Weighing Up The Best Times To Travel In The Uni Year

There's so much to consider.

Being a university student comes with its pros and cons when it comes to travelling.

This is one of the only times in your life when you aren’t tied down; there’s nothing stopping you from deferring for a semester to travel the world or taking an extra long weekend for a short vacay (without the risk of losing a job).

If deferring isn’t an option, there’s only a limited amount of uni breaks in which you’re able to travel between semesters. In my travels I’ve collected all the usual maps, souvenirs, postcards and napkins, but the most valuable thing I’ve picked up on my overseas adventures are the following essential elements for planning a good trip as a uni student.

[FYI: We’ve written this article from the assumption that readers are travelling to somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. However, if you’re off to a foreign southern destination – just reverse what I say about the low season and peak season. This is also for students who work on a semester timetable, rather than a trimester.]

There’s four main things to consider when you’re looking at planning a trip during uni. We categorise these as time, cost, tourist season and climate. So let’s break them down.

#1 Time

Travel in the uni year.

In terms of holidays you’ve got four weeks over the June-July break, three months between December and February, and then of course a week or two during mid-semester breaks in both April and September.

In this category, the December-February break would be the most convenient, given the fact that you don’t have to rush straight back into classes at the end of your holiday or worry about class sign-on. Plus, you’ll have so much flexibility in choosing the dates for your flights.

However, if you’re just planning on a short two-week trip, the June-July period would also suit you. In terms of time, I’d advise against doing anything in the short mid-semester breaks – it’s not the best timing for a trip given how little time you have to explore and get over jet-lag, plus lecturers usually leave you with a heap of assessment to complete before classes commence again. If your feet are truly itching, you should consider taking a trip up the coast or catch a cheap flight interstate for a weekend.

#2 Cost

Now, this does depend on where you’re flying off to in the world. If it’s anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the June-July break is not your friend when it comes to cost.

Not only are flights horrendously expensive (unless you book early-bird flights nine months in advance), accommodation and tourist attractions often double in price. The December-February break is your next best option – just make sure to book your flights in advance and be careful of flights around Christmas and New Year. Accommodation, tourist activities and other expenses are a lot cheaper at this time of year.

#3 Tourist Season

Travel in the uni year.

Again, this depends on where you’re going to in the world. If we stick to the Northern Hemisphere, the June-July break is also your enemy in this category. June-July is crazy busy up north and you’ll often find yourself surrounded by tourists. The February-December period is the winner here due to it falling in the low season.

It is truly magnificent to travel to the typically busy and crowded destinations in the off-season. You’ll find yourself with the Trevi Fountain all to yourself and a few other people. The short April and September mid-sem breaks fall during the shoulder seasons, which aren’t as good as the low season, but definitely better than peak-season.

It’s also important to note that many tourist attractions close during the winter (December-February) in coastal destinations, due to the low level of tourists and the cold weather.

#4 Climate

This category mostly comes down to individual preferences. That is, whether you’re planning to island-hop through the Mediterranean or ski the snow-capped mountains in Canada. If we assume that you’re just wanting to explore, then ideally the shoulder season would be your best bet. Not too hot and not too cold – the northern hemisphere is the most comfortable and beautiful at this time of year.

The June-July break will be extremely hot and often uncomfortable around this time in most summer destinations. However, the December-February break will most likely be extremely cold and also uncomfortable if you don’t have the appropriate winter attire.

Let’s be reckless, spontaneous and make some unforgettable memories. Don’t take those uni years for granted.

Claudia Cait is a creative writer who is currently studying at the University of Queensland. She is an undefeated Catan champion, as much as it pains her fiancé to admit. She’s often seen with a bonsoy chai latte or excitedly planning her next trip to Europe. After graduating with her Masters in Writing, Editing and Publishing, Claudia hopes to work in book editing for publishing companies and to further pursue her love for writing.