John Cabot University students know that Rome (not to mention the rest of Italy) offers a lifetime of unique experiences to discover and enjoy. But that doesn’t mean they’re not eager to venture beyond its borders to experience other European destinations—especially when they are so tantalizingly close by! After all, packing in as many adventures as possible is what studying abroad is all about.
Spain, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Croatia—these are just a few of the places JCU students can visit during long weekends and holiday breaks.
Planning your own getaway this spring or summer? Take note of these 5 travel tips, assembled especially for our student travelers.
1. Plan in Advance to Get the Best Possible Deal
While last minute bookings sometimes offer deep discounts, it’s almost always best to make travel plans well in advance. This way, you’ll have time to thoroughly investigate and compare low cost transportation and accommodation. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- For the most affordable flights, be sure to check Ryanair and easyJet
- Instead of limiting yourself to hotels, consider peer-to-peer networks like Airbnb for low-cost alternatives
- Check out the University Rooms website: they have very affordable rooms to rent in over 400 university colleges and student residences across Europe (no frills, but perfectly acceptable)
Wherever you decide to book, always confirm your room reservation a day or two before you travel. Even the best hotels make mistakes, and there’s nothing worse than arriving in a new place with nowhere to spend the night!
Bonus tip: Saving money on accommodations is a plus, but don’t sacrifice safety just to save a few euros. Ensure the place you select is in a centrally located, safe neighborhood with access to public transit. It’s important to know you can easily return to your room, even late in the evening.
2. Study Abroad Students Should Make a To-do List Before Each Trip
It might be tempting to make a last-minute trip where you sort out what to see and do upon arrival. But since time is precious and you may only have a few days, it makes more sense to plan ahead, and ensure you actually experience what matters most to you at each destination.
For example, if you’re studying art history, you’ll want to note which galleries, museums, and historical sites you’d really love to see during your trip. Or, if you study international affairs in Italy, government buildings and embassies may be high on your sight-seeing wish list.
Bonus tip: Don’t over-pack your schedule. Trying to squeeze in too much will lead to frustration and exhaustion! Strike a balance between structured time and spontaneous fun.
3. Pack Snacks & Avoid Touristy Restaurants
It’s perfectly fine to splurge on a meal now and then while traveling—just so long as you do it intentionally! To make your euros stretch a bit farther, avoid overpriced eateries that target travelers.
Multi-lingual menus and signs that declare “We Speak English” are clear indicators that you’re looking at a potential tourist trap. Ask a local for the best place to grab a bite to eat, and ask your waiter what is fresh on the menu. If you’re attending university in Italy, you already know that Europeans love to eat what is currently in season—so follow suit when you travel for meals that are both tasty and affordable.
Taking a train ride or heading out for a long day of sight-seeing? Stop at a local market and pick up a few tasty snacks. You’ll avoid pricey alternatives and have something to munch on while waiting in lines at museums and popular landmarks.
4. Carry Cash for Shopping (and Guard it Carefully!)
It’s important to note that small European shops, cafes, and restaurants don’t always accept credit cards. To avoid disappointment, always carry some cash while you travel. Just be sure to keep it tucked carefully away (in a money belt, for example) so you don’t fall prey to pickpockets.
5. Check Your University in Italy for Stress-free Organized Trips
Not quite ready to plan your own adventure? No problem. John Cabot University’s Cultural Program will do the organizing for you. Every month, the Cultural Program hosts trips and activities throughout Italy. Experience Tuscan wine country, caving and hiking in Sapri, kayaking in Fregene, and much more. Transportation, meals, and accommodation are all included in one low price.
Bonus tip: Sign up for JCU trips well in advance, as space is limited and spots go quickly!
With practical tips like these and an adventurous spirit, you’re more than ready to travel through Europe this year!
Which destinations are you most excited to visit while you study abroad in Rome?