6 Websites for Cheap Flights

My flights are booked and I’m all ready to move to the UK next month!

I took a really long time searching through the world wide web for the best (and cheapest) flight options for flying to the United Kingdom. During my research, I came across quite a few discount airlines and flight finder websites that’d I’d never known about. I definitely overpaid on some of my flights during my first time studying abroad. I learned a lot about cheap traveling options as I met more people and did more research.

If you’re  hunting for a cheap flight abroad, check out these 6 sites before booking that $1000 flight. I’m not sponsored or anything, these are just sites I’ve used in the past or bookmarked for future travel.

  1. Iceland Air – The cool thing about this airline is that they offer a free stopover in Iceland. Many airlines allow you to select a stopover, but they charge you extra for it. Iceland Air helps promote Iceland’s tourism by including a stopover in Iceland at no extra charge. You can select how many days you’d like to stay in Iceland and then get back on a plane to fly to your final destination. You get to see two countries for the ticket price of one.
  2. Wow AirWow Air advertises that they sell “cheap flights to Iceland and Europe from USA and Canada.” This discount airline has some really cheap flights. I looked on their site as I wrote this blog and found a flight from LA to Berlin for $199. The price is low, but that comes with sacrifice. Wow Air offers the bare minimum. You’ll even be charged extra for a carry-on bag. You’ll also be purchasing a non-refundable ticket, so be certain about your travel plans before booking with them.
  3. West Jet – West Jet is a Canadian discount airline. While a majority of the airlines’s destinations are in Canada, they do have flights taking you to places in the USA as well as flights to countries ranging from the United Kingdom to Jamaica. West Jet also has one of the cheapest prices for extra luggage that I’ve seen. The airline seems to be a level up from a budget airline, while retaining the lower prices.
  4. Student Universe I learned about this website a few months ago and used it to book my flight from Orlando to London. The flight I booked on their website was hundreds of dollars cheaper than it was being advertised on the airline’s site. I saved a lot of money, but I don’t have to fly a budget airline, which means perks like checked bags and food are included in my ticket price. Student Universe isn’t an airline, but rather a discount flight finder exclusively for young people and students. What’s really great about Student Universe is that you can book flights on nice, mainstream airlines such as United and Virgin Atlantic, but at a fraction of the regular cost. To get the discounts, you’ll need to either be a student or show proof that you’re 18-26 years old. While there are some outstanding deals, it is a “middleman” booking company, so be sure to do your research about flights and policies before you book with them.
  5. Groupon – If you’re looking to fly somewhere on a specific date, this probably won’t work for you. However, if you’re just in need of a vacation getaway, Groupon offers a lot of great deals on flights. The online marketplace is good for more than buying massages and workout classes. One of Groupon’s specialties is travel goods. You can get a great deal on vacation packages with flights, accommodation and tours included in the price. This is also a great option for the person who doesn’t like making their own travel plans since you buy a package that has everything laid out for you.
  6. Ryan Air – I used Ryan Air all the time when I studied abroad. The budget airline boasts cheap flights all around Europe. My friend and I took an impromptu trip to Dublin once because we found flights from Glasgow to Dublin for 20 Pounds. At the time, I couldn’t believe I was able to fly to another country for the price of two dinners. Ryan Air is an excellent option for students on a budget. Just be sure to pack light as the budget airline is extremely rigid about their carry-on sizes and they’ll hike up the flight price considerably for any additional luggage.

Honestly, before booking any flight, just do your research. You’ll be surprised how much you can save if you’re flexible with your dates, willing to deal with a long layover or know how to pack lightly. Be sure to consider the cancellation and baggage policy when you’re booking a flight. That $200 budget flight may not be cheaper if you have to pay $100 for each additional bag.

Thanks for reading. Hope this gave you a few new resources for your travel planning. Happy flying!

-Sarah

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13 Steps to Studying Abroad in the UK

1. Choose a location.

Do some research. You’ll be surprised that there are so many places you never knew existed. Even if you have a place in mind, be open-minded. You never know where you could end up.

