During my recent months studying abroad at Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia, I’ve taken advantage of cancelled classes, long weekends and my mid-semester break by traveling to some local Aussie spots, Melbourne and to New Zealand.
Here are a few key travel findings I’ve learned from my recent holidays abroad…
Domestic airport security is very different in Australia. I kept my shoes on and liquids in my bag. I didn’t have to prove my identity, and my boarding pass made its first appearance directly at the gate. My flight buddy may have been randomly selected for a hand and bag scan, but the process was calm and smooth.
International airport security is a bit more time consuming. I learned to be attentive and alert as so much is going on in such a condensed area. Especially when alone, it’s important to keep a close eye on valuables and to stay organized. Once security is done, the only critical step to follow is stepping on the plane.
Packing light is worth it. My weekend trip to Melbourne was one of the first in which I’ve limited myself to simply a backpack. Backpack travel is honestly freeing, as long as you ensure your luggage is under the airline’s carry-on weight limit.
Hostels are a good option, and not as intimidating as they may seem. Yes, they are a shared sleeping space between total strangers, but most inhabitants share an “in and out” mindset, utilizing the hostel as a safe resting and refreshment den for the night. The hostel where we stayed in Melbourne even offered free breakfast, helping us cut down daily meal costs.
Embrace the local life! Peaking in the windows of small, lived-in eateries to see fresh noodles being stretched and rolled, or watching locals line up for a seat makes you want to jump into the fun. In Melbourne, I ate a Japanese pepper lunch twice, spent a few hours enjoying a local cafe, then local pub for dinner (not all in the same day). These places are filled with food and people who embrace the local culture. I’ve learned to soak it up while I can.
Spontaneity is key - especially when traveling with others. Having an outline of a trip, or a few goals of spots to visit is helpful in making the trip purposeful; however, enjoying the moment, and wandering streets with no destination, can be equally enlightening.
- Guided tours are excellent options for a pre-planned international trip while abroad (like Topdeck Travel and G Adventures). Many of these trips, like my recent North Island New Zealand tour, include meals, accommodation and immersion activities, so all you have to plan is the plane ticket and possibly a pre-tour or post-tour hotel. Whether you chose to head international, take a road trip or simply stay local, you can embrace semester breaks and make the most out of your time in your host country.
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