You’re gearing up for your big trip. You might have decided on an extended stay near a research library, museum, or medical facility, or perhaps you have a writer’s retreat lined up. If you are an international student or visiting scholar, you are probably already connected with a university. If you are just starting to plan, learn more about how to apply for a scholar visa to the United States.
Whether your travel takes you across state or province lines or across oceans, a little planning and preparation will go a long way! Here are some tips and resources worth looking into.
It can be more budget-friendly to look for flights on less known (but still reliable) airlines like Norse Atlantic Airways, that offers lower cost transatlantic flights between the United States and Europe. Other airlines like Frontier and Spirit Airlines in the U.S. and Ryan Air in Europe usually offer reasonably priced flights.
Other strategies that can help stretch your travel dollars:
- Scheduling flights on lower-traffic travel days, usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays. Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive travel days for many airlines.
- Taking advantage of an airline “bumping” you if the flight is very full in exchange for a credit (this only works if you have some flexibility on your arrival dates).
- Consider switching your credit card to one that accumulates miles or points (this might help your future travel!)
When you’re packing to get ready for the airport, plan ahead to save money on food and drinks. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle. You can also bring snacks from home that will be fine going through most airport security screening. Be sure to declare any food you are bringing if going through international customs, especially agricultural products as specific laws may apply.
The last thing you want to do is run out of funds when traveling, which is probably obvious! Most graduate students are experts at making their money stretch as far as possible. You have probably been saving for this, but you may also qualify for grants, scholarships, or fellowships to help fund your travel. Also, be sure to ask for student discounts and look out for signs offering student discounts.
You may want to consider home sharing or house sitting to decrease the cost of housing – and for some company when staying in a new place. Listings on SabbaticalHomes.com that include house sitting are not offered free of charge, but there may be a discounted rate depending on the tasks the host is looking for help with.
There are also helpful apps that can help keep you track of your finances. If you’re traveling abroad, keep an eye on changing currency exchange rates using XE Currency Converter. With this, you may convert nearly any currency to any other, do fee-free money transfers, and calculate travel expenses while taking the currency exchange into consideration. This is an important tool for budgeting before you go, so you know how much you need to save.
Trabee Pocket is another helpful financial app. It, too, accounts for currency exchanges, but it also offers customizable categories and travel expense reports.
What about all the little practical things? A few days before you leave, create a packet of all your important information: passport, identification, any visa paperwork, current student ID, information about your flight or train or rental car. Make sure to include any currency you have had exchanged, and your passwords to manage travel and finances. Preparing ahead of time will help your travel go much more smoothly.
If you are heading someplace where you do not speak the language fluently, Google Translate works for over 100 languages. Just talk, type, draw, or copy & paste what you want to be translated. There is also a neat feature that lets you snap a picture of a sign, menu, etc. and translate it.
Lastly, you will want to remember every wonderful moment, right? Livetrekker is a great way to keep your memories together in digital form. It uses GPS to track where you go, and you supply video, audio, pictures, and text. Later, as you have time, you may edit your files. This way, you won’t forget where this picture was taken or where that memory occurred.
Related: Travel Apps for Academics
Being organized and staying on budget during your stay will help you enjoy yourself more – and be more productive if you are doing research or writing. And at the end of the day, even if you’re extremely organized and using the best apps available, remember that true happiness is about the people you will meet on your journey and the satisfaction you may find in being able to focus more on your work and passions.
Related: Travel Resources for Professors