Personal Travel

You've left home and now you're studying in your dream host country, but why stop there? One of the best things to do abroad (besides studying, of course) is traveling! The travel bug is contagious, so once you get a taste of your host city, it's time to venture off to see what else the country, or even the continent has to offer. Below are tips on how to plan, save money, and see more of the world.

Planning your trip

travel with friends

Once you get abroad, you're going to make tons of friends. You may decide that you want to travel together. Remember, travel can be more cost effective when you're splitting prices among you and your friends. If you choose to travel independently, please ensure you're considering our Health & Safety section and ensure you stay as safe as possible while traveling alone.

Determine When to Go

You should not plan any personal travel until you have received acceptance into the program, confirmed what days you have classes or mandatory events and ensure that your travel will not conflict with anything related to your program that you shouldn't miss. It's highly recommended you do not plan personal travel (during the timeframe of your program) until you are on-site.

Determine Where to Go

You won't be able to go to all of the great destinations nearby, so consider some of the places you've always wanted to visit. Be sure to check the U.S. Department of State website to learn more about the destination and important things to consider. Check the weather beforehand to figure out where you can go, what you can do, and what you'll wear. It may be worth looking to see if there are any festivals or local events happening that you would want to attend!


things to consider

pace yourself

We know you're abroad and you want to take advantage of traveling to nearby destinations. However, if you're traveling every weekend the second you get out of class, you may really miss out on your home base host city where you're studying. Traveling can be amazing, but also exhausting. Don't burn yourself out and really take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in a single location instead of visiting 10+ cities and only having a day or two to experience it.

Traveling before or after your program

It's critical you determine whether or not you are legally able to enter and reside in the country(ies) you're traveling to if you're looking to arrive early before your program or remain abroad after your program. Unfortunately, the OEA cannot advise on these immigration requirements. Refer to our Immigration Documents section for more information.

Extend Your International Health Insurance

The OEA will only enroll students in coverage for the duration of their official program dates. If students will be traveling abroad before or after their official program dates, it is highly recommended that students extend their GeoBlue coverage in order to be enrolled international health insurance at all times while abroad. However, please note that students are only eligible to extend their GeoBlue coverage to a maximum of 30 days outside of their official program dates.

Students can only extend their GeoBlue coverage once they are notified that they have been enrolled in coverage for their official program dates. The OEA will not purchase this extended coverage on students' behalf. Students will be responsible for submitting the cost of the extension to GeoBlue directly and separately from what is owed to OEA for the program date coverage.

Learn more about international health insurance here.

transportation

When planning how you'll get to and from the destination, be sure to research all your options. While some transportation methods may be cheaper, consider whether or not it's really worth sitting in a train for 8 hours (and wasting a whole day of travel). 

  • Bus - Easy, cheap way to get to a neighboring city or country 
  • Train - Subscribe to your local train/bus station to get emails on coupons for a quick way to get to another city, though pricier than bus tickets
  • Plane - Finding tickets through apps like Hopper and Ryanair will get your cheap tickets. Be sure to compare prices to get the cheapest options
  • Carpooling - There are apps like BlaBlaCar that allow you to go places with other travelers to the same destination

housing 

Be sure that you're really vetting your accommodations options, to include reviews of previous customers online. Ask on-site staff and locals for recommendations for the best places to stay (and areas of the city to avoid that may be considered unsafe). 

  • AirBnB - put in the date, location, and estimated budget for the best results to stay at someone else's home on the low. Split the total cost amongst your friends by sharing the place
  • Hostels - research ones that are in the area of your destination, you might have to room with other travelers, but this option is usually fairly cheap
  • Hotels - Book hotels that are within your desired destination 
  • Friends or family - if you know someone who's living abroad close to you, why not ask if you can stay with them for a bit? 

Activities 

  • Landmarks - Visiting famous landmarks are a quick way to learn more about the country's history and culture
  • Museums - Similar to landmarks, don't forget to bring your international student ID because some places provide student discounts 
  • Food and drinks - Look up food and drink options before you go and try something new, something local and authentic
  • Events - Will there be concerts, festivals, etc. when you're there? Find out before you go so you'll have an eventful itinerary

Packing

Just like packing to study abroad, remember to pack light! Here are some things to consider when packing for your personal trips:

  • Bag/luggage - Depending on what mode of transportation you're taking, check to see the luggage/number of bags rule before going. If it's just a couple of days, a backpack and small bag should be enough
  • Clothes - Pack interchangeable clothing for the amount of days you're going since washing machines most likely won't always be available 
  • Toiletries - Keep your toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant, etc., travel sized to save space and to keep your bag light
  • Important documents - Bringing your passport is necessary when traveling outside of the country. Bring a copy of your passport, plane/bus ticket, and ID, just to be safe. Your international student ID can be used at some places that offer student discounts as well, it doesn't hurt to ask
  • Other small things - journals, phone chargers, cameras, and other small technologies to document your trip

All information above is subject to change. Any links to external sites are not endorsed by UNC Charlotte or the OEA.