StudentUniverse Travel Blog - Written for Young Travelers, by Young Travelers
StudentUniverse is the world's leading travel booking site for students and youth. This blog is for students looking to travel the world, we offer our members special rates on flights, hotels and tours, allowing students to travel more and spend less. Tips for Cheap Student Travel from Fellow Jetsetters.
You’ve made plans and bought your plane tickets, but you’re going to need to find a place to stay. Hotels and accommodation is usually the most expensive part, sometimes even more expensive than the plane tickets! So how can you save money and find the cheapest places to stay? We’ve got a few ideas. Keep scrolling for our best tips on how to find cheap hotels!
1. Be flexible with your travel times and dates.
As with any kind of travel purchases, whether it’s flights, hotels, things to do or something else, traveling during off-season will save you a bunch of money. Traveling to cold-weather places in winter, planning your trips during spring and fall instead of summer and generally avoiding the times when most people travel will help. Not only will there be more availability, there’s better deals!
2. Stay during the week, instead of weekends.
Unfortunately, hotel prices are typically much more expensive on weekends, especially in peak season. If you have any flexibility with when you travel, staying in a hotel during the week will be a lot cheaper. Even if you can just move your trip a little bit, staying Thursday-Saturday will give you cheaper hotel prices than Friday-Sunday.
3. Know what kind of hotel you’re looking for.
If the only thing you’ll be doing in a hotel is sleeping, you might be able to save some money booking more basic accommodations. The key is to know what kind of experience you’re looking for! Do you want a fancy, all-inclusive resort or will a basic airport hotel serve you well enough for a quick stay? Once you decide, you can narrow down your search to find something best suited for your trip!
4. Stay outside of town (especially if there’s good public transportation.)
Staying right in the thick of things can be a good option when there’s no public transportation or if it’s a quick stay and you need to save time. However, if you can stay outside of the city center, you’ll be able to find cheap hotels and save a lot. Do your research and see if there’s a nearby suburb or urban area you can stay in and still easily get everywhere you need to. Sometimes staying outside of the city helps you discover some really fun hidden local gems too!
5. Get student discounts.
Student discounts aren’t just for food and flights! When you search for hotel rooms on StudentUniverse, you’ll get up to 30% off your stay. Why pay full price when you’re on a student budget? We have everything from high-end, five-star hotels to backpacker hostels, so check it out and see if you can score a discount and some cheap hotel stays.
6. Try different kinds of accommodations
If you’re searching for a place to stay, there’s a lot more options than just fancy hotels! Have you ever tried staying in a hostel? They can save you a lot of money! Hostels typically cater to backpackers, budget travelers and youth. You’ll usually be sharing bunk beds in a dorm-style room with 4-8 people. There’s usually kitchens and common spaces and many hostels offer local activities like walking tours, pub crawls or other outings. At any rate, hostels are often a LOT cheaper than a hotel, so it’s a great way to save some serious cash!
7. Watch for a sale.
Same rule applies to hotels as pretty much anything else: making plans early and booking during a sale can save you a ton! Most hotel chains and online booking platforms run sales around major holidays and other sale times (i.e. Black Friday and Cyber Monday). If you make plans in advance, you can take advantage of these more easily!
Thinking about traveling to historic London? We’ve compiled a list of some of the classic London sites to see and how to check them out for free. If you’re planning your vacation to London, look no further for things to keep you busy while in this beautiful city!
Visit the National Gallery
This museum sits facing the famous Trafalgar Square and is one of the must-see museums in London. The National Gallery features an array of different artists including van Gogh, da Vinci and Michelangelo. Since it is free, it’s also one of the busiest museums – so it might be good to go on weekday mornings or at night on a Friday. The museum also features free daily guided tours and short talks about specific paintings.
Spend the afternoon in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is considered the oldest park in London and dates back to the seventeenth century when Henry VIII used to use it for his hunting grounds. This park is a beautiful place to go if you’re looking to take a break from the busy London streets and take a walk, read a book or have a picnic. It’s free to enter from 5 am to midnight every day throughout the year. During the summer, there are often concerts and other small events that take place in the park for visitors to enjoy. In the winter months, there is a Winter Wonderland event that is free to the public and offers ice skating, a ferris wheel and other entertainment.
Become a Wizard at Platform 9 and 3/4
For any Harry Potter fans, taking a picture at Platform 9 and 3/4 seems like a dream come true. Situated at King’s Cross, one of the busiest train stations in the city, Platform 9 and 3/4 is a part of the everyday hustle and bustle of London. Whether you were a fan of J.K. Rowling and her book series long ago or still find yourself going back and rereading the books now, this platform is a must-see for Harry Potter lovers. It’s the perfect photo op!
Overlook the city at Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park offers visitors a beautiful rose garden, an orchard, tennis courts and the Royal Observatory. The observatory costs money, but it’s free to roam the park grounds and view the Prime Meridian Line where the Park is split between the Western and Eastern hemispheres. You can also see an iconic view of London overlooking the Thames River. Throughout the year, small events are held throughout the park including concerts and charity runs.
Stop for a service at Westminster Abbey
If you’ve always wanted to step into this breathtaking church, now is your chance. Although it costs money to visit the church, it is completely free to attend worship. Many tourists find this is a much more enjoyable way to take in all of Westminster Abbey’s beauty. Services are held on holidays and every day at various times throughout the week. Before you go, make sure to check the schedule for service times.
