I'm a huge fan of budget airlines and will always choose to fly with them to save a little extra money on the road. While I often recommend using websites such as Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights possible, they also have their limitations. Flight search engines don't take into account every single budget airline in the world, so you could be missing out on a cheaper flight without even knowin.
We now have a list of almost every single budget airline around the world, and we're adding to it every day. If you're planning on booking a flight any time soon then make sure to take a look at our comprehensive list before you confirm anything. You just might be able to find a cheaper flight by checking the websites of the local budget airlines in your departure or arrival city.
It's now just under a month until Christmas so, if you're anything like us, you're probably starting to have a think about what to buy the traveler in your life.
We've put together a small gift guide for student travelers to try and help you out. We feature some of the top products we've come across over the past year, and we'll keep adding to it, too. The gift guide includes items such as a high-speed, portable USB drive, a solar powered charger that keeps your gadgets powered on the move, a scratch-able world map to keep track of your travel memories, and interchangeable travel photo lenses for smartphones.
You can see our full gift guide here: 2013 Christmas Gift Guide for Student Travelers
You already know that we recommend traveling with an unlocked phone and picking up local SIM cards along the way, but how do you know which smartphone will be best for you? With so many on the market these days, how do you know which will offer the best value for money while still being useful for travelers?
In our latest offering from travel technology expert, Dave Dean, we share the best smartphones on the market for student travelers. Check it out here: Our 2013 Unlocked Smartphone Recommendations for Travelers.
Homesickness affects each and every one of us at some point in our lives, but it always seems to hit especially hard when you're abroad, especially if you're traveling alone.
There are many different theories for how to deal with homesickness -- ranging from taking time to treat yourself to keeping busy and distracted. How do you know which method will work for you?
For me, I know that I always find myself feeling homesick if I've been traveling too fast and feel burned out. The constant exhaustion from moving from place to place every few days often has me longing to return home to a fixed routine and a high level of comfort.
The best cure for me, then, is to treat myself for a week until I recover. What this usually entails is booking a private room at a flashpacker hostel, where I can be guaranteed a good night of sleep. I buy a huge chocolate bar, download my favourite TV shows, go for a massage and buy a book to read. I often find it only takes a few days of looking after myself before I start feeling better.
How do you manage homesickness while traveling?
After spending a month in Taipei, home to dozens and dozens of themed restaurants, I developed a bit of an obsession with these unique dining experiences. Now, whenever I arrive in a new city, I always spend a few minutes researching whether there's one for me to visit.
Since deciding to make visiting themed restaurants a priority, I've managed to visit quite a few while traveling through Asia. There were the Obama and Hobbit themed restaurants in The Philippines, the dog and cat cafes in Seoul, the Hello Kitty, hospital, jail, airplane and toilet themed restaurants in Taiwan -- and then there was Cabbages and Condoms.
Cabbages and Condoms is a condom-themed restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand. The entire restaurant and bar is filled with statues and decorations made entirely of condoms. While I was there, there was Santa Claus, David Beckham, Tiger Woods and even a wedding dress made entirely of condoms.
Cabbages and Condoms is also supporting a great cause, and gets its name because the owner believes that "birth control should be as accessible and as easy to buy as vegetables in the market". The restaurant uses jokes, statues and fun visuals to overcome reluctance to discuss issues such as sex, family planning, and HIV/AIDS.
Have you been to any themed restaurants around the world? Which was your favorite?
With quite a few hostel booking websites around it can be tough to know which one to use. Which site has the cheapest rates? Which has the largest amount of hostels listed? Which ones reward you for your loyalty? There are pros and cons of each website.
The cheapest: Hostelbookers consistently shows the cheapest prices when compared to the competition. It's because of this that we always check Hostelbookers first.
The largest selection: HostelWorld lists 35,000 properties compared to Hostelbookers' 20,000, so if you can't find anything on Hostelbookers, HostelWorld should be your next stop.
