At the University of East Anglia, we are lucky enough to get spring break that is three weeks long! Knowing I would have all that free time, I booked tons of travel throughout the United Kingdom and Europe for those weeks. I travelled for nearly three weeks straight and learned a lot about myself but also about travelling itself. In this blog post I want to compile and convey a few travel tips I have learned over my spring break of travelling.
- Collect experiences, not souvenirs.
Souvenirs will weigh you down in more ways than you think! Obviously, if you buy souvenirs everywhere you go (for yourself, friends, and family) you will be so ‘weighed down’ you won’t even be able to fit it all in your luggage back to the United States. Additionally, spending money on trinkets and t-shirts everywhere you go adds up a lot quicker than you think. Mementos do not need to be expensive or bulky! Postcards, receipts, photographs, brochures, and leftover coins are inexpensive, physically small keepsakes that are easily obtained for all travel destinations. For family and friends, I suggest that you send postcards. Postcards can perhaps seem a little dated, but they are the perfect gift from a travel destination. It is easy on the pockets and more heartfelt than a keychain or t-shirt. The stamps on them are neat too, because those are specific to the location. Important historical figures and landmarks are common on them. Money saved in this way can be spent on making more memories and travelling to more places while travelling.
- Stay in hostels, not hotels.
Hostels get a bad rap! However, as a college student (of course, always trying to save money) they enable you to visit more locations for a longer amount of time. If you aren’t sure exactly what a hostel is it is simply an inexpensive lodging option in many big cities. Instead of private rooms and private bathrooms, hostels are usually dorm-style with shared bathrooms. It is reasonable to understand why people avoid hostels (i.e., the horror films, the general idea of being surrounded by strangers while you sleep). Regardless, I have found that the benefits greatly outweigh the deterrents. Firstly, all hostels I have been in have been safe. There has always been safes to store my valuables overnight and while I was adventuring during the day. Many hostels also have restrictions on age, and keep the accommodations for young people only. There are always ‘house rules’ and practices in place to respect all guest and keep everyone safe. All male or female rooms are sometimes available too! Secondly, the cost of hostels is ridiculously low and by itself inspires my wanderlust. Places I have stayed have been as cheap as 9 Euros a night! For less than a meal out at a restaurant, you get a nice place to stay and shower up. Finally, one of the best parts about staying in a hostel is that they allow you to meet people from all around the world. Being in close proximity allows for conversations to flourish, sometimes even into friendships! Overall, all you really need is a safe, friendly place to sleep, shower and for as cheap as 9 Euros a night…hostels are perfect!
- There are many other options besides flying from designation to destination.
Flying gets very expensive; luckily, there are many international bus services and train routes throughout Europe. These, particularly buses, are inexpensive travel solutions. (For more on awesomely, cheap buses read my previous blog post https://templeuabroad.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/the-joys-of-megabus/ )
- Drinking should not be a main activity on your travel itinerary.
The drinking age in many European countries is 18. Since this will be the first time that many American students can drink legally, they go overboard. Being in a foreign country can be expensive and daunting enough without getting drunk on top of that. Drinks are expensive, especially in cities with many tourists! Aside from the monetary loss, you are endangering yourself and even your ability to remain in that country. A student who is intoxicated in a foreign city runs the risk of: getting lost, breaking a country’s laws, being a victim of a crime, losing important documents and being involved in other compromising situations. I suggest you avoid getting drunk while travelling, because it is expensive and dangerous. Moreover, when you return home family and friends will want to know all the awesome adventures you have while travelling and the answer of ‘got drunk in a bar every night’ is certainly not ideal. Ultimately, for your own enjoyment of new places do not rely on drinking for entertainment.
- Always have a back-up plan!
In case something does go wrong while you are travelling, having a backup plan in place saves yourself from a lot of stress. I would suggest to always have a stash of money set aside for in case of an emergency. In case your wallet gets stolen, you need to buy medicine or a taxi ride unexpectedly, that cash stash will save you from anymore panic and stress than what you already have! Also, preemptively photocopy important documents in case that they get lost or stolen (e.g., your passport, visa, insurance cards etc.). Always think about the “what ifs” while travelling, because sometimes they happen!
- Finally, make sure you take loads of photos.
You never know when you will be back to a travel destination and it is awesome to have photos to look back on when you are elsewhere. Here’s just a few from my travels over spring break:
I hope that with these tips I could help other students with how to get the most out of travelling while abroad! Beautiful moments come from going to new places, even more so when you are prepared and not spending a fortune. Thanks for reading!