Updated: Dec 28, 2019
When deciding that I was going abroad this semester, my Pinterest board and notes quickly filled up with places that I’d want to go while across the pond. Traveling around Europe can be fairly inexpensive if you do it the right way. Here are some of my tips for both planning your trips and embarking on them while abroad!
1. Do make a list, mood board, or whatever medium inspires you the most of all of the places you want to go. This list can be long or short, just know if it is lengthy don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it to all the places!
2. Don’t, and I cannot stress this enough, book all of your weekends in advance. You will meet people that you’ll want to go on trips with, you will run into conflicts if you have such a tight schedule planned pre-leaving the states, and you will regret it. I only have one trip that was pre-booked and preplanned, to see my best friend's parents and sister in Paris. Yes, I’m aware things can be cheaper if you book in advance, but I’ve come to find with most European airlines and Airbnb's, the price difference doesn’t typically vary from first listing to two weeks before.
3. Don’t go to a different country EVERY. WEEKEND. I spent my whole first month in my host city, London, and it was one of the better decisions I made. Not only did I create great friendships with the people on my program, but I adjusted and familiarized (or at least tried) with the huge city. A ton of people told me this before I left to come abroad, and I am so happy I took their advice. Your host city gives you the opportunity to -actually- blend into a fully new culture, which has been so comforting to me. Now, every time I come back to London after a weekend of traveling, I immediately feel at home and comfortable.
4. Do have an idea of your itinerary while going on different trips. Usually, you’ll only be going to a place for a weekend or so, so you’ll want to get the most out of your time and money. I wouldn’t say you need a full spreadsheet of the exact times you will finish eating and go onto the next activity, but definitely have in mind and make an itinerary with your travel partners the night before or morning you wake up. Some of my favorite trips I have been on have been completely spontaneous where we only have one thing planned and the rest kind of just falls into place, but there have been a few where I’ve felt like I’ve wasted my time and money while being there and didn’t get the most out of the trip. A huge tip I have, and one that my friends and I have done on our trips, is that when traveling with a group, everyone should pick 1-2 things that they absolutely want to do. Some things will be the same, so it’s easy to then plan day itineraries with that.
5. Do utilize Airbnb and other cheap accommodation websites. Every single trip I have gone on, I’ve used Airbnb. Now, there have most definitely been a few mishaps with this, but saving the money has been worth it. It’s even better when you travel with a big group because you can usually get a really nice place for super cheap per person!
6. Don’t expect communication will be easy. For the most part, communication with locals, store owners, servers, and so on has been fairly good. Taking a little bit of French in high school got me through some situations in France, but there have been times where I have been both stressed out and uncomfortable in places because of the language barrier. A lot of people in Europe know English or a little bit of it, so take a deep breath and relax and I promise you it’ll all be ok.
7. Do pack lightly for your excursions. My suitcase split open in Paris because I had overpacked so much. I totally had a mental break down, but ended up surviving! My last trip to Iceland, I was able to pack everything I needed in my small backpack. Ironic how Iceland was the coldest place I've been, yet I brought the least amount. If your anything like me I can rest assure you, you don't need 12 outfits for 3 days! Plus, most cheap airlines will have strict baggage allowance, resulting in you having to pay more to check certain bags.
8. Do travel! With all this being said, traveling across Europe while abroad is a must. It’s so convenient and can be cost friendly if you budget your money. My new cherished memories are spread out from here in London, all the way to Iceland, Monaco, France, Spain, and back.