Study Abroad Tips: Booking Trips

Hi everyone! With my internship finally over, I can jump back into my blog.

I’ve received some requests from people that are about to study abroad for advice and recommendations. There’s way too much info to fit into one post, so this one will be focused on everyone’s biggest concern:

Booking Trips- The Logistics 

Flights + Accommodations 

Booking trips can be complicated and confusing when you first get to your study abroad city. This is probably one of the first things you’ll want to do, and a great talking point when meeting new people.

My biggest pieces of overall advice when booking trips are:

  • Don’t book them all with the same people
  • Save some weekends for your host city
  • Size matters- traveling in a big group might seem fun, but it often leads to more issues than there would be if you were traveling with one or two others
  • Be spontaneous- be open to going places that aren’t on your “list”
  • And definitely don’t think you’ll get through your “list” of places you want to see
  • Don’t book them all the very first week

Here are some of the ways I booked trips during my study abroad experience:

When I did’t feel like putting in the effort to go to a cool place and do cool things, I just let Bus2Alps handle it!

Bus2Alps:

  • I used Bus2Alps for 4 of my trips: Interlaken, Morocco, Ireland, and Amalfi Coast (didn’t actually get to go on that one bc of surgery lol)
  • They offer trips departing from a few places (Rome, Florence, etc) and also have “meet us there” options for people who don’t live in one of the cities they depart from
    • Some trips like Morocco and Ireland were only “meet us there” options because you obviously have to fly to those places
  • They always have sales- the best one is definitely Black Friday– you can get trips up to 50% off. I got some of my trips for 50% off because I booked them that day with my roommate Sam.
    • If you’re going in the spring and you know someone going to the same city as you, book it on Black Friday and your friends you meet there can book it (but you get it for half the price)!
  • Friend my pal John Shields on Facebook if you’re interested in any Bus2Alps trips and always use a discount code (SHIELDS) when you check out for an extra 5% off (every cent adds up after a while ppl)

For the most part, I booked trips myself using the resources/websites I lay out for you down below! Booking a trip isn’t hard, as long as you have the best resources to do it:

Transportation

  • Air Fare/ Finding Flights:Great site that compares flight prices for all of the european airlines: skyscannerTake the budget airlines– no flight within Europe is gonna be more than 3/3.5 hours anyways, it’s worth being a little crunched on a plane to save $100 euro+
      • RyanAir (my personal fav), Vueling, Easy Jet
    • Pick early or late flights, but be mindful that your hotels/hostels/airbnbs may have late check in fees or not allow it
    • When you have weekends open and want to go somewhere cheap, click “any destination” and it will show you the cheapest places to go during that weekend.
      • I did this and went to Belgium round trip for 60 euro and it ended up being one of my favorite trips!
  • Trains/Busses:My personal favorite website is goeuro.comBook a week in advance for trains and you’ll save a ton of money
    • Busses are cheaper, but they take way longer
    • Be careful what stations you’re selecting & make sure it’s the right stop!

When you land:

My biggest piece of advice for this is to always look up the public transportation from the airport to your hostel/airbnb/hotel.

A lot of the big cities like London, Rome, Paris, etc have subway/bus systems that take you to and from the airport. They are WAY cheaper than getting a taxi.

Remember, in some countries Uber is illegal- so be mindful if you chose to order one.

ALWAYS go to the taxi stand. Seriously, do not say yes to someone that comes up to you telling you they can give you a ride. The taxis over in Europe are regulated and have standard fees. However, if you go with one of these guys, they will totally trick you into paying more than you should- I’ve been there.

Accommodations:

During my time abroad, I mostly stayed in AirBnB’s and Hostels. I’ve had mixed luck with both.

Hostels:

Whenever you say “hostel” people immediately get creeped out. Personally, I never stayed in a gross, unsanitary, or unsafe hostel. There are definitely some interesting people, but I never felt unsafe.

  • In the hostels they give you clean linens and usually a locker to put your belongings. Be sure to check if these places give you locks and towels or if you need to purchase them!
  • In bigger cities like Paris, London, etc it’s easier to find hostels. I used hostelworld.com whenever I booked one. Definitely read the reviews and see how far it is from all of the city’s attractions. Some even offer free breakfast!

AirBnBs:

It’s been hit or miss for me and most people with AirBnBs. You can never truly tell what it will look like or be like through pictures. Also be sure to read all reviews extremely carefully and look up the area that it’s in.

  • Avoid getting a “Private Room”. In Barcelona, we had to literally sneak out of this sketchy airbnb at 1 am because we felt so unsafe. AirBnB is great about refunding and giving you money back if the place is not as you expected- just be sure to have pictures.
  • Don’t just pick the cheapest one
  • Be sure to check their check in/check out policies
  • Home Away is also a good site that we used in Nice, France!

 

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