Right now, many Curtin students are planning their summer holidays, whether it’s to return home to visit family, or to explore somewhere different. The best thing is there’s a travel agency on Bentley campus to help us book our trips. Although, when I asked around, many of our students had no idea that we had a travel agency on campus!
STA Travel, with “STA” standing for “Start The Adventure”, has an office just a few steps from the Main Café. Their team offers expert travel advice, student travel deals and exclusive student fares to students and their families. I thought I’d reach out to their store manager Courtney Coughlan for some tips on how to score the best student travel deals for spring-summer. Here’s what she had to say…
What are the three most popular destinations that students are booking for spring-summer 2019?
Japan, Europe and the USA. Europe has always been popular for Australian winter/European summer, and the United States is quite often a bucket list destination for many people. Japan is a new one, though, that we’ve seen emerging in the last year—mostly driven by the Olympics and Rugby World Cup being held there this year and next, and fares that are really affordable!
Last year was a little different with Europe being the most popular destination for our travellers, Japan was just starting to heat up and South East Asia—especially Thailand—was a hot spot, too.
When is the best time for students to travel if they’re keen to get heavy discounts?
The best time to travel depends on the destination. Europe is cheaper in the shoulder seasons (February-May or September-November), Asia is cheaper around February-March. However, avoiding peak times is always the best idea if you’re on a budget. Airlines release their fares about 10 months in advance, which is when they’re the cheapest. So, try and get in early to save some dollars.
Have you heard the myth that flying on a Tuesday is cheaper? Well that’s what it is, a myth! It all comes down to supply and demand. Airlines release a certain number of seats at a certain price and once those are sold out, they go to the next price. So, the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be.
The less desirable flights are sometimes a little cheaper, too, but would you want to spend 50 hours flying when it could be only 22 hours instead?
Travelling during school holidays, Christmas holidays and Easter tends to attract a premium, but this is mostly due to the fact people book their flights early for these dates (as they know them in advance).
Is it true that the prices change the more people search for a specific destination?
The technology that operates behind the scenes for search engines may be a bigger conversation for someone who works in that industry. However, I highly recommend speaking to a travel expert as I believe you can rely on the knowledge and experience of real people to help find competitive prices.
Say a student can’t afford to pay for their trip upfront. What are the payment options without taking a loan, borrowing money, or asking mum and dad?
The best thing (in my own opinion) for students is LAYBY for flights, tours, hop-on hop-off bus passes, accommodation, and more. Remember how I said booking 10 months in advance is usually going to be the cheapest? […] The rest is due 10 weeks before departure.
I have put all my own trips on layby and it’s the absolute best thing ever. I currently have two on layby for between now and April next year and have another one in the planning.
Do students really need and use the International Student Identity Card?
Yes! The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the only internationally-recognised student card that airlines permit to issue a student fare. The discounts this opens up are incredible. Seriously, more than 140,000 of them all over the world. For example, in Perth students can get buy one, get one free waffle from Geláre on Tuesdays and buy one get one free gelato scoops at Gelatassimo using the ISIC card.
Photo supplied by Courtney Coughlan
I take it that being a travel agent you must enjoy travelling. What were the last three places you visited?
I’ve just recently got back from two weeks in Cuba, five days in Mexico and a few days in the USA. Cuba was amazing, but a lot different to anywhere else I’ve been! We spent a week sailing around the islands on an 82-foot catamaran, which was heaven! But the best part was definitely releasing 24-hour-old baby turtles into the ocean at a turtle sanctuary! I’d recommend Cuba and Mexico for anyone interested in the ocean, nature and history.
Any favourite activities while on holiday?
I’m a beach and nature lover, so tend to pick destinations around this. I also lived in Hawaii for three years and loved to hike and beach there. I’m definitely not a city person!
What’s your favourite Australian destination?
My favourite Australian spot would have to be Esperance in WA. It’s quite far away from Perth, but 100% worth the drive! The beaches there are some of the best in the world.
Photo supplied by Courtney Coughlan
What’s on your travel bucket list?
My travel bucket list currently has 35 countries on it, but the top three would be Africa, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. I’m actually off to Thailand tonight, New Zealand in December to see family for Christmas, and Singapore in Easter next year. I’m also thinking about Africa in July next year too.
You can find STA Travel next door to Main Café and opposite The Tav.
Bonus tips from Rhonda:
The difference between paying a full rate and a student rate can amount to hundreds of dollars. Therefore, if you want to take advantage of weekly or monthly specials, do as I do and sign up to the email newsletter of your favourite agency or follow them on social media. Also, when booking your trips, be sure to ask your travel agent about the terms and conditions in connection with any of the tips that Courtney shared with us in this article.