So you’ve found yourself a flight and a hotel for the weekend that’s less than 80€ total; that’s amazing, right? What a cheap weekend away! Well, you’re not totally wrong. Flights and accommodations are often much more affordable for students in Europe than in the US, but be careful! The “little” expenses of your destination city can add up really quickly if you don’t plan ahead and make yourself a weekend budget. Here’s a little list of things I’ve forgotten in my travel experiences that I hope can help you plan an affordable weekend trip that fulfills your wildest dreams:
Transportation to and from the airport. Make sure you know which terminals you have to get to at what times and arrange transportation ahead of time. In Madrid, the metro is closed from 1:30-6:00 am, so it is ideal to arrange a car or figure out the night buses in order to avoid an expensive taxi ride or, worse, missing your flight entirely. Look online a few days before your flight to find the most competitive fares and book them in advance to make sure you have a way to catch your flight.
Toiletries for your stay. Don’t forget your toothbrush, and also remember that airports have very strict limitations on liquids. This includes toothpaste and many kinds of deodorant, so make sure you check before you fly. If you wear contact lenses, don’t forget a small container of contact solution. If you intend to travel a lot it may be wise to invest a few bucks into small reusable containers that you can fill with your normal products in order to save money in the long run. Some accommodations provide soap and shampoo, but many don’t. Sidebar: many hostels don’t provide towels, either, so make sure you know whether you’ll need to bring one with you.
More money than you might think to pay the “tourist tax.” No, there is not a collections office at the border of your destination country, but often if you’re going somewhere as a tourist you will be paying for more things than you do in your country of study. If you want to avoid this, do some research on how the locals live. If you go to a stereotypically touristy area you should expect to pay more. For example, when I went to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, a 3 ounce bottle of sunscreen cost, and I kid you not, 16€. I could buy myself groceries for two weeks with that in Madrid!
You will want to be “super-entertained.” When you only have a weekend to experience an entire city, you want to get in as much as you possibly can. It’s not like at home where you have to study and you can watch Netflix and go for a run in your free time. Remember that locals foods and experiences cost money. Prioritize what you want to see, taste, and do, and make yourself a budget. Estimate costs before you go so you’re not caught off-guard before you leave. If you’re not willing to shell out the cash for big museums or shows then doing some research before you go can be totally worth your time; if you Google “free things to do in [insert destination here],” you will almost always find multiple lists and reviews of cool thing to do that won’t hurt your wallet and might even be more enjoyable.
Let me know if I've missed anything big in the comments. Happy weekend travels!
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<p>Mariah is a free-spirited adventurer from the University of Rochester. She spends much of her free time either planning her travels around the world or travelling. Wherever she is Mariah enjoys trying new foods, singing the wrong words to music, and exploring with friends. Her favorite part of the week is when she faces the crowds for fresh food and great deals from open air markets; in her opinion, bargaining is a universal language.</p>