This weekend, I’m taking a trip outside the Czech Republic for the first time since I arrived in Prague. I’m going to Scotland, to visit my best friend from home (and my roommate at Temple!), and I couldn’t be more excited.
As I’ve prepared for my trip and realized all of the things I’ve needed to take care of, I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of “things to do” to make your travels smoother and easier. The first trip is a great time to establish a traveling routine, and to narrow down the yes’s and no’s for future trips.
Traveling outside your host country is already an extremely popular practice among study abroad students, but if you haven’t thought about it or have been hesitant to do so, I encourage you to consider the opportunity. Living in a foreign country is wonderful in itself, but its proximity to other places is just as advantageous; the experience of traveling to many different places and witnessing many different cultures rather than just one is irreplaceable, and will irrevocably shape you as a person and enrich your life. Traveling as a student is also ideal logistically–travel costs are discounted, it’s easier to stay with friends or in hostels, which cost nothing or barely anything, respectively, you have no ties preventing you from experiencing everything you want to (no job, no kids), and your home base is conveniently located and not an ocean away. Now’s a great time to see the world! Without further ado, here are some tips:
- Book flights as early as possible. Make plans soon after arriving (or even before, if you know your situation), and book your flight as soon as you can. The longer you wait to book your flights (or other transportation tickets) the more expensive they are. Another great way to stay true to your budget is by booking all of your travels early in the semester; this way, you know how exactly much money you have to spend for the rest of the semester.
- Plan trips around friends and family. If you have loved ones who live or study in a location, visit them! It’s a great way to save money on living costs, but it will also inevitably make for an amazing experience that you can have together. It’s also great to have an “expert” at your disposal, who can prevent you from wasting time by telling you what to do and what to avoid, and even be a personal tour guide.
- Plan your classes strategically. I was able to schedule my classes so in such a way that I have a four day weekend. (This is not only great for traveling, but gives me more time to study and dedicate to writing papers, doing projects, etc.). This makes it easier for me not only to travel, but work around my friend’s and family’s free time. If my friend/family member only has a holiday weekend every so often, I can easily accommodate my schedule to fit theirs.
- Only pack a carry-on. Especially because these trips are so short, there is no need to check luggage. I purchased a weekender bag before I left for Prague, which was a great investment; it’s a large bag that I can fit days worth of essentials in, but isn’t giant or inconvenient. Pack efficiently, and invest in a versatile bag that will make your travels simple.