1) Bring Earplugs
Student travel equals budget travel, which means you will have lots of people sharing rooms (hotels, dorms, and hostels) and enduring long bus rides. Tuck a couple pairs of disposable earplugs into your bag so that no matter what sleeping situation you find yourself in, you will be ready.
2) Pack Less, Budget More
Most students over pack and under budget. You won’t need as much clothing as you think you do and you will definitely need more money. I have never heard a student say, “I budgeted too much, I have so much money.” It is almost always the reverse.
3) Photocopy Important Documents
You can also snap a pic on your phone. Having copies tucked safely in your apartment and back home will make your life so much easier if any of your important documents (passport, ID, credit card, etc.) are stolen or misplaced.
4) Buy a SIM Card Abroad
This is the cheapest and easiest way (in Europe for sure), you can read more about using your cell phone abroad here.
5) Learn the Language
Or at least attempt to — “hello,” “thank you,” and “please” go along way in any language and country.
6) Get in Shape
Traveling requires a lot of walking and luggage hauling. You will enjoy the experience more and your feet will hurt a lot less if you aren’t completely out of shape. You don’t need to train for a marathon, but putting in the effort to hit the gym or walk more before departure will go a long way.
7) Travel on Weekends
Make the most of your time abroad by traveling on the weekends. If you’re in Europe you can basically see a new country every weekend. If you’re in Florence, I highly recommend traveling with my friends at Florence For Fun.
8) Bring a Universal Power Adaptor
I like the universal ones, instead of country-specific, because if you do travel on weekends you are prepared.
9) Buy Your Straightener and/or Blow Dryer When You Arrive
Even when you use a voltage converter and adaptor, these items never seem to work properly (unless they are dual voltage). Fortunately, these items are not very expensive and easy to find abroad and it will save space and weight in your suitcase (you can read more of my tips for space and weight saving here).
12) Be Open to Bus Travel
As someone who gets car sick, I was not excited about the idea of a 10-hour bus ride to Budapest. But I bought some motion sickness pills and settled in with a pillow and a blanket and it wasn’t terrible. It is one of the cheapest ways to travel and once I arrived in Budapest, it quickly became worth it.
13) Pack For All Weather Scenarios
This is important especially if you’re planning on traveling. It may be mild in Florence in the fall, but you might want to ski one weekend in Switzerland or lay on the beach in Santorini.
14) Buy Travel Insurance
Again, especially true if you want to travel. And even more important if you are flying discount airlines. You can find good plans online and customize them to your travel needs.
15) Invest in a Good Camera and Large Memory Card
You will take a ton of pictures and they really are the best souvenirs.
16) Bring Something Sentimental
Bring something that reminds you of home for those days where you are tired, grumpy, and missing home.
17) Be Adventurous
Be adventurous in all things — what you eat, where you travel, and what you do! Some of my most amazing experiences were when I put my fear aside and just went for it.
18) Stay Hydrated
This might seem like a non brainer, but when you’re busy traveling and tap water is not free like it is back home, you often forget. Make an effort to drink lots of water, even if it’s more expensive than you think it should be.
19) Set Goals/Make a Bucket List
Setting goals and making a bucket list will keep you motivated when your tired. Traveling every weekend and living in a foreign country can be exhausting, but it is so worth it.
20) Explore Alone
While traveling with friends and other students is fun, exploring on your own and learning how to navigate and interact by yourself in a foreign place is very important.
21) Pack Lots of Ziplock Bags
There are just so useful when you travel, trust me!
22) Plan, Plan, Plan!
Traveling is so much easing and cheaper when it is well planned. Take the time to research where you are going and what you want to do and book ahead whenever possible.
23) Sleep When You’re Dead (Not Traveling)
Don’t go into a semester abroad expecting to have lots of time to relax or that you will come home well rested. It is a once in a lifetime experience, which means it is completely worth all of the early mornings, late nights, and long travel days.
24) Learn How to Read a Map
Your cell phone may not always work, so it is nice to be able to fall back on an old-school map. It will also give you a better sense of the city, which will help you navigate.
25) Buy Toiletries When You Arrive
This saves space and weight when it comes to packing. You can read all of my space and weight saving tips here.
26) Dress the Part
27) Keep a Journal or Blog
It is a great way to keep track of all of your adventures and it lets your friends and family follow along.
28) Conquer Public Transportation
29) Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card
Most travel cards minimize exchange fees and international purchase fees, plus you can earn miles or points for your next adventure.
30) Get an Extra Battery for Your Phone
Between Google translating, mapping your location, and taking a million photos, you phone battery will betray you. I absolutely love my Mophie case. It has been a life saver on numerous occasions.