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Horse riding in Iceland

A student’s guide to travel

In today’s interconnected world, the desire to explore new cultures and destinations is stronger than ever. I’m Undine and I’m studying Architecture BA(Hons). During my last three years of studies, I have walked through the Marrakesh souks, swam in Porto, taken a Eurostar to see the Eiffel tower in Paris, travelled around the Netherlands, enjoyed a horseback ride in Iceland, and travelled back and forth to see my family in Latvia. These are memories I hold close to my heart and I know I will also cherish them long after I’ll have graduated.

As a student, the thought of balancing studies and travelling can seem daunting. However, with careful planning and a strategic approach, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are my advantages, challenges and tips for travel to help adventurous students like me.

The incredible Northern Lights in Iceland.

The benefits of travelling as a student

Embarking on a journey as a student can be an enriching and transformative experience, so here are some of the key benefits of combining studies with travelling.

Cultural Immersion: Travelling provides an invaluable opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures, traditions, and languages. Experiencing different ways of life broadens your perspective and fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of diversity.

Personal Growth: Travelling as a student pushes you out of your comfort zone. It enhances your adaptability, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence. You become more independent, resilient, and open-minded, qualities that are highly valued in both academic and professional settings.

Expanded Knowledge: Travelling allows you to learn beyond the confines of a classroom. You can witness historical landmarks, visit museums, and engage in intellectual discussions with locals. These experiences deepen your understanding of the world, offering unique insights that can enhance your academic pursuits.

Visiting my native Latvia in winter.

Challenges and pitfalls of student travel

While the allure of travel is undeniable, it is important to consider the challenges and potential pitfalls that may arise.

Time Management: Balancing studies and travel requires managing your time effectively. It’s crucial to plan ahead, create a schedule, and allocate sufficient time for both academic responsibilities and exploration.

Academic Obligations: Travelling as a student does not mean forgetting assignments. You must consider assignment deadlines, exams, and important classes. It’s essential to communicate with professors or academic advisors to ensure you don’t miss crucial coursework or fall behind.

Financial Constraints: Travelling can be costly, and as a student, you may have limited financial resources. It’s important to budget wisely and explore cost-effective options such as student discounts, hostels, or group travel packages. Seeking scholarships or part-time work opportunities can also help fund your adventures.

Health and Safety: Travelling brings inherent risks, including unfamiliar environments, health concerns, and safety hazards. It is vital to research your destination thoroughly, adhere to local laws and customs, and take necessary precautions to safeguard your well-being.

Exploring the souks in Morocco.

Strategies for successful study-travel balance

With careful planning and a strategic approach, you can successfully combine studies and travel. Here are some strategies to help you maintain a healthy balance:

Tip one: plan in advance

Create a realistic study-travel schedule by identifying breaks or holidays that align with your desired travel periods. This proactive approach enables you to allocate time for both academic commitments and travel plans. The flights are cheaper if purchased well in advance or two weeks before the flight.

Tip two: use online resources

Take advantage of the online library or pre-recorded course material. These flexible options allow you to engage in coursework while travelling, ensuring you stay on track academically. In my experience, it is always possible to organize coursework in a way where work can be done online. Travelling still means doing work. A train journey from Brighton to Gatwick is 40 min. The pre-departure time before the flight is 1.5h. The flight itself can be used to do some work that does not acquire an internet connection.

Recognize that a part of your trip will be spent looking at the screen. It might seem counterintuitive to travel just to sit in a café doing work, but I assure you it is way more fulfilling to work from a terrace in Morocco that the same library that you’ve been working in for the last eight weeks.

Tip three: collaborate with peers

Connect with fellow students who share your passion for travel. Collaborating with like-minded individuals can lead to group study sessions during trips, where you can collectively balance academics and exploration.

Tip four: budgeting

Travel does not have to be expensive. Talk to the international friends you know and often they will be more than happy to let you sleep on their couch and show you the best and most affordable spots in the city. Eating out can be left for special occasions and substituted with home-cooked meals whilst abroad. Roaming through the grocery store can be as much of a cultural experience as going out to eat. Make sure that you read the packaging and get some local products.

Don’t forget about the other travel costs. When I look for flights to and from Europe I consider not only the flight cost but also transfer expenses. An airport further from the city can often offer cheaper flights but that can sometimes mean paying more for the train tickets than the flight, not even to mention the early flights that would require to go to the airport the night before.

Tip five: seek academic support

Maintain regular communication with professors or academic advisors. They can provide guidance on managing coursework, suggest resources, or recommend study materials to facilitate learning while travelling.

Tip six: stay hydrated!

Bring a water bottle with you. Many airports and even train stations in Europe will have water dispensers. Take advantage of those and stay hydrated.

Tip seven: stay hydrated!

Get the cheapest flights by scanning the internet. Whenever I travel anywhere I use flight scan apps like Kiwi or Skyscanner. They compare the prices of various aviation companies so you can choose the most affordable one. For rail services, I use Trainline wherever possible. Then I don’t have to try to figure out the ticket machines in foreign countries. I can buy my ticket there, see at which platform the train arrives and all that’s left to do is find the right one.

Combining studies with travelling offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, expanded knowledge, and cultural immersion. Look at your schedule and buy your tickets well in advance or two weeks prior to the flight. Stay in touch with your tutors and keep on track with coursework. Connect with other like-minded students and sleep on some sofas. It can be easy and affordable to embark on a journey that will leave an indelible mark on both your education and your soul.

Student looking at their phone


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Undine Evalde • 5th July 2023

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