STUDENTstudents gathered on the grassWhile kids are often in a hurry to grow up, perhaps they should be reminded of one of the great benefits of youth…student discounts.

The 18-24 set can be a busy bunch when it comes to studying abroad, annual spring breaks, weekend trips home, or simply packing up to go off into the world to “find themselves.”

And while younger travelers, especially students, may not have a lot of expendable income, they are a constantly replenishing group, which makes it worthwhile for travel agencies, airlines and hotels to create packages especially for them.

Some might ask what the definition of “student” is in terms of getting discounts, i.e., can an adult who is taking a local extension class qualify?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is usually no.

In fact, most agencies and carriers require that student travelers submit proof, via student IDs and/or tuition receipts, that they are currently full time students seeking a degree.

Students can also get an International Student Identification Card (ISIC), which gives the holder access to 33,000 discounts in over 100 countries, including airfare, hotel rates and entrance fees, as well as a 24-hour Help Line emergency service and basic sickness and accident travel insurance outside of the U.S.

The card costs about $22, and requires that students present their current student ID, current class schedule and tuition receipt. ISIC cardholders under the age of 26 also qualify for STA’s Blue Ticket, an exclusive air ticket that guarantees the lowest rates and reduces the fee if you choose to change your travel dates (it’s $25 for the first change, and increases after that). For more, check out:

The following is a sampling of some of the student discount travel available. (Note: All prices quoted below subject to change.)

STA Travel

STA is the largest student travel agency in the world, having been around since 1979, with 400 branches around the globe, and more than 70 in North America alone. One of the benefits of STA Travel is that it can be a one-stop shop for all aspects of your travels, including trains, planes, buses and car rentals, hostel and hotel bookings, insurance plans and even phone services.

For example, students can book a round-trip flight to Australia from Los Angeles, plus flights between Brisbane, Melbourne, Tasmania and Sydney for $999. A similar itinerary on Qantas was quoted as at least $200 more.

Once you’re in Australia, STA has connections with a slew of low-cost hostels and hotels, like the Bakpak Hotel in Melbourne, which starts at $22 a night (as compared to the lowest price hotel found online, the Easystay, which starts at $83 a night).

STA’s Travel Connect plan offers global cell phones starting at $29, which is heavily discounted from the original $89 price tag, including $10 of call time. The phone works in more than 100 countries and can receive toll-free calls.

Travel insurance plans start at $48 for an eight-day trip, which includes coverage for trip cancellation, interruption or delay; lost, stolen or delayed baggage; sickness or accidents; emergency evacuation; accidental death and dismemberment; 24-hour travel and medical emergency assistance; and emergency cash transfer services.

Student Universe

Launched in 1992, Student Universe is now an exclusively online service that has paired with Orbitz to find discounted student fares on airlines and rail carriers. For example, a student fare from New York’s JFK to Madrid prices from $580 to $676, while the same itinerary search on Orbitz costs $687 to $1,075. Once you arrive in Madrid, you can find your already booked hostel, hotel or apartment with rates running from $18 to $146 per night. Student Universe has partnered with Patriot Travel Medical Insurance, Insuractive, Travel Guard and Travelex to offer student rates on varying insurance plans.

EF Tours

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, EF Education is a full-service travel agency that handles trips for both adults and students. For students, they can specifically arrange study abroad, high school trips, cultural exchange, foreign language immersion, and au pair placements. The advantage is that EF can offer programs that may not be available through your child’s high school or university, and are all-inclusive with flights, accommodations, guided tours, and meals (keep in mind that these are all budget-conscious amenities).

A sample seven-day itinerary to London, Paris and Rome includes round-trip airfare, accommodations, a full-time tour director, five sightseeing tours and meals, excluding lunch. The total price for adults is $2,539, while students pay $2,224. An all-inclusive ten-day trip to Italy and Greece costs about $2,694 for adults and $2,334 for students.

If you’d rather plan a do-it-yourself trip, there are still several ways to snag student discounts:

United College Plus

This is United Airline’s frequent flier program for college students. Students who are already members of United’s Mileage Plus program can earn additional travel miles by charging their tuition to a United College Plus Visa card, and can receive 10,000 miles upon graduation.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines offers youth fares for passengers 12 to 21 years old. The discounts may not save as much as standard discounted tickets and special deals, but these fares are unrestricted, which means there’s no extra fee for last-minute bookings or trip cancellations. These fares are only available through bookings made on the phone.


Lufthansa has a Generation Fly program aimed at students, which offers discounted rates available online. Travelers must register for an account using a valid college e-mail address to verify that they are students.


Amtrak offers 15 percent off the best available fare to all Student Advantage Card holders. However, this does not apply to weekday Metroliner or Acela Express service, connections to non-Amtrak carriers or upgrades, and it can’t be combined with other discounts.


Greyhound offers 15 percent off normal fares and 50 percent off package shipping sent through Greyhound PackageXpress for Student Advantage Card holders.

Help out with Top Voluntourism Opportunities for Teens. Or take the fam with Bilingual All the Way: Language Immersion Vacations for the Whole Family.