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You can travel London on a student budget

by Archives November 27, 2002

From transportation costs to site seeing to drinking in the local clubs, traveling anywhere can get quite expensive. However, it can be done cheaply.

Concordia houses one of the most well known companies for student travel, Travel Cuts, or better known in Quebec as Voyage Campus. This establishment aids thousands of students in traveling around the world each year and recognizes the finite student budget. The staff is friendly, helpful and guides students to great saving tips while abroad.

Before traveling, a student should count on spending at least $50 a day, for lodging expenses and food according to Clara Soares, manager of the Voyage Campus located at Concordia.

Since Voyage Campus is concerned with helping students to travel, they concentrate on finding the best deals on airfare. “We are going to look at the student fares, we look at the seat sales, we look at charter – we look at all the possibilities that are offered,” says Soares.

England is a place with a lot of history and splendor. It also happens to be one of the world’s most expensive travel destinations. Specifically, London is where historical atmosphere and modern flare combine to make this cosmopolitan city extraordinary.

The city itself has a population of about ten million and boasts some of the oldest must-see sites in the world. Moreover, thousands of travelers from around the globe visit London every year – inexpensively.

Of the many sites to visit in London, the Tower of London is an absolute must-see attraction as its construction dates back over 900 years. It has experienced great changes through the millennium and offers a place where you can step inside the rooms of past royalty and get a close-up look at the crown jewels.

London’s Tower Bridge, famous for its architectural design, was built in 1894 and houses a museum of the bridges history called The Tower Bridge Experience.

Big Ben, located in the clock tower beside the Houses of Parliament, is also a site to see. Many people think that the clock tower is Big Ben, however, Big Ben is the enormous 13 ton bell inside the tower.

The London Dungeon Museum is more modern than the other sites mentioned. It allows you to step back in time and witness all the horrors that plagued London over centuries. Experience London’s Great Fire, the Black Plague and walk through the horrific path of the ladies slain by Jack the Ripper. It will leave chills down your spine and a haunting memory of the horrific past that walked the streets of London many years ago. Get there early to avoid waiting two to three hours to get in.

Before leaving however, it is very important to take a student identity card with you, but keep in mind, your Concordia identity card will not cut it. “They don’t recognize that as proof, they need to recognize an international student,” she adds.

Soares confirms that the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is what students should have before going abroad and that it’s a good card to have in the U.K. ISIC is free for full-time Concordia grads and undergrads. It is accepted by most international institutions and offers student rates on buses, trains, museums and some hostels.

Hostels are the best choice for cheap travel accommodation. They may not be rated five star but most of them are very clean and well kept, and namely, much cheaper than a hotel.

The Hostelling Association Card (HAC) is another card that students can purchase before going abroad. This card is a discount and priority pass for specific hostels that are part of this association.

There is a standard of cleanliness in these hostels so you will always know what to expect. However, this type of card can be purchased while abroad in case you’re not sure where you plan to stay, according to former Concordia student Robin Young, an experienced traveler.

There are many hostels all over London and they are targeted toward the traveling backpacker.

“Hostels are set up like that, you could meet as many or as few people as you want. They are all backpackers like you,” says Young.

As for transportation in London, the easiest way to travel is by the Underground. The Underground is London’s subway system and is widely referred to as the ‘Tube.’ By purchasing daily travel cards you will have mobile access to the city all day. These passes include the world famous double-decker buses.

Don’t forget to visit the pubs. During the week they start getting busy late in the afternoon, but last call is at 10:45 p.m. – a bit of a stretch from the Montreal nightlife. The nightclubs, which are more costly, stay open until 3:00 a.m., for those who like to party into all the hours of the night.

During your stay in London, if you need information or direction, there are three Travel Cuts locations and one in the city central. Soares indicates that these offices will have more information on local tours and attractions, more so than what is offered at the Canadian offices.

A trip abroad can be a very rewarding experience. “It broadened my horizons and opened my mind,” says Young with regards to her experience. “I came home more aware of myself and my culture.”

What you can obtain from your traveling adventures all depends on what you want and what you do about it.

For more information go to the Voyage Campus Web site at www.travelcuts.com or call 288-1130.

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