Horns meet World. World meet Katie Wagner. Katie is a Biology major at UT and and she spent six months studying abroad on the UPF Exchange program in Barcelona, Spain.
Flights and trains and hostels! Oh my! Fear not, I have some tips for you that can relieve some of that traveling stress. I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain in the Spring for six months. While I was there I traveled to 2 continents, 14 countries and 28 cities. Throughout my traveling, I planned to spend as little as possible, which resulted in finding the cheapest flights, train tickets and places to stay.
It is a lot cheaper to travel in Europe than in the United States, so my form of transportation between countries is usually by airplane. However, I also took advantage of some trains and buses to travel in between cities. Airplane tickets range between 20 euros – 100 euros round trip depending on when you bought the ticket. The best and most affordable websites for airplane tickets are Google Flights and Skyscanner. Skyscanner show the cheapest flights and the cheapest days to travel with the airlines usually being Ryanair and Wizz Air. However, be aware of the instructions when buying flights for Ryanair and Wizz Air when it comes to baggage fees and printing tickets. Most of the time the airlines require you to print out the tickets before, and if not then the price of printing them at the airport is outrageous. So plan ahead and print those tickets! Also watch out for baggage fees because they can get pricey as well. Budget airlines take their baggage rules very seriously and will bring out a tape measure to make sure you fit the requirements. Overall when buying flights, buy them on Tuesdays because that is the cheapest day to buy flights. Make sure to read baggage and ticket requirements and plan ahead!
Trains and buses will also be your best friend when you are trying to see the world on a tight budget. The main websites I use are GoEuro, Eurorail, and Megabus. Believe it or not, Megabus is still a thing in Europe and are exactly like the Megabuses in Austin. However, this form of traveling does take longer so I recommend taking night buses. Therefore, you can save money on a place to sleep and wake up on the country side the next morning. My personal favorite bus company is Flix, who has an attendant to give you free drinks, music, movies and games. Also the chairs recline and are comfy for a night’s rest. If you prefer to take trains or buses instead of flying, I highly recommend using GoEuro because they show the most cost effective ways of transportation between cities whether it is flights, buses or trains.
So you get to a new city from either flying or driving and now what? Where do you stay? The amount of people you are traveling with will determine where you should stay. If you have 4 or more people, I would advise to look into Airbnb options. Airbnbs are very similar to Airbnbs in the United States: pretty reliable and nice enough for a couple of days, especially split between 4 or more people. Another option, if you are traveling with less amount of people or want to get the “real American traveler’s experience”, I suggest staying in hostels. For those of you who do not know what a hostel is, it is a room with around 14 bunk beds in it that you will be sharing with strangers. I know I know, the movies are pretty gruesome, but I can affirm that hostels are nothing like the scary movies. I stayed in multiple hostels while traveling abroad and loved every single one. When you stay in a hostel, you get to meet people from all over the world and get to hear their stories about their traveling and experiences and most importantly, SAVE money. For example, I met a college graduate who was traveling the world by foot, literally by foot. The people you meet in these common areas will be people that you remember for a lifetime. If you want to look into staying in hostels, my recommendation is the website, Hostel World. However, when choosing hostels there are some requirements I suggest you look into. First, is the rating of the hostel, if it has a low rating and the reviews are not satisfying, then do not stay there. Even if there are some reviews that are all right and then others are bad, do not book your stay there. I repeat do not book your stay there. Second, is the location. Location might cost a few extra euros or pounds or whatever currency in the specific country, but it is worth that extra money. If you decide to book a hostel that is cheaper, but farther from sites you want to see, then you will end up spending money on transportation that will end up being more than staying in a hostel in a good location. Lastly, find a hostel that provides free breakfast. That is one less meal you have to pay for when traveling. Even though it might just be bread and Nutella or cereal, it is better than spending money on food outside the hostel. Last tip about hostels, make sure to bring a towel, shower shoes and a lock for your bag. Most of the hostels have shared bathrooms and do not provide you with a towel, so make sure you bring one! Additionally, bring a lock for your bag. I did not have a lock on my bag and fortunately did not get anything stolen, but just to be safe bring one because most of the time it is extra money for a locker.
I hope I have relieved some of your stress about what to do and how to book traveling. If you have any questions about specific hostels or locations to stay in, please comment below. Furthermore, keep up with the blogs to find out more information on where to travel and budget tips! Get out there and travel and as always hook ‘em!!