2. Get some references.

As soon as you’ve decided to apply, start searching for references. I needed them for my exchange program during my undergrad studies and I needed them for my postgrad application. Go ask your favorite professors. If you’ve befriended them and done reasonably well in their class, they’re most likely going to say yes. Usually you’re asking your favorite professors to write you letters of rec, so most people you ask will probably be flattered that you thought of them.

3. Apply.

This will probably involve a long, tedious fill in the blanks with your information form and then writing a personal statement somewhere along the lines of “why do you want to study at X International University?

4. Be Accepted.

Bask in the glory. Not everybody has what it takes to study abroad. Congratulations! You did it.

5. Accept your enrollment offer.

If you applied and were accepted to more than one university, now it’s time to choose. Generally, there’s a deadline for accepting your enrollment offer.

6. Figure our your finances.

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to evaluate cost. What’s the cost of living in the country you’ll be studying abroad in? Add up tuition, room and board, food, travel, etc. Studying abroad adds up quickly if you’re not careful. It’s more affordable than many think, but it’s going cost you some extra money.

7. Pay your deposit.

This makes it official. You’re not truly in until you’ve payed your deposit. It’s only after this that you’ll be sent your Confirmation of Acceptance (the thing you need to be allowed into the country to study).

8. Apply for a Visa (if needed).

Do not procrastinate! The Visa process is long, complicated, frustrating and expensive. Get it over with. Otherwise, you’ll be paying rush fees to ensure your visa gets to you in time for your program.

9. Book accommodation.

Where do you plan on living? The easiest option may be on campus, but it’s not your only choice. If you decide to find private accommodation, just be aware of scammers.

10. Book flights.

On the record, your advisors will probably tell you to wait to book flights until after your visa, passport, etc. is all approved. Off the record, you’re going to save money if you book your flight early. I booked mine months before my visa application was approved. Start looking early and take advantage of student or young adult discounts.

11. Study the language and culture.

Once all the logistics are settled, you have time to just be excited about moving to a new country. Do some research. Find out about the culture. Even if they speak English, it’s going to be a different kind of English. Watch some British Youtubers, read some travel blogs, find out what to expect when you move abroad. It will help get you prepared and decrease your culture shock once you’ve moved.

12. Pack.

When studying abroad, you won’t have a Uhaul or your parent’s minivan to transfer all your stuff in. A few suitcases is all you get. Think about what you need to take with you. Think about the weather in the UK.  Things like scarves and hats aren’t just fashion accessories over there. There’s also essentials like outlet converters. When I was packing to study abroad, I found a comprehensive packing list online and printed it out, checking each box as I packed.  I’m not a Type A personality, but that list definitely helped me be aware of what I was putting in my suitcase.

13 Move abroad!

Now that your bags are packed, it’s time to hop on a plane. Moving abroad can be intimidating at first, but it’s an amazing experience. Settle in. Join the international society and another unique club you’d never find in your home country. Travel. Visit castles. Get some fish n’ chips. Befriend your classmates and professors. Experience the culture. Have a blast.

 

I know this isn’t the most comprehensive or detailed prep list, but I hope it gave you a brief summary of what to expect as you prepare to study abroad. Good luck with your application! The planning is the worst part. Soon, you’ll be living and traveling in one of the best and most beautiful places on earth.

Happy traveling.

-Sarah

7 Things to Leave Behind When Packing to Study Abroad

Many of us are extreme overpackers. It’s in our nature. We grew up hearing “Be prepared!” We learned that overpacking is always better than underpacking.

However, as you begin packing to study abroad you may wonder, “How the heck do I fit my whole life into two suitcases?!”

Good question.

While it may seem scary to move to a new place with so few of your belongings, overpacking is not worth the trouble. Your back and arms will thank you for leaving behind that 9th pair of shoes.

My experience lugging two checked bags, an overstuffed duffel and a backpack across the ocean taught me that packing a little less would have been a good idea. As I prepare to once again pack up my life and move abroad, I’ve learned that there are things I should leave behind.

