The most popular student travel destinations for South African students
Travelling is expensive, and doing it on a weaker currency doesn’t exactly make budgeting an easy
task. We know how important it is to travel when you’re young and satisfy that curious wanderlust. We also know
you don’t want to be putting yourself in financial debt. So, we’ve put together a few idyllic destinations that
are ideal for student travellers and won’t have you breaking the bank. Who says you can’t have the best of both?
Egypt is not only a destination famous for its iconic ancient sites, but there is a variety of affordable
attractions, from the Red Sea and the markets in Cairo to the rich heritage of Port Said, making it one of the best
student travel destinations.
Thailand is a playground of adventure and sensory overload. Thailand’s affordability makes it appealing
to South African students, especially if you’re interested in cooking courses, jungle trekking, temple
tours and island hopping. From endless water sports and spa treatments to limitless shopping in the famous
streets of Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand will leave you
spoilt for choice.
Picture yourself wandering through emerald rice fields, going on a scuba diving course and visiting the
world’s most ancient temples. Bali is a paradise of adventure, great food, wild beaches and relaxing
One of the cheapest gateways into Europe, Portugal abounds with history, architecture, incredible food
and wine, and stunning beaches. Spend your days surfing the coastline of the Algarve, while Lisbon’s art scenes and eclectic
neighbourhoods bustle with young energy. Porto offers a more laidback feel, where
foodies can indulge in all the port and tapas on offer.
Backpacking through Argentina can be one of your most rewarding holidays. Experience the café culture in
Buenos Aires, discover the wine region
of Mendoza, hike up to Iguazu Falls, and
learn to tango just about anywhere! Argentina is a country full of wonderful surprises for the curious
This cultural melting-pot is a destination with many natural wonders, as well as an exotic variety of
inexpensive street food. In cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, students are welcomed to join
local meetups and mingle with the locals. China’s wild adventures and value for money is every student’s
Other amazing destinations for students include Vietnam, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Croatia, Hungary, India and Colombia.
Not everyone has the same travel goals and expectations. We have tailored packages and destinations to suit
student travellers and those looking for a more adventurous type of trip.
Topdeck’s value-for-money packages are designed
around local experiences with plenty of optional extras to explore at your own pace. Their affordable travel
packages are available to anyone between 18-39 years old.
Looking for adventure off the beaten track? Whether you’re travelling with a group or on your own, On the Go Tours specialises in local
activities and all-inclusive packages for those looking to discover more than your average tourist hot spots.
Does camel riding through the deserts of Morocco or hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu sound like your kind of
holiday? Discover a world of beauty with G Adventures, where
responsible and sustainable tourism across various destinations is their key focus.
How to book cheap student flights
In most cases to qualify for student discounts on flights, you would need to provide your student card or
proof of studies during the payment process of your flights or travel packages. Some airlines just
require you to be under a certain age to qualify for their student flight discounts. Make sure you find out the
airline’s requirements before booking.
Below is a list of the most accepted student discount cards and apps that are out there for students to take
How to book cheap flights without using a credit card
Your entire travel experience from start to finish can be quick, seamless and safe when booking student flights
through Travelstart. The great news is that you don’t even need a credit card to purchase your flights!
Travelstart is an official beneficiary of all the major banks in South Africa, so you can purchase any of our
amazing flight specials or holiday packages via either a cash deposit or debit card.
Booking flights without a credit
card is another way we’re making travel simple for you.
How do student travel visas work?
Anyone who wants to enter a new country generally needs to obtain a visa. This could either be a non-immigrant
visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. There are also student visas which allow
you to study in a new country for the duration of your studies.
The four types of student visas which you can receive during your student travel experience include:
- F-1 Visa: Intended for students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or any other type of academic institution, like a language training program.
- M-1 Visa: Intended for students attending a vocational school or any other type of recognized non-academic institution, other than a language training program.
- J-1 Visa: Exchange visitor (J-1) visas are non-immigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.
- Visitor (B) Visa: Intended for students enrolled in a short recreational course of study that is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate.
Getting a visa can be quite a struggle, so be sure to start the application in time! If you’re not travelling as part of a study or exchange programme, you’ll need to apply for a tourist visa, depending on your destination.
Read up on how to apply for popular visas, like the Schengen visa, USA visa, UK visa, China visa and UAE visa.
If you’d prefer to avoid visa applications, there are plenty of visa-free countries for South African passport holders, waiting to be explored!
