The biggest advantage to studying abroad? Close proximity to other travel locations! Depending on where you want to travel for your program, you will be close to some of the biggest travel cities in the world. Flights that usually take eight hours are just a short distance away.
The first thing to know is that it’s important to plan your trip ahead of time. This seems obvious, but it’s definitely easy to think you can figure everything out once you get to your destination. Make sure you have an itinerary for the city you’re visiting. This can include restaurants, museums, tours, etc. I travelled to Brussels while on my semester abroad and nobody had a solid plan for what we wanted to visit while we were there. We lucked out by finding some great activities, but it could have gone horribly.
The first thing to do is book a hostel, Airbnb, or other form of accommodation. Then, you need to figure out which form of transportation you will be taking to get to your destination. I recommend taking a flight whenever possible. StudentUniverse is a great website that has great cheap flights for students. You can also take the train, and bus. Personally, I would recommend against taking overnight bus journeys. It’s a cheaper option, but is much longer and can add stress to your journey. I had a bad experience with taking an overnight bus (the police were called and arrests were made), so I would avoid taking them unless absolutely necessary. Taking the train or a plane will make your travel time shorter and allow you to have more time to explore the city you’re visiting!
Next, take full advantage of any free walking tours that are available. Many cities have different companies that offer various types of walking tours of the city. I went on a walking tour of Dublin that was centered around old folk stories, and in Edinburgh I went on a ghost story-themed walking tour. A big company that offers walking tours is Sandemans. The only price you pay is a tip at the end of the tour, but that’s optional. However, it’s totally worth it because the tours are extremely informative, they don’t last more than a couple of hours, and they let you see a lot of the city. Walking tours are a great way to see a lot of the city you’re visiting in a short period of time. It’s hard to get to see everything if you’re only there for a quick weekend trip, so these tours are a great way to get the most out of your time.
Also make sure to look at the different nightlife options that you have in the city. For example, look to see if there are any bar crawls that are happening! I participated in a pub crawl in Edinburgh and it was a great way to meet people who were also visiting from all over the world. You can also meet local residents of the city when you visit the different bars over the course of the night. This allows you to get a taste of the local nightlife, while also having a helpful guide to keep you from getting too lost in an unfamiliar place.
Finally, make sure that you take plenty of photos while you travel! This sounds like another obvious tip, but when you’re in the moment you probably won’t think about it. I look back and wish i had taken more photos during my own trips throughout my semester abroad. While it’s important to not get hung up on making sure you get the photo, you should still aim to document your travels for the future when you want to re-live your exciting travels.
Traveling while you’re studying abroad is a key part of the experience. Depending on where you are, you can have easy access to some of the most interesting places in the world. It would be foolish to not go and see as many of these as you can. Make sure to carefully plan your trips to get the most out of your time, but also don’t stress too much. This is one of the best aspects of studying abroad, so enjoy every minute of it!