Weekend getaways to other countries are popular –and affordable.
By Marina DeLuca
Traveling to different countries in Europe during a study abroad program is extremely easy and cheap and at the top of the to-do list for most foreign students. I had friends who traveled to a different country every weekend and had the time of their lives. During my term abroad in London, I took several weekend trips, but remained in London most weekends, doing the majority of my traveling after my term ended. I found traveling afterward more fulfilling since I no longer had to worry about keeping up with my classes and I wasn’t completely exhausted during the week (traveling is tiring!). Also, staying put gave me the advantage of having more time to experience London, which made me happy. Everyone is different, but, whichever path you choose, here are a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of your weekend trips.
Plan ahead I cannot emphasize this enough. Planning ahead means booking any tours you want to take, determining how to get to the places you want to see and even making a list of foods you want to try. I love to go with the flow, but if you only have 48 hours in a country or city, do not waste time trying to figure out transportation or how to get from point A to point B. Take time to wander but also have a game plan because your time is limited. You don’t want to spend 24 hours just figuring out how the trains work or dropping way too much money on a cab.
Reconsider the lowest price fare The cheapest flight may not be the best or ultimately the most economical one for you. Many countries have small airports well outside the city center which run discounted flights. This means you will need to find your way from this out-of-the-way airport to the city, and back again. The transportation cost can be very expensive, not to mention extremely time-consuming. If all you have is the weekend, time is money. So if you can, book the slightly more expensive flight at a more accessible airport. This will help you get the most out of your weekend visit in a country, save you time and possibly even money.
Know where to stay If you will be traveling on weekends, many people will tell you to stay in hostels. I think this is the best option when you are traveling alone so that you can make friends, which really makes the experience worth it. I also took advantage of Airbnb, which can be even cheaper than many hostels and much cleaner. Hostels and Airbnb are great options, but most of the very cheap ones are located in dangerous areas or are far from the city center, so make sure to research what part of the city you would like to stay in before booking your accommodations. You want to know in advance how far you will be staying from the sites you want to see.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun, eat everything and see as much as you can because Europe is a magical place!
Share your advice about weekend travel while studying abroad in the comments section below.
Check out Marina’s advice on what to know before studying abroad in this post.
Marina DeLuca is a senior at Union College studying Biology and Music. She is a singer- songwriter and you can find her first EP on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. After college she hopes to spend a year working on her musical endeavors full-time. She also hopes to be actively involved in environmental causes and to continue to travel to new places.