With Inter-railing being a cheap and popular travel choice students are looking to Europe for an adventure that doesn’t break the bank. Natasha Smith writes about how to plan your European experience on a shoestring.
Travelling on a student budget may seem very unrealistic. Saving money whilst paying to live and study in a vibrant city is a daunting prospect. In addition to this summer travelling is often associated with the thought of an expensive round-the-world ticket to Australia, America, Thailand, India, Singapore, and other equally as exotic and faraway places. What many people may not realise is that there is a lot to see closer to home in Europe.
There are many ways to travel around Europe. Buying a train pass with Rail Europe or InterRail is one option, or travelling with a coach tour operators such as Eurolines and Busabout is another. The advantage of travelling in a continent with many landlocked countries becomes apparent as it means you can avoid the hassle and expense of flying. Prices are reasonable, being less than £400, and flexible as tickets can allow you to travel on any day within any country.
Unfortunately, money still seems to be the biggest restraint when wanting to go abroad. For students who have an emptier timetable part time work is an option for saving extra cash. In a city like Cardiff, where the cost of living is cheaper than other cities, student loans seem to stretch that little bit further and money earned from part time work may be that little bit easier to save. Furthermore, there are many students who choose to book a week in the sun at the end of the academic year. Travelling during the summer months to top holiday and party destinations such as Ayia Napa, Ibiza and Malia. Trips to such places can end up costing around £1,000 when taking into consideration the cost of flights, accommodation, food and of course drinking! This money could stretch a lot further if a change of scenery, the chance to meet new people and a bit of sun is all you want.
Safety often plays a large part when planning a trip. Travelling in Europe and immersing yourself in a similarly Western culture may seem more familiar than flying half way across the world but having very little knowledge of where you’re staying can make you extremely vulnerable. Using websites such a Trip Advisor can be really handy when deciding where to stay, where to avoid, and how far away local amenities are from your accommodation and places of interest.
Where to go? That seems to be the most important issue when planning a trip. It purely depends on what you want to gain from the experience. Prioritise your reasons for travelling and base your trip around those reasons. If you’re interested in history pinpoint the historic places of importance you’d like to visit. If you want to improve your language skills perhaps consider less developed resorts where there are fewer tourists and more native speakers. If you want to gain some work experience abroad then search for vacancies before leaving so that you can increase your chances of employment once on your travels. But for those who just want to see the world, there is no definitive list of ‘must-see’ destinations, and there is no way you’ll cover all 3,837,000 square miles of Europe. So simply go wherever you fancy and your trip will be what you make of it!