Archive for January, 2008

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Have an Adventure Weekend at These Festivals

January 31, 2008

It’s not like there aren’t already a million things to see in Europe between the museums, monuments, historical sites, parks, canals, cafes, castles, and tasty locals. But, hey, since you’re already going that far, you may as well throw in a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience as well. Europe hosts some of the largest, most exciting festivals in the world. Time your trip right and you can take in one of these events:

La Tomatina
Bunol, Spain
August 27, 2008
It might be the world’s largest food fight. Certainly it’s the most well-known and best organized. Feel like a kid again when you spend an hour throwing tomatos at friends and strangers and rolling around in the pulpy goo.

Notting Hill CarnivalNotting Hill Carnival
London, England
August 24-25, 2008
Billed as “Europe’s largset streetfaire”, the Caribbean-flavored carnival includes a parade, DJs, and lots of glitter and sequins. Take a minute to get a photo of the shop with the blue door that was Hugh Grant’s book store in “Notting Hill”.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Edinburgh, Scotland
August 8 – 31, 2008
This is the world’s largest arts festival, featuring music, theater, opera, and dance.

Not to be confused with:

Festival FringeThe Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Edinburgh, Scotland
August 2 – 25, 2008
Held at the same time, but as an open arts festival, anyone can perform, including comedians, street performers, and edgier acts than the other festival offers. In 2007, participants put on 2,050 different shows for a total of 31,000 performances in 250 venues.

Oktoberfest
Munich, Germany
September 20 – October 5
Pretzels. Shnitzel. Beer. Music. Yum.

Find more festival ideas and, as always, chat with a TravelCUTS student travel expert before you go. They can help you find student airfares, hostels and rail passes. And they’re just fun to talk to. Cute too.

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Plan Ahead With a Budget Travel Workshop

January 30, 2008

Hostels are fun, affordable places to stay, but they can also be great places to get and share knowledge about traveling as a student on a budget. Some Hostelling International locations offer World Travel 101 seminars for people who haven’t done a big, international trip before and want to know what to expect. Topics include Traveling Europe by Rail, Southeast Asia, and Women Traveling Alone.

There are dates listed for Southern California, Michigan, and Minnesota right now. Check with your local hostel to see if they know of any events in your area, and contact TravelCUTS to get your hostel membership card and save a few dollars.

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Get Your Kicks… Sleeping in a Concrete Teepee

January 29, 2008

Wigwam HotelIf you’ve ever considered doing a Route 66 road trip, it’s sights and opportunities like this one that should convince you to pack your bags.

Located in Holbrook, Arizona, the Wigwam Village Motel is quirky and affordable, two things that every student traveler wants to find. Other sights in Holbrook include various dinosaur statues and petrified rocks, so really, there’s no way to avoid having a good time there. Have a few chili dogs and milkshakes along the way at local diners, take plenty of black and white roadside photos, and the next time your parents talk to you about the Good Ol’ Days, you can say, “Yes, I know. I’ve been there.”

Learn more about Route 66.

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Semester at Sea – Apply Now for Fall 2008

January 23, 2008

Semester at Sea

Interested in traveling the globe without falling a semester behind? Apply now for the Fall 2008 Semester at Sea voyage and you can get your travel kicks and your college credits too. 

Why pick one destination for your semester abroad when you can pick a dozen? Let your friends do a few cold months in London while you hit Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, Vietnam, and other ports of call.

The Semester at Sea program has been around for decades, and it’s a great way for a student to travel around the world while working toward a degree. There are programs for teachers and seniors as well, so even if you’re out of school you can still do a sail around the world without paying the outrageous price that most cruise lines would charge for the same itinerary.

Some financial aid is available for students and you can use any federal aid or loans that you receive, such as Pell Grants and Stafford loans, as well. Talk to your academic advisor to find out more about how you can make a semester sailing the high seas work into your graduation plans, then get your passport and visas and your ISIC. (It’s good all over the place!)

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Spring Break is Just a Surf Lesson Away

January 21, 2008

Australian sunsetTired of winter yet? Would you rather spend hours in the library reviewing chimistry notes than have to set foot in the snow again? Well then it’s about time you start planning your Spring Break getaway, and a happy and helpful Travel CUTS agent is ready to help.

Chances are your perfect trip involves you learning to be someone else. Maybe after growing up surrounded by mini-malls and big box stores you dream of shopping small bakeries and markets in European, cobblestoned streets. Or maybe you’re a city dweller who wants to stretch your legs in the vast African Sahara. Or just maybe you’ve been landlocked your whole life and want to try being a beach bum.

No matter what your dream alt-personality, there’s a destination, budget and activity for you. But if you’re desparate for some sunshine, now is a great time to try that beach thing out.

The Southern Hemisphere is warm and toasty when we’re shivering and goose pimply, and they’re happy to welcome you and teach you their tropical ways. Laying on the beach with a book isn’t bad, but if you really want to spead your wings and jump into a travel adventure, sign up with a surf school. There are several good companies willing to get you on a board in Australia or New Zealand. Some offer full packages for several days of food, lodging, and surf instruction, and others will sign you up one class at a time, if you want to squeeze it in between other activities.

You may not take to a longboard instantly, but you’ll have the time of your life trying, and probably a few bruises to show off as proof of your new skills.

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Adventure Travel With a Little Masonry on the Side

January 18, 2008

VISIONS projectAlthough many people don’t have a chance to spend time abroad until college, there are some wonderful programs out there for high school students who have an itch for adventure. The People-to-People Student Ambassador program is one of them, and the focus there is on cultural understanding and exchange.

Another option is a VISIONS Service Adventure. With VISIONS you have a chance to travel, but the emphasis is on community service. You could help build a playground, renovate a youth center, construct a bridge, work in a school, or try your hand at fishing or farming.

According to their website, “Our underlying objective is to introduce teenagers, through construction-based and other service work and on-site living, to cultures very different from their own, and to challenge participants to mature thoughtfully and reflectively within a community of peers and adult mentors.

Visit the VISIONS site for more details: www.visionsserviceadventures.com

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Feel Like a Celebrity in a Famous Hostel

January 3, 2008

Pink Palace CorfuThey may not have names as well-known as the Ritz-Carlton, the Park Plaza, or even the YMCA, but among backpackers there are certain hostels that are famous for their desireable locations, their range of activities, and, well, because they’re great places to party. If you want to meet lots of people from all over the world and have a few drinks and a dance with them, make sure your wanderlust gets you to at least one of these places:

The Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece: This place is legend among travelers. It’s on a gorgeous island overlooking a stunning beach and offers activities like kayaking, four-wheeling, cliff diving, volleyball, and booze cruising. If you have to wear a toga at least one night in Greece, this is the party to wear it to.

Villa Saint Exupery in Nice, France: It’s a hostel on the freaking Riviera! For €16.00 you can stay among socialites and snobs, and have a better time than any of them. Even Lonely Planet named it an Author’s Choice 2005: This exceptional former Carmelite monastery has the friendliest and most professional staff on the Riviera.

Belushi’s bar LondonSt. Christopher’s Village in London, England: One of seven London hostels run  by this chain, their site says it all: St. Christopher’s Village is the party hostel for London’s young, fun and hip. Belushi’s bar is where it all happens – live DJ’s, karaoke, big screen TV’s, cheap drinks, great eats, international parties and a 4am license – what more could any traveller ask for. Throw into the mix a roof-top hot tub, and a bean bag adorned chill-out room you can’t help but have a good time.

Find more must-stay hostels at Europe’s Famous Hostels.