17 weeks. I spent 17 weeks here in Milan, Italy. In those 17 weeks, I was able to go and experience 17 other places within and outside of Italy. Before coming abroad, I didn’t think that was possible let alone I’d be the one doing it over the next four months. So how did I do it? On top of still being a student, volunteering at a local organization, and still having time to relax. Trust me, it was crazy but it is possible.
Looking back at my first trip (a weekend in Rome), my roommates and I made sooooo many mistakes. And that’s okay! It takes some time to get the hang of travel, especially in a new country. We spent so much money on things that we could have gotten better prices on. But that’s why I am here to help you not make the same mistakes we did.
First, when you are trying to travel on a budget, make sure you plan ahead. Things like trains, planes, and places to stay are going to be much cheaper a couple of weeks in advance. You want to make sure you plan, but when it comes to things to do at your destination, sometimes not planning is better and way more fun. I have found that planning too much can cause you to miss things that you have booked and you lose money because of it. Some of my favorite things I have done in different places have been things we’ve just stumbled upon, so there needs to be a happy medium when it comes to planning.
Second, make sure you explore all of your options to find the best price on things. Look at hotels, hostels, and Airbnb’s when trying to find somewhere to stay because prices vary from place to place and you might be able to find a better deal on one rather than the other. When it comes to transportation, don’t settle for the first price you see. If you have the time, give it a couple of days and see if a better price appears. I was looking for tickets to Greece and they were all $500-600 and there was no way that I could afford that. One night I just thought I’d check what the price was and I found plane tickets for $80! My roommates and I never booked a trip so fast, it was exhilarating. Same with excursions. Looking at different websites, including the official website for something, allows you to find the best price for what you are doing. Take advantage of student discounts as well! A lot of museums have reduced or free admission if you are studying.
Last, when it comes to timing, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. I was out of town pretty much every single weekend I was here, but that’s how I was able to see it all. Doubling up on places is a great option too to see more. I took a trip to Livorno but while I was there I took day trips to Pisa and Lucca as well. Day trips are such a great option. You don’t have to pay for a place to stay, but you can experience everything you want to in the hours you are there.
Overall, I lived by a rule of not saying no while I was abroad, and that granted me the ability to go to so many amazing places. Who knows when the next time I’ll be able to travel like this again will be, so I took the most advantage of it as I could now. It was such an adventure and I had the time of my life, and I know you can have this too with your trip abroad.
Written by: Delaney Bartholow, Spring 2023 student from York College of Pennsylvania.