Student Traveling in Europe: Tips and Tricks to Maximize Your Time on a Minimal Budget

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My first trip was to London and I had an incredible time traveling outside of the country, but there are a few things I wish I had done differently. Here are a few things I learned from my first weekend traveling across Europe.

Packing Tips.

Pack the night before.
I cannot stress this point enough after my experiences this weekend. The morning when we were supposed to leave, our power went out as the result of a storm, so it would have been extremely difficult trying to pack in those conditions. Also, the morning we were leaving London, we had some technical difficulties with the alarm and woke up an hour later than we had planned. If we had not packed the night before, we would have missed our returning flight!

Pack lightly and versatile.
Try and phone a friend to find the appropriate attire for the city you are traveling to or look it up online. You will be happy you did! My friends and I were out and we were underdressed, which made for some uncomfortable situations. Aside from this, bring items flexible items that can be worn during the day or at night. You’ll be happy you did!

Airport Advice.

Leave plenty of time for traveling to and from the airport.
We arrived to the airport on our trip to London approximately 2 hours early and none of us regretted it, especially because we had not been to the airport before. It is better to have some time to kill in the terminal than to be running to catch a flight!

Know your terminal.
We did not think to look up where our flight terminal was and the cab driver could not understand us when we tried to tell him our airline name. Being prepared with all the flight information written down will save a lot of unneeded stress.

Print out your boarding pass (if required for the airline).
Not all airlines require you to bring your boarding pass, but many do. Also, some of the airlines, such as Ryan Air, require you to go to the baggage drop off and get your ticket stamped before you can go through security. It is simple enough as long as you remember.

Keep your liquids in a separate Ziploc.
We were stopped on our way back to Italy because we kept non-liquid items in our bags with the liquids. We were already in a hurry, and separating organizing the items in advance could have easily prevented this. Have your liquids ready and accessible at the top of your bag to make the process easy.

Once You Get There.

Look up the customs of the country you’re traveling to before you depart.
To tip or not to tip? That is the question. In Italy, you almost never have to tip, but in America, you always have to tip. In London… do you tip? Always know the proper etiquette of where you are traveling in order to avoid spending additional money or appearing ignorant.

Make a game plan.
I could not stress this point more! Research what you want to see once you get to the country and what is realistic with the allotted time you have. Look up the addresses of the places and create an itinerary. We sat down in the morning and circled all the places on a map, which allowed us to see almost everything we wanted to.

Always ask for a student discount or group rates.

Figure out the easiest transportation for traveling once you are in the country.
Walking, the metro, a bus, a train, by bike? Each city has a unique way of getting around, so make sure you know what you want to do before you go.

Anything near the main sites is automatically going to be more expensive and these places are tourist traps.

Know the exchange rate of the country you’re going to and how to get the currency.
This is important especially if you are creating a budget because the exchange rate can either be your best friend or worst nightmare. Watch out for the UK’s pound!

Abby Coughlin is a student at UMass Amherst and an official API Student Blogger. Abby is studying abroad with API in Rome, Italy.

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