The DSEs getting you down? Why not escape Hong Kong for a while? Start planning a trip abroad with your friends – it’ll give you something to look forward to after your exams.
But what sort of things should you consider before you take your well-earned holiday? If you’ve never been away without your family before, it can be a bit nerve-racking, and you might not even know where to start. Here are seven things to remember about planning a post-DSE getaway.
You might think you want to hang with your bestie in Rome or Beijing, but will your friendship survive if you’re together with nobody else you know nearby for four or five days straight? Go with people that have similar interests or expectations from the holiday. If your idea of holiday fun is souvenir shopping, going with a friend who is looking forward to hiking up mountains and taking scenic photos may end in tears. Keep in mind that if you and your BFF are squabbling about where to go while you are planning the trip, things might be worse if you actually go away together.
There are loads of travel websites out there, such as Agoda, Trivago, and Expedia. Many offer special promotions or deals just for students, but they’re often first come, first served, so you’ve got to be quick. Subscribing to several websites means you’ll often receive the latest offers first via email.
Many cities have more than one international airport, so make sure you know where you’re going. For example, if you land in Narita Airport in Tokyo instead of Haneda, it could take you an extra couple of hours to get to your hotel if you’re staying in the city centre.
We can’t live without the internet. Head to Sham Shui Po or a local convenience store before you go for cheap SIM cards which can be used abroad. Some cards offer hot-spot capabilities, which mean that you can share data with your friends’ devices.
If money is no issue, then taxis are often the quickest and easiest way to get around. Public transport is the cheapest though. It might be even cheaper to buy multi-day passes than single-use tickets.
Also, plan your routes. Make sure the transport you plan to take actually goes where you want to go, and still runs at the time you want to leave.
Want to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or see a popular exhibition? Book well in advance, because some of them have months-long waiting lists. Some tourist attractions sell out really quickly, too – avoid disappointment by booking online before you leave home.
And remember that, as students, you will get discounts. An International Student Identity Card card (see statravel.com) gives you thousands of discounts on travel, accommodation and shopping in 133 countries.
So you were planning on using Google Maps on the mainland? Sorry, but you can’t. Not all apps are universally accessible. Make sure the countries you want to visit let you use your preferred apps for getting about, or for keeping in touch with your friends or family. If you can’t, then you need to download other options before you leave the 852.