By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
After my trip this past weekend to Rome, I’ve realized that every time I travel something has to go wrong. I suppose that is just a part of travelling to a foreign country, but so far every trip I’ve taken has fallen in that pattern. Whether it be a delayed flight, a cancelled flight, or difficulties just getting to the airport, there’s always been some part of my journey that has been stressful.
So far I’ve taken all of these experiences as a lesson learned. Every time something goes wrong I will know how to prepare for it in the future. With my experience traveling around Europe I’ve learned some tips to make the journey easier, and I want to share these with you.
First of all, don’t have the expectations that everything is going to go perfectly as planned. It’s hard to make sure everything happens on time, as public transportation can’t always be trusted, and there’s always a chance for a delayed flight. If you don’t have high expectations than it can make it easier to deal with problems as they arise.
Make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare, for that chance that something could go wrong. For most flights it’s a safe bet to arrive two hours in advance. This means make sure whatever transportation you are taking to get to the airport there will get you there on time.
Make yourself familiar with where the bus or train stops are, and where they will depart from or arrive at the airport. Take it from me who has spent an hour trying to find a bus stop for a bus that was supposed to take me to the airport. That happened to me in Rome where I missed two buses to the airport because I couldn’t find the stop. No one at the station knew where it was or simply didn’t speak English and couldn’t help me.
Although it may be old fashioned I’ve always found it easier to have a paper copy of everything I need, instead of relying on a ticket on my phone. Phones can be faulty, sometimes they won’t scan properly so it’s a good idea to print it out beforehand. This includes bus or train tickets, as not every bus driver will accept an electronic ticket. I’ve come close to being kicked off of a bus before for not having my ticket printed out.
If you’re travelling internationally it helps to bring a copy of your passport, birth certificate, and social security number with you. I haven’t had to resort to using any of these luckily, but you never know if something could go wrong and you lose your passport. Passport checks at the airport doesn’t always go smoothly. Some passport control officers have needed extra proof from me to show that I’m a student in the UK, and have asked to see my acceptance letter, which I now know to always bring with me.
As far as things you should bring with you on the plane, there’s a few items that are an essential for me: a sweatshirt, gum, a book, headphones, a portable phone charger, an extra piece of clothing you can ball up into a pillow (because who wants to buy an actual travel pillow?), hand sanitizer, sunglasses, tissues, hair elastics, and lots of snacks. Sometimes you won’t have a chance during your journey to stop for food, so it’s a good idea to have something to fall back on. I’d also suggest bringing an empty water bottle, to fill up once you get through security.
When I travel I like to plan and find out as much as I can about where I’m going ahead of time. I’ll make a list on my phone of any important addresses, the times of my flights, and figure out how and when I need to get to the airport.
I also like to make a general plan of different places and sights to see, just to make sure I get to see everything I want to. It’s also helpful to find out what everything costs that you plan on doing, as well as the times that places are open. The more time you spend ahead of your trip doing this research, the less you have to do once you’re there.
This way of traveling however isn’t for everyone, it’s just something I suggest to make things less stressful and more enjoyable. I know many people who like to travel without any plans, and just figure out what to do once they get there, and that way can work out just as well, I’m just an organized person who enjoys planning my trips.
A lot of my research that I do beforehand is taken from the Let’s Go guidebooks. The only book that I brought with me from the states was the Let’s Go Europe 2017: The Student Travel Guide. It’s a great option for students who are looking for the most affordable options. The book covers every major city in Europe, outlining the major attractions, affordable hostels and hotels, and cheap places to eat.
One more thing that is super important to be aware of before your trip is how the public transportation works in whichever city you’re traveling to. Every city is different and takes some time to figure out how to get around using buses, trams, or the underground. Most major cities usually offer a one day pass, for one or multiple days, which is often the most affordable option, especially if you plan on using public transportation often. Most day passes include unlimited travel on any of the modes of transportation within the city.
These are just some of the tips that I’ve picked up on in my experiences so far. I’m sure I’ll experience more trouble in the future trips I have planned, but at least now I know to expect it. Although I speak of how stressful some of my trips I’ve been on, the experience I’ve had in new places completely outweighs the negative side to traveling. Not many people can say I was sitting in front of the Trevi Fountain just a few days ago.