you up for a change of scene later. Most students want to travel, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. And you’re pretty clear that the benefits of travel (including study abroad programs) go deep. ”I hope to gain more of an understanding of people and culture [by travelling],” says CU Boulder senior Hannah. “Travel encourages me to appreciate the unknown while recognizing the familiar,” says Joe Foley, a second-year undergraduate at American University in Washington DC, who in 2014 became the youngest-ever National Geographic Traveler of the Year.

What’s blocking your exit route? Not surprisingly, by far the biggest barrier to travel is cost. “I think cost would be my biggest barrier,” says CU Boulder senior Nicole. In our survey, 93 percent of students who responded said lack of funds was a barrier; only 4 percent said they were uncomfortable with the prospect of unfamiliar places.

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What you love about travel

“I gained a lot of independence from traveling and learned how to kind of roll with resistance, things will go wrong sometimes and that’s all part of the experience.”
—Hannah, fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder

“How resourceful can you be when you’re out of money and 4,000 miles away from home? Do you panic? Do you run to the consulate? Do you go native? You learn that you can wash your undies in a hotel bathroom in Rome without embarrassment. You realize that street food really is the most delicious cuisine you’ll ever stuff in your face. Travel will grind you down to your truest self. Whether that is good or bad really is up to the person. In addition, foreign candy is legit way better. So the downside is you’ll never be happy with a Snickers™ again.”
—Lori T., third-year graduate student, San Diego State University, California

Two friends traveling and taking a selfie“I love airports, planes, train stations, subways and underground metro systems, meeting new people, and dancing the night away.”
—Sarah A., third-year undergraduate, Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota

“Traveling is great because it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. It can be a road trip to a different city or it can be a cruise or it can be a plane ride to a new country—there’s an option for many budgets and comfort zones!”
—Taylor R., fourth-year undergraduate, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York

“Travel experiences are built by the little things. The smiles, the first bite of a foreign country’s food, the hostel chitchat. Although the globalized world of Facebook, the golden arches, and American TV shows exist in every major city, the local cultures remain vibrant. The world today is as fascinating as it’s always been, and in most places it’s safer than ever to be a tourist. Travel gives us the thrill of adventure and somewhere new while reminding us of our shared humanity across cultures and encouraging us to push our horizons.”
—Joe Foley, second-year undergraduate, American University, Washington DC; National Geographic Traveler of the Year 2014

“It’s cool to immerse yourself in other cultures and environments around the world or in your own hometown. Just make sure to learn a bit of history, culture, customs, and experience non-touristy activities in addition to the well-known attractions.”
—Amy N., fourth-year undergraduate, Western Washington University

“You learn more through experience than books or articles.”
—Sarah M., third-year undergraduate, Millersville University, Pennsylvania

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Stuff you might not think of

Before you go

“Plan ahead, know what you are going to do once you land at the airport.  Figure out where you are staying and how you plan on getting there,” suggests CU Boulder junior Nicole.

Check which currencies are performing badly against the dollar—your money buys more in those places.

Apply early for a passport.

If you need vaccinations, make an appointment with the Travel Clinic at Wardenburg.

Check your health plan for international coverage.

Let your bank and credit card company know your travel plans so your account isn’t flagged for fraud and possibly blocked.

When you go

Search online for free stuff to do in any tourist-friendly city (e.g., “Montreal free”).

Electronic guidebooks and maps (not books) reduce the schlep factor. Use Google Maps offline by typing “OK maps” in the search bar; the current area will be saved.

Check the comments on Foursquare for passwords of free Wi-Fi in local shops and cafés.

Keep your electronics charged. If you’re going international, bring a converter outlet plug.

