Wednesday, October 30, 2013


     When I first arrived in Leuven, my pal Karli said we had a free place to stay in Scotland if we wanted to go. My response: DUH! We went onto and found a 28 euro round trip! Jackpot! 
     When packing, you have to be sensible, RyanAir allows a small (I mean minuscule) carry on, or a more substantial sized backpack (they usually never even check the size). I wore my heaviest items like my jeans, sweater, leather jacket and boots. Then I packed lighter options, like tights, leggings, a cardigan and skirts. And it is just like a normal airline (besides the prices), so you have to keep liquids in a quart sized bag, with all containers under three ounces. 
     You may hear rumors that there is nothing in Scotland but rain and mosquitoes- Don't listen to those people! When we arrived in Scotland, I was exhausted from the trip to Charleroi and the flight to Scotland after that. But even in my haze, I could tell how beautiful the country was! I stayed in Stirling, which is nestled at the base of the highlands and more beautiful views than my eyes could handle! 

     So here are the important things you MUST DO while in Scotland, and how you can do them on a budget: 

  1. Drink Irn-Bru! It is a typical Scottish soda, and in Scotland, coke isn’t the highest selling soda like in most countries; Irn-Bru is. The famous Scottish soda can be found in restaurants and stores! I suggest you go to pound land, where everything in the store is just one British pound!
  2. Visit the Highlands! Although the hike is difficult, it is worth it! At the top awaits a spectacular view of Scotland! And the best part is, it’s free!
  3. See a Rugby Game! Professional rugby games can be pricey, so look up if there is a community team! I attended a game of the local county team and I got in with a student discount! 
     When it comes to food, you MUST try Haggis! When in Scotland, right? I absolutely loved it! Also if you can, try fish and chips (doused in salt and vinegar of course), mushy peas, bangers and mash and finally a fried Mars Bar! 

     Don’t forget your student card to get your great discounts at Balmoral castle, national museum of Scotland, and the Royal botanical gardens!
     Look for a cheap bus or train to places like the Loch Ness or the Highlands, where you don’t need to pay for a great view! 

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Tips for Discount Travel

     While in Europe, it is a great time to travel to as many places as you can manage. These trips can add up, so you have to be thoughtful when you choose who to ride with! 

     Some of the cheapest ways to travel in Europe are with:

  1. RyanAir or EasyJet Airlines
  2. MegaBus or Eurolines
  3. Non-High speed trains
I have already booked round way flights to places like Scotland, Croatia and Dublin for 30 Euros round trip! The best way to get cheap travel fare is to search many different dates. Who knows when a bus to Amsterdam will be double the cost to a flight to Venice for the same weekend! Also, the best days to travel are on Thursdays and Mondays. Companies know most people can only travel on the weekends, so they bump up the prices. Start doing some research as soon as you get settled in at your new Uni, and if you are lucky you will stumble upon some sales and deals! 

But with cheap travel, comes many hassles! Some things you need to be aware of are:
  1. Many RyanAir or EasyJet Hubs are technically in big cities, but in actuality, they are in the middle of nowhere! In Brussels, that hub is Charleroi. When you buy your tickets you will see Brussels, and for Leuvenites (people living in Leuven) that will seem so nice! In reality, to get to Charleroi from Leuven, you have to catch a train to Brussels-Zuid, then catch a train to Charleroi-South, then hop on a shuttle bus to the airport! Not exactly ideal! So when traveling with discount Airlines, make sure you know where you are going and what you have to do to get there! Be prepared to have to take a shuttle bus or train once you get to your destination that will take you to where you really want to be! 
  2. You MUST print off your boarding tickets before hand for most of these! This may sound hard if you don't have a print handy, but there are plenty around Europe! Copy shops are very common and cheap! Don't forget to check in online for your flights in advance, have your boarding tickets and a reference number just in case!
  3. Your luggage may be restricted! On many of these forms of transport, you have to have a certain sized carry-on. It is usually considerably small, and if it is too big they will charge you an outrageous price to be able to carry it on. With RyanAir, this is due to the fact that they fit more seats than a normal airlines, but the overhead carry on space is still the same! Backpacks are a great carry on for these though, I always take my backpack and they don't even worry about the dimensions because you can always put it in front of you on the flight. 
  4. It may take a little longer! If you are taking a bus to London (can be as low as 10 Euros one way!), that could cost you most of your day. The best option for taking the bus or train is to find one leaving at night, so that you can sleep as best as you can on it, then arrive in the morning at your destination! Just don't forget your headphones and a pillow! 
  5. The cheaper options may take some searching. When google-ing for "a train from Leuven to Munich", most results will be high speed. If you can narrow your search results, eliminate ICE, Thalys, or the Eurostar. In Belgium, the lower speed, lower priced trains are IC. Now, there may be a chance that some high-speed train trips are especially low for a few certain days, but don't count on these prices forever! 
And always remember your passport when traveling! It seems like a silly thing to remind you of, but it is easy to forget!