So its been a while since I last updated my blog. I've been a bit busy with classes, class projects, presentations, finals, and making plans for my return home. Not only that, but some computer issues have had me on my last nerves. Thankfully, I've got everything fixed...for the most part.
Today's post is about my experience doing some traveling during my stay in Freiburg. I was fortunate enough to do some traveling before things got complicated, so here's my take on intercountry travel. My travels include the areas of Mallorca, Noordwijk/Amsterdam, Kandersteg/Basel, Berlin, and Strasbourg. During these travels, I've had a multitude of different modes of transportation, accommodations, and experiences, so here's my advice on how to travel abroad while abroad.
1. Have a budget planned.
I put this one first because in all honesty, it's probably the most important when you're abroad on limited funds. During my time, I found that my spending varied around 150-300 Euros/Trip. Put that in U.S. Dollars and you can see why it's really important. With the exception of Mallorca, I planned my travels to be as cheap as I could make it. In the video I mention having to make some sacrifices on luxury, and if you really want to travel on the cheap side, you're gonna have to sacrifice a lot. Before I came abroad, I budgeted 250 Euros for the essentials of my trips. This means the transport, accommodation, and food. I tried to maintain my trips to be below 300 Euros total, which kinda worked (again with the exception of Mallorca).
2. Travel light and cheap.
Trust me when I say, you don't need a carry-on size bag when you're traveling for an IES Abroad weekend (Fridays were off for Lang). I do realize that everyone's needs are different and may require additional baggage. However, in my experience, I was able to fit my clothes, chargers, and laptop in my school bag and carry my drone in a handbag. So if you're worried about carrying a lot of baggage, make an investment and buy a schoolbag that can double as a travel pack.
Anyways, transportation can be cheap if you plan your trips in advance and sacrifice some comfort. There were about four different methods of transportation. You have the options to take planes, trains, bus, or a car. If you plan way ahead, you can usually find cheap plane tickets on Easyjet that fly out of either Frankfurt or Basel. We flew to Mallorca and it was about 65 Euros round trip. You can, however, find tickets as low as 20 Euros if you buy in advance. Next form of transport is taking the train. Germany has Deutsche Bahn, a pretty smooth and fast train system that goes throughout Germany and links up at with other train systems. Its usually cheaper than flying, but can be pricey during festive seasons. In the video I mention the Flixbus. Flixbus might be the best, cheap option of transport. This was my most used form of transport for my trips to Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Berlin, and Basel. Tickets are pretty cheap, with my most expensive one being Amsterdam for 120 Euros roundtrip. The last option is taking a car. Here's the thing, you are NOT ALLOWED to rent cars during your IES Abroad period. Meaning that you can use Blablacar, a carsharing service, to find people who are going to the same place you are. Otherwise, make lots of German friends, especially those that have a car and love to travel. You'll definitely be learning German a lot quicker.
3. Don't be afraid to couch surf.
Now, I understand this sounds sketch as hell, but hear me out. I used three different accommodation apps for my stays during my trips and the most impressive one was a couch surfing site called Yestudent. Think of Yestudent like Airbnb, but without the entire rooms to building availability. You tell it where you want to stay and Yestudent will show you fellow students in that area that have couches, futons, or even full beds to sleep on. Yes, you can stay on a students' couch. Like I said, sacrifice some luxuries. I used Yestudent for Strasbourg and I really enjoyed it! My hosts had a bunkbed for me to use and I only paid 15 Euro for a night! You get to know your hosts and learn a lot about the area you're staying in. Obviously you can stay at Hostels or use Airbnb, but if you don't mind sleeping on a couch for a weekend, Yestudent is the way to go. I stayed in a nice Airbnb in Mallorca for four days and it really blew my budget, so take it from me!
4. Remember to put water in your ramen.
Yeah, I bet you're thinking back on the times you had a fire alarm go off in your dorm building because some 18+ college student forgot the simplest ingredient to ramen noodles. Being abroad, however, food is never scarce. You can go out and buy Döner in most areas for less than 5 Euros. You can most definitely hit up a restaurant too. However, if you're really trying to save on cash, learn to cook. Most Airbnb's, Hostels, and Yestudent homes offer usage of their kitchens. If your trip is going to last a weekend, perhaps cooking your breakfast and lunch might be the best cash saving move. You can save on those two meals and, in turn, splurge a bit on dinner. This gives you a nice way to save money and still be able to try local cuisine. Learning to make stovetop rice, simple pasta dishes, and omelets are easy to do. If you're really not confident in your cooking skills, buy some ramen or microwaveables and eat those for a cheap meal. BUT DON'T FORGET THE WATER.
Well, this is goodbye until the next post, so enjoy the video!
P.S. I mentioned earlier something about computer issues. You'll see what I mean in the video.
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<p>I've been told that I have a neutral accent when I speak, which I find interesting considering I grew up in GA/AL, go to school in Wisconsin, and speak both spanish and english fluently. I'll tell you what though, I can really bring out my southern accent when I want to.</p><p>My hobbies include: flying drones, tech, fishing, football (both soccer and american football), swimming, exploring (towns, nature,etc), video games, paintball, and a bunch more.... I guess you'll just have to ask me!</p>