Traveling While Abroad
If you are in a politically unstable country, avoid crowds. You could find yourself in the middle of a protest or other event that could become dangerous.
- Keep in touch with your program director, the international office at your host university, and the CIP office at USI.
- Check the State Department’s Consular Information Sheets for current conditions in your host country. These may be found at the website below and in your orientation packet.
USI strongly advises against renting a car, motorcycle, or scooter during your study abroad program. Roads in the rest of the world are often narrow, have many curves, are poorly maintained, and may be used by bicycles, motorbikes, motorcycles, animals, carts, etc. Vehicles may travel at speeds that exceed what is safe. Buses and rental cars may not be maintained at the level of those in the U.S. If you buy or rent a bicycle, always make sure to wear a safety helmet.
You will probably be doing a lot more traveling than you would normally do at home. This means, by definition, more public transportation such as trains, buses, metros, taxis and planes. Most provide convenient and inexpensive transportation for you as a student. However, there are a number of safety issues you should keep in mind, especially in urban settings.
- Do not display money, jewelry, or other valuable items.
- Choose a car or compartment in a train or metro in which others are riding.
- Note the location of emergency equipment.
- Do not fall asleep on short rides.
- Mind the gap—In other words, do not stand on the edge of train or metro platforms.
- Keep your wallet in your side pocket, keep your purse closed and close to your body.
- Never leave luggage, bags or backpacks unattended.
- If someone is bothering you, inform the driver or train operator.
- Avoid unwanted attention and confrontations.
- Beware of pickpockets.
The cost of air travel depends on the country or area you are traveling to/from. Within Europe, there are several low-cost airlines including Ryan Air and Easy Jet that are very inexpensive compared to flights within the U.S. You can also purchase discount student flights through numerous other sites such as:
- Air Europa www.air-europa.com
- Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com
- British Airways www.ba.com
- Cheap Flights www.cheapflights.co.uk
- Eassy Jet www.easyjet.com
- Europe by Air Pass www.europebyair.com
- Wegolo www.wegolo.com
- Eurostar Chunnel Train www.eurostar.com
- Mobissimo Travel www.mobissimo.com
- Ryanair www.ryanair.ie
- Skyscanner www.skyscanner.com
- STA Travel www.statravel.com
- Student Universe www.studentuniverse.com
Eurail and Other Rail Passes
At some point during your study abroad, you will want to take the opportunity to travel. An economical solution to traveling, especially around Europe, is to buy a Eurail pass or another type of railroad pass. It is usually necessary to purchase these passes before you leave the United States, so it is a good idea to check into railroad passes before you depart. Eurail Passes are the most common railroad passes.
A variety of rail passes are available, enabling you to travel to as many or as few European countries as you like. You can choose from the 18 country Eurail Pass or a regional or individual country pass. It is even possible to customize a pass to suit your itinerary. Travel bonuses include discounted fares on selected ferries, lake steamers, boats and buses, and more. For example, you can receive a discount for Eurostar, the Chunnel train that runs between London and Paris. You can even receive some discounts to museums and other major tourist attractions. A complete list of bonuses is included on the complimentary Eurail map you will receive with your pass.
It is the experience of other students who have traveled abroad that you do not need to purchase one of the numerous Eurail travel guides on the market. You will be better off using the information that is provided by Eurail when you purchase your pass. Four different types of rail passes can be purchased depending on your travel needs.
The Eurail Global Pass is the European pass that allows you almost unlimited travel between 18 different countries. This pass is available for 15 or 21 days, 1-3 months, 10 days within two months or 15 days within two months, thus giving you the flexibility to travel on any day within this period. Eurail Select Passes allow you to design your own tailored pass selecting between three to five European or bordering countries for duration of five, six, eight or 10 travel days within a two-month period. If selecting five countries, there also is the option of choosing 15 travel days. The Select Pass offers unlimited travel by rail (and on some shipping lines) within a selection of 23 European countries. There also are Eurail National or Regional passes. For more information go to:
Other countries, such as Japan, have discounted railroad passes for students. England, for example, has its own Young Person’s Discount Railcard. You should consult a travel guide for your country of destination to see if you will need to purchase the pass in the United States. Eurail Passes can be purchased at most travel agencies, as well as through STA Travel, www.statravel.com. You will need to show proof that you are a student in order to buy a Eurail Pass from STA Travel and other student travel agencies.
Another option for traveling is the bus. Check the internet for information on purchasing a bus pass for a specific region or country. Students often have access to a discounted rate.
Bicycle touring in some countries is a very enjoyable experience. While cycling, it is much easier to see small towns and the beautiful countryside. Biking is very popular in many countries, and special accommodations often exist for people traveling by bicycle. For informal day biking, bicycles are available for rent all over Europe and parts of Asia. Train stations in big cities and many smaller towns have bicycles for rent that you can pick up and drop off along your route. Check a travel guide or the internet to learn more about biking in your host country. You may take your bike, but it will count as a piece of luggage and may quickly get stolen.