Students are often eager to start planning their travel abroad, including weekend excursions and bucketlist adventures. Getting started can be difficult, but we've gathered some resources to help you get started.
Please note that Illinois State, OIE, and the Study Abroad Team do NOT endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. Therefore, any mention of commercial products, processes, or services listed below cannot be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.
Travel Books and Websites
Travel books and websites are a great source of information for general trip planning in regards to food, attractions, accommodations, and local transportation. The following is a list of popular travel resources:
Booking Flights to Your Host Country
Use caution when booking with websites that act as a third party, as sometimes their cancellation or adjustment plans don't offer as much wiggle room as the airline directly. If you know you aren't going to change your flight itinerary, go ahead and book away! However, if you're unsure about the date you'd like to return or would like the ability to change your ticket if necessary, be sure to look into the company policies. We also recommend that you consider flight insurance options, but this is not a requirement.
Booking Excursions and Personal Travel
You may be interested in booking weekend trips while abroad to go sightseeing or check items off your bucketlist. The 'Transportation' and 'Accommodations' sections below provide resources you may find useful when planning these adventures.
We do not recommend that you book any trips or excursions prior to going abroad. Instead, you should wait until you have finalized your course schedule, received all syllabi with attendance expectations, and have a better feel for your day-to-day life abroad. Personal travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing classes while abroad.
Airfare while abroad
While extremely low in cost, these airlines tend to have major limitations in regards to baggage and carry-on allowances. Most require payment for any checked luggage and may also charge you to print your boarding pass, not to mention having strict measurements for carry-ons. Some companies count your personal item as your carry-on, so read closely!
Additionally, some of these airlines don't have flights into major cities but instead have flights to the airport just outside of a major city. So while the flight may cost less, keep an eye on additional expenses for transportation to and from that airport into the city.
Trains while abroad
Traveling by train can be a great way to see parts of a country that you may not normally see and can sometimes be cheaper than traveling by air. Begin your research online with the search engines below, then go to the local train station to actually purchase the tickets if possible so that you can be sure to qualify for any discounts available.
Purchasing in advance can also save you some cash,as same day tickets can be very expensive, and often times can sell out for even the most obscure destinations.
Buses while abroad
Many of these bus lines are low in price but sometimes may be longer in travel time. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of land travel, as it may only be a few dollars more expensive to fly and you'd get a lot more sleep.
Ridesharing is turning out to be quite popular in many countries across Europe. Head to your country's site and shop around for connections moving out in the next few days, you can look up reviews and profiles of people you're considering riding with.It's best to go with at least one friend, and always keep your wits about you when choosing to get in someone's car.
For more links, google "Ridesharing" or "Carpooling [your country]". These companies will vary by country, use your best judgement when utilizing comparable sites in other locals.
Other useful sites
The following sites can be used to find flights, trains, and buses throughout Europe, Asia, and Central and South America:
These can be used to book everything from hostels and homestays to motels and hotels during your time abroad.
Be sure to look at reviews, distance from major transportation hubs, and amenities when researching places to stay. Some lodging includes items such as towels for showers or lockers to store your belongings. Booking places that include these amenities means one less thing you have to pack or buy upon arrival. The following resources may be helpful when making housing arrangements for excursions and personal travel: