• Where to go
• How to get there
• Getting to the airport
• Packing & planning
• Where to stay
• What to do
Where to go?
The first thing you need to decide is where you want to go on your European adventure. Are you an art buff who longs to see the Mona Lisa in person at the Louvre? Perhaps history is your thing and a trip to Rome is in order. Or, maybe you’d like to try out the German you learned in high school. Use your interests as a guide to help you plan your ideal trip. (Please Note: the listings below do not constitute an endorsement of products or services by Syracuse University, they are provided as a courtesy.)
Fancy a group tour? Here are some tour operators to get you started.
• Ireland: www.paddywagontours.com
• Scotland, Ireland, and Britain: www.haggisadventures.com
• Wales, for the more adventurous: www.PreseliVenture.co.uk
• STA: Student Travel Agency (Worldwide) www.statravel.co.uk. Find your nearest STA branch
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How to get there?
Travel Within the UK
• National Rail – Offers a rail card for 16 – 25 year olds for £24 which gives you a 1/3 off rail tickets. There are lots of added bonuses with this card, such as 10% off travel experiences booked through STA Travel and a free YHA membership!
• National Express – For £10 you buy a young person’s coach card and receive 30% off coach travel.
• Do a little internet research. There are many other train and coach services available such as Mega Bus or Virgin Trains.
• Use your ISIC card to get some great discounts on travel, hostels and attractions.
Budget Airline Travel
• Be diligent! Check airlines websites on a regular basis as unadvertised sales just pop up and booking early will save you heaps!
• No frills = no seat assignments, limited legroom, baggage weight restrictions and expensive food and beverages. Bring your own food and drink.
• What are the penalties for a change or cancellation or overweight luggage? READ THE FINE PRINT, NO MATTER WHAT AIRLINE YOU USE!
Skyscanner is a flight search engine. It does a comprehensive search for all airlines flying to your destination, and allows you to quickly compare prices and times of flights from all of the low budget airlines for the particular days you are wishing to travel. We suggest using skyscanner for booking most flights, especially for last minute travel, and it will give you the most up-to-date prices, which usually tend to change in a matter of minutes.
RyanAir is based in Ireland. Most of their flights are out of Stansted or Luton Airports. Many of its destinations are to smaller airports around Europe that are a short train ride away from major cities. There are also flights from Gatwick Airport to Ireland. A ‘no frills’ airline.
Most flights depart from Gatwick and Luton. There are also several which leave from Stansted. A ‘no frills’ airline.
British Midlands is an airline with ‘frills’. Check out the ‘special offers’ page on their website for the best deals.
British Airways has slashed prices to most European destinations in order to compete with budget airlines. It’s worth a look. With departures out of Heathrow and Gatwick, BA is also convenient.
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Transport to London Airports
Click here to read our rundown of your Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, & Stansted airport transportation options.
BUT beware! The 6 a.m. flight from Stansted is cheap and tempting, but think about the rest of your journey. You need to check-in 2 hours early and it takes an hour to get to Stansted Airport out of Liverpool St. Station.
Before you go think:
• How will I get to Stansted Airport?
• Will the tube be running at that hour?
• What is the schedule for the Stansted Express in the wee hours?
Consider the late night scenario: Another cheap and tempting flight that leaves oh, let’s say, Madrid in the evening and gets you back to Stansted Airport at 11:00 p.m. Same story:
• What is the schedule for the Stansted Express at that hour?
• Will you be back in time to catch the tube?
Need some help with a wee hours (or anytime) route around London? Call the London Transport Info Hotline: 020 7222 1234. Think through your entire journey. Consider how you’ll get around at your destination as well!
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Packing and Planning Advice
Rule number one, pack lightly!! Remember you will be carrying your all your bags! Many of London’s train stations, tube stations and buildings don’t have elevators, but they do have lots of stairs. Keep in mind that things can get very heavy, very fast! Use this packing list as a guide. Or pack what you think you’ll need, walk around the block, then repack because inevitably you’ll be tired and your bags will be too heavy! Can you manage with just your carry-on (hand luggage)? Remember to check your airlines baggage policies as things have become restrictive with carry-on luggage. Be prepared to pay for checked luggage and luggage (carry on or checked) which is over the airline weight restrictions.
Think of the advantages:
• Carry everything yourself.
• Don’t have to get to the airport as early to check baggage.
• Don’t have to worry about your checked luggage ending up in another city (or even another continent).
• Don’t have to worry about someone stealing your checked luggage.
