Traveling abroad as a student is a wonderful opportunity to hit two birds with one stone: exploring beautiful places while pursuing your education. And the chance to do it in London is an enticing thought for many young people, as it’s one of the most iconic cities on the planet, not to mention that it’s also a world leader in terms of education.
But as nice as the thought might be, there are also challenges you need to be thoroughly prepared for in order to get the most out of your student trip to London. To help make sure you’ve got everything covered, here are the things to consider when embarking on this one of a kind journey.
Before the trip
It’s extremely important to arrange your official documents beforehand and a short conversation or email exchange with the British Embassy in your respective country will help you gather what you need. But in terms of student IDs, it can get tricky. According to Frommers, your everyday high school or university ID may not be recognized by some establishments in London. Instead you will have to acquire an ID like an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) for you to be able to reap the full benefits of living as a student in London.
Outline your budget. Take note of your financial capabilities and create a budget as early as possible, as suggested by the Independent Traveler. While London is a great city to study in, the cost of living is relatively high, with some experts stating that a monthly budget of $1000 is recommended to get by comfortably.
During the trip
You may be pressed to tighten your budget in some situations when you’re already in London, but you may also apply some strategies to help you manage your budget easier. For instance, in a previous article here on Student Travel Planning Guide, we’ve mentioned that staying in hostels not only allows you to save on accommodation, but on food as well considering that hostels have communal kitchens. If you know how to cook, you may simply prepare food yourself instead of eating out.
For other daily costs, be sure to take advantage of student discounts whenever you can, which is why it’s imperative to have an internationally recognized student ID as mentioned above. There are many awesome ways to experience the culture in London like in museums, pubs or football (soccer) stadiums, and these are all places where your student ID may come in handy. Furthermore, in a blog post by Visit Britain Shop, it was mentioned that some stores actually have student discounts even though they don’t advertise them so be sure to be inquisitive!
As for transportation, an Oyster Card will be your best friend. It’s a discounted pass for multiple trips via London Underground, and taking the Tube is one of the cheapest ways to get around London. You may also take public buses, but remember that the trips have set schedules so you may need to factor that in your class schedule.
Exploring beyond London
Many students also take the opportunity to venture outside London as well, seeing as the UK has lots of other amazing destinations to visit. Most students do this by extending their stay for a few days after the student program is finished so they have plenty of free time to explore as much as they want without worrying about schoolwork.
A good way to appreciate the beauty of the country is to take a road trip, as there is a lot of countryside and coastlines that you can pass or even stop by as you visit your destinations one by one. If you’re going as a group, ride sharing is one of the most effective ways to lessen the cost of hiring a car. Just check beforehand if your driver’s license is valid in the country.
Additionally, you may use the hire vehicle as perfect opportunity to help you get your luggage to the airport. Look to hire the car for a couple of days and make sure the company operates out of the airport you’re flying from. At the end of your sightseeing trip outside of London, you will be able to load up your belongings and drive straight to the airport. Most UK airports have on-airport parking options which means it’ll only take you a few minutes to transfer to the terminals, as specified by Parking4Less. You can simply leave the vehicle at the car park and go to your designated terminal without any hassle as opposed to carrying all of your luggage from station to station while commuting.
Finally, given that you’re at the airport for the last time, it’s also recommended by College Tourist to buy at duty free shops in case you want to purchase high-end British products to take home for your loved ones – if your budget permits. Why? Because they’re generally cheaper compared to buying from boutiques in London.