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Study Abroad - General Tips & Tricks

Study Abroad - General Tips & Tricks

BEFORE YOU GO

  • Travel insurance - one of those things you don't realize you need until you do 
  • Budget how much money you will need during your trip and create plan for bringing local currency
    • I used a combination of cash, credit cards, wire transfer and withdrawals using debit card
    • Note: In Europe, many stores/restaurants may not take credit cards so be prepared to find another way to pay
  • Get a 'no foreign transaction fee' credit card
    • If you're in Canada, I recommend the Amazon Rewards Visa from Chase (not sponsored, not a referral link) specifically for purchases outside of Canada. No foreign transaction fee of 2.5% charged by most banks
  • Call your credit card company & bank and let them know you’re travelling for the next few months so they don't block your cards overseas 
  • Email copies of personal and travel documents to yourself and friends and family members so you have an electronic copy
  • Put your Canadian cell phone plan on hold until you're back
    • May extend contract for the # of months you put it on hold, but you won't have to pay the full amount each month
  • Screenshot/print out maps beforehand in case you don't have access to wifi when you arrive at your destination

PLANNING

  • Clear your cookies or browse on incognito mode when searching for flights or hotels
    • Incognito mode allows you to browse privately and see unmodified prices
    • Many airlines and travel websites use cookies to track your searches. If you keep looking at the same flights, pricing will increase. 
  • Buy a flight on Tuesday at 3 pm, studies indicate this is the cheapest day/time to do it 
  • Location > price when choosing accommodations
    • Staying somewhere further may seem like a good idea because of the cost savings, however, you will always pay a lot more in transportation and waste your time
  • Book hostels way in advance to get the best rated ones for the cheapest price (hostelworld, hostelbookers), especially during busy times (i.e. St Patrick's Day in Dublin, Carnevale in Venice) 
    • Some hostels have free travel between hostel and airport

PACKING

  • Always check airline's baggage policies - some airlines may have smaller carry-on sizes that you think 
  • Bring a lock to hostels, & lock your backpack as well
  • Invest in a travel towel - it’s lighter & dries much faster
  • Rolling your clothes will save more space than folding them
    • Addition tip: roll clothes into a packing cube to save even more space
    • Place dryer sheet at bottom of suitcase/back pack to keep clothes smelling fresh 
  • Always keep your cash on you in case anything happens to you, but separate where you store it
  • Throw extra plastic bags and Ziplock bags in your suitcase - you never know what you will need it for 
  • Bring a Kindle - no matter how much you love hard copy books, you will not want to lug them around as you travel
  • Bring a deck of cards - in case of flight delays
  • Pack extra baby wipes and hand sanitizer - you will use it more than you think
  • Always pack a snack for the road in case of flight delays 

ON YOUR TRIP

  • You don’t need to budget that much time for the airports in Europe
    • To save more time, always bring a carry-on bag instead of checking-in a bag
  • To use Google Maps offline, type in the city in the destination search bar, then clear search and type in 'OK Maps". You will have the option to Download the visible area and access later when you don't have access to wifi
  • Free city walking tours are great to orient yourself around the city and learn the history
    • Usually start at around 10-11 am, and you pay however much you want (e.g. we were cheap and paid around 3 euros per person) - your hostels will know where all the walking tours start
    • Tip: Ask your guide for local restaurant recommendations
    • If you know exactly what you want to do in a city, you don't need to bother with this

LIST BY: CAROLYN CHEN

Carolyn Chen has done two backpacking trips around Europe and spent six months studying abroad in Italy. She loves finding the most beautiful scenery, hidden gems and indulging in great food. Find more posts by Carolyn here.

Follow her adventures on Instagram: @carolynjxchen

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