Archive for the ‘hostel’ Category


Spend Summer 2011 Touring Europe’s Best Festivals!

March 25, 2011

It’s not like there aren’t already a million things to see in Europe between the museums, monuments, battlegrounds, 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 31, 2011
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 tomatoes at friends and strangers and rolling around in the pulpy goo.

Notting Hill Carnival
London, England
August 28-29, 2011
Billed as “Europe’s largest street faire”, 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”.

Festival FringeThe Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Edinburgh, Scotland
August 5 – 29, 2011
Anyone can perform at this open arts festival, including comedians, street performers, and other artists. In 2010, 21,148 performers put on 2,453 different shows for a total of 40,254 performances in 259 venues. So there’s got to be something there you’re going to love, right?

Munich, Germany
September 17 – October 3, 2011
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.

See you there!


Travel Safe: Be Prepared for Emergencies Abroad

March 16, 2011

After everything we’ve seen in Japan this week, it’s clear that you can’t plan ahead for every scenario. There are travelers there who arrived hoping to enjoy the food and culture and beauty of the country, who are now doing whatever they can to reroute their itineraries or just go home.

When you’re getting ready for a trip though, there are some things you can do to help yourself be safe and prepared for small but annoying travel issues, like having your wallet stolen, as well as bigger issues, like health problems or an overthrow of the local government.

The things you can or should do will depend on if you’re planning a weekend at the beach or three months backpacking Southeast Asia, but here are a few ideas to start with.

1.  Make sure someone at home has your itinerary. Give them your flight times, names of places you’re staying, contact information for friends you’re visiting, anything that can help them locate you if something happens at home and you’re needed back or if something happens where you are and your friends or family want to check on you.

2. Check with your mobile phone carrier to see if you’ll be able to text from your destination. You may not want to rack up huge charges to tell friends where you ate lunch, but it’s good to know that you can contact someone back home in an emergency and let them know where you are.

3. If you’re travelling alone, or going to a volatile area, let the local embassy know. You can visit the Registration of Canadians Abroad to file your itinerary online. Even if you don’t do that, you should write down the addresses and phone numbers of embassies near your destinations just in case you need them. An embassy can help you if you lose your passport, need medical attention, get arrested or are involved in an accident. See a list of Canadian embassies around the world.

4. Have a backup plan. Sometimes you might arrive in a small town and find that all the hostels are full. Or maybe the train you were expecting to take doesn’t run on Sundays. Advance research and booking (at least a day or two ahead) is best, but if you really want to be spontaneous, then you should have a couple of extra options in the back of your mind at all times.

5. Take some water with you every morning. Maybe the worst thing that happens all day is that it’s hotter than you expected and you don’t want to pay $4 for a drink. Or maybe you’re on a train or bus that breaks down and you’re stuck for a few hours. Don’t let dehydration add to your troubles.

6. Keep a couple of granola bars or some trail mix with you for the same reasons.

7. A mini first-aid kit with bandaids, aspirin, and anything you can’t go 24 hours without (eye drops, inhaler or other medications) should be kept in your daypack.

8. Keep an emergency cash stash. Foreign ATMs don’t always work the way you want them to. Wallets get lost or stolen. Some forms of transportation have to be paid in cash. So whenever possible, keep a little cash tucked away for emergencies only. This isn’t cash you use to buy another drink at the pub, it’s cash you save for when you’re lost at 2 a.m. and need to get in a cab.

9. Keep your eyes open and your traveller’s Spidey-sense on. Always be aware of your surroundings, or designate one of the people in your group to stay the sane and sober one. As soon as something feels off to you, go back to a main road, a well-lit area, a different hostel, whatever it takes for you to feel safe again.

Travelling should be an adventure to enjoy, not a hardship to endure. Stay prepared and you’ll have a better chance that the memories you create are happy ones.


Sleep & Ski With a Canadian Hostel Package

March 3, 2011

Think skiing is for wimps? Then you'll love the challenging ice wall at HI Banff.

Save yourself the trouble of booking separate sleeping and skiing packages by checking out what Hostelling International Canada has to offer.

If you’re headed to Fernie, Banff, Jasper or Mont-Tremblant, you can get one low HI member rate on Ski & Ride packages for your bunk, lift ticket, and maybe breakfast, drinks and more.

Not an HI member? It’s easy to become one. And if you’re a frequent skiier and season’s pass holder at Marmot Basin, it works the other way around: you can sleep free at the Jasper HI.

So ski, sit by the fire, do some tobogganing, climb an ice wall, and relax knowing that you might break a leg, but you won’t break the bank.


Students Save $75 on Transat Europe Flights

February 2, 2011

Maybe you'll use your $75 to stay at the Stahleck hostel in Germany

What can $75 get you? How about 2-3 nights at a hostel, a weekend (or more) of food and beer, a day trip to a castle, a really good pair of walking shoes, or enough postcards and stamps to make your parents think you really miss them.

Well, if you book your flight to Europe with Travel CUTS and Transat before March 31, 2011, you’ll save $75 to spend on one of those things or anything else that comes up. All you need is a valid ISIC card to take advantage of this offer. Visit a Travel CUTS store or call 1.866.246.9762 to save.

The small print: Save $75 off round trip flights to Europe through Transat Holidays, applicable new bookings only Feb 1 – Mar 31, 2011. Travel period Apr 1 – Oct 31, 2011 – no blackout dates apply. Promotion applicable to ISIC card holders and youth under 26 with the IYTC cards, cannot be combined with any other promotion. Applicable on air only, packages and tours. Not applicable on child rates, last minute bookings (bookings must be made a min 21 days prior to departure). Minimum stay of 7 days. Cannot be used on one way.


