What draws people to study abroad? For many it’s the prospect of being able to travel to a new country, experience a new culture, take great pictures and eat amazing food. But if we’re being honest, international travel can be scary, especially for someone who has never left the country before. Luckily for y’all, I am here to give you my top tips on traveling so you can avoid stressful situations and focus on the fun!
Travel Tip 1: Offline and paper maps
Does getting lost somewhere you’ve never been in a country where you don’t speak the language sound fun? Exactly. I recommend downloading an offline map of the city you’re visiting onto your phone (google maps can do this). Even if you do not have cell service, your phone’s GPS will let you see your location. It also doesn’t hurt to have a physical map of the city in case something happens to your phone. These can usually be found at hostels, hotels, or the city’s tourist center. Then on your map, mark where you are staying (hotel, hostel, Airbnb, etc.). This way you always have something to go off of and can find your way back.
Travel Tip 2: Buy a portable phone charger
Your phone is handy because you can store maps and travel documents such as airplane or train tickets all in one convenient place. However, if that one convenient place runs out of power as you’re trying to look up directions to catch your train, it sucks. It can also be frustrating basing your travel schedule around your phone’s battery life and looking for places to charge it. That is why I recommend carrying a portable phone charger and a charger cable. Actually, make that 2 charging cables, because when your phone charger breaks while you’re traveling, it can be stressful to find a new one. Trust me.
Travel Tip 3: Use your student ID everywhere
This can vary from place to place, but in general many tourist attractions or museums that charge admission give student discounts. Even if you do not see a student discount, it doesn’t hurt to ask either. Just be sure to have your student ID on you to show as proof. Some discounts might be pretty skimpy; at the Tower of London I only saved 2 British pounds on what was still a pricey ticket. But I have gotten into other places, like the Acropolis in Athens, free of charge with my student ID and have received a couple other generous student discounts.
Travel Tip 4: Book in advance
This one might sound like a given, but trust me when I say that bus, train and airline tickets tend to go up in price the closer you get to the date. Accommodations can also fill up quickly and you don’t want to end up without a place to sleep. Be aware that some hostels might require you to book a specific number of days (ex. Have to book two nights if you’re visiting on the weekend). Save yourself the stress and plan these things out in advance and not the week before.
Travel Tip 5: Free walking tours are your friend
Most major cities I visited had free walking tours happening at certain times during the day. They are a great way to explore the city and are perfect for traveling on a budget. Then if you see anywhere of interest, you can always come back later. Disclaimer, the tours usually aren’t completely “free” and ask for tips at the end, but it’s still a pretty inexpensive price to pay to explore a new place. I found most tours just by googling “free walking tours in _____” or learning about them from hostels. While solo traveling in Denmark, I befriended a Canadian veterinarian on a walking tour and we ended up going on a Danish food tour the next day together. So you never know when you will make friends!
Travel Tip 6: Universal adapters
When I was in Europe, I realized that the UK had different electrical outlets from the rest of Europe shortly after arriving. Do not be like me. Try to plan ahead and purchase a universal adapter ahead of time so you do not have to worry about being able to charge your electronics. However, worst case scenario, most train stations and airports will sell (overpriced) adapters.
Travel Tip 7: Ask Google and YouTube
Anywhere you plan to visit, I guarantee some travel blogger has been there first. Search on the internet to find specific pro tips and travel advice. You can discover some hidden gems and also hype yourself up for your future travels!
That is all the advice I have for now. Wherever you go and why ever you chose to go there, I hope your future travels and adventures are great!
This post was contributed by Morton Payne, a Peer Advisor. Morton studied abroad on the Semester Plus: IRG in Paris program.
Don’t get left behind. Find your study abroad adventure>>