Say Bon Voyage for Less

By Claire Mathieson

In the coming weeks, much of the Columbia community will have its mind on the holidays. November brings two opportunities for travel, with classes off for election day on the 7th and 8th and for Thanksgiving holiday on the 24th and 25th. For those of you who are interested in taking a break from the city without breaking budgets, check out the following resources to plan both current and future trips.

TRAVEL

Airfare
Kayak is a comprehensive flight search engine that allows you to compare hundreds of sites in one window, making it easy to find the least expensive flights. As students, it’s also worth checking out Student Universe and STA Travel for exclusive deals.

Yes, you could go here on your own budget.

Though a euro-trip would be rather ambitious idea for the short November holidays, keep budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet  in mind the next time you find yourself planning a trip across the Atlantic. It’s easy to forget that it’s much easier to travel between countries in Europe than it is to travel abroad from the U.S, so once you’re there, take full advantage of all the countries Europe has to offer. Nothing beats a weekend trip to Paris for €16 (about $22), and you can even find inexpensive (i.e., $70 round trip) flight to Morocco. Regional trains are your best bet when it comes to traveling to nearby cities (say Milan and Venice), but budget airlines are generally much faster and cheaper for country-to- country travel. Remember to pay attention to the location of these low-budget airlines, since cheap flights might operate from smaller, out-of-the-way airports. Do some research into transportation between the airport and the city center before you travel.

Did you know it’s possible to buy a round-the-world plane ticket? Though the trip would clearly require more than the four days allotted for each of the November breaks and would be far more daunting than a simple euro-trip, these tickets are something to keep in mind for future travels, as they allow you to buy flights to many destinations at the same time with a discounted rate.

Driving
You’ve probably seen the blue double-decker Megabuses all over the city, trundling customers from the stop at 9th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets to destinations like Boston, D.C, and Toronto for prices as low as $1.50.

Cost To Drive calculates how much it would be to drive between two destinations in a particular car, allowing you to compare the cost of driving with that of other travel options.

Regional trains are an easy way to get around

ACCOMODATION
CouchSurfing is a worldwide network of ordinary people who lend their “couches” (sometimes real couches, sometimes extra beds, sometimes comfortable sections of floor) to travelers. While you should exercise caution (we would advise against couch-surfing alone), it’s a great way to meet the locals, practice languages, and immerse yourself in a culture different from your own.

HostelWorld is a listing of hostels from all over the globe. Similar to hotels, hostels are generally cheaper, more communal, and have a distinct youth vibe.

Depending on where you’re going and how much you’re willing to rough it, camping can be a great option that can put you right in the middle of the best outdoor views for pennies.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms allows you to stay on a farm for free in exchange for work, and there are plenty in upstate New York that could serve as a perfect fall getaway. Check out this past article on the program for more information.

GENERAL TIPS
FlightAware allows you to track your flight and lets you know before you reach the airport whether or not your flight will be on time. It can also be used by friends or family who are planning to meet you at your destination so they can know your real-time flight schedule.

If you currently don’t have a destination in mind but are looking for deals in the future, consider joining the Travelzoo mailing list, which will email you the week’s top 20 bargains.

Signing up for the Student Advantage Discount Card or the International Student Identity Card can lead to surprising savings, not only on travel options, but also on textbooks, shoes, and even cell phones.

Finally, some advice for every budget traveler to keep in mind: don’t be too cheap. Don’t refuse to fork over the $20 admission to the most impressive site in town just because you’ve already reached your daily limit. You’re traveling to experience the world, not to just peek into its front window from the porch. See as much as you can in the time you have – you never know when you’ll be back.

Claire is a junior at Barnard and Features Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing. She goes to awesome places.

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