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Spring Break European Style

Posted by Cerniglia, Courtney M - May 1, 2014 - Courtney C., Featured, Spain, Students, Study Abroad

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Mediterranean coastline of Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain. 

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Classic ‘Travel Abroad’ picture with this beaut in Paris, France.

Two friends and I set out a little over two weeks ago for a 16-day spring break trip. We were to spend between three to four days in Ibiza (island of the Balearics off the Mediterranean coast of Spain), Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, and finish in Paris. We flew from country to country and took trains place to place through Italy (skip the Europass, not worth it!).

Instead of rambling about the experiences we had, I’d like to offer guidance if you find yourself taking a long vacation in the future. In addition, I linked some helpful resources that I used before and during this semester to prepare for the trip whether for packing, advice on places to visit, or general counts of what it’s like to live in a different place. Enjoy!

Travel Light
You hear it all the time, but it is by far the best advice you’ll want to follow. Life is SO MUCH EASIER when you only have one small suitcase or backpack to worry about and check in at airports. Re-wear things, consolidate, and choose wisely. You WILL need good shoes and a jacket, regardless of where you go or what you’re doing (lots of people have been making this mistake).

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Gondola drivers of Venice, Italy.

Be smart with your choices in the sense that choosing clothes that can be matched with anything, layered, and won’t easily get dirty will get you through changing temperatures, unexpected opportunities, and keep you comfortable.

Get Directions in Advance
The trips that were easy and enjoyable were the ones where we had specific directions to and  from our hostels and the sites of transportation. Without it, it’s confusing and frustrating to figure out the directions, especially in a group where everyone reacts to stress differently and has a different opinion. Also, in a different language and cranky info desk workers. Many times I saw signs that read “No change. No information. No tourists.” Have a map and a game plan.

Carry Back-up Cash
You never know when you’ll need emergency $ stash to save you from a bad situation. Credit cards are easy, but when you get stuck because it wasn’t accepted or need to pay a taxi, you’re not going to have a good day figuring that out.

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On the balcony of the Vatican overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy.

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All my art history knowledge came flooding back at the Louvre!

Put the Camera Down
You traveled to experience a new place! Don’t become preoccupied with the need to photograph every action. Being present and experiencing what you’re seeing will be more rewarding than a picture of something you don’t remember what is.

You Will Spend Money
Whether for the best food you’ve ever tasted, the missed train, or the city tax on your hostel room, you will spend more money than you expected. The best way to prepare for this is watching what you spend before you go. Credit cards and back up plans are good ideas too, see Carry Back-Up Cash.

This stuff is a little technical, but does cause a lot of stress and tension when you’re traveling. Paying attention to it before you travel can relieve some of the stress later. But don’t preoccupy, you’re going to have an amazing experience nonetheless, I assure you! You’re going to eat crazy amazing food and see things you never thought you’d see, it’s just all part of the experience.

Bon Voyage!
Courtney

Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.

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