After traveling (almost) every weekend of my summer to other cities besides Vienna, I would say I’m pretty well-versed in how to travel well around Europe. Here are some of my top tips to enjoy visiting other cities during your study abroad experience!
1) Get a Eurail pass! One of these passes allows you to travel on as many trains a day for a certain number of days (and is often cheaper than it would be if you bought the trains individually). If you get the pass, make sure you get a seat reservation if you’re traveling in a larger group, and then you can all sit together without having to worry about moving around at all on the ride. I would say that if the train ride is shorter, this isn’t as necessary but for longer ones it’s definitely worth it.
2) Stay on top of classes! It’s easy to get caught up in traveling, exploring and having fun while abroad, but it’s way less stressful to do assignments early so you can fully enjoy your time when traveling. I had lots of friends along the way that didn’t put in the time to study and they ended up being much more stressed out from that. The classes are different from my normal college courses, so I found them super enjoyable anyways.
3) Plan, but don’t overschedule. I enjoyed my travels the most when we had a loose schedule of things we could do rather than having the day planned down to the minute. We often created a shared Google Maps list of places that seemed interesting to visit, so when the time came to choose, we had a pre-vetted list of things to do that we could pick from depending on the vibe of the day.
4) Venture outside of the tourist areas! My favorite trips I took weren’t to the biggest cities, but rather the smaller ones such as Hallstatt and Melk. These two were within a few hours of Vienna, but were completely different from the normal city life I’ve grown accustomed to here. Doing deeper research allowed us to enjoy the quieter side of Europe that I think is often missed when doing a big European trip. Wherever you’re based, I’m sure there are at least a few towns nearby worth visiting that are normally skipped over!
5) Know when and where to spend money on food! During the various tours I took in different cities, the guides gave lots of advice that varied from each other, but one bit that remained pretty constant was where to avoid getting food from. In Venice, the guide said the places with workers at the door trying to invite you in as well as those places with pictures on the menu were pure tourist traps. In Prague, the guide gave similar advice and told us to steer clear of the crowded downtown area. In each city we traveled to, the advice remained clear to avoid the most popular areas in the city if we wanted good food. After following that advice, I noticed that there was a clear difference between quality, local food and those restaurants aimed at tourists. Wherever you go, I would recommend doing some research into smaller, less touristy places and finding restaurants outside of the main city center if good food is your goal.
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Hi! I'm Madeleine Sherry and I'm a junior at Whitman College majoring in Mathematics. I'm a captain of the lacrosse team and a member of Delta Gamma on campus. In my free time, I love to read, spend time outside, and hang out with friends!