Archive for August, 2010

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Put a Travel Gift Certificate on Your Back to School Wish List

August 30, 2010

Gift CertificatesYou’ve moved into the dorm, or your new off-campus apartment, or maybe you’re still at home and commuting to school.

Now Grandma is asking if there’s anything you need, any way she can help out. You have the essentials covered for now, but you’re already thinking about your first three-day weekend, and Winter Break is coming up after that.

So you say, “Actually, I could use a little help with my _______.” And fill in the blank with “next flight home”, “holiday travel plans”, “volunteer trip” or “upcoming semester abroad”.

But Grandma can’t afford the $1,000 or so you need. She wants to give you $50 or maybe $100. No problem. Have her give it to you as a travel gift certificate so that you can put it toward the next trip you book (and you won’t be tempted to spend it at the local pub’s trivia night or on something silly, like school supplies).

Visit TravelCUTS.com to learn more about travel gift certificates or buy one for a friend. After all, it’s just as good to give as to get.

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Need Travel Suggestions? Let Hostelling International Inspire You

August 27, 2010

Get your skis on at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre in the Canadian Rockies.

Where to go? What to do? Some people know exactly where they want their next trip, or their next ten trips, to take them.

But sometimes there’s so much to choose from that it’s hard to focus in on just one destination.

If you’re ready to go, but you aren’t sure where, start with Hostelling International’s Inspire Me feature. This page can help you narrow down your choices based on the kind of activity or climate you’re looking for. They also let you know about all the hostels that will fit your criteria. Once you have a destination and a place to stay, all you need is transportation and you’re almost done!

Before you book a hostel, be sure to get your Hostelling International membership card. You’ll save a few dollars every night that you stay and you can also get discounts on tours, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment with your card. That’s more cash you can spend on postcards, sunscreen, pub food, or whatever you want.

Your friendly local Travel CUTS agent can help you out with all of these details and more.

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Study on the High Seas: Semester at Sea 2011

August 26, 2010

Semester at SeaYou may have just gotten back to campus, but I think you should start thinking about leaving again.

Why now? Because travelling the globe for three months on an awesome ship and visiting a bunch of countries and meeting people from all over the world without falling a semester behind takes planning… and paperwork. If there’s one thing universities are really good at, it’s coming up with new and completely un-exciting forms for you to fill out, so best to start now.

Apply now for the Spring 2011 Semester at Sea voyage and make sure you can get your travel kicks and your university 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 Cape Town, Chennai, Ho Chi Minh City and Hilo.

This is your classroom.

The Semester at Sea program has been around for decades, and it’s a great way for you to travel around the world while working toward a degree (and get your parents and scholarships to pay for it).

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 adviser 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!)

Start preparing for the Semester at Sea application deadlines and say “bon voyage” to academic boredom! (Questions? Talk to Semester at Sea on Twitter: @SAS_Dave.)

Spring 2011 Voyage

  • October 13, 2010: SAS financial aid deadline.
  • October 22, 2010: SAS financial aid recipients are notified.
  • November 5, 2010: Payment deadline. Last day to cancel without penalty.
  • January 12, 2011: Voyage sails from Nassau.

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Pick Your Backpacking Path and Get Moving!

August 24, 2010

Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

I love lists. I love to see things put in some kind of order so that I can check them off, one at a time, getting a sense of accomplishment with each little tick mark.

I also love to get travel advice from people who have been there and done that, so when Lonely Planet puts a list together for me, I pay attention.

Today I’m reading about their Essential Backpacker Trails. I’m happy to say that I’ve done three of the 10 on their list (#2, 4 and 6), and have plans to do at least one more in the next year (8).

I’m also thankful for the ideas they put in my head. I haven’t thought much about the Trans-Siberian Railway before, but now it’s something I’ll consider for a future adventure.

Even when you know where-ish you want to go sometimes (Paris, Cape Town, Sydney), you still have to answer the question, “But then where?” Being able to put together a route like this is a big help.

What cities have you put together to create your own travel trail?

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Get a 6 Pak From Rail Canada and Save

August 20, 2010

No, they can’t give you killer abs, and you’re on your own for beer. If you need a ride to school though, VIA Rail is there for you.

Proving that it’s pretty much always cheaper to buy in bulk, VIA Rail is offering up to 50% off regular adult rail fares when you use your ISIC and purchase 6 one-way trips (a.k.a. 3 round trips) at once. For example:

From Montréal to… VIA 6 pak fare
(Three round trips)
Savings compared with the student rate
(Three round trips)
Toronto $408 $162
Ottawa $162 $66
Kingston $246 $96
London $546 $216
Québec City $222 $84

Book now if you already have an ISIC, or contact a Travel CUTS student travel expert to make sure you save as much as you can.

Have a great ride!

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The Rail Most Travelled: Eurail’s Most Popular Routes

August 18, 2010

Some of my favorite travel writing is by people who have gotten far off the beaten path, avoided the tourist traps, and had real adventures in exotic locals.

But you know what? Going off the beaten path can be dangerous. And scary. And give you diseases. And cost a fortune when you realize you’re lost and don’t know how to get back to the path.

I’m not trying to discourage you from doing something daring, I just think you need a good amount of travel experience, lots of planning, and maybe some survival skills before you head off into the jungle or up a mountain or across a desert.

If you’re new to travel, or if you’re travelling alone for the first time, there’s something to be said for sticking to the well-travelled path. There are lots of other travellers there for you to meet. There are clean-ish hostels with adjoining pubs and nightclubs where you can get to know these travellers. There are help desks and people who speak English and free maps and tour guides.

So if you’re feeling guilty about signing up for a bus tour instead of playing Indiana Jones all on your own, don’t. Travel isn’t always about pushing your boundaries and taking physical risks. Sometimes it’s just about having fun, relaxing, opening your mind to new ideas and cultures, eating and drinking far more than you should, and not getting malaria.

All of this brings me to this list of Eurail’s most popular routes. From Prague to Amsterdam to Rome, you really can’t go wrong with any of these trips. Talk to a Travel CUTS agent to find out how you can save money with student fares and make the most of your European adventure and still go home with all of your fingers and toes.

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Dear Iceland, I Am Not Too Busy to Visit You

August 17, 2010

I haven’t been to Iceland, but I want to go, just because I freaking love their new ad campaign/traveller outreach program.

Have you friended Iceland on Facebook? You should, because it will make you smile and feel a happy, warm Icelandic glow inside.

Are you following Iceland’s blog? You should, because it’s like reading a children’s fairy tale about a magical, whimsical land, except this land is real, and it’s called Iceland, and it’s awesome, and reading it explains a lot of things, like Bjork.

(There’s also a more travel-oriented, less whimsical blog, if you want something more concrete to go by.)

Why am I so crazy about Iceland? They’re thinking about taking the usual dull, industrial, eyesores of electricity towers and turning them into giants, lifting and carrying power cords across the landscape.

It really doesn’t get cooler than that.

Go to Iceland. Hug a giant. Send me a postcard.