Unsolicited advice for traveling while abroad

Keanan Gleason
April 24, 2017

I write this post after coming back from Easter break, during which I went to Biarritz and Amsterdam.  I had a splendid time traveling to and enjoying each city and would like to impart some general traveling advice upon future study abroad students!

No matter where you go or for how long, make sure to plan your trip in advance.  Buying train, bus or plane tickets at the last minute will be expensive and leave you will few options.  The same goes for housing if you are traveling to a popular destination.  In Amsterdam, for example, my travel group and I didn’t book our Airbnb until about a month beforehand and were left with few feasible options.  Thankfully we found an agreeable option close to the center of the city without breaking the bank, but we got lucky.  Speaking of lodging, I would highly recommend Airbnb (no, the company does not sponsor my blog).  You can usually reserve a quality room if not an entire apartment for yourself and friends for the same price as a room in a youth hostel.  Furthermore, Airbnb hosts in my experience have been quite eager and willing to help people find fun things to do around town.

Find out if you are a solo or group traveler.  Some people prefer to travel alone since doing so gives them complete independence and control over their trip.  Moreover, if you are an outgoing person and travel alone, you will be more likely to interact with locals.  On the other hand, traveling with friends can of course be more fun because you get to enjoy their company.  I personally like vacationing with a close group of friends, but have done a few trips on my own as well.  Try both and figure out which you prefer. 

Create a budget and stick to it.  As much as this piece of advice is basic and well known, it bears a greater importance while abroad.  Transportation, lodging, food and attraction costs can quickly add up during a vacation, so figure out how much you can spend on each before you leave and hold yourself accountable.  That way you won’t have to worry about money, yet still can devour yummy new foods, buy souvenirs, etc. 

Above all, don’t forget to be flexible and patient.  Your vacation may not go the way you expect, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying and making the most of it.  After all, unless you plan to live abroad one day, you won’t get many future opportunities to travel around a foreign region so frequently and easily.  This point leads me to my last piece of advice, which is to remain mindful of your experience.  Regardless of what I do on vacation, I find that the memories which are the fondest to look back upon are the ones where I took a moment to relish and appreciate how lucky I am to be able to travel and study in a foreign country.

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Keanan Gleason

<p>Bonjour! My name is Keanan Gleason, I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but currently live in Iowa where I am a third year student at Grinnell College. I am double-majoring in Economics and French, and this spring I will be studying abroad in Nantes, France! I hope to get to know my temporary home by going on lots of runs, eating at various restaurants, and exploring with friends.</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
Grinnell College
French Language
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