Going abroad during college for a semester or year can be such an exciting time! Many students go abroad the same time as their friends and want to visit them and any family that may live outside of the United States. Choosing where to go for your main stay while abroad is the harder part, but getting the opportunity to go visit other countries that belong to the European Union can be almost too easy to choose from. For the purpose of this post, we are going to discuss strategies for organizing a successful day trip while abroad in Europe for study abroad!
- Research: Before going anywhere, it’s important to do research on the place you’d like to visit. Research should include: currency and exchange rate and locations; modes of public transportation, hostels and/or Airbnb prices, restaurants and clubs. You wouldn’t want to show up to a country in the EU with US Dollars. While almost all countries within the European Union accept euros as their form of currency, it’s important to note that only 19 out of the 27 countries accept euros. When planning on spending money there, be sure to find banks that will exchange your euros for the appropriate currency. Additionally, taking taxis and Uber rides can be quite costly when travelling. Looking into the public transportation system such as the metro or the bus can save you a lot of money and take you to many places within that country. Lodging can also be a costly expense when travelling if you’re planning on staying in hotels the entire time, but if you look into Airbnbs and hostels you’ll be slashing prices and maintaining a more appropriate budget. Another factor to look into is the nightlife and restaurant scenes since those two things may be what you mostly splurge your money on while visiting. Be sure to find places that not only are within your budget but also follow your dietary restrictions if you have any.
- Budgeting: Remember that if you don’t have dual citizenship in the EU, you won’t be able to work those three-to-four months. This is important to remember because when you don’t work you can’t add to your travel abroad budget, and you’ll need to figure out a way to be able to live comfortably while enjoying your time abroad! Mint is a great app that allows you to look into what you have been spending your money on in certain categories (i.e. transportation, restaurants, groceries etc.), and allows you to see how much money you have left in your bank account. This will be useful when you need to tap into your emergency back up fund in case you have depleted your current study abroad funds. Be sure to fit in these mini vacations into your overall budget, and create separate budgets for each of these mini vacations to reflect the cost of living in these places.
- Creating the itinerary:
- There are so many enticing and exciting things to do while abroad, but to stick to a budget means making choices between doing the trendiest of things versus something else that’s more attainable in respect to your budget. I suggest looking at Pinterest as well as Google searching what others have been doing in that area before going. Our Pinterest page focuses on the ten most-visited places for tourists and study abroad students in Spain if you’re looking to stay within the country, but if you’re looking to venture outwards I would also recommend watching vloggers on YouTube and see what they did during their time. Try to find things that are low-cost or free, or even places that offer student discounts in order to stick closer to your budget.
- Book the tickets when abroad, not in the United States:This may be an odd thing to think about, but trust me you’ll thank me later for this. When still in the States, we get so caught up in these daydreams of going to the perfect locations that we’re so tempted to just buy the plane tickets right then and there and make our dreams come true! But, oftentimes you won’t know what your study abroad program has for excursions already incorporated into the program itself which can throw your plans for a curveball. Additionally, you may find out that you’re making so many new friends and you’ll all want to go on some day excursions together! My last reason why not to book the tickets in the States is that ticket prices fluctuate every minute based on the cookies your search engine has reported to the flight companies. Weird, right? That’s why you should use websites like Kayak where it won’t reflect a change in prices based on browsing analytics and you can choose the cheapest flights and hotels for your time abroad.
While we could go on all day about how to successfully organize day trips while abroad but if you’re looking for that one-stop shop experience as we call it here in the US, then I suggest looking into Student Guru which is a marketplace of services every study abroad student needs when going abroad. We hope these tips will help you on your current and future endeavors! ¡Hasta la próxima chicos!
By: Meghan Iadeluca, American University ‘22