Your top 5 travel experiences so far: 1. Beach vacations 2. Outdoor adventures (e.g., kayaking and hiking) 3. Backpacking trips (US) 4. Study abroad 5. Organized guided toursYour top 5 destinations: 1. Europe 2. Hawaii 3. Japan 4. Canada 5. California

Source: Student Health 101 survey, January 2017

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Your barriers to travel

“Not having others to go with… travelling alone can be a scary feat.”
—Nicole., third-year undergraduate, University of Colorado Boulder

“Your body might not be prepared for the different illnesses and pathogens in other countries.” [Ask at the student health center about vaccinations and preventive medications.]—Domo E., third-year undergraduate, University of Hawaii at Manoa

“The paperwork for international travel. The visas help keep track of visitors, but at the same time, it’s like having to complete a totally different job just to earn the right to relax from your normal one.”
—Tyler S., third-year undergraduate, University of the District of Columbia

“Looking at your depleted bank account.”
—Jonathan L., fifth-year undergraduate, California State University, San Marcos

“Packing. It seems you never pack enough, even though you have five bags for a weekend trip, but then you still end up leaving something important at home. Then, in the end, you only needed like a quarter of what you packed!”
—Verronika L., graduate student, Barry University, Florida

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How to land cheap flights

Tips

Flexible fliers get the best last-minute fares; be open to a variety of destinations.

Use a travel search engine: ThriftyNomads.com recommends Skyscanner, Airfarewatchdog, Google Flights, and several others.

Try searching for airfare deals around 1 a.m. The unsold deals from the day before will be reposted.

Before buying any ticket to anywhere, check for student discounts.

Keep your online searches incognito to find the lowest price.

Don’t make the mistakes everyone else makes.

Be smart about budget airlines.

Get cheaper domestic flights in other countries.

Find the best way to get where you’re going.

Spend less to go farther

Best sites & tools

Kayak’s Explore
Find out how far your money can take you

Adioso
Sort fares from your city by price

Get the Flight Out – free iOS app
The cheapest fares leaving from your city today

STA Travel
Expert travel itineraries and student discounts

Student Universe
Lower-cost airfares for students

One Travel
Cheaper flights for students

More cool tools
See Find out more today.

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself" -Amelia EarhartMoney icon

Cheap digs

Hotels, hovels, homes, & habitats

Homestay.com
Stay with a family who lives in the city you’re traveling to

Couchsurfing
Be a guest at someone’s house; check out the reviews

HomeAway
Find over a million rental lodges, which may offer more space than hotels

TripAdvisor
Recommendations and red flags from real people

Airbnb
B&Bs, apartments, and spare rooms for rent; try to negotiate the price.

Hostels.com
35,000 hostels in 180 countries (including US)

Hostelling International USA
Youth-geared US hostels

Hotels.com
Need a place tonight? Deals start at 50 percent off

Reserve America
Beautifully habitable campgrounds across the US

National Park Service
America’s best idea (really—the best)

Recreation.gov
Way more to do than you realized

More cool tools
See Find out more today.

Why travel? Here’s how to talk yourself (and others) into it

Be a better person

Most students who participated in an international exchange program felt it helped them become more trusting, open-minded, flexible, confident, and tolerant, says a 2006 study by the International Student Travel Confederation.

Go global

Students expect travel to make them more “global”—in other words, expand their knowledge, perspective, and social and cultural connections, according to a small study at California Polytechnic State University (2010).

Run free

Students associate travel with freedom (e.g., a break in academic and work expectations), a boost to emotional health and relaxation, and an opportunity to experience nature (CPSU study).

Step it up

Students who have taken a gap year perform better academically and report greater job satisfaction than do those who haven’t, research suggests. Gap year experiences can reignite a passion for learning and influence personal goals and values, including career paths, say Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson in The Gap-Year Advantage (Macmillan, 2005).

Stay healthy

Physically active leisure helps us maintain physical and mental health, especially during times of stress, according to a study of 20,000 people in the Canadian Journal of Public Health (2001).

Get creative

Knowing people from other cultures makes us more creative in tasks that draw on multicultural influences and more receptive to new ideas from outside our own experience, suggests a study from Harvard Business School (2011).

Love your life

Even the anticipation of vacation travel makes us feel good about our lives and health, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Vacation Marketing.

Your best Instagram

Your best Instagram - travel“Climbing sand dunes in the desert of Al Ain (United Arab Emirates) made me push myself to the limits. I climbed until I literally couldn’t go further, and then I sat down and let the wind whip around me. I felt strong and at peace.”
—Jamie Teal, graduate student, Arkansas Tech University

Follow us on Instagram, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #SH101Travel

 

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Chelsea Dill, MA, has degrees in creative writing, and English, writing, and mass communications. She has written for digital and print publications in the US and UK. She enjoys wellness lifestyle research and devising healthy alternative cooking.