The reward system: Agoda usually has similar prices to HostelWorld but an added bonus is their rewards system. Agoda Rewards allows you to collect points worth 4-7% of the room price and later redeem them against a future hotel stay.
Take a look at our recommendations for which hostel booking website is best. Which do you use?
We're now only a couple of days away from Thanksgiving, and I'm particularly excited because I'm going to be celebrating it for the second time!
I'm originally from the UK and so have never celebrated Thanksgiving -- until I started traveling. I spent my first year of my travels celebrating Thanksgiving in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a large group of American expats. We went to a nearby restaurant and were presented with enormous plates of turkey, and I tried pumpkin pie for the very first time.
In a few days, I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving in Sayulita, Mexico with a few of my American friends. This time, however, I won't be going to a restaurant -- I'll be going to a friends house to snack on some home-cooked delights. I'm looking forward to experiencing Thanksgiving in a home environment rather than in a restaurant, and can't wait to learn more about this holiday from my American friends.
Where are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? If you're looking to book a last-minute holiday then check out our top Thanksgiving destinations for students.
One of the biggest issues for student travelers is trying to figure out how you can possibly use your cellphone overseas without spending your entire life savings.
While it's true that if you don't research anything before leaving and simply start using your phone abroad as you would back home you could end up with a five figure phone bill, it doesn't have to be so expensive. I've been traveling with an unlocked cellphone for several years, buying only local SIM cards in the countries I'm visiting. This has saved me so much money.
Local SIM cards in Vietnam cost under $5 for 5GB of data and unlimited calls and texts, with Thailand, Laos and Cambodia all charging under $10. In some of the ridiculously expensive countries for mobile data and internet in general, Australia and New Zealand, I found that buying local SIM cards at $50 for 2GB of data ended up being cheaper than paying for Wi-Fi in hostels!
In short, traveling with an unlocked phone and a local SIM card has saved me so much money!
There are dozens of different accommodation options available to students and it can be hard to know which will suit you best before you start traveling.
When I first started traveling, I only stayed in dorm rooms in hostels. My main priority was keeping my costs down and so I'd book the cheapest rooms I could find online. I was perfectly happy with this situation, until I was six months into my trip and exhausted from lack of sleep. When I found myself with a boyfriend, I was also no longer interested in dorm room life.
Now, I utilise a few different accommodation options as I travel. My boyfriend and I will stay in guesthouses when we're in cheap parts of the world, Airbnb apartments when we're in Western countries and private rooms in hostels when we're in extremely expensive countries. When I travel solo I stay in hostel dorm rooms so that I can meet other travelers.
Do you only stay in one type of accommodation when you travel, or a combination?
I receive quite a few emails each week from readers wanting to know whether they should pack specific items in their backpack, and asking what I personally travel with. These queries have ranged from money belts to high heels, travel towels to a mattress.
Each year, I publish a complete packing list, detailing every single item that's currently in my backpack, explaining any new and exciting discoveries and describing anything I've decided to throw out.
It's been interesting to see how my travel style has evolved over the years.
In my first year of travel, I traveled with travel-specific gear that I really didn't need. I had expensive clothes that were unattractive and poorly fitting. All of my clothes were black, white, grey or khaki so that I could mix and match, and I had tons of travel gimmicks I never used, such as money belts.
In my second year of travel, I threw out the travel clothing and replaced them with hippie pants and singlets: the backpacker uniform of Southeast Asia. I packed hair straighteners and jeans and found myself leaning more towards comfort and personality than practicality.
And now, in my third year of travel, I find myself carrying over double the amount of clothes I left England with. I carry more beauty products, and lots of technology too. I now feel like the items in my backpack are an accurate representation of what I used to wear and use back home before I started traveling.
Here's a link to my current packing list.Finally, if you're interested in my packing list evolution over the past couple of years and would like to read more, here's my original packing list, and my updated one from a year later.