Having never traveled outside of the U.S. before I went abroad, I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of living in Europe. Not only did I travel all over Spain; Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Segovia, Alicante and Palma Mallorca but I visited several other countries as well. I went to Dublin and saw the Cliffs of Moher in Galway, Ireland.
I saw the musical Les Misérables at Queen’s Theatre in London. I went to Lisbon, Portugal, Paris, France and even spent a weekend in the Canary Islands. I spent 10 days in Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre, Italy as well. A semester abroad is the best time to scratch that travel itch, and if you do it the right way, you should be able to go to all of your dream destinations.
Here are some of my own personal tips for traveling while abroad:
- Just do it. Don’t skip traveling to a dream destination if your friends aren’t going. GO! I would not recommend traveling alone, but I guarantee you will be able to find a classmate, roommate or new friend to go with you.
- Plan ahead. As soon as you get to your host country start planning any and all trips that you want to go on. The earlier you book your flights, train, etc. the cheaper they will be! If you do some research beforehand on some of the things you’d like to see abroad, this makes planning your trips even easier.
- Compare prices. Some of the best deals I got were actually by plane. By flying Ryanair and EasyJet, we saved a ton of money. They weren’t the most luxurious airlines, but they got us to our destinations safely.
- Don’t over pack. Our first trip I brought an actual suitcase for a 4 day trip. By the end of the semester I was just bringing a backpack. It is so much more convenient and cheaper to just carry around a backpack instead of worrying about your luggage in a hostel or renting a locker for it at an airport. There were many times that we had to check out of our hostel early in the morning, but our flight back to Spain wasn’t until later that day. Carrying around a backpack versus a large roller suitcase is much safer and convenient.
- Stay in hostels. They are cheap, you meet new people and a lot of them will offer a free breakfast. Staying in hostels was one of the best parts of traveling abroad. My friends and I met the most interesting people and always had so much fun.
- Travel and explore your host country. Sure, traveling is awesome, and there is no opportunity like the present to exposure yourself to new places, but don’t take for granted your host location. This way you can really immerse yourself in the culture and a true living abroad experience.