A writer and editor, Justin works to promote the quality and availability of undergraduate and online education in the United States. He shares with us his top reasons for students to take advantage of the opportunity to travel on their own.
Student life is full of cranky teachers, stale lessons and long assignments. Most students wish that their stint at school would be over so that they can get on with real life. Yet before rushing off to graduation, students should consider that the real world could be explored before their diploma has even been printed.
10. Longer Vacation Time. Being a student means having to follow your school’s annual schedule. The good part about this is it translates to a two-month vacation in between school years, which is the optimum time to travel. After graduation, vacation time will become a thing of the past for quite a while. While some companies have a strict 10-day vacation or sick-leave policy, most offer less than that, if any vacation time at all. When a student is traveling on their own, they are not confined by the schedules of others. Thus, they can choose the date and duration of travel without worrying about the timetables of companions.
9. Networking on a Global Scale. Meeting new people is always fun, especially if they are from a different country. Making new friends is not only great socially, but can also be beneficial for the future. For example, making connections abroad can potentially help in establishing a business overseas or creating a client base on an international level. A student who is traveling alone is also much more likely to meet new people since they are not surrounded by a group of friends.
8. Personalized Tours and Trips. While traveling in a group can be fun, there are downsides to it as well. Often, groups disagree over where to go and what to do on vacations, as not everyone shares the same interests. When traveling alone, this is not an issue. The student can pick and choose their destinations and activities without having to consult others. Travel becomes more enriching because you are not tied down to activities you aren’t interested in. Students traveling alone can also cater their trips so that they are beneficial to their future career. For instance, they can do some work in a specific field and decide for themselves whether that occupation is a good fit.
7. Flying is Cheaper Before Graduation. Another benefit of traveling alone is that it can be very economical. Students can receive significant discounts, especially on airfare, if they travel while still enrolled in school. Students should consider utilizing websites such as STA and Student Universe to find flights with student rates, or even contact airlines directly. There are also travel agencies that cater to students' needs and are an excellent resource for planning trips.
6. Luck of the Draw. In addition to a cheaper fare, being a solo flyer can also give a student a more desirable seat on a plane. Generally, airlines want to make sure that their planes are full before take-off. However, there is always the possibility of a single empty seat on board. This means that a student traveling alone can avail of these single seats and book flights earlier and cheaper than others who travel in groups.
5. A Place to Stay. Solo student travel can provide the added perk of finding accommodations quickly and at a better price. While booking a room for two or three people can be costly (and difficult if you’re traveling during peak season), students traveling alone can benefit from staying in hostels where the rates are lower, and beds are plentiful.
4. International Student Identity Card (ISIC). For the complete international experience, there is the International Student Identity Card. The ISIC is an internationally recognized proof of student ID. When traveling, students can rely on this handy card to get deals without the hassle of convincing people of their student status. Likewise, if the student is traveling alone, instead of in a group, they could avail of discounts a proprietor might hesitate to give to many people.
3. Looking Inward While Traveling Alone. Of course, not all benefits of travel are about money. Mostly, students should take this time off from their school work to reflect on themselves. Travel has always been thought of as a life-changing experience. As such, young adults should take this opportunity to ponder where they want to go in life. Everything is new, and there is literally a whole world of possibilities outside their dormitories. Whether the student is traveling within their own country or to other continents, the experiences and the life lessons are what matter most in the end.
2. Independence. Seeing the world on one’s own can be a scary proposition. There are safety concerns wherever you may be, but as long as precautions are taken, traveling solo should not be a frightening concept. This also trains students to rely on themselves more, fostering a stronger sense of independence. When traveling alone, there is no choice but to develop strengths to navigate the world. This trait can be extremely useful in the future, since most students will live on their own after they graduate from college. However, if problems do arise, the lone traveler should be aware of the traveler’s emergency hotline.
1. Adventureland. Last, but not least, the best reason to try solo student travel is the adventure. Aside from the introspection, the budgeting and the planning, there is the fun and excitement of leaving one's comfort zone and exploring the world. Tasting food with unfamiliar flavors and textures, getting up close and personal with exotic animals, watching the sun set over a new landscape: these are memories that will be treasured forever.
While traveling as a group is fun, a student who travels solo can milk the experience for all it’s worth. It is also likely that a student traveling on their own will not stay alone for long. There are many people to meet and places to see when you can control your own adventure.