In-semester travel: Cheap, quiet, and probably worth it

Travelling on student budgets is never easy, but we do make do. Heather Reynolds breaks down the do’s and don’ts of one of the less popular options - the mid semester getaway.

College, in some ways, is the perfect time to travel. A lot of courses lend themselves to flexible schedules, the breaks outside of semester are incredibly long, and, of course, you’re young and energetic enough to fit a whole city into a long weekend, hungover, and on a spending budget of €20.

Of course, the reverse is also true - college is also a time of crushing deadlines, in an environment that can feel incredibly pressurised, and you likely have both more money than you’ve had prior with the crushing knowledge that you’re still incredibly broke by Proper Employed Adult standards. 

For these reasons, although it may not be the first option that many would spring to, the mid semester break is actually an incredibly strong option for students.


The second schools and colleges are on holiday, the prices for travel go up, particularly for boats and planes. This is also true for weekends, but to a typically lower margin of increase. With the in term break, you avoid these demand driven price hikes, and depending on the time of day you book, that €50 flight could go as low as €17 if you’re lucky.

One of the benefits of being in college is that you know your schedule for the next six months (provided you’re not doing part time shift work) by the beginning of September, and you can be reasonably certain of even further in advance if you’re in a course without placement. This leaves you open for some very strategic booking, because if you know you can book a semester two tutorial for Tuesday instead of Friday, and leave yourself class free from midday Thursday onwards, you’ve got an advance booking on a midweek flight in March waiting for you at a fraction of the price you’d be paying for the Spring Break season. 


As a bonus to the forward planning college schedules can allow, it also doesn’t take long to figure out where you can take some liberties. While the University Observer does not condone skipping classes, we are aware that by about week three, you’ll know which lecturers take attendance. Add on top of that that the majority of assignment deadlines are ballparked, if not confirmed, by the end of week one, well, I think we all know what week in November we might be able to take a cheeky trip out of Dublin on.

Adding on to that, UCD in particular is pretty well placed for a variety of different travel options, be they staycation or vacation. We’re within 30 minutes from the city centre, a 20 minute walk from the DART and LUAS lines, and between both you have access to the airport, the sea port, and near every (in use) train track in Ireland. The world, within budget, is very much your oyster.


Despite all this flexibility, however, location remains key. If you’re running off campus to spend a three day weekend somewhere new, you’re not going to want to be travelling for a full day of it. Before settling on any plans, figure out how long it’ll take you to get there and back, and how close that cuts it for you getting to your next class. A lot of lecturers will make allowances, but “My flight from Vienna was delayed” may not be the ironclad excuse you want it to be.

Staycations lend themselves well to the in-semester trip away for this very reason. You can get to most places in Ireland within five hours by train, and, worst case scenario, you had a sick relative to visit down the country (wink, nod, etc). Britain can also be a fantastic spot for a quick trip - border crossing is still reasonably relaxed, even in airports, and between the boat and the plane, you’re either in for a relaxing journey, or a surprisingly quick one.


Above all else, when you’re taking the time out of your workload to go away, make sure you enjoy yourself. Set up an out of office response on your college email, set the course group chats on mute, make sure you’ve written that essay in advance, and take the me-time you sorely deserve. You’re only young once.