Archive for January, 2010


ISIC – Your Second Most Important Travel Document

January 30, 2010

How could I have written about passports last week and not included a bit about ISICs? They’re the student travel equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter; they make each other better.

A passport is essential for getting around, and an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) is essential for saving you money everywhere you go so that you can afford to keep going.

The ISIC is the only card recognized internationally as proof of student status. It will get you discounts on food, tours, bike rentals, museums, zoos, amusement parks, international phone calls, shows and shopping.

In Canada the card is valid for 16 months, from 1 September until 31 December of the following year. So get your card at the beginning of the school year to get the most value out of it.

If you’re an American buying your ISIC in the States, the ISIC is good for a year from the day you buy it, so you may want to wait until you have a trip planned to get one.

You should also check to see what kind of deals they have for the area where you live. You might be able to save enough money on lunch and coffee in a month to have the card pay for itself.

Get your ISIC now.


Book a WestJet Flight with Travel CUTS and Save

January 27, 2010

Thinking about jetting off to Vegas? Or, you know, Guelph?

What’s that look for? Guelph’s cool. Just ask Mitch Moffit.

If you’re a student and you’re flying anywhere that WestJet goes, you should make Travel CUTS your first stop. They have the lowest WestJet fares available and can also help you plan for hotels, car rentals, hostels or whatever else you need.

With 13 Caribbean destinations, you should definitely think about saving a few dollars with a sunny summer vacation.

P.S. – WestJet doesn’t actually fly right to Guelph, but they do go to Toronto and Hamilton, which are pretty damn close.



Celebrate Australia Day, Wherever You Are

January 26, 2010

Making Lamingtons is long, slow work, so I improvised and made a Lamington cake instead,

Happy Australia Day!

Sure, it’s pretty much over already in Australia, but that’s no reason that you can’t keep enjoying the spirit of the land down under.

One of the best things about traveling is everything you get to bring back with you to share with others. Not just the t-shirts and snow globes and local candy bars, but all the experiences you’ve had and everything you’ve learned about the people you met and the culture you got to be part of.

For example: When I did my year abroad in Sydney, studying at UNSW, one of my first campus events was an orientation and mixer for international students. To introduce us to Aussie cuisine, we were fed Lamingtons (yellow cake, sandwiched together with strawberry preserves, then dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut) and given billy tea to drink. It was a great way to meet some of the other students and start to feel comfortable in my new home.

Now, to commemorate my time in Australia, I have a little Australia Day celebration every year. I make Lamingtons or a Pavlova, buy ANZAC biscuits if I can find them, and bring some of my favorite photos and souvenirs to share with people in my office.

So even if you don’t have a trip coming up, you can still enjoy the world by sharing your past travels with others. Whip up some hummous and talk to your friends about the Greek Isles. Rent “Amelie”, get some baguettes and cheese and enjoy a night in France.

If you can’t get out into the world, bring the world to you!



Go to a Travel Talk, Leave With a Travel Plan

January 22, 2010

If you’re a student in Canada, check out this list of free Travel Talks for a city near you. The talks take place year round and are hosted by Travel CUTS. Topics include:

  • East Africa Trekking and Wildlife
  • India and South East Asia
  • Gap Year Abroad
  • Tucan Travel
  • Adventure Travel
  • SWAP – Student Work Abroad Programs

The talks are co-sponsored by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, so you’re sure to get the most relevant, up-to-date travel details possible. If you’re deciding where your next big trip will take you, these talks will help you explore your possibilities and see how far you can get, and for how long, on a budget that works for you.

And if you’ve decided where you want to go, but your parents still need convincing, showing them that you’ve done your travel homework can’t hurt.


Spend Reading Week 2010 in Europe

January 20, 2010

I hope you haven’t given up on your New Year’s resolution to travel this year. There are some great student deals coming out for spring and summer, and some you can take advantage of for Reading Week.

How about a European vacation? You might not get perfect weather, but you also won’t get the crowds and high prices you get during peak travel times in the summer.

Right now you can book select Contiki trips with Travel CUTS and get $200-300 back. That’s money you can spend on souvenirs, snacks, a new camera or whatever you need for your trip.

Check out the list of available destinations, including the Greek Isles, Spain, France, Croatia and Italy. You must book and pay by March 31, 2010 to take advantage of this offer.

Actual reading during these trips is optional.


The Best Gift to Give Yourself? A Passport.

January 18, 2010

If you’re like me, after the holidays were over you went out and bought yourself the gifts you really wanted and didn’t get. Maybe you cashed in some gift cards, or maybe you had a few dollars left over.

But do you have the one thing that absolutely every self-respecting traveller should have? Do you have an up-to-date passport? It’s your ticket to the whole wide world after all, and they put pretty stamps in it when you go places.

It might seem like a silly thing to go out and buy if you don’t have immediate travel plans, but there’s no reason to wait until the last minute.

I’m proof of that, because for someone who has done a lot of traveling, I can still be a travel moron. Here’s the evidence:

Last year I planned a trip to Australia and New Zealand. I finalized my itinerary and made sure it included a Lord of the Rings tour and black water rafting. Woo hoo!

I got approval from my manager to take three weeks off, paid. Woo hoo!

A month before my departure, I opened up my passport only to see that it had expired several months earlier. Crap!

Luckily, I had plenty of time renew my passport before my trip, so the situation wasn’t dire. Mostly it was embarrassing that my passport had been so unused that it took me eight months to notice it had expired. Clearly I need to get out of the country more often.

Since then, my New Year’s routine has become:

1. Change all the batteries in my smoke detectors.
2. Make an appointment to have my eyes checked and contact lenses updated.
3. Email all the people I haven’t talked to since last New Year’s.
4. Check to make sure I have a valid passport.

I think you should always be ready to flee the country at a moment’s notice. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Here are a few passport tips:

  • Visit Passport Canada to get your application, check fees and find out how long it will take to get a new passport or renew an expired one.
  • If your passport expired less than 12 months ago, you may be eligible to use the Simplified Renewal Form, which means you don’t have to resubmit proof of Canadian citizenship. You will need to have new photos taken though.
  • A passport is good for five (5!) years for adults. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to hit the road, get your passport now so that you’re always ready to go (unlike me). It will also be one less expense to worry about later.

Always be prepared!


Semester at Sea: Apply Now for Summer/Fall 2010

January 15, 2010

Semester at SeaInterested in traveling the globe without falling a semester behind? Apply now for the Summer or Fall 2010 Semester at Sea voyage, or for Spring 2011 (yes, you need to start planning way far ahead). With Semester at Sea 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 Casablanca, Naples, Dubrovnik, Honolulu, Istanbul 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.

The program is run by an American university, but it’s open to international students (see the admissions requirements). 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!)

See Semester at Sea application deadlines.