Travelling might not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of what to do in your free time at uni- but it definitely should be. What better time to explore new places than when you’re young and (relatively) responsibility free? Travel as much as you can now – make memories to last!
Visit your friends at other unis
I’m sure on results day when all your friends found out what new city they would be studying in you promised to visit. But have you kept that promise? If you haven’t had the chance yet organise something, you’re guaranteed a place to sleep which keeps costs low. You might even be able raid their cupboards for a few stray super noodles if you’re lucky. This is one of the cheaper ways to travel while at uni and it really is worth it. Every UK city boasts some unique attraction so why not go see what all the fuss is about.
Find cheap flights to Europe
One that needs a little more organisation and maybe some savvy thinking. The aim here (if you’re on a budget) is where can I go for the best price? I often scour sites to find flight deals to locations across Europe. If you love travelling and are the kind of person that can have fun anywhere this is perfect because you tend to come across the less touristy places. What’s better than a long weekend in Seville or Bergamo exploring foreign art galleries and museums?
So you’ve visited your friends across the UK, you’ve spent a handful of weekends exploring European cities now you want a bigger adventure. South East Asia? Central America? The Caribbean? All amazing places to go, but how do you do it in between uni AND on a student budget? It’s a tricky one but there are ways to do it – one of the best is through your University. Most unis have strong international connections, make the most of every opportunity presented to you because there really is so much you could gain. Some offer places at summer schools teaching English while other schemes like Operation Wallacea are based around conservation of endangered habitats. Do a little digging around what your University has to offer and what locations you could jet off to…even if that means trading in some volunteer work. But hey, looks good on a CV too!
Broaden more than one horizon.
Instead of going through the usual corporations, consider planning your holiday and doing a good deed at the same time (this isn’t an ad, we just think it’s a great idea).
Hotels That Help is the (only) not-for-profit travel booking website run entirely by volunteers. All the money they raise from bookings goes to homelessness charities, at no cost to the customer, whatsoever. At HotelsThatHelp.co.uk you can book everything travel-related, including accommodation, flights, activities and even travel insurance. They work with the biggest and best names in the travel world – when you are looking for a hotel, for example, you are redirected to Booking.com (the world-leader in accommodation).
This all means that you receive the exact same service as if you’d gone to Booking.com directly, the only difference being that instead of Booking.com receiving all of the profit, at least half is directed to homelessness charities in the UK. This works out at around £5-10 per booking (at no cost to you) – which is enough to provide emergency, overnight shelter for 4 nights. It’s a change you probably wouldn’t notice making, so why wouldn’t you see the world and help people at the same time?
What’s stopping you?
When you really think about it there’s not a lot. Workload and budgeting are often the first things that spring to mind but if you’re passionate about travelling (and life in general) then you can balance all that around travel. There might be a few sacrifices to make – one less night out or one less splurge on takeaway but what you will gain from worldly experience is incomparable.
Next time you’re feeling a little uninspired or down, take 15 minutes to make a travel plan even if that’s just to visit your Nan. Often a change in scenery is just the breath of fresh air you need. You could use travelling during uni as a reward too. Treating yourself to a holiday at the end of the deadline or dissertation season is surely one of the best motivators! It’s worked for me in the past so why not give it a go?
After all travel really is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.
Want to help make your University a place that supports your mental health and academic success? Fill out this quick survey and make a change.
Leah studies Biology and writes a weekly article on student life in Nottingham.