These past few weeks I’ve started venturing further away from Glasgow and exploring the rest of Europe. Through much trial (and some error), I’ve learned a few things about traveling like a student so I thought I’d share some tips from my travels:
You cannot do everything you want to in Paris/Amsterdam/London in two days. You cannot in five days. These cities are just TOO big and amazing and have too much history. So accept you will not be able to do everything and don’t try. If you only have a weekend pick one or two awesome things, and then spend the rest of your time just walking around and enjoying your time.
Travel companions, choose wisely!
People have very different travel styles. Some are up at the crack of dawn ready to hit the pavement while others aren’t up till noon. Figure out what’s important to you in a travel partner and ask the tough questions now and not standing in line to board your flight.
Always have a paper map
Phones die, ipads are too big and are like wearing a giant “tourist, ROB ME” sign. Paper maps can be popped in a pocket, drawn all over, and are easier when you want to get a general sense of an area.
Heels take up too much room in your suitcase and you won’t wear them, trust me. Similarly, don’t bother with the workout gear… Yeah, it would be lovely to go for a jog in Hyde park, but between figuring out the tube, seeing the Tate gallery, catching up with friends, do you really think it will occur to you to work out?
Accept that even on a strict budget, travel will be more expensive then you think and get over it.
Even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. You’ll get lost and miss your train, the museum won’t take your Scottish student card, the cheapest meal around will end up being the cost of your labour textbook. I’m not suggesting you blow the bank. Quite the opposite, it’s important to make a budget and take the frugal route whenever you can. However, there will always be things you just cannot account for. There is no point feeling stressed about cash when you should be enjoying the Eiffel tower, so make sure you have a cushion for emergencies.
[In that vein, if you cannot afford to go somewhere, DON’T DO IT! “I got stranded in Amsterdam” very rarely goes over well when you’re collect calling your parents for plane fare.]
[Example of things not going as planned. My cousin and I were trying to leave Bruges but all the roads were blocked. Why? The king and queen were visiting (!!!!!!). So we missed our train, but saw Real European royalty! I think it was worth it…]
Budget airlines are budget for a reason
They are fabulous for the student on a budget, but never forget that you will be paying for every morsel of food served to you, as well as any excess baggage. With that in mind, have a big meal before getting on board and pack lightly (see number 4)
A cool pair of shoes will get scuffed and thrown away in 3 years, but you will never forget the first time you saw the Eiffel tower. Take advantage of your time abroad! Who knows when you’ll be back?