How to Make the Best of a Holiday

Charlie (Charles) McDowell
March 30, 2017

Studying abroad demands for a world of new experiences. One of the coolest parts is the amount of travelling you can do-and usually for cheap. But planning a holiday can be overwhelming and stressful, and really get in the way of having a good time. But with five simple tips to keep in mind, your holiday could be the best you’ve ever had!
*These tips can be applied to anyone and are not just for students studying abroad, please feel free to share these with your friends and family members


  1. Do some planning, but don’t overplan. Short trips are fun, but without anything to look forward to most of the time you’ll just be lost and kind of bored. Pick out one or two things you really want to do and plan for it. Do some research into what is in or around your destination, if you’re doing two things in one day look up how far away they are from another and give yourself time to get there. Always look up public transport costs and plan for what you’ll need to get around. Definitely know what you’re doing, but don’t micromanage the whole trip. Having every minute of the trip planned out won’t be fun, it’ll be stressful, especially because life happens. Trains and flights get delayed, being in a new city causes for getting lost a lot of the time. If the whole trip is rushing around to get to somewhere new, you’re not really seeing everything you could. Take some time to relax and explore, or to rest. There’s a lot of serendipitous potential in these moments.
  2. See what’s cheap. A lot of cities with high tourism have a lot of cool things to do for very little money. Museums are always good to look into; the Louvre is free to European Residents, and most of the museums in London are entirely on donation. Free walking tours run off of tips and are usually very insightful. The tour guides are usually really cool and the tours rarely feel very scripted. The tip system allows for people on all sorts of budgets to be able to afford to learn some things (though do be ready to tip something, it’s rude if you followed a person around for hours, leaching their cool information and didn’t give them something). Opt for staying in hostels over hotels, as they’re quite a bit cheaper and are less likely to be in the middle of a busy tourist area, allowing you to really get to know part of the city.
  3. Take a deep breath, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I had no idea it would be so difficult to find service after leaving the Netherlands. Not knowing where I had to go or what train to take had me terrified that I’d make a mistake and end up somewhere very much where I was not supposed to be. Luckily, English is a very popular language and most airports or large train stations have information desks specifically to help you find where you’re going. If you’re on the street and find yourself lost? Don’t be afraid to ask someone. If you speak English, chances are it won’t be hard to find someone that can help you, and you’d be surprised how nice strangers are. On my last trip I had a lady walk me to my train station after she heard me asking for directions. Getting lost is scary, not knowing where you are is scary, but take a deep breath. Everything happens for a reason and your trip will still be awesome. Besides, if you’re stressed the whole time, the only memories you’re going to have is of being stressed. Take a deep breath, look at the scenery, and know it’ll all work out.
  4. Be a tourist! Every town has a unique history and culture with loads of cool things to discover. There’s no point in visiting somewhere without learning about it. When in London, my tour guide told us “Do the things you can only do here first, then go sit in the garden.” Get out there and do something amazing, this might be the only time you’re ever in that city or country again, make the most out of it! Don’t go only to drink or to shop at stores that exist back home. Do the touristy things, learn something new, create memories that’ll make your friends and family jealous. Don’t worry about looking like a tourist, you are one. Embrace it and have a good time.
  5. Travel with friends! Solo trips are a blast and I believe everyone should go on at least one, but at the end of it all it was just you. You’re laughing at your own jokes, getting lost by yourself, forced to take selfies if you want a picture with something (unless you’re braver than I am and don’t mind asking strangers to take typical touristy pictures of you in embarrassing poses), and you’re responsible for everything. Find someone with similar goals and a similar budget and plan a trip, even if it’s only with one other person, do it. It’ll be more fun to have someone to share in the experience with, friends always make things more exciting.

There’s so much involved in planning a trip, there’s no point in planning a bad one. While there’s so many more details I could have added, these five steps are the root of it all. Whether it’s a weekend away or a three week long tour, minimize on the stress and maximize the fun. The next time you’re traveling somewhere, consider these tips and please, have a blast for me!

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Charlie (Charles) McDowell

<p>I am a 20 year old Psychology and Intercultural Studies major escaping the suburbs of Chicago in search of an adventure. I can be found reading or writing most of the time, and love to talk to people. I&#39;ve been daydreaming of traveling the world since I was a child, and am so excited that the time for that is finally here! Thank you for stopping by, I hope my stories are as helpful to you as these moments were for me.</p>

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