Since I began studying abroad in London, I have been fortunate enough to see many places and experience many things. Planning a trip is a lot more work than I thought, and it can rack up in costs relatively quickly. My travels abroad from England have included Wales, Hungary, Greece, Italy and Spain so far and I see the Netherlands in my not so distant future!
My first trip out of England was to Cardiff, Wales and it was relatively quick with planning but my friend, who purchased all of the tickets in bulk ended up accidentally purchasing the wrong dates for the departure bus trip and had to repurchase the tickets at a much higher rate. The lesson that can be taken from this is to always triple check yourself before purchasing! Other than the miner mishap of the bus tickets, the other parts of the trip went very smoothly, embracing the culture, visiting markets and touring the beautiful Cardiff castle.
The next trip I went on was to Budapest, Hungary. This trip I planned with 7 of my new friends and our first mistake was trying to scam the air line and all purchasing the lowest price ticket at the same time which caused 7 computers not to process the ticket and only 1 getting the lowest rate. Advice, instead of trying to all go for the lowest ticket, plan much farther in advance so rates of airlines are lower, and all costs are reasonable. Besides this money mishap the rest of the trip was wonderful! Our air b&b was beautiful and the prices in Budapest are much better than other places in Europe!
The next exertion I went on was on my recent Spring break trip to Athens, Santorini, Rome and Barcelona. The planning in general went pretty smoothly where me and 5 other people concluded that we wanted the 3 countries as our destinations, but just like Budapest rates kept going up with tickets and we all weren’t able to get the best prices on the airline if we all wanted to be on the same flight.
We took Aegean, Ryanair, Vueling, and EasyJet. I loved Aegean and would take them again! They had free food and beverages on the flight and very friendly staff. Ryanair was pretty average, we upgraded to priority so that we could keep our cabin bags and personal items on the flight with us, but they tried to sell you things the whole flight. Vueling was my least favorite because they had every single person see if their bag fit the limits and I was one of the unlucky individuals who was off by 1 cm and had to pay € 50 to have them check it at the gate. They additionally charged for everything, had uncomfortable seats and very poor customer service. EasyJet was okay, but they were a little delayed on their departure and ended up accidently destroying one of my friend’s bags when they made him check it due to lack of overhead room. Advice on flights, do your research and reviews on flights!
As for the locations themselves, we didn’t run into many obstacles in Greece besides the weather in Santorini, which was pouring rain almost constantly with few moments of break where we were able to walk around and enjoy the beautiful views of the city. Additionally, Santorini was on their off season, so they didn’t have much open which provided a lack of indoor activities. My advice is to always make sure that there are things to do the season you wish to go to a certain location. A positive about Athens though is that with a student id almost everything was free to get into!
Moving to Rome, the city was beautiful, and the food was delicious, but everything was awfully expensive. You have to save a lot of money if you want to see all of the “must-sees” in Rome, for example with a student discount the Vatican tour will still cost you €37.
For Barcelona, the city was beautiful, but just like Rome they had some high costs and are known for their pick pocketing. The sights in Barcelona were slightly cheaper, in comparison, the Sagrada Familia will cost you €28 with your €2 student discount. My biggest advice in any country is to mind your belongings! In Barcelona we went to a Taco Bell and a thief tried to steal my friend’s phone off the table by covering it with a piece of paper and mumbling at us, luckily, I saw him trying to take it and I snatched her phone and screamed at him to get out.
Words to the wise with traveling abroad: plan ahead, triple check details, save up for trips, look for deals, be aware of your surroundings, immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy your once in a life time experience!