TRAVEL TIPS & TRICKS

Resources & Advice for Traveling Abroad

How To Book Your Flight

Students are responsible for booking their own flights. Check your online Athena account for your programs Flight Information Sheet. This sheet will tell you what airport to fly into, dates & times to arrive, as well as specific arrival information for your program.

Participation is not confirmed until you have paid your program deposit payment and have completed all post-acceptance materials within two weeks of the official program deadline. Booking travel prior to completing those materials is at your own risk.

Please do NOT book your flight until you have been officially accepted by Athena AND  you have your Flight Information Sheet.

Need Help Booking?

In order to help students and give you great flight prices, Athena has partnered up with STA Travel. With this partnership, Athena students can use STA Travel to buy competitively priced student flights.

STA has many advantages, including a deposit program, so you don’t have to pay for the full flight all at once, and you’ll be entered into drawing for a flight voucher for $250 if you book with STA.

Athena offers this option as a resource for you, however students are not required to book through STA Travel.

To book STA Travel, follow this link: http://www.statravel.com/solutions/athena.htm

While studying abroad you are likely going to want to bust out your bucket list and check off some items. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve picked up along our travels that could help you in your planning.

 

When planning independent travel be sure to consider any pre- or post- program travel restrictions based on your visa or immigration rules, and ALWAYS be sure to leave enough time to explore the actual place you are studying at.

Resources for Booking Cheap Flights

One of the many benefits of studying abroad is that, once you’re abroad, domestic flights tend to be significantly cheaper than those here in the U.S., which will help you see all that you want to see and still stay on budget. Here are some websites to check out for cheap flights:

Bus & Rail Travel

Buses & trains are a great way to see the world if you have ample time to take advantage of them. For travel within your host country or the immediate nearby countries, buses and trains are perfect! They are generally a cost effective and easy mode of transportation, not to mention you get to see more of the countries by driving though it!

For longer trips though, while buses & trains are typically cheaper than flying, most students actually opt to fly directly to their destination to save on transit time. After all time is money, especially while abroad! In most cases, we recommend that you either fly or purchase individual bus/train tickets, as most rail passes only become cost efficient if you use them a certain amount of times, however if you’re planning on taking trains everywhere then you may want to look into rail passes.

Here are some resources if you are interested in exploring Europe or Japan via train (train travel in South America is not as common):

Accommodations

As travel becomes more and more common, it is becoming easier to find inexpensive, quality accommodations abroad. While your Athena program includes housing during your program, if you want to take any trips on your own it’s helpful to know where you can find good accommodations. Below are some resources to help you on your search:

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Try a Different Airport

If you are having troubles finding cheap flights try broadening your search to include surrounding airports. It may take you a little longer to get there but if the price is right it may just be worth it!

 

When booking any flight travel be sure to note which airport you are flying in AND OUT of. When booking cheap flights, where you fly into and where you fly out of may be different. Nobody wants to miss their flight and end up spending the night in an airport somewhere because you went to the wrong airport, so think ahead and check before you leave.

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Do Your Research

When searching for accommodations abroad be sure to thoroughly research your options, especially when traveling on a budget. Reading reviews is perhaps the best way to see what a place is truly like, so before booking anything be sure to read what others experiences were like.

**The above mentioned links are all independent travel companies. Athena Study Abroad cannot vouch for any of the listed vendors.**

Plane Etiquette

For international flights it is important to keep the following things in mind:

  • Check-in 24 hours prior to your flight’s take-off time
  • Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight’s take off time
  • Respect all airport and airline personnel (including government officials), and follow their guidance.
  • Be aware of the airline’s rules on electronics, baggage, and dress code
  • Find your gate BEFORE looking for the bathroom or food
  • Pay attention to announcements for gate changes

 

International flights can be long. Especially if you’re uncomfortable. Here are some tips and tricks to plane travel:

  • Wear comfortable clothes You will be sitting in one place for at least a few hours (depending on where you’re going) so you’re going to want to be comfortable.
  • Dress in layers Planes have a tendency to get cold so be sure to pack a sweatshirt you can easily take off and on.
  • Get up and walk around At least once during your flight get up and walk around, even if it’s just to the bathroom and back. During long flights your feet can swell up so it’s good to get that blood flowing again.
  • Chew gum Chewing gum during take off and landing can help with your ears popping due to the altitude.
  • Time zones Think through what time zone your final destination is in and try to get onto their schedule on the plane. For example, if you are arriving early in the morning maybe try sleeping on the plane so that you can jump right into the new time zone when you land.
  • Stay Hydrated Avoid things like coffee and alcohol on planes and drink plenty of water. It will help with the jet lag later.

Student ID Cards & Discounts

Being a student traveling abroad definitely has its perks, especially if your on a budget. While not always advertised, many places will offer student discounts with a valid student ID or study visa if asked.

International Student ID Card (ISIC)

The ISIC card permits you to get discounts at various museums, galleries, performing arts events, and for travel. Before you go be sure to check out all the places you can get discounts with this card and decide if it’s worth it for you. This card can be purchased through your home school, through AAA, or online through STA Travel.

This card is entirely optional for you to purchase, as it may be beneficial for some, but not necessarily for all (based on personal preference).

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It Doesn’t Hurt To Ask

Many places you wouldn’t think of often have discounts for students with the right credentials. For example, did you know that places such as the Louvre & Versailles in Paris have been known to offer discounts for students with a valid student visa?

While you’re traveling around be sure to take your ID’s with you and see where you can get discounts.

Helpful Travel Apps

Want to look less like a tourist and keep your trip more organized? These helpful apps and websites will become your best friends while abroad:

o TripIt – Helps keep your trips organized

o Kayak.com, Priceline – Travel booking apps

o Google Maps – Good for when trying to not look like a tourist

o WhatsApp, Skype – Communication apps

o Trip Advisor – Or any other travel guide you prefer

Buy a local map! – Yes, that’s right! A good old paper map can be really helpful when you don’t have access to cell service and is a great way for getting orientated in a new city on foot!

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Google My Maps

www.google.com/maps – This is an extremely helpful website for planning trips. It allows you to save points of interest in layers on an interactive Google Map. For example, you can have a layer for Places to Eat, Places to Explore, Accommodations, etc. It’s great for planning trips ahead of time and maximizing your time in the places you’re visiting.

**The above mentioned links are all independent travel companies. Athena Study Abroad cannot vouch for any of the listed vendors.**

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