Weekend Getaways While Abroad


One of the best parts of living in Europe for a semester is the easy access to explore other cities on the weekends. Traveling within Europe is not only extremely affordable, but a great way to take advantage of the close proximity of so many incredible countries. Here is my top advice on planning some weekends away that will become some of your favorite memories and the mistakes not to make along the way. 

Plan Sooner Than Later

I suggest before going abroad having an idea of what cities you’d like to prioritize seeing. Having an idea of what your “must do’s” are can help you plan your semester accordingly. Having a list of 10 cities in mind, and knowing which ones you absolutely have to see will give you more time for planning within cities rather than researching where you want to go in the first place. Also, the further out you get tickets, typically the cheaper they are. 

Plan with your class schedule 

If you have control over scheduling your classes I suggest trying to give yourself a four day week ie) schedule no classes on Monday or Friday. A four day week will allow you way more flexibility with your weekend travels and more time to explore without having to worry about missing class. Tickets can also be cheaper on Thursday nights or Mondays rather than traveling during the weekend. 

Decide on your budget and pick cities based on it 

Have a set idea of what your budget is for additional travel during your time abroad. This can range for everyone but the average cost for a semester abroad is usually at least $10,000 USD depending on the city and how you plan it, obviously this can vary for each individual.  If you aren’t sure what cities you should consider depending on your budget below are some of my recommendations. Check out our Alpha travel blog for more individual recommendations. 

Cheaper Cities To Visit: Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, and Istanbul 

Pricier Cities To Visit: Paris, London, Amsterdam, Coppenhagen, and Dublin 

(Airbnb Boat Tour in Porto, Portugal) 

Don’t Forget To Budget For Experiences 

Traveling to a new place and somewhere to stay there aren’t the only things you need to keep in mind. I would allocate extra to allow you to book experiences. Rather, it’s a wine tasting, boat tour, or cooking class that doesn’t deprive yourself of different cultural experiences. If you’re looking for experiences on a budget I love finding options on airbnb, this is also a great way to get locals advice about the best things to do. If you are staying in a hostel, many of them also offer a variety of experiences and sometimes even free walking tours. Hostel World is my favorite app to use and you can communicate in group chats with other people also staying there to make plans or make new friends. 

How To Save On Travel 

I suggest trying to plan out trips as far in advance as possible to get the best deals on flights / trains and avoid them selling out. Use google flight tracker to see the cheapest times to buy (flights in Europe are overall very affordable). Trains and flights are always the first modes of transport I check, but many parts of Europe also offer buses as well which are extremely affordable. Don’t forget to check for student discounts before you purchase as many companies offer them and you can save more. You’ll also save if you pack light and forgo any heavy luggage. You’ll quickly learn traveling with a bulky suitcase in Europe is not only expensive but extremely tiresome with the amount of walking you do with it. 

(The Tube in London, Take advantage of public transport whenever you can) 

Have Somewhere to Stay When You Arrive

There is no worse feeling than landing in a new city late at night and having to figure out where to stay. Plan out in advance where you want to stay and keep in mind what part of the city it’s in and what it will cost you to get around from there. I always think it can be worth it to stay closer to attractions and save on ubers but many parts of the EU have great public transport to get around regardless. If you are traveling with a big group, check Airbnb and Vrbo for homes to stay in. I love the Priceline to get deals on hotel rooms for couples or solo trips. Hostel World is my top overall pick as the reviews are so honest and Hostels can give amazing suggestions on how to spend time in cities and are a great way to make new friends. 

How often should I travel while studying abroad? 

It’s very normal to take off and explore during your time abroad, but don’t burn yourself out doing it. I would recommend spending at least one weekend of the month in your home base city. You will quickly see that short flights and duration of time in new places can be really fun but also exhausting. A lot of people make the mistake of not scheduling downtime for themselves during travels. I have found I am much more homesick when I am exhausted so don’t wear yourself thin trying to see everything possible in one semester. You will enjoy places much more if you have adequate time there and don’t feel rushed and overscheduled. 

How should I prepare for a weekend in a new country? 

Here is my checklist before going to any new city or country: 

  1. Will my cellular data work / Do I need to purchase a new Sim Card? 
  2. Do I have a copy of my passport / any important visa documents? 
  3. Have I checked the weather? ( nothing worse than having the wrong clothes)?
  4. Do I need a visa? (you can move freely throughout the Schengen zone but other countries may have different requirements) 
  5. If I won’t have service do I have the address of where I am staying and directions to get there? 
  6. Do I know how to say hello / thank you in the local language? (Knowing just a few local phrases will get you so far) 

Written By: Tara Katims for the Abroadeez Team

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