Take a Free Walking Tour
Taking a walking tour around London is a great way to get to know the city. Whether you’re planning on staying in London for just a few days, or a few months for study abroad, taking a guided walking tour will help you feel more comfortable when you’re trying to get around. These tours are offered in all variations from food tours to art tours. You’ll consider yourself a London expert in no time!
Gaze at the entire city of London at the Sky Garden
This glass building offers beautiful views of the city of London for free. The Sky Garden features panoramic views and floor to ceiling windows. There’s even an open-air terrace where visitors can look out over the Thames River. Besides these breathtaking views, the Sky Garden also features a botanical garden and a variety of different restaurants and cafes. Although the restaurants cost money, the rest of the Sky Garden is completely free. For guaranteed access for the day and time you want to visit, book advance on the website.
Go under water in the Greenwich Foot Tunnel
This underwater tunnel is a very unique thing to do while in London because you can’t find them just anywhere. Although there are more underwater tunnels around London, this tunnel is good for tourists on foot and it is one of the oldest underwater tunnels which makes it even cooler! The tunnel takes you under the Thames River and is about a ten minute walk. Perfect for a quick getaway when you need a break from the city life!
Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
There isn’t just one spot to watch the Changing of the Guard. There are multiple spots around Buckingham Palace that give you a view of a part of the ceremony. Make sure you choose your spot beforehand and get there early for the best view:
The Victoria Memorial
Buckingham Palace Gates
The Wellington Barracks
The Changing of the Guard happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday starting at 10:30 am right by Buckingham Palace. Many tourists and locals stop to watch this magnificent ceremony as it takes a lot of precision and poise from the soldiers and is definitely a sight to see!
Take a walk around Big Ben
Big Ben is a must-see when it comes to visiting London. This iconic clock tower is one of London’t most famous landmarks and can be seen towering over London. Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower, not the tower itself! Although you can’t actually go into the tower, taking a walk around the tower and listening to the bells ring at each hour is definitely worth it.
Check out the artwork at the Tate Modern
Although there are many Tate museums around London, the Tate Modern museum is not only beautiful on the outside, it also has a multitude of collections that are worth stopping by. Permanent collections at the museum are free including some by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. If you reach the top of this building, you also get to see a view of London!
Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market
Feeling hungry after your walking tour of London? Head over to Borough Market for some free food tasting. Borough Market is a trendy local market located in the South Bank. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking to experience where Londoners pick up some of their delicious food. If you are willing to spend some money, the food is relatively cheap so it’s a great spot for more than just free samples!
Take a picture in front of the Tower Bridge
Another Insta-worthy moment for your trip! The famous Tower Bridge is situated in the heart of London and is beautiful to look at and to walk across! It’s completely free and offers visitors a view of London above the Thames River. If you’re curious about walking above the Tower Bridge on the sky bridge, you will have to pay an admission fee. But for tourists just looking to experience the Tower Bridge at the normal level, it’s completely free to walk across at anytime. If you stick around long enough, you’ll even get to see the tower bridge open and close!
Another great view of the city is on Parliament Hill which is a part of Hampstead Heath. The park is one of the largest in London and also is at one of the highest peaks of the city. There’s plenty of space to lay out on the grass and relax as you take in the view of the city from above. The park also has walking trails and ponds where tourists can take a break from the busy city life.
Get your very own Beatles Album Cover
Take a walk down Abbey Road and you’ll find yourself on a Beatles album cover. Make sure you bring three friends so you can come together and get the perfect insta-worthy moment. Abbey Road can be a busy street, so try going at times of the day that aren’t at the peak of traffic and tourists. An iconic place for any Beatles fan to go to!
Other Things to Do (Especially if you’re a fan of movies)
Are you a Julia Roberts fan? If so, you can visit the bookstore that was featured in the Notting Hill film. It’s in Portobello and called the Notting Hill Bookshop.
If you want to take it back to when Lindsay Lohan was just 12 years old, head over to 23 Egerton Terrace and check out the beautiful home of Annie and her mother in The Parent Trap.
Drop by 10 Downing Street and you’ll have the chance to feel like Hugh Grant in Love Actually or cross your fingers and you might just see the prime minister!
If you’re trying to travel the world and still stay on budget, check out our other free things to do posts for more ways to explore a city. Heading to London soon? Visit our website for the latest travel deals and book your flight to this royal city!
Long overnight layovers, delays, and—even worse—flight cancellations are sometimes inevitable when you’re traveling. Airport overnight layovers, however, (a stop to change planes that runs overnight, with the connecting flight the next morning) take the cake for being the worst of the worst. If you’re a student traveling on a limited budget, a “reduced” room at the airport hotel may not be the best accommodation option for the night. So, once you’ve accepted that you’re spending the night in the airport, read through this quick survival guide for tips to help make the next 8-12 hours of your life easier.
1. Head to the international terminal ASAP
If you can, the International Terminal at any airport is always the best place to hang out. It has the best restaurant selection, duty-free stores (ladies, free Chanel perfume sampling…need I say more?) and the comfiest seats. There are usually free charging stationswith dimmed lighting, chargers, TVs, and plenty of seats. Get your phone charged, recline across a few chairs and get ready to wait out the night.
2. Be prepared — almost everything closes at midnight at the airport
This is extremely important to know if you plan to pull an airport all-nighter. At around 11:30 pm, head to one of the snack stores and stock up on the essentials. Grab a bag of chips and some candy at the register and you’ll be all set to binge-watch some TV before you fall asleep. (Don’t let yourself learn this the hard way, as I did when I was in desperate need of a coffee at 3:45 am and the airport was a ghost town.)
