For students I think “L’Auberge Espagnole” should be at the top of the list, as it gives a very realistic portrayal of the highs and lows you can reach while studying abroad.
Films they didn’t list that I would include are “Lord of the Rings” (for both the real shots of New Zealand and the imagined landscapes of Rivendell), “Monsoon Wedding” for the vibrant images of India and “Funny Face”, because I love to see Audrey Hepburn running all over Paris.
This September, watch men carve massive logs with dangerous chainsaws in Scotland!
Travelling on a budget means that sometimes you might have to pass up something you want to do because of the obscene price tag. In New Zealand I would have loved to go for a ride in a stunt plane, but at $350 for 20 minutes, I had to pass.
To compensate, check out some of the fun and unusual events that take place around the world. Some festivals are free while others charge a small entrance fee.
For example, while doing some Googling about travelling Scotland, I came across a link for the World Porridge Making Championship in Carrbridge. Really. It’s the championship for porridge makers around the world. I was directed to goldenspurtle.com, where I learned that along with the porridge contest, there is also a chainsaw carving competition in Carrbridge every year.
Why would you want to go to either of these things? Why wouldn’t you want to go? Imagine coming back from your trip. Friends ask you, “What did you do?” You say, “Went to some museums, saw a lot of pubs, looked for Nessie, watched a guy carve a cougar out of a massive log with a chainsaw in less than four hours. You know, the usual.”
Your friends would be in awe.
If you live for danger then you should also visit the amazing and incredible… Baby Jumping Festival in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain! It’s so dangerous that the Pope has asked church members to distance themselves from the event, even though it’s part of the Catholic holiday Corpus Christi.
Men dressed as devils jump over babies born in the past year because they believe it takes all their evil from them and the children are cleansed. Have a look:
Find more unusual festivals you can include in your travel plans, and send me some photos of the weirdest ones.
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; two great tastes that taste great together.
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 isic.org 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.
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. 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.
Making Lamingtons is long, slow work, so I improvised and made a Lamington cake instead,
Australia Day is January 25th. Do you know what you’re doing to celebrate?
Just because you aren’t *in* Australia (or even if you’ve never been) that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy 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 or Tim Tams if I can find them, get some VB (Victoria Bitter, the real Aussie beer), decorate my place with my favorite travel photos and souvenirs, and invite friends over to watch my “Kath & Kim” DVDs. (You may substitute in “Crocodile Dundee” movies or something with Hugh Jackman, but definitely not “Australia”. Be ashamed, Nicole Kidman!).
If you can’t get out into the world, bring the world to you and your kitchen!
Tell Travel CUTS what you do to make the world a better place in 400 words or less and you could win a FREE Volunteer Abroad trip. Part of the contest includes getting people to vote for you, so if you can organize a strong campaign, your chances of winning are even better.
Entries must be submitted by January 18, 2012, so get writing!
Last year Qantas began a new check-in system for domestic flights in Australia that seems to have gotten rid of the long lines fliers are used to seeing.
Instead of a row of “old fashioned” check in counters (as the Wall Street Journal calls them, despite the fact that almost all airlines are currently using them), there are kiosks that allow you to check in for your flight, then separate conveyer belts where you can drop off luggage.
Have a look:
If you’re a frequent flier you can get a Qantas ID card that allows you to swipe in even faster. It’s all so simple it almost sounds… fun? Is that even possible in an airport?
It’s time to start planning your 2012 travel adventures! To help get you started, here’s a list of some of the biggest, wildest events you can attend without breaking your student travel budget (and the tour companies who can help you get there).
St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland
I believe the locals would describe the parties that happen here on St. Patrick’s Day as fan-feckin-tastic. Get your Irish on and hoist a pint in Dublin. March 17, 2012 (Contiki, Shamrocker Irish Adventures)
Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
“Las Fallas” means “the fires”, and that’s what this festival is all about. Pyrotechnics fill the streets and skies along with musicians and huge statues called “ninots” which are set on fire at midnight on the last day of the festival. March 19, 2012. (Busabout)
Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival in Australia
Easter each year marks the annual Rip Curl Pro Surf and Music Festival at Bells Beach. The prestigious event is the world’s longest running ASP World Tour contest and a huge event on Australia’s sporting calendar. April 3-15, 2012
ANZAC Day in Gallipoli, Turkey
Right, this one isn’t so much a wild party as a historical rememberance of the lives lost here, but the dawn vigil is sure to be a moving and memorable experience. April 25, 2012 (Contiki, G Adventures)
I'm sure the Queen is very touched by the enthusiasm of these young ladies.
Queen’s Day in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Put on your best orange everything and join this massive street party and celebration of the birthday of Queen Beatrix (whose birthday is actually in January, but who wants to have a street party in winter?). The Heineken Experience is right here and so are some priceless Van Goghs. Just don’t mix the two. April 30, 2012 (Busabout)
Inti Raymi Festival in Cuzco, Peru
Mark the beginning of the new Incan calendar with this festival of the sun. The locals celebrate their heritage with colorful costumes and music in a parade through the city, then hold a ceremony at local ruins. June 24, 2012 (G Adventures)
Calgary Stampede, Canada Ride ‘em, cowboy! Watch how the pros rope, ride and raise a little hell during this festival celebrating western heritage and values. July 6-15, 2012 (Contiki)
Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain
Around half a million people come each year either to try and outrun the deadly bulls or watch others do it. Are you a runner, or just someone who enjoys a show with their sangria? July 7-14, 2012 (Busabout, Contiki, G Adventures)
You'll never want to smell a tomato again.
La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain
Now *I* can say, “Been there, done that”, but what about you? Are ready for the biggest food fight of your life? Get your goggles and disposable cameras ready for a day of messy madness. August 29, 2012 (Busabout)
Fringe Festival & Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland
The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, bringing hundreds of performers to the city to put on plays, concerts, comedy shows and more. The Military Tattoo brings almost 1000 pipers, drummers, singers and dancers together to put together the biggest half-time show you’ve ever seen. (Please don’t tell them I called it that.) Put it all together and you have plenty of reasons to make the trip. August 3-27, 2012 (Contiki, Haggis Adventures)
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
Big pickles, big pretzels and even bigger beer steins are the reason to hit up Oktoberfest. There’s also music and dancing and plenty of locals to meet, making this event a student travel mecca. September 22 – October 7, 2012 (Busabout, Contiki, G Adventures)
Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico
If you want a trip with a slightly dark, ghoulish side to it then Oaxaca is the place to be when the Day of the Dead comes around. Visit cemeteries, admire the vibrant candy skulls and try not to be too terrified of the macabre costumes the locals put together. November 2, 2012 (G Adventures)
New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay in Edinburgh, Scotland
Watching the ball drop in Times Square is classic, but it’s not the best New Year’s party in the world. For the biggest, baddest, most pyrotechnic street party you’ll have to head to Edinburgh, Scotland for Hogmanay, a massive 4-day art, music and culture event that ends with an 80,000+ people street party that includes fireworks, live music and all kinds of craziness. December 31, 2012 (Haggis Adventures)
To start planning your trip, talk to a student travel expert at Travel CUTS. They can help you find a student airfare and sign you up for an ISIC, which will get you discounts wherever you go.