As soon as I decided to study abroad, I prepared my bank account for the major hit it was about to endure. All while mentally preparing myself to embrace being the poster child for the “broke college student” when I return to Pittsburgh. Needless to say, I have been traveling a lot- anyone that is studying abroad in Europe should too! The flight prices are comparable to a pricey meal out with your friends and packed with the most amazing experiences and stories to tell your loved ones when you arrive back home.
My adventures outside of Madrid so far include five other cities in Spain, Vienna, the Amalfi Coast, Lisbon, and Morocco. I also am planning to hit Budapest, Granada, Amsterdam, London, and Paris in my few remaining weeks.
For every trip that I plan, I try to pack as light as possible. I’ve learned it is worth re-wearing a pair of pants if it means you don’t have to lug a wheeled suitcase down any cobblestone streets. Try to fit all of your belongings into a backpack for convenience if possible.
The biggest problem I have faced while planning trips is the prices of a last-minute trip. While it is extremely cheap compared to the United States to travel any day, with a few weeks’ notice, prices will drop by nearly double. This is especially important for any time-sensitive trips such as the Amalfi Coast, Santorini, or any festivals you plan on going to. For these specific trips, you have limited weekends this destination or experience will be available, prices rise significantly the longer you wait on these! The moral of the story is to try to plan as many trips as you can ahead. Not only will this be kind to your wallet, but it will also ease you of a lot of potential stress you may encounter while trying to plan everything last minute.
As far as on the road travel goes, I would recommend setting up some kind of itinerary before you actually arrive. It is easy to want to sleep in after a long day of travel and sleep your entire morning away! Having a set plan has allowed me to leave each city knowing I was able to do and see everything I wanted to.
The only other obstacle I have faced has been the obvious language barrier. A lot of people throughout Europe do speak English but there have been times where I have been surrounded by people who don’t. There is really no getting around this one, but it is good to have an open-minded attitude! Every language and culture are different, I’ve found it helpful to look up a few key phrases to know just in case you are ever in a situation that you may need a locals assistance. Aside from these few minor obstacles, traveling with my friends has been an amazing adventure filled with aching belly laughs, unforgettable memories and LOTS of food- I wouldn’t have it any other way.