Studying abroad and becoming engulfed in another culture is such an amazing experience. On top of that, it provides an opportunity to get to see more than just your host country. Traveling while abroad can be so excited but also so stressful! I’ve compiled a list of my best tips for seamless travel abroad.
1. Book Ahead
Don’t be afraid to look ahead and book pretty far in advance– it is so much cheaper that way! You’ll save lots of money by planning ahead instead of being stuck with ridiculously high plane and train costs.
2. Do Your Research
Smaller airlines in Europe have restrictions on things like baggage size. A carry-on bag in the US is not the same as it is in Europe, so plan accordingly. I bought an inexpensive smaller bag in my host city and it was a great investment. Read through all of the airlines requirements, and make sure you check in online the day before your flight to avoid fees as the airport!
3. Do Your Research (x2)
It is so exciting to visit a new place, but once you get there you realize how little time you actually have (usually no more than a long weekend). Before departing from your host country, make a list of your non-negotiable must see/do items, and a list of things you’d like to see/do if you have the time. Map out where everything is so you don’t waste time running around the city. Being intentional is the best way to see everything you want to see.
4. New Place, New Culture
Before I travel, I like to look into the main cultural aspects of where I’m going. This can include their traditional foods, social norms, and even what the locals like to do. I feel this prepares me to avoid any sort of culture shock as well as get the most out of my visit.
5. Take It All In
Being in a new place is overwhelming. Running around an unfamiliar city checking things off a list can become more stressful than enjoyable. If it gets that way, take a breath, find a place to sit, and just watch. It helps knowing that you don’t have to see and do everything, and it gives you something to look forward to because you know you’ll want to come back someday.
Margarette-Ruth is a SAI Florence Spring 2017 student from the University of South Carolina.