The travel tales – Nightmare on Maine street

When January hits, the Facebook posts of people checking into Dublin Airport soars as students take advantage of the long winter break and go experience different cultures in different countries for a few days. Then college returns and there are mid-term excursions to Amsterdam, Prague or maybe just down the country. Once the academic year ends, the onslaught of J1 announcements begin all over social media. Some people go interrailing, some visit Thailand, some just go away for a couple of days but no matter what, students really like to make the most of their time off by exploring different places.

Travelling has become just as interwoven with student life as attending lectures, coffee breaks and nights out but sometimes travelling as a student isn’t as glamorous as you think it might be. With money constraints and bad treatment sometimes travelling can really have some nightmarish elements.

I spent the summer in Maine working at a summer camp. On one of our days off, a group of us rented out a house so that we could have a few drinks and just get off camp because we spent pretty much all day, every day there and we needed a break. We found the place through AirBnB and the owner wanted us to pay him in cash so we forked out the whopping 800 dollars and had it ready for our arrival.

We finished working at camp at 9:30 that night and then we drove for an hour and a half to the house we had booked. It was a massive house, with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a huge living space. There were 15 of us meant to be sharing the house which meant there were was plenty of space for us all.

When we arrived at the house we all went inside, and got set up when suddenly there was quite an aggressive knock at the door. One of my friends opened the door and he was greeted with two very big, muscular men and their alsatian and they were not happy with us. It was almost midnight at this stage and they were absolutely furious. They didn’t realise we were so young and said that we should have mentioned that when booking the house. They then changed their story and said we were trying to fit more people into the house than we had originally planned which was untrue. It all became heated very quickly and the kicked us out of the house.

It’s half 12 at night at this stage, we’re an hour and a half away from camp and have nowhere to stay. We were all in absolute hysterics as most of us were from overseas and didn’t have a phone that worked in America so we couldn’t ring around different hostels. At 2am, we finally found a Comfort Inn that still had some rooms and so we booked in there for the night and all just passed out from the stress of the night.

The owners figured out we were young students, that weren’t from America and so they just kicked us out but that should not be allowed. According to statistics from Student Universe, the growth of the student-traveller demographic is augmenting each and every year. It represented 15 per cent of global tourism in the 1990s, 20 per cent in the 2000s, and it is expected to grow to some 25 per  cent of total tourism in the coming years.

If student travelling has developed into a huge industry, then why is it ok for us to be treated differently than those who are not students? I believe one of the issues is that there is a pre-conceived notion that all students want to do is get black-out drunk and leave a mess of destruction in their wake.

While yes, students do enjoy partying, that’s not the main reason they go travelling. According to a 2014 report by SKIT, the most attractive part of travelling to students is getting to visit the historical and cultural sites that the location has to offer.

When I went to Galway with my long-term boyfriend after receiving my Leaving Cert results, we went to check in at the hotel and we were looked down on with complete and utter disdain. The receptionist was completely rude and unhelpful. We were treated as though we weren’t as deserving to stay in their establishment and an older couple who were somewhere in their 30s were treated in a completely disparate, much kinder manner.

So yes, travelling as a student can definitely have some drawbacks but don’t let that get in the way of experiencing some of the best moments of your life. Don’t let anybody treat you like you’re lesser just because you’re a student. Go out, enjoy different cultures and don’t let any bad experiences hold you back.

Shauna Bowers

Image Credit: Ben Toal