I have not had a full weekend in Madrid since September and I’m tired. By the end of October, I will have visited three countries and three different Spanish cities. I don’t mean to complain; I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to conocer so many places. There exists an idea of travel as something glamorous, but it’s not true. It’s fun, fulfilling and interesting, but never glamorous…especially if you’re on a budget. I never realized how tiring travel is until this weekend when I’m off to Portugal tonight and I kind of, sort of would prefer to stay in Madrid and relax, which is so unlike me! Here are some tips on how to not become the tired traveler that I am right now:
1. Manage your time and set objectives for your time abroad
Figure out your main objectives for your study abroad experience and it will make time management a lot easier. For me, my main objective was to travel and take care of some major requirements. In order to reach those goals, I planned my classes ahead of time and received course equivalence approvals before I left for Spain. Have some wiggle room, but make sure you have a plan for classes. As far as traveling, be open! I had a few places I definitely wanted to visit, but other than that I didn’t have any concrete plans. It’s allowed me to be open to last minute trips with new friends.
2. Fly away
Traveling isn’t cheap, so make sure you have a traveling budget and be realistic. Europe is the land of cheap flights, but you’ll soon realize this can sometimes not be true. Once you have a trip organized (even kind of organized) buy your plane tickets before prices go up. I really like www.skyscanner.com and www.kayak.com for cheap flights.
3. Hotel? Hostel? Airbnb?
Once you’ve figured out your flight, the second most important thing to think about is where you plan to stay. I have never stayed in a hostel, but I steer away from them because I’d rather not share a room with ten other people. Also, if you split the cost with others, an Airbnb can be about the same price as a hostel…and you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your stuff while you sleep. That being said, I have heard hostels are great for meeting people from around the world. Hotels are also not a bad choice, especially since they often include breakfast. However, on my student budget…it probably won’t happen.
4. Friends vs. Travel Buddies
Friends don’t always make great travel buddies. Make sure whomever you travel with has similar travel styles. Are you laid back or do you want to see every single tourist spot? Do you want to eat your way through a city or take photos of hidden alleys? Think about this in order to avoid any bumps on the road.