Learn Key Language Phrases
If you are studying in or visiting a country where English is not the official language, be sure to learn some key words and phrases prior to your departure. You will find it helpful when reading signs, asking for directions, or ordering meals. Don't be afraid to make mistakes! The local people will appreciate you are making an effort. You may choose to either purchase a phrase book from a local bookstore or download a list of words and phrases from the web.
If you to decide to do some independent traveling during your time abroad, be sure to do some careful planning ahead of time. Hostels can be a less expensive "no frills" alternative to hotels. Sleeping can be dormitory style (everyone in bunks in one room) or in private rooms. Each hostel has different rules and restrictions, from imposing a curfew to establishing strict check-in and check-out times. Some hostels require that you bring your own linen, while others require that you have a Youth Hostel Membership, so be sure to check on regulations in advance. Be sure to read reviews of past guests. Early arrival at hostels is recommended as they tend to fill up quickly in popular destinations.
International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
The ISIC, sponsored by STA Travel (www.statravel.com), entitles students to discounts. For information about ISIC benefits please visit their website (www.isic.org). The ISIC card is available for purchase at the Office of Study Abroad or through STA Travel.
Railways/Rail Passes/Low Cost Airlines
Trains and buses are very convenient for travel outside the U.S. and allow you to see the countryside. Here are some tips that may help you with rail travel.
You may need to purchase a ticket in advance, with a reserved seat, to ensure that you have a place on the train. Busy train lines can fill up quickly.
- Limit the amount of luggage you take. You may have to make a connection with a limited amount of time and climb stairs to get to the platform (don't expect elevators or escalators!). Traveling as light as possible will make it easier for you to carry your own luggage and make connections on time.
- Large suitcases can typically be stored in luggage racks at either end of the train car, but will be out of your sight. Luggage racks above your seat will be small and can hold carry-on size luggage.
- You may need to purchase a seat reservation, in addition to a ticket - be sure to ask what is required when making your purchase.
- Europe: For information on European train schedules and fares, visit:
While rail passes such as Eurail and BritRail are very popular, they may not be the most cost efficient. Unless you plan to do a lot of traveling (or long-distance travel), it may be cheaper to simply buy a local train ticket to your destination. If you do decide to purchase a rail pass, please be aware that it must be purchased in the U.S, with time to receive it by mail.
In Europe, a lot of low-cost airlines offer very cheap flights to major cities all over the continent. Be aware of the fact that there are very strict luggage regulations and usually no free meal service is provided. Travel as lightly as possible. Read the fine print before booking a ticket and check where the airport is actually located - sometimes low-cost airlines fly into remote airports and you will need to secure transportation to the final destination, which could be costly.