Below you’ll find a few suggestions on what not to pack based on my own experience lugging 100+ pounds from San Diego to Scotland.

Here are 7 things that you should leave behind when packing to study abroad.

  1. Books –

    There are these amazing things called libraries. There are also ereaders. I’m guilty of lugging about 10 or 15 books with me when I studied abroad during my undergraduate. I won’t even tell you how many I brought back. Just remember, if you read a book per month, you’re probably not going to start reading 5 per week once you live abroad. Leave them behind.

    Library cards are free. International bookstores also have some really cool books with covers different from the ones in your home country. If you’re a book nerd, you’ll appreciate finding new editions of your favorite books. Don’t bother bringing so many from home.

  2. DVDs/CDs –

    Just as libraries exist, so do online movie and streaming services. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube, Spotify, the list goes on. As a film minor and active member of college radio, this one was hard for me. When I studied abroad I took a pile of dvds with me. In the 9 months I was abroad, I probably watched about half of them.  You don’t need DVDs and CD’s as decoration. Photos take up much less space in your bag.

  3. Shorts/Jackets –

    This one depends on the weather you’ll be living in. If it’s going to be hot all the time, you don’t need a suitcase full of coats. It’s a simple concept: don’t pack for weather you don’t live in.

    If you’re moving to Scotland, you don’t need to pack half a suitcase of shorts. It’s cold. All. The. Time. You’re not going to want exposed legs.

  4. Dresses or Other Fancy Clothes –

    Bringing a couple nicer outfits is definitely smart, but packing a lot of fancy clothes is impractical. There may be the occasional special occasion while you’re abroad, but that doesn’t mean you should pack 11 different dresses or  19 bow ties.

    Pack smart. Bring stuff you’re going to wear more than once. That beautiful dress you love will be there when you get back. Also, you’ll probably do some (or a lot) of shopping while abroad.

  5. Toiletries –

    I promise that other countries have soup, shampoo and razors. Don’t bother loading up on toiletries that will weigh you down. If you’re having trouble zipping your bag, unnecessary toiletries are the first thing to eliminate.

    There should be no sentimental value with a bottle of lotion, so leave it behind. It’s easily replaceable when you’ve settled into your new home.

  6. Extra Shoes –

    Wearability is key. Your closet full of boots, heels, wedges, flip flops, sandals, etc. should not follow you across the pond or wherever you’re going. Try to stick to essentials. You’ll want some sturdy walking shoes, maybe some hiking boots if you’re outdoorsy, a comfortable everyday pair, something nicer for those special occasions and a pair of flip flops.

    If you’re doing walking tours of cities and strolling through 3 story museums, you’ll probably be grateful that you brought a pair of comfy sneakers over that second pair of heeled booties.  If you must pack extra shoes, be sure they’re ones you’ll want to wear.

  7. Bags Without Proper Straps or Zippers –

    Pickpocketing is real. Sadly, robbers interpret your open purse as an invitation to steal your wallet, passport, etc. This doesn’t just happen in the movies. If you’re just holding your purse in your hand, it’s easy for someone to grab it and run. Public transportation is big in Europe. It’s also big for pickpockets.

    If your bag has no zipper, it’s easy for someone to reach into it and steal your money undetected, especially in a crowded subway station or train car. Ditch the designer bag and invest in a crossbody purse with a reliable zipper. For those who don’t carry purses,  be smart about your bags as well. It’s just as easy for someone to steal from your backpack or back pocket. Keep your valuables somewhere safe.

Not every item on this list may be relevant to you,  but think about the things you cling on to, and try your best to not put them all into your suitcase. That being said, it’s okay to take a few ‘clutter’ items. You’re moving to a new country. Whether it’s right away or takes a few months to kick in, you’re going to experience moments of homesickness.

Surrounding yourself with some of your favorite possessions can help your new home feel less foreign. Fill that extra space in your suitcase with sentimental items like a favorite book or childhood stuffed animal, not with a ninth pair of shoes or Costco size shampoo bottle.

Thanks for reading. Happy packing!

-Sarah

 

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