Plan Big for Travel in 2011

January 4, 2011

La Tomatina: Your laundry's worst nightmare

Happy New Year! Hope you had a fantabulous weekend of excitement and debauchery, or at least a lot of ice cream. Ice cream is an excellent substitute for adventure when you’re in a bind.

Now that 2011 has officially begun, it’s time to think about that travel wish list that I know you’re keeping (a sort of travel bucket list, but more like places you want to go while you’re young and silly enough to enjoy them).

Sit down with a pen and paper, and maybe a map, and think about where you want this year to take you. Start by dreaming big. For example:

Get messy at La Tomatina – The biggest food fight in the world happens every year in Buñol, Spain. This year it will be held August 31st. Spain is a long way to go for a festival that only lasts one hour, but if you’re thinking about a summer trip to Europe, why not stop by? As the official site says in charming English, “It is great to be able to do something as nonsense as throwing tomatos to anyone moving for an hour. You can relieve all your tightness.”

Attend a Royal wedding – Personally, I think you’d have to be crazy to be in London on April 29th when Kate and William say their “I do”s, but if you’re willing to stand in massive crowds for hours, just for the chance to catch a glimpse of a carriage, go for it. Just book your hostel ASAP, and practice some meditative moves to keep calm as things carry on.

Howl at a Full Moon Party – The first Full Moon Party took place on the beach of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, back in 1987. Over the past 20 years it’s grown from a few dozen revelers to more than 10,000 celebrants each month. It’s a destination for many backpackers, and has spawned several other Full Moon events around the world.

If Thailand isn’t on your agenda, but you’re still headed south for the winter, check out the happenings on Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Every month there’s a new Full Moon Party at base backpackers.

As always, get your ISIC before you go anywhere to take advantage of the great discounts. The more you save, the longer you can play.

If a big trip isn’t in your budget this year, no worries. There are lots of options for shorter, smaller adventures closer to home. We’ll look at those tomorrow.


Get Your 2011 Student Travel Must-Haves

December 9, 2010

signsHow many days did you spend traveling this year? Whether it was five or 50, you probably wish it had been more. Make it easier to get where you want to go in 2011 by being prepared to hit the road at a moment’s notice. Think of these things as a traveler’s kit of necessities, and put them on your holiday wish list:

Passport – Without it, you’re facing some serious delays in trip planning. Don’t let a lack of identification keep you from joining friends on a last-minute run across the border, or from passing up an unbeatble airfare to Paris or London or Tokyo. Passports are good for 10 years in the U.S. and five years in Canada, so once you have it in hand you won’t have to think about it again for a while. Visit the U.S. State Department’s passport website or the official Canadian passport website for the forms.

ISIC, IYTC, or ITIC – Whether you’re a full-time student, a teacher, or a youth under the age of 26, there are thousands of different types of identification out there. Only one is internationally recognized as proof of your student, teacher or youth status. Get this card at a Travel CUTS store or order online and start saving money on museums, bus, airline, and train tickets, restaurants, and activities in more than 90 countries (and in your home town).

Hostelling International Card – This card will get you:

  • Discounts at more than 4,000 hostels worldwide
  • Savings of up to 85% on international phone calls, free email access, voicemail and travel info through eKit
  • Discounts at restaurants, stores, and attractions
  • Discounts on bus transportation and tours
  • Discounts on car rentals
  • Worldwide, commission-free currency exchange
  • Free seminars on traveling abroad

Luggage that won’t cause you pain – Find yourself a few different pieces (small carry-on, mid-size backpack, larger rolling duffel) that you can afford, that you won’t be devastated if they get lost or damaged, and that are comfortable to pack and carry. A good backpack is essential and one that has the ability to expand or shrink will work for weekends away or longer backpacking trips. You don’t have to spend a fortune on luggage. Check garage sales, thrift stores and discount shops for great deals.

A library card – Great travels require great planning. You don’t have to put together a daily itinerary, but a basic understanding of the region you’re visiting, the languages you’re going to encounter, and the major sights you want to see will help a lot.

Rather than spending your money on heavy books to lug with you, do your reading before you go for free, photocopy any maps or helpful language charts, and then buy a small pocket-sized guide to go with you. (Yes, there’s an app for that, but when your batter is dead you’ll be thankful for the backup plan.) If you’re an AAA member, take advantage of their free roadmaps and books.

With all of these things ready, 2011 could be your best travel year yet. Get out there!


Scare Up Some Christmas Fun in a Haunted Castle

October 21, 2010

Not everyone can get away with ditching their family for the holidays, but if you can, then how about spending Christmas partying in a castle?

Haggis Adventures offers budget tours of Scotland year round, but if  you go at Christmas you’ll get some extra special treats, including spending Christmas Eve and Christmas night in a haunted Highland castle surrounded by what I’m sure is a very creepy, but lovely, forest.

Haggis claims this experience is world famous, and who am I to doubt them? If you’re interested, check out their site, or talk to your local Travel CUTS student travel expert. They can hook you up with a student airfare and help you find great hostels if you want to add on a few nights in London or Cardiff. (I hear they have aliens there.)

If you go, tell me all about it. I’ll be home with the family, listening once again to the story of how Grandma once won a Sexy Legs contest during the War and took home a whole bag of groceries as her prize.