3. If you forget your charger, make some new layover friends
Taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in the airport is a great time killer, but using Wi-Fi also kills phone batteries. If you weren’t expecting to spend the night in the airport—but really, who would?—and you forgot your phone charger, don’t panic. The best part about traveling is that everybody is in the same boat, and the camaraderie among travelers is amazing. If there’s nowhere around to buy an extra charger from, there will always be somebody at your gate or the next gate over with a charger you can use, as long as you’re ready for some polite conversation. Shout out to Henry and Tyler who let me use their charger and then told me everything I could ever want to know about bass fishing. (Did you know there are over 14 kinds of fishing poles? ’Cause I do…and now you do too!)
4. Pack toiletries in your carry-on bag
In a twist of fate, it was actually a good thing that I overslept, missed my bus to the airport and packed my bags at 4 a.m. that one time, because I ended up putting my toiletries bag in my carry-on. I cannot tell you just how happy I was to be able to take out my contacts at midnight, wash my face and brush my teeth— sometimes it’s the little things. Get in the habit of putting your makeup bag or toiletries in your carry-on, because you never know when you’ll have to sleep in the airport or if the airline will lose your bag. Just make sure that those liquids are each under three ounces and follow airport guidelines!
5. Ask an airport attendant if there’s somewhere to grab sleeping essentials.
At some airports, there will be places where you can pick up a blanket and pillow if you’re stuck there overnight. This is especially true if your flight has been cancelled or delayed due to weather. Sometimes there are even cots available! While many airports don’t have this, it never hurts to ask. And it may be worth at least grabbing a neck pillow from an airport store!
If you don’t have a blanket or pillow handy, using a scarf or sweatshirt can also work in a pinch. It might not be your bed at home, but it’s better than staying up all night. Have a friend keep an eye on your other bags while you catch some Z’s, and take turns!
6. You can still get a workout in
Don’t have access to a treadmill or elliptical but still want to exercise? You can walk around the airport for hours if you feel like doing so! While it might not be a high-intensity cardio workout, walking from terminal to terminal for as long as your heart desires is enough to justify a workout for the day. Especially if you’re carrying your overstuffed backpack.
If you want to burn even more calories, look for stairs and go up and down them for 10-45 minutes. I might have looked a little crazy to those on the escalator as I walked up and down the stairs with my backpack for an hour, but what else is there to do after you’ve had five espresso shots? Am I right?
7. Ask for discounts
This might not work for everyone, but it’s always worth a try. Some airlines will offer an airport card with discount coupons on it if you decline the “discounted” hotel room and tell them that you are staying the night in the airport, but the catch is that you have to ask. It might also be helpful to keep your coffee, tea, or soda cup from to-go restaurants and coffee shops, because those places may offer free refills. (High five if you’re a Starbucks Rewards member!)
Sure, an overnight layover at an airport may not be your favorite way to spend the night, but it’s manageable with these tips. Keep in mind, you CAN leave the airport during your layover but you will have to go through security again when you return. And on the bright side, you’ll likely be flying to someplace awesome or to the comfort of your own home afterwards. It all works out in the end!
Ready to go? Get some cheap flights (without the overnight layovers) with our discounted flights.
It’s that time of year again. You’ve been waiting all year to go on a summer trip, and the time has finally come. You’re all ready to go but you realize you need to fit all of your essentials into a suitcase. Packing for trips can be difficult, especially when you feel like you want to take your entire wardrobe along. Here are some quick and easy tips that will help you stay organized and pack light no matter where you go this summer!
Clean out your purse or wallet before you go
Before you head to the airport, make sure you clean out any old receipts or movie tickets so that you have as much space as possible for other travel essentials. We all know purses and wallets can get messy, so it’s best to get rid of things you don’t need before a big trip. Even better, if you’ you can, swap out your larger purse for something smaller and more manageable. Not only will you be thankful you don’t have to fish around for lip balm at the bottom of your purse, it will also be much easier to carry around while you’re exploring the streets of a new city.
Pack only a couple pairs of shorts
It can be difficult to go on vacation and not have access to all of your clothes from back home. But packing only the things you need will help you save so much space. When it comes to shorts in the summertime, you really only need to pack a couple pairs. Choose two pairs that can go with a variety of different colors to match your shirts and you’ll be ready to explore in style!
Throw an outfit in your carry-on bag
This a good thing to do just in case your luggage gets lost and it’ll also save space in your suitcase. Packing at least a shirt and a pair of shorts or pants will give you peace of mind when you travel. Even if your checked bag gets lost, you’ll have an extra outfit on hand! There’s no need to be worried on your trip, pack smart, so you can relax on your flight!
Don’t take too many shoes
When traveling during the summer, you may be tempted to pack many different kinds of shoes, but a good rule of thumb is to only take two pairs (we know, how will you choose?). Wear one pair on the plane and pack one more pair in your suitcase, preferably a pair that won’t take up much space. When you’re traveling to another city or country, make sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Nothing can ruin a day of travel quite like a blister on your feet. You can always pack an extra pair of nicer shoes or flip flops in your checked bag.
Don’t pack the entire bathroom
In most cases, you will have to fit everything into a clear, quart-sized bag. Think about the items you use on a daily basis to get ready in the morning, and use right before you go to bed. If you don’t absolutely need it for your trip, don’t bring it! It may be a good idea to purchase 3 oz. travel sized containers or products and then re-use them each time you go somewhere. Hotels usually have shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash, so you don’t really need to pack these items. If you’re traveling with a friend, you could also share shower essentials to save even more space!
