Few experiences compare to being immersed in a new language and culture without anyone to rely on but yourself. As exciting as solo travel may be, it can be completely overwhelming to plan a trip to multiple destinations in a limited amount of time. VALLEY compiles a few tips to make the most of your trip abroad.
How To Budget
As useful as a budget may be, it is important to keep it flexible in case of an emergency or even a change in travel plans. If a flight gets delayed and you need to shell out more for a taxi because all public transportation is closed, make sure you can do so without worrying too much! No matter how many times you check your itinerary or how organized you are in your planning, things will go wrong – you may have to check a bag or pay more for a seat on an airline – it is all part of the journey. Keeping aside a small budget for these instances will give you peace of mind throughout your trip.
Your mom probably warned you before you went abroad about being taken advantage of. Whether it be for an overpriced bottle of water or a street performer convincing tourists to hand over large bills for a trick, tourist areas are riddled with locals that try to exploit tourists. This does not mean that you have to forgo seeing the Trevi Fountain, just take a few precautions beforehand to save yourself time and money. Trade your cash in before leaving the US to ensure a fair exchange rate, as most places in cities will inflate the exchange rate on the spot. Avoid using your credit card so that you avoid international fees, but more importantly so you do not get overcharged by companies for using it. Buy your food, bottled water and alcohol at grocery stores to keep from paying over $20 for a glass of wine at the Eiffel Tower.
When In Rome…
The saying is true. When you are in a different culture, do as the locals would, take advantage of public transportation, try your best to speak the language and eat the local cuisine. It may be uncomfortable at first – you may end up ordering the wrong menu item, or even taking the wrong tram and ending up in an unfamiliar area – these are the experiences you will hold onto and learn from.
“Wandering and exploring was something I’m less comfortable with on my own at home, but abroad I was really able to adapt to local culture and find some hidden places that I wouldn’t have been able to, or even appreciate as much if I had just looked up information online,” says Lindsey Register, a junior at Fordham University who spent her summer in London.
Spend or Splurge
Determining what you value more before you go abroad will make the most of your time and money. “Being a college student, I was definitely worried about spending … to budget, I went abroad with the game plan to focus more on experiences and food rather than physical souvenirs,” Register tells VALLEY.
“Ultimately I didn’t have to worry about spending a little extra at dinner in Italy, or buying tickets to a show in London, because I knew I would appreciate these experiences more than a shopping trip,” Register states.
By determining exactly what is going to enhance your time abroad – whether that be tickets to a museum or a day trip – you will leave the trip without any regrets.