One of my favorite parts about studying abroad in Europe is how easily I can travel all around the continent. Through some trial and error, I have learned a lot about how to travel cheaply and as efficiently as possible. So, here are some tips from what I’ve learned so far.
Since I’m based in Ireland, my only choice of transportation is flying to get out of the country. Luckily, flying can be really, really cheap here!! RyanAir will absolutely be your best friend for cheap flights. They are the most popular airline in Ireland—and for good reason. To find the cheapest flights, I highly recommend using websites such as Google Flights or Skyscanner as they will give you the cheapest flights and even tell you which days are the cheapest to travel. If you’re outside of Ireland, there are also many other budget airlines such as EasyJet or Iberia that will be just as cheap. However, the trick is that you need to travel light and only bring a backpack to avoid added bag fees. If you're just taking a weekend trip, this should be pretty easy as you likely only need two days worth of clothes. For longer trips, if you’re traveling with others, sharing a suitcase is a great option to make it as cheap as possible. You also definitely do not have to stick to planes to travel cheaply. Depending on where you’re going, trains and buses are often even cheaper. Buses are typically the cheapest option, but also take the longest time. Pretty much, you just need to weigh your options. Rome2rio is a great website that will compare travel prices and times to give you the best options.
When it comes to where to stay, hostels are a great option. Typically, there are plenty of them in cities all around Europe and they can be really cheap. HostelWorld is a good website to find them, but I recommend actually booking through the hostel's website after finding it through HostelWorld. I would definitely recommend looking for Airbnbs or hotels also and comparing prices, as sometimes they can be similar prices to hostels and it may be worth paying a few extra dollars for a private room in an Airbnb. The most important thing is to definitely look at reviews, especially for hostels and Airbnb’s. Also, look at the location!! Some things will be really cheap but can be in more shady areas or super far away from the city center, which is definitely not ideal.
Get up early and go see the touristy things! Obviously, you don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn, but even just getting out around 10 a.m. can be the best thing if you’re going to popular attractions. For things that you can’t book in advance, the lines can get super long throughout the day. If you get there on the earlier side you can typically avoid those lines and have more time to enjoy the city. Also, if you get to popular attractions before all the tourists, you can get some better pictures without thousands of people in the background which is always nice.
Do a bit of research before you head out. This doesn’t have to be anything super in depth or formal, but even just asking friends who have been where you’re going if they have tips can be super helpful for things you may not think about. Some cities you may need things like dinner reservations if you want to eat before 11p.m. or stores may be closed for a couple of hours in the afternoons, which are things that may not be obvious before you go.
It’s okay to be touristy but don’t be too touristy. Personally, I never wanted to stand out as a typical annoying American tourist and I always try to blend in as much as possible. However, as soon as I open my mouth it becomes utterly clear where I’m from. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to stick out a little bit, as I am a tourist. But you also don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. For safety reasons, you are definitely more likely to get your phone or purse stolen if you’re sticking out. Other than that, you just want to make sure that you’re recognizing whatever culture you are taking part in and be respectful to it and not be an obnoxious tourist.
I’m hoping that this tool will be irrelevant in the future, but I have found this website to be incredibly helpful in the time of COVID. This website by Travel Weekly lets you put in information such as what country you’re based in, what passport you have, vaccination status, etc., and it tells you where you can travel or what restrictions are in place for you. As of now, pretty much all of Europe is open for travel, but some places do still require passenger locator forms which is definitely important to be aware of.
Ok, now get out and travel! It can definitely be a bit scary heading off to cities all over the world with different cultures, but it’s one of the absolute best things that you can do. Traveling is such a great learning opportunity and it’s so cool to see some of the monuments you’ve only seen in pictures right in front of you. Once you get out there, you’ll see that it’s really not too scary and you can have some of the best adventures of your life.
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<p>Hi! My name is Maya Reiser and I am studying Psychology, Sociology, and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. I am studying abroad this Spring in Dublin, and I can't wait to share all of my experiences. My favorite thing in the world to do is travel anywhere I can go. The best memory I have while traveling was watching the sunset on a bridge over a river in Tuscany, Italy.</p>