Make a packing list
Start by writing down all of the items you know you will absolutely need for the trip. Summer is the warmest time of the year in some places, so pack accordingly. By making a list of items you know you’ll need, you won’t be tempted to keep adding items in later. Airlines have weight limits on checked bags, so it’s important to not go over the limit or you may be stuck with unwanted fees. Making a list and sticking by it will help make sure you won’t forget anything too!
Pack layers of clothing
No matter where you’re planning to travel to this summer, make sure you pack plenty of layers. The weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way. To save space in your luggage, pack lighter sweaters that you can fold easily. If you bring your heaviest winter coat, you’re going to have barely any room for anything else. Bring one of your layers on the plane to save space and have handy in case you get cold while in the air.
If you’re planning a trip somewhere and are stressed from packing, use these tips to help ease your mind and not have to carry so much when you travel. Check out these sweet summer deals and start packing light for your next adventure!
Boston, Massachusetts is known for being one of the oldest cities in the United States. If you’re visiting Boston for the first time and want to save some money, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our list of 10 free things to do in Boston for some inspiration while you’re in Beantown.
Check out the Observation Deck at Independence Wharf
If you want to get the chance to see a view of Boston from a different perspective and not have to pay for it, this is the place for you. The Observation Deck, located right on the Boston Harborwalk will give you a beautiful view of the Boston Harbor and the Seaport area. All you have to do is enter the Independence Wharf building and show the front desk your ID. From there, you can go right up to the fourteenth floor where signs will point you in the right direction. You can stay as long as you like taking in views of the city.
Walk the Boston Freedom Trail
Experience almost all of Boston at once by exploring the historic Freedom Trail. This trail gives you the chance to walk along a 2.5 mile route and learn about 16 historic sites along the way. You can download a free app on your phone to guide you through the sites and sometimes you can overhear bits of information from nearby formal tours – just look for people dressed in colonial garb talking to a crowd. You’ll learn about the Boston Massacre, see Paul Revere’s House and experience Faneuil Hall. By the end of the trail, you’ll be an expert Bostonian!
Hang out at the Lawn on D
Not what you typically think of when you think of historic Boston, this modern green space is a place to go for lively entertainment, free Wi-Fi and games. This park is situated in the Waterfront District and is a place to go in the summer if you’re looking for free festivals, movies or concerts. The lawn also offers swings that will make you feel like you’re a kid again. What could be better than that?
Plan a Picnic at the Boston Common
If you’re planning a relaxing trip, taking a stroll through the Boston Common is definitely a must. This park is the oldest in the country and dates back to 1634! It’s a great place to go if you’re looking to take a step back from the bustling city life and plan a picnic near Frog Pond or enjoy a free play. The summer months are perfect for hanging out here in the warm weather.
Enjoy a Concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell
The summer months are a great time to grab a group of friends and enjoy a free concert at the Hatch. This outdoor concert venue is located on the Charles River Esplanade and is most famous for hosting the Boston Pops Orchestra every Fourth of July. If you’re not around on the Fourth for free music and fireworks, definitely stop by the Hatch during the week and on weekends for free concerts, movies and performances throughout the summer!
Run Along the Charles River
If you want a classic Boston experience, then you definitely have to check out the Charles Rive. With the Boston city skyline on one side, and MIT on the other, take a beautiful run along the Charles River will help start your day off right. Or grab a friend and going on a bike ride or have a picnic along the Esplanade. Don’t miss out on seeing this famous river, it’s a completely free Boston hotspot!
Grab a Partner for Swing Dancing at MIT
If you’re looking to try something new, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has just the thing. The University offers swing dancing every Wednesday night from 9:00-11:30 PM. At times, there are also lessons that are held before the open dance starting at 7:30 PM. It’s a great place to meet locals or other college students in the Greater Boston Area. The classes are held in the Walker Memorial Building 50 on the first floor.
Visit Boston’s Art Museums
Many of Boston’s art museums offer discounts and deals for specific days of the week. You can also get student discounts with a valid Student ID at certain museums. If you go to the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday nights after 4 PM admission is free! The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum offers free admission on your birthday, if your name is Isabella or if you attend certain universities in the area. No matter where you choose to go, Boston has some of the finest art museums that will spark your creative side.
Stop by the Boston University Coit Observatory
Always wanted a place in the city to look up at the stars? Boston University can make your dreams come true with this observatory located right in the city. Admission is free, but it is recommended you reserve your spot ahead of time online. It’s open Wednesday nights throughout the year and the program opens at 8:30 PM during the summer months. Although there is always the chance of cancellations due to the New England weather, the observatory offers an amazing view of the stars on a clear night.
Take a stroll through the Kelleher Rose Garden
This gorgeous hidden garden right near Fenway Park and Back Bay Fens, is a sight to see. The park has over 1,500 roses and is a secluded secret garden that not many tourists know about. It’s a nice place for a walk especially in the spring and summer months. It’s open from mid-April to October so make sure you stop by during this time to take in the garden’s beautiful roses.
Excited to start exploring all that Boston has to offer? Check out these amazing deals on flights to Boston so that you can experience all these free things to do in this historic city!
Thinking about studying abroad in Spain? There’s no shortage of reasons why Spain is an amazing place to study abroad, but the friendly people, laid-back culture and lifestyle, warm weather, low cost of living and studying, vibrant nightlife and stunning are just a few! Not convinced yet? No worries. We’ve got 7 reasons why you should choose Spain for your study abroad trip!
