When I went to Paris as a junior in college, it was my first time going abroad by myself, so I listened to advice of others who had done it before, but learned a few things as well. Whether you’re preparing to study abroad, taking a road trip across the country with your friends, or want to backpack across Europe, here are some travel tips to live by.
Plan out your expenses and try to budget. Do you hear your mother’s voice in your head, saying “Don’t spend all your money in one place”? Listen to that. While you should buy souvenirs and enjoy yourself, try to spread your money out over the course of your trip, so you don’t find yourself broke the second day.
Shopping and eating out are two of my absolute favorite things to do, so Paris was heaven to me. I didn’t budget well, however, and I had to beg my parents to help me out. Now I know to think more carefully about what I’m buying, especially toward the beginning of a trip. When it came to food, I found that cheaper food stalls and local joints often have better food than restaurants in high tourist areas, anyway.
Learn a few words of the language. If you’re going to a country where they speak another language, memorize a few basic phrases, such as hello, goodbye, please, and thank you. I still wasn’t completely comfortable speaking French, even though I had studied it for several years, but I always tried to speak it when I was there, and it made the entire experience so much more fun.
I even tried my hand at Italian on a weekend excursion to Florence. It was far from perfect, but no one cared because at least I was trying. People are appreciative, friendly, and helpful when you demonstrate that you respect their culture.
Be spontaneous, and take advantage of everything around you. So what if you can’t afford to jet off to Europe for summer vacation. Local trips can be amazing, too, and they don’t require much money or planning at all.
My college was in rural Ohio. One weekend, on a whim, my roommate and I decided to take a quick road trip to another nearby town. The drive took less than an hour, and the fall farmland scenery was absolutely beautiful. We went apple picking, explored little shops in the town, and treated ourselves to a break from the dining hall with burgers at a local restaurant. That remains one of my favorite travel memories from college, and I learned that there are plenty of cool places to explore that are right next door.
You’ll probably come up with your own travel tips after you experience things for yourself, but start with these basics, and you’ll be fine. Remember to take lots of pictures, keep an open mind, and enjoy yourself!
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