Jet Setter: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Travels

I spent my spring semester studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Now that I am back in the United States, I am missing my adventures in Ireland and all across Europe everyday. For those of you planning on studying abroad traveling around Europe, follow these eight tips on how to make the most of your experience.  With this information, you'll be set to go out and see the world!

1.   What would Magellan do?

This was a saying my friend and I constantly said while we were in Portugal.  We would say this when we couldn’t decide where to go, or which direction to take. Why Magellan? He was an explorer.

I know it sounds cliché to go off the beaten path, but I must say it is the best way to go. Having this attitude, I was able to see so much of different places. In Portugal alone, I went to a traditional chorizo dance hall, and I’ve learned to make traditional Portuguese chorizos on a ceramic grill. My advice? Go out and explore, and don’t always follow what the guide says. 

2.  Always travel in (small) groups

For your safety, it is best to travel with someone you trust. Traveling with a very large group of people, however, can become really frustrating. People will want to go one place and other people will want to go somewhere else; you will be stuck debating where to go. I went to both Portugal and England in small groups, and it was much better. We were flexible, and just wanted to learn and explore.  Two to four people is a nice amount of people to travel with.

3.  Pack Lightly

One thing that I found to be essential in traveling for a weekend or even a week is how easy it is to make so many different outfits out of a few items of clothes.  Some airlines are a really cheap, but they make up for the low prices by charging for pretty much everything! The carry on bag restriction is very strict with the rule of just one bag.  If you carry a backpack and a purse, you’ll need to stuff your purse in your bag. If you are traveling for more than a few days, this can be difficult.

Here is my suggestion on what to pack for a week of traveling: 2 Jeans, 7 pairs of socks and underwear, a dress, tights, flats, sneakers, t-shirt to sleep in, and two tank tops to wear under other shirts, a coat and a sweatshirt. I managed to pack all of this into my small backpack and I also had a small purse jammed inside. If you can plan your outfits and not wait to the very last minute, you will be set to have clothes for the trip that make you comfortable and stylish.

4.  Ask the locals

If you want to find something to do, or learn about a good affordable place to eat ask someone who lives there. In our hostel in Portugal, one of the men who worked in our hostel wrote and circled all the places to go.  In Porto, we went to a restaurant where there were just locals, and unlike the other restaurants we went to, the menu was just in Portuguese. We had to guess what we were ordering, but the food was delicious.  Locals usually love to help show off where they live! Just make sure you don't wander off with one alone (safety first!)

5.  Smile and say hello

If you are worried about not knowing the language, look up some phrases before you leave.  People will appreciate that you learned their language, even if it’s just a few simple words. An important thing to remember is when you travel to France, remember to say hello first. If you have a smile on your face and say hello, you should be fine when it comes to meeting new people!

6. Have an open mind

Expect the unexpected. When traveling, things happen. You may miss your flight or run out of phone credit (both that have happened to me), but you need to smile and be positive. It’s all a part of the experience. Be ready to experience new customs and traditions.  If you want to eat at six and restaurants don’t open until eight, then you have to wait. It only gives you more time to explore where you are visiting.

7. Take pictures

Take a lot of pictures, so you can look back and remember your time spent, but also remember to not leave behind the camera. Make sure you look around and take everything in! Then when you get back you can reminisce and show everyone your pictures!

8.  Have fun!

Don't get so caught up on the stress of traveling that you forget to have fun!

By: Brooke Stuart | Image: Source

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