1. Live in one of Spain’s most popular cities.
Spain is home to a variety of study abroad programs, many taught in English, that are spread throughout the country. But because every city in Spain is beautiful and filled with tons of culture and history, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all your options. Wondering where in Spain to go? Here are some of our favorite cities:
If you are looking for a large, vibrant city with a unique flair, look no further than the heart of Catalonia. Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in Spain for study abroad students! The Spanish language here is slightly different than the rest of the country, but the parks, beaches, nightlife, and all-around vibrant energy more than make up for it.
The capital of Andalucia, Sevilla is the perfect blend of traditional Spanish culture with some modern flares. Between the ornate plazas and palaces and stunning parks and rivers, you’ll have no problem making yourself at home in this beautiful and historic city. Plus, it’s famous for its flamenco dancing, which means Sevilla also knows how to have a good time!
It’s a stunning port city, but Valencia is good for way more than just sunbathing (although the beaches are pretty amazing). It’s known for its state-of-the-art Science and Art Park as well as it’s 15th-century Old Town. Want to experience some of the best of both modern and traditional Spain? Valencia is where it’s at.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is often known as the “New York of Spain” due to its size and range of neighborhoods. An elegant and sprawling city, it’s a great place to immerse yourself in the culture and history of Spain, with plenty of museums, palaces and history to keep you busy for way longer than just a semester.
Seriously a hidden gem of Spain! Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, and the dramatic backdrop is offset by ancient palaces and medieval architecture. Enjoy a small-town feel hand-in-hand with beautiful castles and ornate city streets.
This city is home to one of the oldest universities found in Europe and has everything you’d want from a city with a smaller-town feel. It’s been an intellectual hub in Spain since the 15th century and the large international student population means it’ll be super easy for you to meet new people and make friends.
2. Tapas, tapas, tapas.
You can’t go to Spain without sitting down for some grade-A tapas. Tapas are smaller appetizer-sized dishes with prices typically ranging from 4 to 8 euros. Get a bunch for the table to share or get a few different plates for yourself! Better yet, find streets filled with restaurants and make a day out of tapas-hopping.
You can also hit up a pincho bar where the plates are super small and typically cost just €1 or €2! Possibly the most delicious way to fill up for just €10. Most bars in Granada will also serve complimentary tapas with your drinks—score! El Tigre in Madrid is also known for serving top-notch tapas with each drink. Here’s to hoping you luck out and get the paella!
3 . Travel easily within Spain.
Studying abroad in Spain provides a unique opportunity to explore the rest of the country (which could keep you busy all semester!) Spain is one of those countries where you can ski and surf on the same day. Composed of beautiful beaches, vineyards, cities and mountains as well as historical sites—Spain is one large territory to explore! Regions range from Catalonia to Andalucia to Basque country, each with their own local cultures, accents, foods and more.
4. Immerse yourself in Spanish history & culture.
Looking for somewhere to study abroad where you can soak up some culture and history? Spain is a good go-to. There’s an abundance of museums, palaces, castles and churches. From history dating back thousands of years to intricate architecture and design to breathtaking views, there are almost too many places to get a real feel of how rich in history the Spanish culture is. Need the short list? Here are a few of our top picks in each category:
El Prado (Madrid)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid)
The Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao)
Valencia Modern Art Institute (Valencia)
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (Valencia)
Dali Theatre-Museum (Girona)
Museo Picasso (Barcelona)
Palaces & Castles:
Royal Palace of Madrid
Royal Alcazar & Gardens (Sevilla)
Alcazar de Segovia (Segovia)
Castillo de Colomares (Malaga)
La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)
Mosque of Cordoba (Cordoba)
Seville Cathedral (Sevilla)
Toledo Cathedral (Toledo)
El Escorial (San Lorenzo)
Cathedral de la Almudena (Madrid)
5. Marvel at the unique landscapes & nature.
If you take the chance to head outside of the major cities while you study abroad (which you definitely should), you’ll find one-of-a-kind beauty in Spain’s nature and natural parks. Between the beaches, mountains, countryside and parks, there’s plenty of day-trips you can take to refresh from city life. Feast your eyes (and fill up your Insta) on this array of must-see places, from beaches to ancient towns and landscapes:
The Spanish attitude is the fiesta attitude! There are many festivals throughout the year, making life all the richer and merrier for everyone. If you study abroad in Spain, you’re definitely going to learn how to celebrate! In fact, Spain has the most bars per capita of any country in the EU—approximately 1 for every 132 people. FYI: bars in Spain typically sell a lot more than you think, serving up coffee and pastries earlier in the day.
Not to worry, though—after going through the roller-coaster of partying and celebrations, the amazing Spanish cuisine will clear out all the buzz left behind. Want to hang with the most adventurous fiesta fans? Stay up to catch the sunrise and grab some coffee or churros y chocolate.
7. Take advantage of afternoon siestas.
Work hard, nap harder. Spain is known for having a long lunch break in the middle of the day during peak heat. Since many restaurants shut off their kitchens for 3 to 4 hours, families often use this time for a long, relaxed meal with time to bond and chat.
While the idea that everyone actually naps during siesta is a myth, it’s certainly a great way to take advantage of this down time! As a student, this time could also be used for getting school work out of the way, having meetings, enjoying a walk around a park or heading to your local cafe with a friend.
