7 Electronic Gadgets to Bring on Your Study Abroad

Studying abroad and traveling are made easier and stress-free thanks to the many advance in technology and the useful gadgets we have available to us. Review our list of seven electronic gadgets to add to your packing list for your travels abroad.

Unlocked Smartphone

If you want to be able to use your phone abroad, we would not recommend paying for an international plan with your American provider. These plans are often times costly and provide questionable service in Europe. Instead, have your phone carrier unlock your phone so you can pop in a European sim card. European phone plans are typically less expensive than American plans and you can pay on a monthly basis for as low at €10 or €15 a month for internet data and calling. Using an European sim card abroad is even easier now that most plans allow your phone to work in all countries within the European Union.

Portable Charger

A portable charger is the the electronic gadget you didn't realize you need, and once you have it you won't know how you lived without it before. Portable chargers allow you to charge all your electronics on the go so you can travel stress-free and not have to worry about finding an open outlet to charge your phone or camera.

Universal Adaptor

A universal adaptor allows you to bring one useful adaptor abroad that will work in all the destinations you travel to. Be sure to purchase a converter if your electronic chargers are not dual voltage, as this will convert the voltage without frying your device.

E-Reader

If you're planning on reading while you're abroad, paper books will take up too much precious luggage space that you can't afford to lose. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read during your time abroad, so an e-reader is a perfect solution. Amazon Kindle has several different e-readers at various affordable prices, and typically the e-books are cheaper than their paper counterparts for those on a budget.

Luggage Scale

There are few things more stressful when traveling than being worried that your luggage is overweight. You don't want to be surprised by an overweight luggage fee at the airport, so do yourself a favor and purchase a luggage scale in advance of heading abroad.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are an absolute lifesaver for studying and traveling abroad. Whether you want to block out noise and distractions while studying or be able to fall asleep easily while on the train or bus to your next destination, invest in quality noise-canceling headphones and thank us later.

Action Camera

The reality is that there are certain places and activities we would not recommend bringing your phone, such as swimming the ocean or hiking up a mountain. Get yourself an action camera that is built to withstand the elements so your memories aren't limited to where you're able to take your phone.

3 Risk Management Procedures Your Study Abroad Program Needs

risk management meeting

While there are a number of benefits and valuable experiences to be gained from studying abroad, there are also inherent risks that students and programs are exposed to. In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your students, learn about the three must-have risk management procedures.

 

Require Travel and Medical Insurance

Many study abroad programs include a certain level of travel and/or medical insurance, but it’s important to ensure that your students are fully covered when they head overseas. To guarantee that your students are adequately equipped with travel and medical insurance, your program or university can offer full-coverage options or require that students provide proof of insurance before they depart.

Options students can consider:

  • Speak with your current insurance provider to see if they include international coverage, or if it is possible to add this on for an additional cost during the duration of the program.
  • The International Student Identity Card offers Basic, Premium and Explorer level cards with varying coverage. This card also offers the benefit of student discounts in over 130 countries.
  • Research supplemental insurance plans for your time abroad. There are many insurance providers who specifically provide additional insurance for traveling abroad.

Include Safety Training in Program Orientation

For a large percentage of study abroad students, their time abroad will be their first experience living in a foreign country. It is an essential responsibility of the study abroad program staff or professors to provide the necessary information in regard to safety and legalities students should be aware of during their stay.

Recommended included trainings:

  • Provide an introduction to the local laws and customs. Study abroad students should not be in situations where they are in hot water simply because they were uninformed of the laws within their host country and city. Educate your students on the major legal differences that need to be aware of most.
  • Present an overview on tips and relevant information for traveling safely within the country and throughout Europe. Many students will be traveling during their time abroad, which is a different experience than traveling throughout the U.S., so including helpful information on how to travel safely is crucial.

Have Staff Available 24/7

Having program staff available via a 24/7 emergency phone line, for both students and parents, ensures that your program is accessible to handle any problem that may arise. The staff member on call can address the issue immediately or escalate through the organization’s emergency protocol when necessary.

 

Have questions about risk management for your specific program? Contact us.

