My daughter is studying abroad in the Czech Republic and would like to travel after her semester finishes. Is there a way to book an open ended round trip flight so that the date and city she returns from don't have to be decided in advance?
I don't think you can leave the return city open. The options that come to mind: - only buy a one way ticket
- buy a return and pay the $300 or so to change both the return departure point and date/time.
It may be possible to get an open-ended ticket - or at least one that would function like it by allowing you to make a penalty-free change - but the available options would likely be quite expensive. See the following article: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/buy-open-ended-airline-ticket-100041.html You didn't mention how long your daughter might want to stay, so a caution about the Schengen Area restriction seems appropriate. The Czech Republic is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Unless your daughter has an extended-stay student visa to remain longer in the Czech Republic, she would be able to stay in the Schengen Area for only 90 days maximum out of any 180-day period. To learn more about this Google 'Schengen travel restrictions' or use the Search field in the upper right of this screen and search on 'Schengen'. There are many threads where this has been discussed in detail.
Never dealt with this, but if Frank's experience is typical (have to choose a departure city now and a date two weeks out), that's not a ton of flexibility. I would just go ahead and book a return flight from Vienna or Munich, 10, 12, or 14 days after her program ends. Prague to either of those cities is about 5 hours easy travel via train or bus. Vienna is only an hour away from Bratislava, and has a nice Christmas market as well. Bratislava to Munich is about six hours. Flights may be cheaper from Munich than from Vienna, I don't know. Worst comes to worst and her friend can't meet up with her, she can still have a fine time visiting a few of these great cities and towns before she leaves.
Molly, Have you checked with the sponsoring program? When one of my sons studied for a year abroad, the ticket he bought through the program was open-ended for the return. Of course, that was back when airlines were a little more flexible.
She is only thinking of staying a week or two beyond her term. She has a friend from Slovakia she is trying to coordinate a visit with, and may travel to Bratislava or meet up in Germany for the holiday markets. We need to book her flight to Prague soon, but we have no idea about the return plans yet. We may have to do the one way thing. The only service through the study abroad program is a link to a student travel sight. We have not found any advice about booking open ended flights.
She should be able to acquire an open end ticket that may specify a city of return but no date. In our son's case, he had to request a return date at least two weeks in advance. At least at the university level, the study abroad programs have such arrangements with the airlines. Her study abroad office should be giving her that information. The office should also handle the visa issues for studying abroad. The previous reference to Schengen limit is for tourists and will not apply to her if on a student study visa. If she is not on a university sponsored program but rather a private program then it will be anybody's guess as to the services provided. Some of the private programs are vary marginal and I would not recommend them to anyone.
What do you mean? That is very flexible. The issue of picking a departing city is necessary simply because the airline needs to price the ticket from somewhere. Then selection a departure date two weeks prior to departure doesn't seem to limit too much flexibility other than, of course, I want to go tomorrow. The other issue is that kids coming off of study abroad generally have a lot of stuff they want to bring home. Couple of big suitcase or more. So generally the stuff is stored in their city of study and you have to return so you can get your stuff. You don't want to dragging that stuff with you or to another city for departure.
Frank, good point about the luggage that I hadn't considered. The big shipping companies such as UPS or DHL would likely charge several hundred dollars to ship a large suitcase, and you don't know now where you could store stuff in Prague for more than a week. Molly, you should really talk to the coordinators of this particular study abroad program. Students face these same issues every semester, and they should have some knowledge and experience of what their students have done in the recent past. By the way, one way transatlantic tickets are a very bad idea. They are almost always as expensive or more expensive than a round trip.
Student Universe, a site that aggregates information and resources for traveling students, has a page devoted to 'Easy Luggage Shipping' that mentions low-cost shipping both to/from international destinations. It points to a relatively new start-up called 'Lugless.com' that was written up about a year ago in the 'Business Insider'. http://www.studentuniverse.com/student-travel/luggage-shipping http://www.lugless.com/ http://www.businessinsider.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-using-lugless-to-ship-your-baggage-2012-7
But Rose how about some real time experience with it than just quoting web sites? The idea is report true experiences because sometimes there is a big difference between the web site and what truly happens.
Will, when our son was at the Univ of Madrid they actually had a storage room in their student union just for luggage. While it may be a new experience for Molly and her daughter it is not a new experience for the university. It is possible she is attending in the US a small private college that does not have a full blown study abroad office but major universities and college do and should be able to answer every question. The other issue especially for girls, in short order, their "American clothes" are no longer acceptable. When we visited our son over Spring break we actually brought two empty large hard side suitcases and carried home most of his US clothing along with some misjudgements on what he originally took. Our advice now with two sons having been in study abroad is to take absolutely min clothing and other stuff. Everything you need for study abroad can be purchased when you get there. Purchasing what you need, wear it hard, and either sell it or give it to the new students coming in.
Frankly, you've got plenty of time if this is for December. By November she'll have a handle on her plans and it will all work out. Even dealing with that coming home luggage will work out. She'll be a savvy traveler by then.