Iceland is quickly building a reputation as an expensive place to travel, but that doesn’t mean a trip there has to break the bank. Some of the best things to do in Iceland are free, whether it’s taking a road trip, watching the Northern Lights or exploring Iceland’s unique landscape. With this list of free things to do in Iceland plus our cheap student flights to Reykjavik, you can plan an epic trip to the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ even on a student budget.
Blue Lagoon, Southern Peninsula, Iceland
Relax in thermal springs. You’ve no doubt seen the pictures of the famous Blue Lagoon, but you can actually skip the fees and find free thermal springs all over the country. Check out Landbrotalaug Hot Springs, located about 2 hours north of Reykjavik, or Hveravellir Hot Springs, located between Langjökull and Hofsjökul glaciers.
Chill out in a free Sculpture Garden. Entry to the Einar Jónsson Museum in Reykjavik is just 600 ISK (about $5). However, if you don’t want to spring for the entry fee, there’s a free sculpture garden in the back. The garden is full of bronze casts of the work of Iceland’s first sculptor.
Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, then you’ve definitely seen the ads for the Northern Lights tours. Why spend all that money though when you can see the sky for free? Head down to the Grótta lighthouse on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik for your best shot at seeing the Northern Lights for free.
Snap a few pics at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Spend some time with your camera at this iconic black sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland. The beach is known for its rock formations of basalt and is considered to be one of Iceland’s most beautiful black sand beaches.
Skogafoss waterfall in Southern Iceland.
Hike. Iceland has many beautiful trails, hills and mountains, so it’s a great place for hiking! For example, try hiking to Glymur waterfall, Iceland’s second tallest waterfall—just be sure to bring a waterproof jacket.
Go to the beach. Nautholsvík Beach is one of the most popular spots in Reykjavík because it is one of the few beaches in Iceland where the water is warm enough for swimming without protective gear. Mixed with warm water, the ocean temperature usually reaches between 64° – 68°C. Also, the beach is serviced and offers great opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, volleyball and sea sports. There is no admission fee, but its opening hours vary seasonally.
Take a free walking tour of Reykjavik. One of the best ways to explore a new city is to take a walking tour with a local expert. For example, you can catch a free tour from The City Walk or Free Walking Tours Reykjavik.
Explore Reykjavik’s Botanical Gardens. There’s a beautiful botanical garden with over 5,000 plant species in Reykjavik. Each of the plants is labelled with its Icelandic and Latin species name. In the summer months you can grab a light Scandanavian dish made from vegetables grown in the garden from the coffee house and cafe in the Garden’s Gazebo.
Visit the Grotta Lighthouse. Take a long, scenic walk from Reykjavik city center along the coast to the Grotta Lighthouse, where you can bird watch and take in a view of the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re visiting in the winter, this could be a great place to catch a free view of the Northern Lights.
Sun Voyager Scultpure with Mt. Esja in the background
See the Sun Voyager. Snap that perfect insta shot at the iconic Sun Voyager. This sculpture is a tribute to the sun and represents discovering uncharted territory, progress and freedom.
Climb Mount Esja. This mountain overlooking Reykjavik is one of Iceland’s most popular mountains for hiking. The highest summit is around 900m above sea level and has great views of the city. The hike will take a few hours, however, there’s different trails so you can pick on that matches your level.
Bonus: Drink the tap water. We know tap water is free pretty much everywhere, but in Iceland the tap water is clean and healthy—skip the expensive bottle water and fill up on environmentally-friendly tap water.
Need a cheap flight to get to Iceland and check out these free things to do in Iceland? We’ve got great deals on flights to Europe that’ll get you there for less.
Whether you’re an avid adventurer who loves hiking or just someone who enjoys a good view, there’s no doubt that a backpacking trip is a great way to explore the great outdoors. And what better time to spend a few days camping under the stars than in the summer? If you’ve been wanting to take on a backpacking trip this summer, we’ve got just what you need—whether you’re looking to stay out for one night or a few weeks. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite places for backpacking in the US.
Mount Sterling Loop in Great Smoky National Park, NC
Since this loop trail can be easily completed over two days, it’s a great place to take a first backpacking trip. The trail starts at Big Creek Campground in Waynesville, NC. The trail has some steep uphill sections as you make your way up to Mount Sterling, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and park from the top. It’s also a loop trail, so no need to find shuttles or other ways to get back your car at the starting trailhead. And the trail itself is easy to follow as well.
Although often overlooked with the plethora of other hiking on the West Coast, the Trans-Catalina trail is the perfect place for a long-weekend backpacking trip! This stunning hike crosses the entire Santa Catalina island, located off the coast of Los Angeles, and provides amazing green hills and cliffside ocean views along the way. Most people begin at Avalon and hike across to Parson’s Landing. It’s not a loop trail, but you can loop back on the trail from Parson’s Landing to Two Harbors, where you can catch a ferry back to LA.
Mount Rainier National Park’s Wonderland Trail, WA
Distance: 93 miles, 8-10 days
Permit Required: Yes. Here’s how to get a permit for overnight hiking/camping in Mount Rainier National Park.
Skill Level: Intermediate-Advanced.
This is a stunning hike through Washington backcountry, where you’ll be able to see glaciers, waterfalls, meadows, wildflowers, mountain lakes and more—no two days are alike! Longmire is the most popular starting point, but since it’s a loop trail, you can plan an itinerary from several trailheads along the route. Keep in mind that you’ll need to plan your route prior to applying for a wilderness permit, so be sure to do your research before the application period. Since it’s a long hike with plenty of elevation changes throughout, it’s perfect for anyone who’s up for a challenge—with plenty of scenic views to make it worth it.
