International Travel Tips & Tricks

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Katlyn Clarke
December 23, 2023

Brainstorm places where you’d like to go before you leave for abroad

Personally, before I left for abroad it had been a really long time since I was on a plane and I had extremely limited travel experience, none without my family. However, I did not want this to hold me back from traveling from my home country of Amsterdam. Before I left, I chatted with my parents about three places that seemed doable for me. I went abroad knowing no one from my home school, so I was hoping to make friends during the program. During my time in Amsterdam, I realized that I am not a solo traveler, and I prefer having shared experiences with others, especially during travel. I made it a point to connect with my friends who went abroad for graduate school, or are in other countries on fellowships and scholarships. It was really enjoyable to see familiar faces from F&M and know that someone would be on the other side when I arrived in a new place. 

Everyone plans differently: know yourself 

When I started making friends in Amsterdam, I realized that many students had pre-planned their travel with friends that were already abroad. At first, this freaked me out a little bit. I initially felt a lot of pressure to get around and see the world! Yet, as is a theme of my abroad experience, everything will come together. Ask around for potential friends who may be free one weekend to go to a country nearby. Personally, I was quite nervous about traveling out of the Netherlands alone. So if you’re like me, start first with other nearby cities and towns in the Netherlands. And even places like Brugge and Brussels in Belgium are easily accessible by bus or train to accommodate a day trip. Don’t be afraid to ask people, make your own plans, and do what you feel comfortable with. Always compare travel options as well. The fare for buses, trains and planes is ever-changing, and in Europe, there’s usually a pretty affordable option as compared to how expensive traveling can be in America. If there's a place you don’t get to or you’re running out of steam by the end of your abroad experience: do not beat yourself up.

As someone who does not have much experience traveling out of the country, it was a major thing for me to just get to the Netherlands. Yet knowing how close I was to other countries and how affordable things suddenly were, I felt the imposed expectation to get to other places. At the same time, I wanted to really know the city of Amsterdam like the back of my hand, and you cannot be in another country while also learning Amsterdam. This is to say, you might have to make sacrifices. I traveled to three other countries, and there’s other places I wish I would’ve made it to, but I don’t regret the decisions I made because staying in Amsterdam is something that just worked for me at the time. I wasn’t ready to travel every weekend, and I wouldn’t have been happy at the end of my program if that’s what I did. Again, this is just my personal experience and opinion, but I will say that the students who spent many of their weekends out of Amsterdam often did not feel the same satisfaction of feeling like they were true residents in the country because they were not familiar with it enough. I believe that there is a balance of travel and staying in and around the city. Do what feels right for you! 

Plan ahead and remember the basics!

If you’re getting on a plane or taking the Eurostar, the further you plan in advance the cheaper your trip will be! You’ll need your passport for the plane, but if you’re crossing through other countries on the train, you most likely will not. I would bring mine just in case, along with euros in coins and cash. You’ll also need your adapters and phone cords, and for me that was one of the easiest things to forget. It’s also handy to have a portable phone charger to take along—but then don’t forget the cord for your charger! If you travel with a backpack, sometimes it’s nice to pack a purse in there too for when you reach your destination. You probably won’t want to be frolicking around a new city weighed down by a backpack! And if it’s that time of the season, pack all you can for inconsistent weather: a small umbrella, gloves, etc. Remember also for the winter months that having extra chapstick, moisturizer and a pack of travel tissues really goes a long way. 

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Katlyn Clarke

Hi! I'm Katie. I enjoy iced matcha lattes, sunset walks, and Bernedoodles! I'm a huge book lover, and will easily pick up the newest summer romance. I also have a knack for crafting playlists for friends and could listen to the same song all day!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
Creative Writing
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