So you’ve found yourself studying in a foreign land and now you want to explore. Here are some of the important things I have learned thus far during my study abroad traveling experiences.
1. Know your priorities
When I got to Germany I was overwhelmed with all the possibilities that suddenly opened up for me. There were student organized trips pretty much every weekend as well as different Uni organizations organizing their own. I had so many choices and so many places I wanted to go. If you’re like me, you have a hell of a hard time making decisions. This is where priority came in. Rank the places you want to go. If you aren’t sure about a country, don’t write it off. Hit the books (google) and do some research about this place to see if it’s worthy of your list. Prioritizing is a great place to start when planning travel and an equally great way to avoid missing out. You don’t want to come home and say, “Man, I wish I could of…”
2. Know your budget.
Okay especially if you are in Europe, you will find that you are now in close proximity to a large variety of beautiful and diverse countries. And you really want to travel to all these wonderful places and take photos for your scrapbook or whatever (People still do that right?). Before you do that, get your budget in check. How much do you really want to spend here? If you don’t have a set cap, estimate your necessary expenses first. This could include groceries, a phone bill, rent and others. If you know you must spend it, write it down. Then you can get a nice idea of how much your base spending will be and how much room you have for travel. Do this as soon as possible so you can start making your trips a reality.
3. Know how to execute
I’ve met people here that passively wait for the next travel opportunity to arise. These people never took the time to learn how to do it themselves. Sure, it’s intimidating at first, but trust me once you talk to a few people and do some online investigating you’ll be good to go. I’m going to divide this section up a bit more for the sake of organization.
— Getting there
— Book your flights and trains ahead of time. They know you all too well. You procrastinate, you pay more.
— If you’re on a budget like me, use apps such as SkyScanner to find the best-priced flights
— Take the time to learn local public transportation systems. It will save you money and time.
— Renting a car is also a great option. We rented a car for the weekend for 75 euro and only had to pay for gas. Between a few friends, that is way cheaper than the train.
— Staying there
— To save money, http://www.airbnb.com and hostels are the way to go. Airbnb are usually just apartment owners/renters who have an extra room for you to stay at for a few nights. It’s way cheaper than a hotel and a great way to befriend locals and get tips. When we stayed in Belgium, our host recommended we check out this small brewery tour nearby and we never would have known about it otherwise. If you want to find a hostel, google is your friend. Google ‘(your destination name) hostels’ and voilà.