How to Travel Europe With Your Study Abroad Students (Travel Industry Secrets Revealed)

London students

Among the many reasons why students choose to study abroad, we can confidently guess that a desire to travel and see the world is at the top of the list for a majority of study abroad students. As a study abroad professional or professor working with students studying in Europe, it is valuable to leverage your unique position to incorporate supplemental travel into your program or coursework. If you’re wondering how you can travel Europe with a group of students, we’re sharing our top tips and industry secrets on organizing group travel within your study abroad country or to other countries within Europe or North Africa.

Plan Ahead

This one may seem obvious, but we felt obligated to include it on our list. Planning ahead is the best way to secure your ideal itinerary for group travel. You may have been told that you are unable to book certain aspects of your travel prior to a specified date, but that should not stop you from obtaining quotes and estimated costs before you are able to confirm all the details. The further in advance that you can plan your travel, the better the likelihood that there will be availability for your group for accommodation, transportation, tours and sight visits, and anything else you want to include.

Planning ahead also allows time for any necessary internal reviews and approvals by your program or university. Typically, in order to receive approval for your group travel your organization is going to want to see an itinerary and the associated costs that are as finalized as possible before giving you the greenlight.

Take Advantage of Student or Group Discounts

Fortunately, many sights and museums that you will want to visit with your students will offer a student or group discount. This can help offset any cost or budget restrictions you are facing when planning your travel. Often times student discounts will apply if all students have their student ID when traveling, otherwise you can look into international student discount cards such as the International Student Identity Card, which they can then use during their independent travels as well to save some valuable euros.

Consider Alternative Transportation and Accommodation Options

Although we all appreciate a 4-star hotel, for student group travel you may be able to find better options that have all the necessary amenities for your students and yourself. A great option for group travel is hostels, which can provide private or shared dormitory options in top knotch locations and very comfortable amenities. Considering that you will likely only be in your accommodation to sleep and have breakfast in the morning, hostel pricing can be a huge budget-saver for your travels. Another option to consider is accommodations that may not be directly in the city-center, but are close to fast and easy public transportation.

When it comes to alternative modes of transportation, private buses and trains can provide immense cost savings for your group. Additionally, with the prevalence of low-cost airlines in Europe, if you are able to book for your group far in advance you may be able to secure your tickets at unbeatable pricing. In sum, when it comes to transportation and accommodation for your group travel, don’t limit your options and seek all possible alternatives that will fit your schedule and budget without compromising on experience and quality.

Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate

This tip may make you feel uncomfortable having to barter over price for your group travels, but the potential cost savings are worth it, we promise. When it comes to accommodation, transportation, group meals and tours, there is often times some wiggle room for negotiating a group rate with the provider. Whether you’re able to have breakfast be included with the nightly room rate, or having unlimited beverages included with your group dinners, these seemingly small costs can add up so speaking with the provider about throwing in some added-value is a big help.

Smart business owners know that if they’re willing to work with you on these small concessions that you will be more likely to come back to them for future trips and build a lasting partnership. Building relationships with partners in Europe is a great way to make planning your group travel simpler and more comfortable in the future.

Partner With a Tour Operator

If you don’t have experience planning student group travel in the past, the process can seem like an endless list of to-dos on top of your existing responsibilities for your position. Even the most seasoned independent traveler may not be familiar with the process of organizing travel for a group, big or small. There are many details to consider to ensure a smooth travel experience that provides the best trip possible for you and your students.

You can find an operator or provider who can provide as much or as little support as you desire. Whether you want them to organize just transportation and accommodation, or would like for them to plan the entire travel experience, tour operators are a great option for those who want to ensure the details of the travel are handled. Additionally, many operators are able to secure better rates for your group due to their experience in the industry. If you’re interested in learning more on how to select the right tour operator for your group travel, we’ve mapped out the 4 steps to selecting the partner that is right for you on our blog.

If you’re interested in speaking with us about planning your group travel, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

5 Overlooked Destinations in Europe (and What To Do There)

If you’re planning your program in Europe and want to visit destinations that are overlooked or less ‘touristy’, we understand and we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of 5 destinations in Europe that you may not have considered before, but are just as incredible as the more frequented cities.

1. Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian Parliament Building
Hungarian Parliament Building

Although Budapest is becoming a more popular destination amongst Europeans, it is still a less common destination in Europe for American tourists. With a storied history, Budapest has connections dating back to the Roman Empire. The city as seen today was formed through the joining of Buda, Pest and Old Buda, in 1873. The story of the city does not end there, as Hungary was involved in World War II during which time Budapest was severely damaged.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Hungarian Parliament Building – The world’s third largest parliament building and an example of stunning Neo-Gothic architecture.
  • Heroes’ Square The monument features the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are thought to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin.
  • Memento Park – Established in 1993, the park is home to many of the cities Communist era statues.
  • Citadella – Built by the Hapsburgs and sitting atop Gellert Hill, the former fort is now home to a museum.

2. Split, Croatia

St. Domnius Tower and Split
St. Domnius Tower and Split

If you’re looking to go to Croatia, check out Split instead of Dubrovnik. The city, situated on the Dalmatian coast, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace. A tumultuous history led Split to once be held during various periods by the Roman Empire, Venice, Austria, and France. Part of the former Yugoslavia, Split became an official city of Croatia in 1992.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Diocletian’s Palace – The 1700 year old palace is one of the most important architectural heritage of the Roman Empire.
  • St. Domnius Tower – Climb the tower 13th century tower for unbeatable city views.
  • Day Trip to Trogir – Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trogir shares a storied history that is intertwined with that of Split.
  • Temple of Jupiter Originally, this was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the king of the gods, Jupiter.

3. Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy
Bologna skyline

The capital of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, is often passed up for the more famous cities of Florence or Venice. Not to discredit how amazing Florence or Venice are, but Bologna is a must. This incredible region is home to parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto. The history of this city dates back 3,000 years and has been touched by the Greeks, Phoencians, Etruscans, Gauls, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, and Lombards, so you could say there is a bit of a history to modern-day Bologna.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Asinelli Tower – Standing taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this 11th century tower is worth the 498 steps to the top.
  • ArchiginnasioThis famous site is home to the first seat of the University of Bologna, which is the oldest university of the Western world, founded in 1088.
  • Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca – Perched atop San Luca, this sanctuary was built in the 18th century. It is connected to the city walls by the world’s longest portico, held up by 666 arches, beginning at Piazza di Porta Saragozza.

4. Valencia, Spain

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

The capital of both the province and autonomous community of Valencia, this less-popular Spanish city is located on the Mediterranean coast. Once a flourishing Roman colony, this city saw many rulers throughout its history and many of these influences can still be seen today.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • City of the Arts and SciencesPictured above, the ultra-modern structure was completed in 2005 and designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. It is the largest complex of its kind in Europe.
  • El Miguelete – Climb the tower to visit Miguel at the top, the famous 10-ton bell.
  • La Lonja de la Seda – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautiful example of Valencian gothic architecture.
  • Valencia Cathedral – Inside the cathedral you will find the Chapel of the Holy Chalice. The altar has a chalices that allegedly was used by Jesus to institute the Holy Eucharist at the last supper.

5. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg skyline

Smaller and less popular than Vienna, Salzburg is just as incredible and you should know about it. The city is home to world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born there in 1756. Like many European cities, Salzburg was not exempt from the impacts WWII and was heavily damaged during the conflicts, with over 50 percent of residences destroyed. You might recognize the city from its fame brought on by The Sound of Music, which was filmed here in the 1960s.

Can’t Miss Sights

  • Hohensalzburg Castle – Otherwise known as the Salzburg Fortress, the castle was originally built in 1077 and sits atop the city.
  • Mirabell Palace and Gardens – The beautiful gardens are open to visit and admire the Baroque masterpiece.
  • Mozart’s Birthplace – Now a museum, take a tour lasting about an hour through original rooms documenting Mozart’s life.
  • Salzburg Old Town – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, also called Altstadt, contains a large number of the city’s sights.