Tranportation & Travel-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Tranportation & Travel

This section of the website offers information on Travel to/from the U.S. and Travel While Abroad. There is also information on Guidebooks and Hostels as well as links to Other Travel Resources and Tips from Those Who’ve Been There.

Travel to/from the U.S.

It is extremely important to make flight reservations in advance to guarantee a seat and get the best deal. There are several types of tickets that can be purchased for travel abroad, and the best two options are described below:

Round-trip tickets are usually the least expensive, but the return date must be specified at the time of purchase. This can be a challenge for students who are not sure when their exams will be completed or who are considering post-study abroad travel. Travel must be completed within one year. Most airlines charge a fee to change a return flight.

Open-ended, round-trip tickets are the choice of most students studying abroad because they do not require a specified return date at the time of purchase. Because of this convenience, open-ended tickets are usually more expensive than regular round-trip tickets. Like round-trip tickets, open-ended tickets require travel to be completed within one year. Book the return flight as soon as possible to guarantee a seat.

STA Travel offers discount airfares for holders of the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which is required for all Carnegie Mellon students studying abroad.

Other sites for cheap tickets include:

Travel While Abroad

Most study abroad students travel within the host country and to neighboring countries as well. Take advantage of weekends and vacations. Travel before or after the study abroad program is also possible, but check with the study abroad program provider first because some countries have restrictions on this. Also be sure to find out if a visa is required to visit any nearby countries.

Since Europe is the most traditional study abroad destination, there are many resources available for travel between European countries. Discount airlines are rapidly becoming the most inexpensive way to travel in Europe. Often they fly into smaller airports, but the savings can be significant. The train is also a cheap and convenient way to travel Europe. Eurail passes are available to American tourists and may be tailored to fit a student’s specific travel plans. Passes are available for every country in Western Europe, as well as most Eastern European countries.

After living in a European country for more than 6 months, students are eligible to purchase an Interrail Pass or a One Country Pass.  They are similar to Eurail passes; however, they may be more or less expensive depending on the current exchange rate.  Detailed information on these two options may be obtained online at, and at major train stations in Europe.

Rail passes can also be purchased for many non-European countries. For more information on travel in Asia, Australia, Africa or South America, contact a travel agency such as STA Travel or consult a guidebook.

Popular Travel Guidebooks

A good guidebook is essential. The Pitt bookstore, located at the Forbes Quad (between the towers), has a very extensive travel section, and they sell guidebooks for any country, city, or region imaginable. Some of the best student guide books are:

  • Let’s Go
    “Let’s Go” is written and published by students at Harvard University and is directed toward budget and student travelers. They publish books on 21 countries, cities, and regions.
  • Lonely Planet
    “Lonely Planet” guides are popular with student travelers and provide detailed information on places to visit, history, and culture. Publishing over 100 guidebooks on over 100 countries and regions, they cover the globe the most extensively.


Hostels are low-cost overnight accommodations where travelers can sleep and eat. Accommodations are dormitory style with separate bedrooms and bathrooms for males and females. Many hostels offer private and family accommodations as well. A self-service kitchen where meals can be prepared and common rooms for socializing create an atmosphere that encourages travelers to share experiences. Some hostels have mail pick-up service, laundry facilities, baggage and bicycle storage. Generally overnight fees range from $8-$25 per night depending on the location and season.

The “Let’s Go” and “Lonely Planet” guides provide information and recommendations on hostels. Hostel information can also be found at Hostelling International or hostels.comCasamundo is another site that compares holiday houses, homes and apartments of every category and price range.

Other Travel Resources

Travel Document Systems offers visa, travel, and general information on almost every country.

Tips from Those Who’ve Been There

Theft is the most common crime reported among study abroad students. Think about ways to keep money safe such as keeping small amounts in various places. This is especially true on trains or long flights where a student may fall asleep.

Consider investing in a sturdy backpack with a padlock. This is useful while traveling or if luggage is left unattended at a hostel.

Call the airline to find out weight limits on luggage. Be sure to leave room for items purchased abroad that must also be returned under the weight restrictions. If everything does not fit, consider shipping lightweight but bulky items such as sweaters. Keep in mind that mailing to the U.S. is usually much more expensive than mailing from the U.S.

The voltage of electricity varies from country to country. Department stores, travel agencies, and office supply stores sell electricity converter kits. These converters work well, but are not designed for extended use. Students going abroad for a year should consider buying electronics abroad. Go to for more information about electricity conversion in the host country.

See the Study Abroad Handbook for a complete packing list and more helpful tips.