This classic backpacking trail features some of the best that Glacier National Park has to offer: alpine passes, waterfalls, rivers and lakes, wildflowers and campsites with amazing views. The trail stretches between Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake, so it’s easy to start at either end. While there is quite a bit of climbing and elevation gain, we think the views are definitely enough to make up for it. Be sure to check the trail conditions and weather before you head out—higher sections of the trail can still be snowy even during the summer, so be prepared!
Since this is one of the most iconic backpacking trails in the US, if you want to pay it a visit, you’ll need to start your planning early. Permits and campsites fill up quickly since the hike is so popular. But the amazing views along the entire trail will make all of your planning worth it! Aside from seeing some of the most stunning mountains in the US every day, you’ll also get to hike around lakes, meadows, glaciers and forests. Most hikers start at the Phillips Pass Trailhead and end at the Leigh Lake Trailhead—although if you want to save yourself some elevation gain, you can take the Aerial Tram to Rendezvous Pass and get started from there.
The Pemigewasset Loop in the White Mountains, NH
Distance: 31.5 miles, 3-4 days
Permit Required: Nope.
Skill Level: Advanced.
The “Pemi Loop,” as it’s known locally, highlights some of the best of what New Hampshire’s White Mountains have to offer—including a trip to the summit of eight of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot peaks! Not surprisingly, the views throughout the trail are amazing. The trail itself can be quite rocky in sections and a bit of ankle-wrecker if you’re not careful! You’ll start the loop at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead and then can hike the loop in either direction. Most of the campsites along the trail are first-come, first-served, so no permits required.
John Muir Trail, CA
Distance: 211 miles, 3 weeks (but it’s easy to hike just segments for a shorter trip!)
The John Muir trail is another one of the most famous backpacking trails in the US—and although it’s quite long in its entirety, it’s easy to hike sections of it for a shorter trip. The hike from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows is a great way to see some of Yosemite’s most iconic sights. Plus at just 20 miles, it can be completed in 2-3 days—perfect for a weekend trip! Think you’re ready to hike the whole thing? The summer months are the perfect time to do it, especially if you have a long break from school (or work). Do your research and get ready for several challenging and amazing weeks!
This is a great trail for beginners: not too long or difficult while still providing amazing scenery. As a result, though, it’s often very crowded—especially during peak summer months and weekends. Also, keep in mind that even though the trail is shorter, new campground rules require all reservations to be for 3 nights/4 days. Despite the advanced planning required for Havasu, it’s still definitely worth the time and money! Seeing and swimming in the bright blue waterfalls and lakes (yes, there’s several!) along the trail feels like being transported to another world.
Grafton Loop, Maine
Distance: 39 miles, 4-5 days
Permit Required: Nope.
Skill Level: Intermediate.
Grafton Loop is another way to soak up some stunning New England views—you’ll cross nine peaks in just under 40 miles! There’s also enough different kinds of scenery—from forests to mountaintop summit views, you’ll get a bit of both worlds in one trip. Although it’s a challenging hike, there’s plenty of campsites along the way, meaning it’s easy to break the trip up into smaller portions if you want. And, as a lesser-known and slightly newer backpacking loop, you’ll find less crowds (and less campsite fees as well!)
West Rim Trail in Zion National Park, Utah
Distance: 19 miles, 1-2 days.
Permit Required: Yes, for camping. Here’s how to get one.
Skill Level: Beginner.
This trail starts at Lava Point and works it way down to the Grotto in the main canyon of Zion. The trail is relatively short, with several campsites along the way, so you can break up the hiking as you wish. Plus, it has the added benefit of being downhill for the majority of the trail. As you hike to the end of this trail, you’ll pass part of the famous Angel’s Landing hike, so if you want to tick that off your bucket list as well, it’s easy to add it onto this hike.
The A.T. and the PCT
The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail (known as the A.T. and the PCT) are two of the most famous trails in the US. They’re both 2,000+ miles long, with the PCT stretching from Southern California to Canada and the A.T. stretching from Georgia to Maine. Although attempting a thru-hike—hiking from end to end in one long backpacking trip—is a massive undertaking that takes months, hiking sections of these trails is easy to do. In fact, finding a small section of these trails to explore is a great way to find places to do shorter backpacking trips.
Try hiking the Mau-Har Loop in Virginia (at 14 miles, it’s perfect for an overnight trip!) or the Presidential Range in New Hampshire on the A.T. Want a West Coast hike? Try the John Muir Trail in California or hike the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington.
So you’re graduating and you’ve got that dream job all lined up—now what? Working a 9-5 doesn’t have to cramp your traveling style! Just because you don’t have the whole summer off anymore doesn’t mean that your travels have to be condensed to weekends and traveling to your parents house for Thanksgiving. There’s plenty of ways to keep traveling and take some awesome post-grad trips on a budget even after you’ve started working.
Want some tips? We’ve got you covered.
Are the dates you want to travel just out of reach, or is that cheap flight you’re eyeing right after work? Work from home so you can make the flights you want! It’s pretty common now for employers to offer some time to work remotely, so if you need it, just ask! Just make sure to travel with your work laptop.
Spread out your trips.
