Less than one month away from three and a half months abroad.
Last summer, I had a fantastic adventure across 10 countries, exploring them in a variety of ways. I was able to become TEFL Certified and volunteer at two English camps, dug at an archeology dig, volunteered with the Atlantic Whale Foundation, study abroad, met up with a friend’s family from America, and traveled just because! I would not change anything from last summer and am super appreciative to have been able to experience so much and have seen a variety of cultures over the course of three months.
However, this summer will be even better. Over the course of three and a half months, I will work in France, intern in Kyrgyzstan, visit my friends who live in Europe, perform research for a paper (Memory of the Soviet Union in Kyrgyzstan), and travel throughout several countries. The blog posts from the super will be epic, the experience even better. While most of my summer has been booked, I still have not finalized a few countries/plans. Currently I will visit (but the list is not limited to):
- Czech Republic
The list is extensive, the sites I will see marvelous, the food spectacular. I will keep you all up to date on my trips and my experiences. For now, here is some trip planning advice to afford a summer abroad!
- I never spend more than $400 on flights (including transatlantic flights)! To find the best flight deals, I start my search WAY ahead of time. I begin with google flights and type in the airport I plan to leave from . Then, I search every capital airport on the continent. When I find the cheapest flight, then I search from that city to the city I intend to land in (if the cheapest flight is not to my intended destination). Generally, I will spend at least half a day if not longer in the city en route to my destination, so I can see some of that country! With the cheapest google flights, I compare those prices to Kayak, Syscanner, STA, OneTravel, and the airline’s website. If I am traveling within Europe, I will also compare the prices to Easyjet and Ryanair (low-budget interEurope airlines). If I am flying into Europe from America, Wowair (Icelandic airline) also has really great prices (from $100 one way).
*Sometimes it is cheaper to book one-way flights rather than round-trip!
2. Look at a variety of transportation options. Sometimes taking a train from one place to another is not the cheapest alternative. Check fares for trains, buses, and flights. Sometimes flying is even cheaper (and quicker) than a train! Great websites to check fares are goeuro.com and regiojet.com. I have found bus fares from one country to another for as low as $10!
3. Do not spend all you money on a place to stay. When visiting a foreign location, you will not spend much time at all in your accommodation. So rather than spend +$70/night on a place you will only sleep. Conserve your money, look at low-budget accommodations such as hostels (hostelworld and booking.com!), Air BnB, Overnight, and Couchsurfing. Most hostels I stay in range from $10-$20/night and are located in convenient locations.
4. Look at alternative travel options! Voluntourism is a growing phenomenon. Eco Volunteers is a great website to utilize, or simply google searches work! Angloville provides volunteer opportunities for a week at a time to teach English. Archeology digs are generally decent priced for 6 weeks or so including food and accommodations! Google searches will be your best friend.
Tips for traveling:
- Make friends everywhere you go! The friends you make along your trips will be lifelong friends who usually understand your passion for travel!
- Try local food! Do not revert to the “typical American tourist” stereotype and only eat at American restaurants. Try the local cuisine, you might end up loving it!
- If things do not go your way, do not panic! There’s always a solution to your problem and a stressed out brain cannot figure it out.
- Go with the flow. You might be a planner (like me!), but it is virtually impossible to fully plan an amazing trip. Go in with a few ideas of what you would like to see, but do not center your trip around them. Locals typically know the best sites and you might stumble along a neat site while you are walking.
- Do not take a taxi everywhere. Trains, metros, and your feet will quickly become your best friends. While overseas, I typically average 10 miles a day walking. Embrace it!
- Always bring water. Dehydration is a real and scary thing. Try to keep a water bottle full in your purse at all times, it works wonders!
*Every traveler has a weird thing they do in every country they visit. For me, I try Coke (Coca-Cola for those who do not live in the American South) and local chocolate everywhere I go. In every country, both the chocolate and coke taste different, it is fascinating!
Traveling is an amazing experience. Open your mind, embrace the world! After all, the world really is an open door!