An Interview With Travel Society

A picture of the members of Travel Society
Alice Thébault

Ever fancied packing in your studies for a day, or even a week, and setting off with like minded students to explore the UK and beyond? Impact’s Alice Thébault catches up with the committee of Travel Society, a student society dedicated to letting you do just that.

Travel Society will soon be heading off to explore Norwich, Cardiff and even Morocco during the Easter holidays. Last semester, the society travelled to Cambridge, Bath, Oxford, Manchester, York, and Edinburgh, as well as venturing into Europe with a six-night trip to Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, and Paris. They’re also looking at organising trips to Newcastle as well as Central and Eastern Europe in the summer. Trips sell out fast (within a matter of minutes sometimes!), but there is a Whatsapp group where students sell their tickets if they’re no longer able to attend. 

I ask the president of Travel Society, Dan Haq, how they justify the price of the Morocco trip (£459 for members; £479 for non-members, excluding flights). He explains that it is the society’s sponsor, UniLife, who sets the price for longer trips, but group bookings, coach travel and partnerships with hostels and tour operators keep costs relatively low. He admits it can still get pricey, but that ultimately it works out cheaper than booking everything yourself. 

 A picture of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol 

The same is true of the UK-based trips, the prices of which are jointly decided by the treasurer and president. For example, a day trip to Liverpool with travel society will cost you £20.99, whilst the same return journey, if you were to book it yourself, would put upwards of a £36.00 dent in your bank account. 

For coffee recommendations, trust welfare officer, Jacob Edwards, to know the best spots

I ask Dan if his position as president allows him to decide which trips will run, but it turns out that the day trips are collectively decided upon by the committee. For longer trips, their sponsor presents them with a selection of trips to choose from. He emphasises the society’s openness to suggestions (which they glean from polls, Instagram stories and forms), which they are eager to accommodate, provided they are sufficiently popular. London, for example, he thinks is too busy and hectic for a coach to get around – and just imagine losing people on the tube! 

The society has taken steps towards environmental sustainability by digitising the majority of its travel leaflets, which activities officer, Beth Evan, puts together for each destination – so you’ll never be short of ideas of things to do and places to eat! For coffee recommendations, trust welfare officer, Jacob Edwards, to know the best spots. If he is addicted to coffee, it’s for the society’s benefit. 

A picture of a man laughing in front of pastel coloured buildings

Weather permitting, Jacob is intent on reinstating his Welfare Wednesday walks around the lake on campus (unfortunately, the accompanying free coffee from Portland Coffee Co. had to be discontinued due to its popularity exercising undue pressure on both the staff and Jacob himself). He’s also working on collaborating with other societies, such as the highly popular Dogsoc, as well as alternative film club society and craft society. 

Looking ahead to the Morocco trip, Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) officer, Laurie Dixon, tells me they won’t be attending as they have concerns for their own safety as a visibly queer person with tattoos and a girlfriend. They express their discomfort with the double standards on dress code in Morocco, where female travellers are advised to opt for full coverage to avoid sexual harassment. Laurie will still be keeping members up to date with the safety risks and necessary precautions. 

Even they encounter difficulties with the location of hostels and drop-off points, and with the amount of stairs

In terms of general accessibility, Dan tells me that the society is continually making conscious efforts to enhance this. Although, pleasingly, a coach with wheelchair access is now ensured on every trip, Laurie believes that the society is generally inaccessible for people with mobility impairments. They tell me that, as someone who isn’t too severely impaired in terms of mobility, even they encounter difficulties with the location of hostels and drop-off points, and with the amount of stairs and lack of lifts.

I recall the hostel I stayed in whilst in Edinburgh; the four flights of stairs we had to climb and the absence of a lift. It seems the society could perhaps do more to fulfil its duty to make reasonable adjustments for those with reduced mobility. 

A picture of padlocks attached to railings

Laurie also mentions that the society is generally accepting, but smaller groups often form on trips, which can make them feel less inclusive – though, for practical reasons, splitting off into smaller groups is to be expected. Nonetheless, their priorities are to ensure every travel enthusiast, no matter their background or identity, feels they are able to get involved in one way or another.

Donating £100 to a charity of the society’s choosing for each trip

I ask the vice-president, Laurie Carter, to elaborate on the volunteering programme which he runs, which is an opportunity for people to get more involved with the society without being a committee member. He sees the volunteers as bridging the gap between the committee and members of the society, holding focus groups with them as well as weekly meetings to gain crucial insight. Their input allows the committee to make decisions that represent the whole society. 

Travel Society’s treasurer, Tom Anderson, oversees their new initiative of donating £100 to a charity of the society’s choosing for each trip. Awareness weeks also generate charitable donations from the society – for instance, Jacob organised a walk for sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week, accompanied by donation to Safeline, the provision of free snacks and rape alarms, and leaflets from the university’s Students Against Sexual Violence and Sexism (SASS) society. Other charities the society plans to support are Alzheimer’s Research UK, The Topaz Centre, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), Trussell Trust, Anglican Aid’s Glen Lorne Orphans project and Dementia UK. 

To learn more about Travel Society, you can email them at, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp.

Alice Thébault

Featured image courtesy of Alice Thébault. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Alice Thébault. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to these images. 

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