Guide to Travel Agencies, Student Travel, & Booking Flights
Student Travel Agencies and Cheap Flight Websites
The list below starts out with some student oriented travel agencies that can offer you deals. The second half of the list are regular commercial travel consolidators. My suggestion always is to search for flights on a few sites that claim cheap fares but then compare your flights with a direct purchase from the airline. Notice that airlines often wash their hands of all responsibility in terms of CHANGES to flights. Thus if you bought a Continental flight off of Travelocity, to change your flight or to do anything with it, you would have to deal with Travelocity not Continental. This may or may not be a good thing to do. Check for all hidden costs such as change fees and restrictions, luggage fees, seating, etc. Note also that the rock bottom prices that are always getting announced for like travelzoo, are only for very specific dates which tend never to coincide with the dates for the osea programs.
A Listing of Local Mérida based Travel Agencies and Airline Contacts from Yucatán Today
Student Travel Agencies
STA (Student Travel Agency)
** Student Universe
** ISTC International Student Travel Confederation
The Major Online Travel Agencies
** TravelZoo -- much more of a quick vacation package consolidator
Major Cheap Flight Consolidators
1. Kayak , very good for its powerful flight searches allowing you to specify times of arrival/departure
2. Fly.com seems to be total knockoff of the Kayak website and functionality
Also Try: Cheapfares.com, cheapoair.com, cheapflights.com, cheaptickets.comall of which seem to be essentially the same thing with different colors on a basic interface
that derives from hotwire or such
Although you may already have extensive experience searching for cheap airfares online, OSEA supports the use of Kayak.com for ease and effective finding of best fares. Once you find fares you like, we suggest you double check the prices of the same or similar flights directly from that airline. Even if the airline has the same price if not lower, you are better off getting flights direct in order to avoid hassles if you are later obliged to change the flight.
Should I get a Student Travel ID Card and Membership? International Student Identity Cards and International or ISIC
International Student Exchange or ISECard
Student Travel Association or STA
There are a few businesses that offer student identity cards. This membership gives you a variety of benefits during travel. This system was established primarily for Europe and is a legacy as it were of the Grand Tour, I believe. Try:
Please note the following Caveat: Due to the high volume of tourism to Mexico from the USA and the generally high value of the US$ to the Mexican Peso, student travel services often do not offer much if any benefits. The student travel services were originally created for budget-student travel in Europe, and then over time branching off into Asia, Southeast Asia, and just a little bit in South America. The benefits for travel in Latin America is really quite limited in comparison to Europe. There is an abundance of cheap posadas in Lat. Am. which has prevented in most places the development of extensive chains of hostels, for example. Merida is one place that has recently experienced a boom of hostels, but the prices are already cheap and do not require a hostel or student membership card.
Similarly, flights to heavy tourist zones of Mexico -- such as Cancun -- do not have great student prices. The prices are already so low that the student rates cannot get lower!
However, these student travel agents often have other secondary benefits. For example travel insurance is very good. But you must verify how you get it -- as a member with the card or only if you purchase flight through card services. Does the insurance offer primary coverage or only after other insurance has been applied? Does it only cover you if you have a primary insurance coverage?.
What are the extra fees and hidden costs are there to Booking Flights?
Check here to compare the "extra" charges and fees that airlines are charging for your luggage. Be aware that airlines have reported that they will soon charge extra for using the bathroom during flights, for the seat belt and arm rests, and for using the ramp that accesses the plane. Ok. I am a bitter customer and joking.
Student Insurance for Summer Travel and Study Abroad
Note that your normal annual academic year student insurance may or may not cover you for the summer. Similarly if you are on someone else's insurance, it may not cover you during summer travel/study abroad. If you purchase a membership card with any one of the Student Travel International Identification Cards listed above and also below, you tend to get some great basic insurance. However read the fine details about what and when it covers you.
1. Good medical and travel insurance is available through STA (Student Travel Association) when you purchase a plane ticket; get a quote here -- it IS a bit pricey at $195 for 60 days.
2. Membership in ISE (International Student Exchange Cards) for $25 includes various travel discounts plus basic medical while outside of the USA, it has a med-evacuation of $5,000 and medical expenses of $2000; these are your very basic minimums.
3. International Student Insurance has five different insurance programs for students on study abroad, short or long term; Atlas International is the name of their package for short term and Student Secure is the package for 1+ year abroad.
4. HTH Worldwide is yet another insurance providor that has a whole series of plans/packages. It offers what seems to me to be a great plan at an excellent $34 per month rate for under 30 years old (compare to STA).
5. Medex is another well established insurance providor that offers several different travel related packages. For student age bracket you can get 2 months for under $100 a month with extensive coverage & low deductible.
Please note that OSEA provides this information for reference and does not endorse any specific product or organization.
Additional Insurance providors include:
Cultural Insurance Services International
International Student Travel Confederation
Specialty Risk International
What kinds of Insurance Coverage Do I need to Get for the OSEA Program?
Please review the OSEA Statement on Medical Insurance. This guide suggests what kinds of insurance coverage you need to have and why.