Like most other students studying abroad in Europe, I came with the intention of seeing all there was to see. My expectation was that I would leave having visited every corner of the continent with money and time to spare. Not long after my arrival in Florence however, I realized my wallet wasn’t going to be on the same page. I also quickly discovered that while Florence is smaller than some European cities, my new home also deserved to be explored on some weekends.
I write this post having found a moment of relaxation during my second to last weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain. Reflecting on my travels, I truly feel I’ve experienced many of the places I originally intended to, but left enough to justify a post-graduation trip back to Europe to check-off what’s left. That being said, here are five tips and tricks help you live out your own world-traveler dreams during your time abroad without breaking the bank!
1. Get a Head Start on Planning
As stressful as it may be at the time, planning trips at the beginning of the semester will be your friend. Buying tickets in advance is always cheaper, and this will give you a chance to do your research and avoid that last-minute panic attack when you realize you leave for a trip tomorrow and forgot to find a place to stay!
2. Make a Budget in Advance
Before you leave for a trip, make sure you know how much money you can spend in total. This helps to make sure you’re spending your money on things and activities that are most important to you, rather than on souvenirs from every place you visit. More often than not, spending money on experiences rather than materials will leave you with amazing memories and will make packing to come home much easier when you don’t have to cram 15 snow globes into a carry-on suitcase.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Hostels
I will admit, staying in a hostel with a ton of strangers didn’t sound the most appealing option at first thought. However, after multiple hostel experiences this semester, I can honestly say some of my most memorable experiences were made thanks to them! Not only are they super cheap but they provide a great opportunity to jump out of your comfort zone and interact with people from across the world!
4. Use Your Connections Abroad
If you’re lucky enough to have friends that are also studying abroad, they can be your best resource! Planning trips to visit friends where they’re studying is basically like having a free tour guide; they will know the best local spots and can tell you all there is to know about the city. Not to mention, sometimes visiting friends is the perfect taste of home after months away!
5. Don’t Underestimate a Weekend in Your Second Home
Even though spending every weekend away may seem like the best move, it’s impossible to settle into your new city if you’re never there. Florence itself has so much to offer and discover and after constant trips and the stress of school, weekends spent relaxing in Florence is a necessity.