Travelling as a student can be incredibly rewarding, and provide plenty of exciting opportunities. But if you aren't prepared then your travel plans may be cut short.

So whether you’re taking a well-earned gap year, participating in a university exchange program, or volunteering abroad, it pays to be prepared in a foreign country.

This is why we've put together some helpful tips and tricks for students who are looking to travel and study overseas.

Studying Overseas

Starting your research only a few weeks before you leave can lead to many stressful nights. 

Planning your trip well ahead of time can help you find the best deals, apply for all the right visas (with plenty of time for waiting periods) and make sure you’ve chosen the best university courses for you.

If you're going overseas to study as an Australian student, then here's what you should research before travelling:

  • Destinations and universities or other institutions
  • Living and studying conditions
  • Which visas each country or countries require
  • Additional entry requirements, such as health conditions
  • Getting to your destination
  • Health checks while travelling
  • Managing money overseas
  • Organising important documents
  • Planning your itinerary
  • Choose the right travel insurance policy

Finding Cheap Flights

One of the best ways to save money while you're overseas is to find cheap flights. You start by finding travel deals on price comparison sites such as Skyscanner or Expedia.

Here are some of our top tips for booking cheap flights:

  • Booking your flights well in advance - The earlier you purchase a plane ticket, the cheaper it's going to be. Booking your flights last minute will add up and the cost of a plane ticket will become more expensive the longer you wait.
  • Flying during off-peak season - Flying during peak times, including during school holidays or in the middle of summer will mean you pay more for your ticket. In 2023, flights to major cities in Europe during the summer months average $3,000 for an economy seat in 2023. [1]
  • Booking with smaller airlines - Choosing to fly with a smaller airline that may not fly directly into Australia can often be far cheaper than flying with any large airline.
  • Being more flexible with your destinations - Being flexible with your choice of destinations may mean that you get cheaper flight fares across many countries. Make sure you take advantage of any special offers, discounts or promotions when airlines develop new flight routes.

Preparing Important Documents

Before you leave home for your overseas trip, you should organise any travel documents to make it easier to keep track of important information.

As a general rule, you should get certified copies of your passport, travel card, debit or credit cards and travel insurance documents to have a record in case any of your information is lost or stolen.

While you're travelling or moving through an airport, the safest place to keep your passport and other important documents is on your person, ideally in a secure money belt that's easily accessible (to you) at any moment.

And before you leave for your holiday, don't forget to:

  • Check the expiry on your passport - You may need to carry a passport with at least 6 months validity or you may be refused entry. This applies to Australian tourist destinations such as Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu. [2]
  • Check if your local driver’s licence is valid - Depending on the destination, you may need an international driver's licence instead.
  • Read the conditions of your student visa - The conditions of your student visa may not allow you to work or volunteer.

Looking After Your Health

Before travelling overseas, you should consider your physical and mental health.

You should book a doctor's appointment at least six to eight weeks before leaving on your trip. Ask for practical advice on how to reduce common health risks while travelling.

And if you have a pre-existing condition, you should decide whether travelling to a specific destination is even worth putting your health at risk.

Depending on your destination, your doctor can also recommend what vaccinations and boosters you may need before visiting another country. You can also get more information on infectious diseases in that area and how to avoid them.

Once you start your adventure, make sure you look after your mental health.

You should remember to:

  • Rest each day and regularly get a good night's sleep while travelling.
  • Try to check in with friends and family or join local tours if you're travelling solo.
  • Spend some time in amazing places, and take a break when you need it most.
  • Take part in cultural experiences like cooking classes or tours of popular restaurants.
  • Use Google Maps or talk to locals when navigating your way to and from your accommodation

If you are struggling with your mental health (while overseas) you should reach out to your university to check which of their services can support you best.

Organising Money Overseas

As a student, you may not have a large budget to draw from while travelling overseas.

The most important thing you can do is prepare how you're going to access your money while you're overseas. Consider whether you'll withdraw some cash before you arrive, rely on a combination of debit and credit cards or solely use a travel card.

Here are some travel tips and tricks for organising your travel money:

Withdrawing Cash

You should exchange foreign currency at an Australian bank or specialist currency exchange before you fly overseas. 

You should aim for the highest exchange rate to get the most money back when you convert your money into foreign currency.

Travel Cards

When looking for a travel money card you should try to choose a card without any transaction fees, overseas ATM fees and further fees to reload currency.

Instead of travelling with only one card, it's best to have a backup card if your main card is lost or stolen.

Debit Cards

Your best case scenario is to look for a low-fee or no-fee debit card with a lower exchange rate that won't charge currency conversion fees.

Credit Cards

You should always be mindful of cash advance fees related to withdrawals. You should use a travel money card or a travel debit card to withdraw money instead.

Centrelink Payments

Check with Services Australia to find out how leaving Australia might affect your concession card or Centrelink payments.

Protect Yourself with Travel Insurance

No matter your travel plans, you may also want an extra layer of protection as a student. Budget Direct's Comprehensive Travel Insurance covers lost luggage and personal items, a delayed luggage allowance and missed connections. T&Cs apply.