One of the great things about studying abroad in Europe, is easy access to so many destinations. This means low cost flights or train trips to just about every destination – and they’re only hours away. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. In addition, there’s also the local scene. So if you’ve chosen a European country to study in then why not explore it while you’re there? For example, if you’ve chosen to study in Italy then you may wish to divide up your weekend travel time between trips outside of Italy and living and breathing the Italian way of life and exploring all the wonderful places in your new temporary ‘home’.
So when choosing which country you plan to study abroad in, keep in mind the things that you’re really “into”. If you love hiking or skiing in the mountains then choose an area like northern Italy, Austria or somewhere close to the French Alps. Some of these weekend escapes are like fantasy worlds. On the other hand, you may be into city life, beach and marine life, or just fascinated with history. Whatever your “thing” is, do some research and plan your temporary ‘home country’ with your interests in mind.
So here are some ideas for weekend trips for study abroad in Europe.
General Tips for Saving Money and Staying Healthy
Make a budget and figure out what you can afford to spend on each trip, and figure out what comforts you can sacrifice in the country you’re staying in. For some, that may mean not buying coffee or ice cream every day and only eating what your host mom provides. It can also mean buying fewer clothes, drinks, food, or whatever tends to leak money out of your pocket. Give yourself a limit, especially if you want weekend travel to be a top priority while you study abroad.
2. Limit your Purchases.
You can also limit the souvenirs you buy if you want to save money. Spending money on experiences, can be more rewarding than buying lots of things to take home, but in the end, it all comes back to personal preference!
3. Do Housing and Transportation Research Early.
Check into websites like BlaBlaCar, GoEuro, Rome2rio, and Airbnb for transportation and housing. They’re very affordable. Also use public transport or walk where you can. Walking is a great way to learn and explore the city that you’re visiting.
4. Don’t Over-pack.
Pack as light as you can. Prefer a backpack over a suitcase because they are WAY more convenient and can save lots of time (and headaches). Nothing screams “tourist” more than a rolling suitcase rumbling down a cobblestone street. Not only so, but you’ll also find it much easier to negotiate the metros, which usually involve going up and down many stairs.
So invest in a good practical, secure, comfortable backpack for your weekend adventures. Paying a bit more to invest in a brand like Osprey or Patagonia with about 30 liter capacity, is usually worth it. Also, bear in mind that pickpockets and purse snatchers are common in European cities, so choose your accessories wisely.
For your backpack contents, use packing cubes. Expandable packing cubes help you maximize the space in your backpack and keep everything organized. The best ones come with a second zipper so that you can pack them, and then compress them (similar to a rolling suitcase!). Packing cubes come in all shapes and sizes and can be used on everything from shoes, to electronics, to bulky sweaters and jeans.
Pack your clothes in groups – like all the shirts, then roll them (the rolling is KEY), arrange them in the packing cube, and zip. It’s amazing how much space these save and it makes it so much easier to live out of your weekend travel backpack without having to constantly search for things!
Remember, you can always buy something you might need at your destination, but having too much can weigh you down and make traveling complicated. Plus, it’s kind of nice to go without too many belongings and get used to living with less!
5. Get Plenty of Sleep if You Can.
Being exhausted can make it harder to enjoy your time and can make you more prone to feeling homesick, or worse, actually becoming unwell. Also, if you know that you tend to get irritable when you’re tired, don’t let a lack of sleep prevent you from enjoying your time. The same goes for being hungry. If you’re one of those people who tends to get “hangry”, keep some snacks with you so that your mood doesn’t get in the way of your trip. You only have a short amount of time, so you want to set yourself up for success!
6. Drink Plenty of Water.
Sometimes in Europe you have to pay for bathrooms. Sometimes water is more expensive than other types of beverages. Still, drink the water. I promise it is worth it. Water helps clear out new bacteria you may have been exposed to and keeps you healthy. Not drinking it can lead to infections, dehydration, headaches, and can make it harder to enjoy where you are. Trust me, it’s worth it.
7. Bring the Right Shoes and Clothes.
Having something comfortable while you’re walking is crucial. You also want to make sure they’re not going to break while you’re out walking, so pick comfort and quality over style. Make sure that your shoes can handle the wet weather. One thing is for sure, your weekend trips for study abroad in Europe will involve plenty of walking. Boots are a great option because they have excellent support, look very stylish, and can easily fit padded insoles to keep your feet comfortable.
When packing clothes to wear, remember to keep it simple and think in terms of light layers. This allows you to mix and match and to ensure you’re not too hot or too cold. Scarves and light jackets can help dress up or down an outfit, not to mention keep you appropriately warm or cold. Also, don’t forget a collapsible umbrella.
8. Keep Perspective.
Remember that you’re in charge of your attitude. If things go wrong, take it as a part of the experience and deal with it as it comes. Don’t allow disappointments or things that don’t go according to plan ruin your trip.
9. Electronics and Communications.
You won’t want to travel on weekends without your cell (or mobile) phone. Let’s face it – your phone will be your European student BFF so let’s get this right. You should plan on getting an European SIM card because it will give you easy access to data and navigation, not to mention being there for you during any emergency. Current European laws enable one SIM card to operate in all EU countries without ‘global roaming’ so it will work out cheaper for you to have one.
Make sure that you invest in an external phone charger that can handle multiple recharges in case your phone runs low on battery when you are out and about. Buy a converter that has multiple USB ports on it so you can charge everything at once while you sleep – i.e. both the charger itself AND your phone simultaneously. Finally, don’t forget to pack the earpieces for your devices.
10. Travel by Yourself at Least Once.
Traveling alone is a great experience and can help you learn a lot about the world and yourself. It can also help you become more independent. Weekend trips while studying abroad in Europe will help you to appreciate your study abroad country even more. Whatever you do, just get out there and see the world.
Whether your weekend trips in Europe for college students involves standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower, descending into the depths of the Roman Colosseum, or floating along the canals of Venice or Amsterdam, skiing or hiking in the Italian, Austrian or Swiss Alps, exploring the opulence of Vatican City (where a dress code is required), soaking up the culture of Tuscany or enjoying Provence and the French Riviera … or any other of the myriad possibilities that European travel has to offer … a little planning ahead and traveling light will make all the difference to your student travel adventures.
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