5 Tips for Traveling or Backpacking During Study Abroad

July 18, 2019

I’m so excited to tell you everything about my spring break. I had two weeks of vacation and decided to travel through Europe. Since this is my first backpack-traveling trip ever in my life, I’ve learned a lot and want to share some recommendations with you.

1. Plan Ahead

Time is really important to guarantee a good, affordable, fun trip. You need to start planning at least 3 weeks ahead. If not, everything may be booked and you will have to get the expensive options (if there is anything still available).

2. Choose Your Route Wisely

Select a route that will cost you less time and money to go from one place to another. For example, I flew from Vienna to Copenhagen and went south from there: Berlin - Prague - Bratislava - Budapest - Zagreb - Vienna. I know it is crazy! But really one of the best experiences in my life.

3. Investigate Options: Trains/Planes/Buses and Hostels/Airbnbs/Hotels

I thought that planes would be more expensive but this is not always true in Europe, often they are cheaper than trains, depending on where you are going. The same goes to Airbnbs and hostels, if you are traveling in a group, sometimes the Airbnbs are cheaper. Once you get to your destination city you can buy a 24-hour public transportation pass (which I recommend) and sometimes there is a group ticket which is even cheaper.

4. Travel Light

This was hard for me but once you realize you’ll have to carry around whatever bag you bring for two weeks, you reconsider your luggage decisions. So basically, stick with the essentials. Don’t forget the most comfortable pair of shoes you have, because trust me, you’ll walk hundreds of kilometers every day. Super important too, a pair of flip flops or sandals for the showers in the hostels because you usually share, and a fast-drying/quicky-dry towel. An umbrella, a jacket, and gloves (because the weather is crazy and you never know) but that’s it, don’t take more than you need. Oh! Almost forgot, sunscreen will definitely be necessary.

5. Watch Your Stuff, Beware of Tourist Traps

Every country is different and it is our responsibility to look up the rules and the way things work in each city. Some cities are more “dangerous” than others, and even if you think it won’t happen, sometimes it does. In Copenhagen, one of the girls in my travel group was pick-pocketed and lost her wallet with everything inside. So please be careful, and if you want to exchange currency, be sure to do it in a safe place (in Prague this is a common tourist trap since many people are not familiar with the local currency). Finally, and I think this is common sense, but try to stay away from dangerous situations and always be aware.

I hope this helps you at some point, I think for me it would’ve been very useful since some things in this list I didn’t know before, and found out just now while traveling. One last tip: during your semester abroad, you’ll meet a lot of people from all over, so ask them where to go and the must-do’s in their home cities (for example, I had people from Hungary tell me what to visit and where not to go). You can do the same for every place you are visiting, a local’s advice is usually better than the touristy list online.

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