Andddd we’re back! Hoping you all had a relaxing, warm weekend (especially if you’re living in Chicago like our Esquire team!). Today, as promised, I’ll be diving into tips and tricks for students hoping to get the most out of their weekend excursions abroad, and where to head to. Even if you are not seeking a study abroad experience, planning a weekend trip to any location, near or far, requires effective preparation and planning. So, keep reading to find out exactly what you should do to accomplish your goal…

Selecting a Location…

  • Evaluate the type of trip you’re seeking: When it comes to weekend trips, the reality is that there is a huge time constraint. So, the first step of planning your weekend comes down to deciding what kind of trip you’re seeking: a relaxing vacation, cultural exploration, historical journey, etc… Once you’ve got that idea down, you’ll have a much easier time narrowing in on a location.
    • Example: When I was seeking a vacation I went to Valencia, Spain (an easy train ride away),… a more cultural experience led me to Prague!
  • Compare flight costs against different weekends: A quick Google flight search will help you compare your flight costs depending on a variety of weekends. If there is a large gap in price from this weekend vs. a few more weekends out, it may be beneficial to delay that certain location to a future date.
  • Check Airbnb and/or hotel availability:  Before jumping into the planning stage, it’s crucial to check for availability and places to stay. This may lead you to a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb, but you must check these out before booking flights. As there are large price changes among weekends for flight, there are also high fluctuations in lodging costs.
  • Always try to book flights and lodging as far in advance as possible! Although it sometimes appears like a hassle or is easily procrastinated, you will almost always save money and a headache by doing so.

Planning Ahead…

  • Second evaluation of the trip you’re seeking: Now that you’re in the “fun” stage… it’s time for your second evaluation. Do you want a jam-packed weekend full of sightseeing, a relaxing few days to chill out, or a “go with the flow” walk through a new city? Whichever of these types of trips you choose, it’s time to start scheduling a loose itinerary.
  • Itinerary: An aspect of weekend travel that I became aware of quite immediately was the benefit in mapping the distance between sites you want to see EARLY ON! This is an easy mistake to avoid, as accidentally placing two locations which are far away from each other back-to-back on an itinerary may lead you to lose several hours of the few days you have… So, start looking into certain shops, experiences, tours, sites, restaurants, or other places you’re hoping to see and how they are spaced amongst one another before touching down on your trip.
  • Budget! Finally, it is always important to maintain an awareness of your spending on each trip. Some places are inherently more expensive than others, so saving costs on lodging/travel vs. picking up souvenirs are great ways to stay in line with a similar budget on each trip.

My favorite spots in Europe: Paris, London (priciest and hardest to conquer in a short time period – London is huge!), Amsterdam, and Prague. 

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Click here to find out what it was like to be a student in a foreign country!