Whether you are studying abroad for a summer or a semester, weekend trips are a great way to explore surrounding towns, cities, and countries. It’s important to make the most of the short amount of time you have during the weekends. While I was abroad, weekend trips were my primary way of exploring new countries. Here are some tips and tricks I learned during my time abroad:
Get with your friends or yourself and figure out what you want to see and do. Make note of the things that you definitely want to see. Leave some extra time to explore new places that you may stumble upon. Use websites such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet to start planning. It’s also smart to research your destination to make sure you are aware of any unsafe areas to avoid.
2. Get Organized
Book your transportation and lodging before you arrive. Print off your tickets or boarding passes, even if you have them on your phone! Some companies will only accept printed passes. Print off or download directions from the airport/train station/bus station to your hostel or hotel. Internet can be hard to find, especially if you arrive late at night. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the bus station without knowing where to head next!
3. Pack Light
You don’t need much for one weekend. Backpacks will be easier to carry around than rolling suitcases, especially in older cities with cobblestone! The less you pack, the easier it will be for you. Leave room for any souvenirs you might pick up. It’s always more difficult to repack, even if you don’t pick up new items! A good tip: roll your clothes and put smaller items inside your shoes to save space.
4. Collect something from each destination
You’ll have memories, but it’s nice to have something physical to remember the trip (even if it’s something small). When I was abroad, I would buy a postcard from each destination I visited. It was an affordable and fun way to collect memories while I was abroad. You could also collect buttons, stickers, or take a similar picture on each trip. Once you return, you can create a collage or photo book to commemorate your time abroad.
5. Be flexible
Things won’t always work out the way the are planned. Be prepared to make changes and react to uncertain events (cancelled flights, delayed trains, etc). This is one of the best things I learned from my study abroad. It’s important to stay flexible and open to change.
Overall, enjoy your time abroad! There won’t be another time in your life when you can travel as extensively as you can during a study abroad experience. Be sure to use the hashtag #jayhawksabroad during your travels to share your experiences with other KU students.