One of the best things about graduating college is that you’re free to travel year-round, not just around your student schedule. Now that you’re not limited to those peak travel times, you’ll have way more options and dates to choose from. Even though you may be tempted to take that entire two weeks of PTO at once for an epic summer trip, spreading out your days off to use weekends and holidays will help you maximize your time off and squeeze in more post-grad trips in the long run! Plus, traveling during off-peak seasons (i.e. February and September-October, for example) can save you a TON of money.
Stay with friends.
The best way to plan post-grad trips and save some money is by visiting friends who live in other cities! It’s one of the best ways to explore the rest of the US and come up with unique places to visit. Not to mention that you’ll have a built-in expert tour guide. Whether you’re flying solo to go see your favorite people or heading out with some friends, crashing on a friend’s couch instead of booking a hotel can save you literally hundreds of dollars!
Get discounts on your flights and hotels.
Head’s up: you can still buy flights from StudentUniverse even after you graduate! While some of our discounts are just for students, the majority of our discounts are still good for anyone under 26! And you can always use a promo code (no matter your age) to save even more. Wanna see what discounts your eligible for? Just sort by youth fares using the sidebar to see our best deals.
Be flexible with dates.
A great perk you didn’t have in school is flexibility. You could potentially save $100 or more just by flying on a Tuesday instead of Monday, or a Thursday instead of Friday. Another way to be flexible and still save is by taking a late-night or red-eye flight on your post-grad trips. You won’t lose time off of work and then you’ll have the whole next day for vacay! Pro-tip: turn on the flexible search feature while you’re searching. It’ll show you the cheapest prices you’re eligible for around the dates that you’re searching.
Understand your PTO.
Every company has a different PTO, or paid time off, policy. Your PTO will likely be comprised by a variety of different kind of days — usually a set annual number of vacation days, paid holidays, sick days and personal days. The amount and policies for each vary by company. Sometimes you can roll over unused days to the next year or there may be limits on how much time off you can take during certain periods. Some companies even have unlimited leave, which means you have no cap on the personal/sick/vacation days you use (as long as you don’t abuse the perk!) Understanding the policies your company has for PTO will help you maximize your time off.
Capitalize on holidays.
Speaking of maximizing your PTO, planning your vacations around holidays can help you out. Wanna go away without using up too many vacation days? Take advantage of 3-day holiday weekends. You can fly out a day or two before the weekend starts and come home a day or two after it ends to squeeze in a five or six day vacation while only using one or two vacation days. Score! Plus, you’ll save some money (and time) by not traveling on the same days as all the crowds. Also be sure to take the time to learn about holidays that are specific to your company or city—like Patriot’s Day in Boston.
The summer can be a great time to travel, especially if you have the travel bug after finishing up your classes for the year. It may feel like traveling is too expensive for a student budget and many people use this as an excuse and push off traveling until they’ve saved up some money. Not all travel is expensive though and it’s definitely possible to travel without breaking the bank! You can find great deals online that can help make your summer dream vacation a reality!
1. Take advantage of free attractions
Whether the attractions are in your own city or in another country, there are so many amazing places you can visit for free that are full of rich history and culture. Some museums offer discounts for students, so make sure to ask before purchasing your ticket. Or try picnicking in a park, visiting a local market, or looking for free sights and attractions to visit. Need some inspiration? Take a look at these free things to do in Paris, France.
2. Travel with a friend or family member
Having someone who you can rely on during a trip can be helpful, especially if something arises that is overwhelming. Although some may say it’s cheaper to travel on your own, you can save money by splitting the costs of things like food, lodging, and transportation. Definitely look into hostels and Airbnb for your trip because this is where you can save some major money.
3. Get discounts on airfare
Whether you’re a student or just someone who’s under 26, we’ve got some discounts on flights, hotels and more for you. You can always find the latest flight deals and promotions on the site, or sign up for email newsletters and we’ll deliver them right to your inbox. There are a lot of summer deals on the website right now that will make your summer dream vacation a reality. You can compare hotel and airplane costs with just a few clicks. The best part is, you get discounts just for being a student. What’s not to love about that?
4. Pack only the necessities
Typically, checked bags cost extra to bring on flights. When you’re packing for your trip, make sure you pack only the essentials and check with your airline for rules regarding bringing carry-on and checked bags. One helpful tip is to bring only a couple of pairs of pants or shorts that will be versatile for all of your travel needs. That way, you can save a lot of space in your luggage!
5. Travel during off-season
During the summer months, you may want to go to a place tropical and warm, but there’s many more options in all types of climates! If you’re still looking for a tropical adventure without the cost, try booking a trip to New Zealand or Australia this summer. These beautiful countries are full of history and have a breathtaking landscape that will give you an unforgettable trip. Also, choose your destinations wisely—some places are much cheaper to visit than others. Checking out some of the cheapest destinations to visit this summer will definitely help you keep your costs down.
6. Use public transportation
No matter where you go, there are often much cheaper options than just jumping in an Uber or taxi. Make sure you do some research before traveling to your destination to see how the locals get around. In some countries, Uber isn’t readily available, so you might have to download another app on your phone like mytaxi. Most cities have a lot of what you need within walking distance, but if that’s not the case and you’re not looking to spend a lot, public transportation is the way to go.
7. Fly on weekdays for cheaper prices
Flights and hotels are much more expensive on the weekend because that’s when people are off of work. That means that some of the best flight deals are during the week. If you can, try taking time off during the week and book your flight so that it is on a Monday or Tuesday. That way you’ll avoid the high weekend costs of summer travel!
Ready to save money this summer? Check out what traveling the world is like with these amazing prices!