Preparing to travel abroad can be a daunting task. This section aims to help you get started with information and resources related to transit. The information below focuses on student travel and resources that our study abroad participants have considered useful. However, this is not a comprehensive list, so we encourage students to give due consideration and thoroughly research all options, beyond what is listed below.
Please note that the information regarding vendors and services listed below are provided for your information only. UC Davis Study Abroad does not endorse any particular vendor nor can we assure the accuracy of the information or the fulfillment of services provided.
International Air Travel
Tips for booking a flight—Timing
- When selecting a flight, pay attention to the landing day and time of your booking. Flights that cross the International Date Line mean you can be landing a full day later than you might anticipate.
- If you are selecting a flight with layovers, make sure to leave one hour at a minimum between legs, and ideally 2-3 hours. Some international airports will require you to go through security again, so be sure to factor in additional time for you and your checked bag to make the switch!
Booking and Prices—Finances
- When purchasing airfare, make sure to compare prices between airlines and providers. Online resources such as Priceline, Expedia, Kayak and SkyScanner are popular resources for comparing flights. Some sites will also allow you to register for flight ‘tracking’ and will email you when airline prices are particularly low.
- Student travel companies like Student Universe and STA Travel are great resources for students in particular. These services offer great deals for traveling students, not just for airfares, but train travel, lodgings, and more.
- Some websites (Kayak and SkyScanner) offer “Hacker fares”: two one-way flights by two different airlines (rather than a round-trip through one company) to result in the cheapest option. Taking advantage of these bookings is not a bad thing, but be aware they are usually non-changeable and non-refundable. Any change made will need to be made to the other leg separately, and baggage size and check-in time may vary between legs.
Airfare Deposit Program
STA Travel offers an Airfare Deposit Program that allows students to book their airline ticket early on with a nonrefundable deposit, and pay for the balance closer to their departure date. Tickets must be paid off before departure. To learn more, please call 1-800-229-6197. This opportunity can only be arranged by phone, not via their website.
Check with your local travel agent (example: Davisville Travel or Travel Pangaea) to see if they offer similar opportunities. Airfares purchased via the deposit program may not be the most competitive, so do your research and weigh your options before purchasing.
Regional International Air Travel
European Air Travel
Traveling by plane between countries in Europe can be remarkably affordable if you book through some of the so-called “budget” airlines such as the ones listed below. Tickets can cost as low as $40! However, these airlines usually have very severe luggage restrictions and will tack on additional fees for checking bags, not checking in online, oversize carry-on bag, etc. The airports these airlines use are not always close to city centers or to your destinations, so you should consider the additional time and the extra cost to get to your final leg.
Asian Air Travel
Please see the text above regarding European Air Travel—similar circumstances can apply here.
Rail & Coach Travel
In many countries, particularly in Europe, train travel is comprehensive and can take you almost anywhere. Trains leave often and you don’t always have to book tickets in advance, though doing so can save you quite a bit. The resources below can connect you with train schedules and prices. Please note that in many places in the UK and Europe, if you book online with a credit card, you will need to have that credit card in-hand when you pick up your ticket at the station.
- Britrail (British Student Rail passes available)
- Eurail Pass (Europe)
- Eurostar (London, Brussels, Paris)
- Rail Europe
- Railpass Information
- Trenitalia (Italy)
- Japan Rail Pass (must book in advance)
In addition to train travel, long distance coach travel is also available in many places. Be warned that in many countries, particularly developing ones, travel on roads is DANGEROUS, and students in general should be advised to avoid coach and automobile travel whenever possible. Learn more about road safety and road conditions abroad.
Once you arrive at the airport of your destination, you will have transportation options ranging from taxi, airport shuttle, train, bus to public transit, etc. to get to your accommodation. Taxi is usually the most convenient and most expensive option. However, if you have a travel companion to share the ride and cost with, this may be the most cost and time effective way to travel. Please note that in some locations, you are advised to use the official airport taxi with fixed rates to avoid being charged exorbitant fees by taxi drivers. Negotiate your fare before you board these taxis.
Airport shuttles are share ride services. They usually take multiple passengers to/from airports to their doors or specific pick-up/drop-off locations. This service usually takes more time depending on when you’ll be dropped off. Some companies require advance reservations, but most can accommodate on the spot reservation. There may be extra fees for additional bag.
Many major international airports have express train services that go directly into the city centers. You may want to consider this option if your airport is far from the city where you reside. You can take a taxi or other transit from the train station to your final destination. There may be regional or local trains that service the airport as well, but you may have to change trains and hustle with local commuters. Spaces for luggage storage on these regional or local trains are very limited and tight, so this is not recommended if you travel with heavy or multiple bags.
Public and Local Transit
Most major international cities have subway or tram stations that can take you anywhere you like in the cities. Many offer passes for unlimited rides for a fixed length of time such as a day, a week, or a month.
Local busses can also run as well, though can sometimes be trickier to understand and navigate than the subway.
Trip and Flight Cancellation Insurance
Please see our website’s travel insurance section for more information.