7 Best University Societies for Travel


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Written by: Vicky Philpott

Find Ways to Travel at University

If you’ve chosen to go to university over having a gap year, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the idea of travelling. In fact (say this in a movie promo voice), it could be just the beginning.

University societies offer a whole range of opportunities to get out and see the world. And as a plus for any anxiety-ridden travel newbies, or just generally sheltered university starters, travelling within a society means you get to explore in an organised way with people you know. You’ve also got the university to look after you, and keep you safe.

Here are the best types of university societies for the travel opportunities they offer.

Outdoor and Adventure

Anything like the Ski Society, the Longboard Society or the Hide and Seek Society – all available at Exeter University – are a great shout for a trip or two away a year. Snow clubs are a great way to go because even if the university doesn’t arrange something you’ve just met with some awesome people who you could break off with and plan something yourselves. And unless you’re near one of those famous British ski resorts (err?) then you’re all going to have to get your passport out at some point to follow your passion.

Bristol University is all over the outdoor adventure with a skydiving society, kitesurfing and a gliding one, too. The kind of people who go to these will definitely have an adventurous spirit, and a few quid to spend too. Good people to know now, and after university.

The 20-Minute Society

The 20-Minute Society is awesome. Events are publicised by text 20 minutes before the activity begins with a location. Activities generally include paint balling and comedy nights but have also included trips to European cities. Teams are timed on how quickly they get to the location and win points for punctuality. Most points at the end of the year wins prizes.

The 20-Minute Society is available at Newcastle University, the University of Birmingham, Lancaster University, University of Lincoln, Newcastle University and University of Huddersfield.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for human rights, and there are lots of universities with related societies, including Leeds and Edinburgh. There’s no better time to get into the rights of the people than when you’re at university. You’ve got time, a curious mind and an open heart. This is a great use of spare time and could have you rallying for people around the world from university and abroad too.

Exploration Club

With a name like that you know you’ve got to get in line at the Freshers’ Fair. At 85 years old, The Oxford University Exploration Club is the oldest Exploration Club in the UK. Recent expeditions have included trips to Tibet, the Congo, Svalbard and Namibia, among other far off destinations. They’ve used their travels to discover new species of birds, insects and plants, and to work on university papers based on their findings.

Photography Society

Manchester Metropolitan University’s Photography Society promises “many trips, talks, competitions and socials.” Sounds fun. And you’ll get to practice a great trade that could stand you in good stead for a job to travel with in the future.

Photographers always want more – they want to visit the most photographic locations to get the best shots. And to me, that means travel. Who knows where you could end up?

Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh Society – found at most universities in the UK – is the perfect opportunity to meet other like-minded adventurous people. And adventurous people in your phone contacts means you have fun people to hang out with in those long university holidays too.

The Duke of Edinburgh Society at Sheffield University has expeditions to Brecon Beacons, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the Isle of Arran in Scotland. They also have an enticing Christmas themed weekend in a bunkbarn complete with a full Christmas dinner.

Harry Potter Society

Edinburgh University’s Harry Potter Society sounds awesome. You’ll get to do cool stuff all year, including quizzes, ceilidhs and werewolf nights, as well as Quidditch practices at the weekend. Surely anyone who bothers to turn up to Harry Potter club every week, and study for their OWLs and NEWTs, will be well up for a little trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the US at some point?

Also, I just wanted to read up on Harry Potter clubs for this post. You can find them at King’s College in London, Warwick University and Queen Mary University London, among others.

Start your own!

If your university of choice doesn’t have the society you want in order to get your travel on, start one. Perhaps the ‘Gap Year Society’ or simply the ‘Travel Society’ could work? One of the best things about university is that there are so many people; you’re bound to find a kindred spirit or five somewhere along the way.

If you do find the society of your travel dreams don’t bail after the first meet up because you felt weird or out of place. Stick with the meet ups until number three at least – make friends and get involved.

Societies are a great way to make friends. This is your chance to engineer the fun, adventurous, curious and exciting type of mates you need to travel while you’re at university, and beyond!

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