Before studying abroad, I have never been big on planning things out. I always found that I was much more relaxed when I didn’t think too much about anything and handled things as they came my way. Even my decision to study abroad was done under the same premise; I doubted myself for a long time and convinced myself of all of the reasons as to why I shouldn’t until one day I just woke up and decided that I would regret any decision not to study abroad for the rest of my life. That day, one single shift in my mindset without too much thought, I decided on a program and finalized my application.
Months leading up to my journey, I had no idea what to expect except anticipating seeing places I thought were only possible in my dreams. I finished packing my suitcase the night before my departure and went on my merry way, naive to just what was in store- the best experience of my life.
When I arrived to Dublin, tired, jet lagged and delusional, I took in the freshly moist air and took a look around realizing I was in a new country I was about to call my home. The next few days I explored the city with the people that would soon become my best friends before heading west to Galway.
It became apparent almost immediately that I was going to have to become some sort of planner if I wanted to make the most out of my experience. Planning travel all while planning finances, planning social life, planning a class schedule rewarded me with more than I could have ever asked for; however, all of this planning suddenly was a daunting thought in my head. Once I was able to figure out the best way to plan my travel, though, I was able to make the most of my short time on each adventure and truly indulge in everything the culture had to offer while embracing my inner tourist.
Traveling was one of the most important factors when I decided to come abroad but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to see or where I wanted to go. I had specific places in mind with a slivering reminder that I wanted to experience a country’s culture before being a tourist. Within the first few weeks, I had a general idea of places I wanted to go.
As my time is coming to an end, I have been to ten different countries and explored roughly 20 different cities. Some of the best trips I have had, though, are the places that I didn’t even know I wanted to visit. Whether it was a last minute decision or a suggestion by one of my travel buddies, the places I visited with no expectation happened to be my favorite. Don’t turn down a trip because it isn’t somewhere you originally planned to go- you never know what will come out of it.
In the last month, I took a two week trip through Europe visiting five different countries. Studying in Ireland, getting to the mainland of Europe can become pricey and sometimes difficult for a short trip so I had to figure out the best way to make the most out of my time and money. Traveling through Europe by bus is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to travel. While planning my trip, I studied a map and figured out the best route to reach my destinations. I then was able to research buses from city to city being shocked at how easily accessible it was to travel from country to country.
Another important factor when it comes to traveling is knowing where to stay. There are a lot of aspects that play into the best option. When you’re staying with a larger group of people, it might be best to look into an AirBnB or renting someone’s apartment. Splitting the price between a group may actually end up being cheaper than a Hostel. Since you’re staying in someone’s home, you also have the ability to cook and your trip becomes much more comfortable filled with a sense of relaxation after a long day of walking and snapping pictures. However, if there’s a smaller group, Hostels are probably your best bet. Hostelworld makes finding your perfect hostel with ease, but know what you’re options are. There are mixed dorms and single sex dorms; while mixed dorms may be a few dollars cheaper, you will be sharing the dorm with the opposite sex of all ages. If that’s not something you are comfortable with, pay the extra price and ensure your comfort and safety.
When planning travel, it’s crucial to do your research before you go. Buses tend to drop off in a central location to the city, so it’s usually convenient unless you are staying at a place outside the city. When planning your stay, make sure you know how far from the city center you actually are. Look at a map, don’t let a renter fool you. There is a price to pay when you are wasting a significant amount of time walking from your place to the city center that takes away from truly capturing the experience. On the other hand, it can give you insight into different neighborhoods with a different view than you would get otherwise. Know the neighborhood, what’s around and safety measures. Before arriving, always double check to see how far your hostel or Airbnb is from where you are entering the city. Check public transportation to save yourself an hour walk with your luggage just to find where you are going. Download maps so you aren’t lost in the middle of a city speaking a language that you can’t even begin to decipher. Having all of these things simultaneously planned out will ensure an ease-free and invigorating experience.