With teasingly warm April days building up increasing anticipation for May sunshine, all I can think about is summer and my next travel destination. Recollections of sunbathing in the quad and post-exam drinks in the West Port beer garden have me itching to fly through these next few weeks. The thought of spending revision trapped in the gloomy time warp that the library embodies has me shuddering with dread. But soon it will be over, and the hallmark “please put your pencils down” will be music to my ears, signaling the start of summer. And for most of us St. Andreans that means departing the bubble, whether by train or plane, and taking on our next destination. For those of you still lacking the prestigious internship or summer job, use this as your chance to embrace your inner travel bug and experience a new corner of the world.
1. The Vacation Package
We’ll start with the classic vacation package. Possibly the easiest way to travel, you can often get flights, accommodation and sometimes even meals all in one. Though probably more expensive than other methods of travel, last minute deals can often be found on trip planning sites if you have time and flexibility with regards to location. This is the way to go if the idea of planning a trip sounds like your worst nightmare and you’d rather just fast forward to actually being on the vacation. It requires little effort on your part and (usually) ensures a smooth holiday. If you’re looking for a tropical vacation somewhere warm with minimal fuss and have extra cash to spare, this one is for you.
2. The Weekend Getaway
For those of you short on time, low on cash, but still with the travel bug, this is the trip for you. It requires more planning on your part than the vacation package, but rewards with more flexibility and better value for money. You can cater it to your idea of the perfect weekend getaway, whether it be a city break, beach holiday, or relaxing countryside escape. For minimal cost, hostels are a good bet. Read the reviews on hostelworld.com and you can usually get a pretty good idea of what you’ll be getting. B&Bs are another alternative, or some sites even offer last minute deals on hotel rooms. Choose a cheap Ryanair or Easyjet flight and see where the weekend takes you!
3. The Road Trip
If jetting off for an exotic city break over the weekend isn’t feasible (especially for those of us in the US), a road trip is a great alternative. Grab your friends, pile in the car and head off to somewhere you’ve never been. Chances are, there are a lot of places near you that you’ve never explored. Who knows, you may be living a few hours away from paradise! This is a great trip for a last minute decision, as it requires virtually no planning. Choose your company wisely though, for hours spent in extremely close vicinity has the potential to go disastrously wrong…
4. Volunteering Abroad
I am biased towards this one, as this is what I did last summer. If you are looking for a cost-neutral way to travel, or are feeling particularly altruistic, this is the option for you. It is an option that many people fail to consider when traveling, but is one that is well-worth investigating. Don’t fall into the scam of signing up for a volunteer ‘program’ that charges you money to volunteer – I have never been able to understand why anyone would pay to work for free. If you are willing to put in a bit of time and research, your efforts will be rewarded. Many places will provide you with free room and board provided you commit to staying for a certain length of time, usually about a month. There is an option for everyone, ranging from working on a farm, such as with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WOOF), to volunteering at a children’s orphanage. However, this option is not for those looking for a vacation. But for those of you looking to experience the culture of a place off the tourist track, and not opposed to devoting part of your time for work, this is a highly rewarding experience.
5. Working Abroad
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds; traveling whilst earning money – something I have yet to find – then working abroad is the best option. Though not always easy to find, jobs do exist for travelers who are not fluent in another language or don’t plan to stay for a long period of time. Teaching English is an option that enables you to go virtually anywhere, provided you take the TEFL course beforehand. Many courses give an intensive training period and then provide students with placements abroad, if you are willing to invest a little in the cost of the program. Being an au pair is another option, if you prefer to work with children or are trying to learn a language. A final option is looking for work in places such as hostels. Most hostels are fairly laid back, and regularly hire travelers for temporary time periods.
Well, there it is: some basic travel ideas from someone with a severe case of the travel bug. Wherever your summer takes you, I wish you good luck and happy travels.
Until next year,
Beach, Moyan Brenn
Summer, Moyan Brenn