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For many, the years spent at university and other learning institutions are the best days of their lives.
Meeting all those people from well beyond the walls of high school, new topics of study and specialisation, broadening horizons, as well as weeks and weeks of holidays between semesters can bring on a serious dose of wanderlust.
There's a whole 'student travel' industry out there that specialises in finding smart ways for students to travel. These experts offer specialised expertise and specially negotiated student airfares, student travel insurance and unique experiences just about anywhere imaginable.
If you're a student, it's worth connecting with an ATAS accredited student travel expert to ensure you make the most of your student status when you travel. We tracked one such professional down—Sean Baldwin from STA Travel at Guild Village, University of Western Australia—and asked him for his top student travel tips.
The way Sean sees it, there four essential rules for student travellers:
Let's dive in and take a look at each one in some detail.
"The best way to plan out any trip is to focus on what you want to experience first, and then piece together the flights around those experiences", advises Sean.
Many consider flights being the easiest aspect to plan of any trip, so Sean advises that it's always best to focus on your wish-list of experiences, and then build the flights around those, rather than the other way around.
"A regular mistake I come across is when travellers rush into booking cheap flights they have seen on a promotion without considering how it will actually affect their journey.
"By the time everything has been adjusted to accommodate the cheap flights, the money 'saved' upfront is whittled away. Not to mention the precious time in destination that gets gobbled up travelling because the cheap flights didn't quite suit the journey", adds Sean.
The message? Book the right flights, not necessarily the cheapest ones.
Sean gives a familiar example: "London is at the top of just about every student traveller's bucket list. But, instead of simply looking for cheap return flights to London for a Europe trip, if your plan was to start in London and work your way down to Greece, plan your flights to fly into London and out of Athens. Not only will this save you a lot of time and stress, it will save you a lot of money in additional flight purchases down the road."
It's a good tip. An ATAS accredited student travel expert like Sean can give you advice and recommendations on the best ways to make the most of your time, money and student status as you travel.
Being open to different ways of thinking isn't just an exciting way to experience the journey of a lifetime, it's also important when booking your trip.
"An experienced travel agent can always give you advice and recommendations on how to give you the best value for money for your trip", says Sean.
Sean's not just talking about where you might grab a bargain breakfast in New York.
"Not many travellers realise, for example, just how incredibly economical it can be for students to book a round-the-world ticket. Oftentimes, a round-the-world ticket can be just a little more than a straight return fare to Europe or the USA.
"Adding another continent to your itinerary is a fantastic way of getting more value for money from your travel plans", says Sean.
For more advice on round-the-world airfares and how to plan them expertly, talk to an ATAS accredited student travel specialist.
Sean's mantra is: The longer the journey, the more flexible each of the elements need to be. "Generally speaking the longer the trip, the more variables are likely to affect your trip", he advises.
What Sean is saying is that the more time you have on the road, the more opportunities will present themselves. Being locked into non-changeable, non-refundable airfares, rail tickets and accommodation (because they were attractively discounted at the time of purchase) can severely restrict your freedom as your travel.
The take-out? Don't let a cheap airfare keep you from taking that impulsive side-trip to Rio for Carnival with those besties you just met in Patagonia.
"For longer journeys like backpacking trips, working holidays and gap years, I always recommend travellers look for—and value—every bit of flexibility they can afford", says Sean.
Flexible flights might be a little more expensive, but they should come with the ability to change dates and destinations. An ATAS accredited student travel expert will have the full range of great value student fares to suit just about any journey.
It's important to note, however, that the degree of flexibility for each travel product can vary drastically so it's important to ask your student travel expert about any restrictions and change conditions of the products you are booking.
Every traveller is different, and it's important that you match your preferred travel style with the right type of travel. For example, booking a small group tour aimed at an older demographic might not connect you with the like-minded travellers you're looking for. They might be more hearty full-English breakfast than full-moon-party.
"If you're a student traveller, it's important that you're looking into a travel style that suits your own style", says Sean.
"Always remember that the destinations you pass through when travelling will be incredible, but the people you meet and friends you make along the way will leave an impact on you for the rest of your life. Choose wisely", advises Sean, sagely.
An experienced and knowledgeable student travel expert can ensure that every piece of your travel puzzle fits perfectly.
Work with an ATAS accredited student travel agent like Sean for the best results.
Your ATAS travel agent can help ensure you are set prior to departure but here’s a few travel warnings and useful tips to keep in mind.
ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel.
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