• If you miss your connection, easily rebook yourself without worrying about where your luggage will end up.
• Easily volunteer to be bumped on a full flight.
• Zip immediately off the airplane to your destination, instead of waiting at the luggage carousel.
• Probably catch the bus or train to get someplace, instead of having to pay more to catch a cab (and paying extra for your luggage).
• Other things to keep in mind as you pack:
• What are the weather conditions at your destination? Pack accordingly!
• Pack in compartments. Plastic bags or packing cubes keep things organized and easy to find.
• Split up any valuables or cash you take into different compartments within your bags. This way, if someone steals something out of your bag, they may think they got everything when they’ve really only taken a portion of your important items.
NOTE that most of continental Europe (except Portugal) is ONE HOUR ahead of UK time. Most flight/train itineraries will show local departure and arrival times for each city. Check up on the time difference & make sure you change your phones & watches!
Click here to see what time it is in any part of the world.
• Keep a listing, separate from your cards, of your credit card numbers and their customer services call centres. In the case of lost or stolen cards, you can call to get them cancelled fast.
• Have photocopies of your passport, kept separate from your passport.
Leave extra credit cards and expensive jewellery at home, or anything that will create financial or emotional hardship if lost or stolen.
A small amount of local currency may be handy for immediate use to hold you over until you can make it to a currency exchange or ATM. Should I use my ATM card while travelling? Yes!
With the ability to draw out small amounts of cash as needed, you can avoid the risk of travelling with large amounts of cash.
• Using your ATM card can also be a good way to get cash in foreign countries.
• The ATM will issue money in local currency.
• You should exchange at the bank’s wholesale exchange rate. You may still want to shop around to different banks since some will charge a high usage fee for their ATMs. Although, even high ATM fees may be less than others will charge for currency exchanges.
• Don’t wait until you’re out of money to go to an ATM, the machines can run out of money or break down.
• Be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs. Keep your safety and security in mind at all times.
• Before you leave the US, ask your bank what they charge for international ATM transactions. Change your ATM card PIN number to 4 digits. Four-digit pins are more the standard in Europe.
• Make sure you check the airlines (or train or coach) company luggage restrictions.
• To clear airport security, you must have all liquids and gels in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres per bottle. You must pack these in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag. A one litre Ziploc (20 cm x 20 cm) is the maximum size. Anything which is not packaged this way will be confiscated.
• Also, you are only allowed ONE BAG as a carry on. This does NOT mean one bag plus a personal item. One bag means one bag. If you have a purse, put it inside your carry on until you are on the plane.
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Where to stay?
• Staying in a hostel is a great way to save money and meet fellow travelers. The The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) usually provides excellent accommodation and has locations throughout the UK. Membership with YHA gives you a discount on rooms. Otherwise, scan through www.europeanhostels.com for options (including private hostels) throughout Europe.
• Want to work in exchange for housing? Why not WWHOOF? Willing Workers on Organic Farms is a great way to get your hands dirty and live like a local. After paying a membership fee, you receive a book listing all of the hosts.
• Many countries offer unique housing experiences. For example, how does relaxing in the Italian countryside sound? If you are keen, check out en.agriturismo.it.
• Some hostels have lock out periods when customers are not allowed in the building. Generally, this is for cleaning purposes. In addition, some also have a set curfew for guests. Before booking, make sure you know what the rules are.
• Bedding must be rented in some hostels. In others, it is free of charge. Some have strict policies about not bringing your own bedding. Others encourage it. Double check before you go.
• Upon arrival at the hostel, it is not uncommon to be asked to see your passport and the credit card used to book the room. Make sure to bring them along.
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What to do?
• Are you heading to a major tourist attraction? Why not book ahead and save yourself time and hassle. Most museums and historical sites allow you to reserve tickets online.
• Seek out free events. Browse the internet or the local paper for ideas.
• Europe is known for hosting wonderful and wacky festivals which are often inexpensive to attend. Again, a little research can save you a bundle and result in an unforgettable experience.
• If you are traveling to a special event, make sure to book a room in advance in order to avoid ending up without a bed or a place to stash your luggage during your visit.
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Want more info?
Contact Charine John via email or visit the Student Life Office in SR 109.
Come to the Travel Seminar
Interested in SU London-sponsored field trips this semester? Come to the TRAVEL SEMINAR:
Monday, 17 September, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm in Faraday House Auditorium
The current time in London is:
View our upcoming events
Check out upcoming SU London events, trips, academic deadlines & holidays on our calendar on the SU Events page.