Tips to save money while travelling
Travelling does not have to be that expensive. All it takes is a little bit of planning and being savvy with your spending. Follow these smart student travel tips and save money while exploring the world, one country at a time:
- Download Flapp to compare flights for different airlines, and combine the cheapest tickets.
- Compare our international airlines to see which airlines are running promotions during your intended travel dates.
- Trade in hotels for hostels. Shared dorm rooms are not only cheaper but are also a great way to socialise and meet people.
- Find an affordable local place to stay by using services like Couchsurfing. With Couchsurfing, you can stay at a local person’s house, often for free.
- When travelling, it is often hard to stay connected to your loved ones back home, and it can sometimes be expensive. The best way to stay connected to your family and friend at a reduced rate is through apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and Viber. All you need is a stable Wi-Fi connection.
- To ensure that you don’t overspend on your holiday, apps like Trail Wallet can help to keep track of your finances.
- Getting around can be one of the biggest expenses when travelling, so stretch those legs and walk as much as possible. This is the best way to take in a city. If walking everywhere proves to be challenging, hire a bicycle or travel like the locals. Remember that while Uber is a convenient option, it can get very expensive, especially if you’re converting money off your credit card.
- Make use of combo tickets for tourist attractions and public transport. Often, bus, train, tram and metro tickets are interchangeable and purchasing a discounted combo pack can save you a few extra bucks along the way.
- If you plan on travelling a lot, signing up to a Frequent Flyer programme might be beneficial. Travellers on these programmes earn air miles, which can be accumulated to earn free flight tickets.
- There are many museums around the world - especially in Europe - which sometimes offer free or discounted student tickets as a way to encourage interest in the arts. Remember to take your student ID wherever you go.
- Want to see as much of your destination for as little as possible? Free walking tours are the way to go! These are often underrated but are the best way to discover hidden gems and attractions from a local tour guide.
- Last but not least: stay up-to-date on our flight specials page for jaw-dropping flight deals and student flights throughout the year.
How to travel Europe on the cheap
Europe is an incredibly beautiful, but also expensive place to travel. Travelling during low season in Europe is the best time to go if you are looking for discounted student flights and accommodation. Between April - May, and September - November is the cheapest time to travel, where you can get value for money with discounted student flights and holiday packages.
Visiting a new place, especially Europe, can be costly if you’re not familiar with prices and the general cost of living. Taking the metro and public buses are safe and inexpensive ways to get around. A great tip is to always eat local – if you walk past a café that’s packed with locals, you know the food is good and affordable.
Many locals in Europe travel with Eurail to get between cities, as it is quick, inexpensive and convenient. You have the option of choosing between regional passes, global passes, or you can customise your own pass. If this is a little out of your budget, then go green and travel around the cities by bicycle. This way you can keep fit while indulging in all the wonderful food! Stretch your budget and swap one week in France for two weeks in Croatia or Bulgaria. Places like Prague and Budapest are eclectic cities, just off the Western Europe radar, that brim with history, art and incredible food.
BONUS: Top tips for moving into residence that every student should know
Moving out as a student can be a very daunting task. Here are the top five tips that will prepare every student for their overseas milestone:
- Do not forget to socialise. Everyone is going through the same experiences, so the upside is that you already have that in common - it is always good to put yourself out there. Make the most of your stay and say “yes” to as many opportunities as you can.
- Balance is very important. Just like with everything in life, too much of a good thing is never ideal. Plan your days and weekends - get creative and make a calendar that you could place on your wall and tick off all your tasks one by one so that you do not miss out on social events, or fall behind on important work.
- Make the most of student discounts. As a student you will soon realise that money comes and goes very quickly, so be smart and plan your meals and expenses for the week. Don’t be afraid to use your student card; you will be surprised at the endless discounts available to students. Make use of them while you can!
- Do not over pack. Most student places are very small, so use this as an opportunity to turf out the old. You could also sell a few things to make some extra pennies. You won’t have space to hoard clutter, so best you start by travelling light.
- Lastly, do not forget to have fun! This is an experience of a lifetime that you will always carry with you. Make the most of it!
Terms and conditions
- Only applicable for international flights
- Certain airlines require you to be between 12 and 35 years old
- Some airlines require a Student/ISE card to book tickets
- A copy of your valid passport is required
- Free changes are subject to the same fare class being available, differences in taxes will apply if applicable
- Fares are non-refundable on partially-used tickets
- Rerouting is not permitted
- Fares are subject to flight and fare class availability
Now that you are equipped on how to book cheap student flights as well as student travelling tips, hopefully the next few years of student life will be filled with plenty of travelling adventures and a lifetime of memories.
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