Earning an income can be very difficult while going to college. As someone who has firsthand experience taking advantage of student discounts while I studied in Europe, I am happy to share my tips as well as problems you may run into while searching for discounts abroad!
First, and foremost, there are two major things that are almost necessary when you are going abroad, especially if you are studying abroad for more than just a couple of days. The first thing you should look into is travel insurance. This can sometimes be a part of health insurance abroad, although most schools will offer some sort of health/travel insurance based on the program you’re enrolled in. However, regular travel insurance is there in case of any type of emergency. Most schools and/or companies will offer a student rate or discount to make it more affordable. When you purchase travel health insurance through STA Travel, you will also gain an ISIC card, which will provide you with a multitude of discounts in and around Europe.
Booking Your Flights
The second most important step to take before traveling is to book a flight to your destination. Some airlines offer student discounts, however, the most popular way to save on flights is to go through a website usually geared toward offering the best rates for student travelers. Two websites that offer discounted airfare rates are StudentUniverse and STA Travel, both of which you have to have an email registered from an accredited college or university. These sites have really good deals, especially if you book your flight in advance.
You can use these two websites for flights within Europe, however, there are cheaper airlines that offer flights sometimes for under 50 euros! The most popular airlines that usually offer the cheapest deals include Ryanair, Vueling, and EasyJet. With these airlines, you are usually limited to the city you are trying to get to, but there are alternate ways to get to your final destination including buses, trains, Uber, and taxis as a last resort.
One company I would definitely stray away from, however, is Skyscanner. Although the app advertises the ability to find you cheap flights, the company tracks how many times you go on the site and what you are searching for, and unless you are searching on a private browser, this website and many websites have the ability to track your searches and to gradually increase prices even though you are looking for the cheapest price possible.
Searching For Your Second Home
Now for accommodations, you usually won’t get student discounts unless you go somewhere with your program if you are taking classes abroad. Otherwise I would recommend hostels, which are usually much cheaper than hotels. However, definitely research more than one hostel because you can compare prices and read reviews, since most hostels and hotels will make it seem that they have the best accommodations, but that usually isn’t the case. Hostels that are further away from the city center or near train stations or airports are usually cheaper as well. Airbnb can also provide great options, but can be as costly as hotels at times.
Discovering Student Discounts
Each city in each country will offer various student discounts for activities and attractions in and around the area. These discounts can vary, but with all of the discounts, you are required to show proof that you are a student, which could be a student ID from an accredited university and/or a student Visa if you have one. Out of all the countries I visited during my studying abroad, London and Paris offered the best discounts to students. In London, most attractions have free admission to students, especially museums, which are completely free. In Paris, as long as you have a student ID, and sometimes a student Visa, you can get in many places for free. When I was in Paris, I was able to get into The Lourve for free with my student Visa.
Key Points To Remember
Plan ahead, budget, make sure you have the appropriate health insurance and documentation to prove you are a student (student ID, student Visa, ISIC card, etc.), research, ask around, buy as many tickets as you can online so you don’t have to wait hours on a line, and most of all take everything in and enjoy because it doesn’t last forever!
Have you used student discounts while studying abroad? Let us know your tips and tricks!
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Kaitlyn Weinberger is 20 years old, about to be 21 in August. She is from Queens, NY and a rising senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying Fashion Merchandising Management with a specialization in Product Development and a minor in Italian studies. Most recently she studied abroad in Florence, Italy for the entire 2015-2016 academic year. In her spare time she enjoys painting, hanging out with her friends and writing!