So, you're ready to go abroad. How exciting! College is certainly a great time to travel and live elsewhere. If you are on a long-term program you might be wondering, "how am I going to travel and see cities other than where I'm staying?" Well, the weekends are certainly a great opportunity. Here are my tips and tricks based off experience studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria, and visiting cities such as Paris, Venice, Prague, and Vienna on the weekends.
Your Study Abroad Location is Everything
If visiting other countries or cities is critical in your study abroad experience, choosing a location that offers quick, easy travel for the weekends is vital. A place such as Salzburg, Austria – in the middle of Europe – allows for easy travel to other countries across Europe. But don’t let that knock down a dream city of yours. There are always cheap flights than can get you from one end of Europe to another.
Start Planning Trips Early
Thinking about places to visit, places to stay, and how to get there beforehand can save you valuable time while abroad. For travels, I highly recommend purchasing a Eurail Pass. These passes - depending on which one you get - let you to travel a set amount of days in a certain timeframe in many different European countries,10 days out of the month for example. And the best part… there’s no need to buy additional train tickets. You simply write in the pass where you plan to travel to that day and hop on as many trains as you’d like! Just make sure to have your pass with you at all times.
Ask Around for Places to go and People to Travel With
Knowing someone living in another country/city is a perfect way to determine where to go. And if you know someone living in a place you’d like to visit, don’t hesitate to ask if you can crash on their couch for a few nights. That’s how I got to Paris! And if you don’t know of any people in other countries, see if any friends want to travel for the weekend. You’d be surprised on how many people will say yes! Additionally, don’t be afraid to travel alone. Travelling alone builds maturity and you never know who you might meet!
Have an Idea of What You Might Want to Do/See
It’s so important to remember that a weekend is very short! Every hour you spend is valuable, so I’d recommend having a few things written down to see and do. The last thing you want is to have spent all this time planning this amazing trip, and then not know what to do when you get there. Find out when things are open and close before hand to make your weekend trip memorable!
Don’t Try and See Everything
This is something I learned very quickly when I went to Paris for the weekend. Trying to see everything in a city in one weekend is impossible. Decide on a few things to see and spend a good amount of time there. You can always come back and visit the things you didn’t see the first time around.
Stay Central and Walk Everywhere
Staying in the central part of a city is often more expensive, but you see more of the city, reducing travel time. If there is a certain site you really want to see, look for hotels, hostels, or Airbnb’s in the area. Plus, walking everywhere lets you see different, hidden parts. So, make sure to bring good walking shoes!
Don’t Hesitate on a Trip
Instead of thinking of all the reasons to stay in your home city for the weekend, push yourself to visit a new city, even if it’s only an hour away. Embarking on these quick journeys make great stories and are always the life of a trip. With Europe at your fingertips, you can learn about so many different cultures and meet amazing people.