Study Abroad and Backpacking Basics
So, you've decided to book a round trip ticket and have a few cities scoped out. You've decided to study abroad, and want to travel on off days and weekends, or you've decided the euro backpacking lifestyle was right for you. Either way, you've got to figure out either a plane, train, or bus to get between cities and you've got to have a place to stay.
This post is meant to be a very basic introductory to traveling and staying around Europe. I traveled while studying abroad, then did two mini-backpacking-esque trips where I attempted to ball on a budget but only for a couple weeks. Both times, I tried to save money by using budget airlines, trains, and buses while staying in cheap (but not scary) hostels.
Ryanair - very popular cheap airline company. , allows under seat and cabin carry on, checking bag is $$
**if you’re flying on an American passport, you must go to Ryanair desk at airport and get “visa check” (they look at your valid passport and stamp your boarding pass) BEFORE you go through security. Consequently, you must alway print a Ryanair boarding pass cuz they gotta stamp it
EasyJet - cheap airlines, allows under seat and cabin carry on, checking bag is $$
Vueling - basically same ^^
WizzAir - do NOT recommend. Free carry on only allows under seat backpack. I bought “larger bag” for cabin extra which apparently did not allow for having under seat backpack and I had to bay 25 euro to take on my carry on……..super bs, don’t use if you can avoid them. If you can’t, just realize you can only take a backpack for free
I always book ahead on the websites. They’re basically all the same, usually make you pay a down deposit and you pay the rest (typically cash) when you get there. They typically want you to pay cash if you’re making the booking for multiple people so they don’t have to split the bill. I always make the booking for as many people I am traveling with so we all end up in the same room. If you book separately, you can end up in different rooms. Often, if the hostel allows, I would try to pay for it all on my credit card and have everyone venmo/pay me so I didn’t have to take out cash since I had fees on my debit card.
Websites I usually use:
And they are the two most popular sites. They have rating system and I usually pick hostels 9.0/10.0 and above because those are usually not that much more expensive, which I am willing to pay to not be in a dump in a foreign city. READ the reviews, look for cleanliness, safety, and noise level if that matters to you. Some hostels are “party hostels” and some are quieter. Depends what you’re looking for. Personally, I prefer going to quieter/calmer hostels and buy a pub crawl ticket that is nearby so I can sleep in peace.
Always choose to be in centre city no matter what. I was far in Amsterdam because it was cheaper and it sucked. We had to take train home, which was super inconvenient if you're trying to see city at night/go out. Also, public transport to/from city centre can often be as much as just paying extra to be in city centre. ALSO being in city centre rocks because it is more touristy so people are more likely to speak English than further away.
AirBnB is usually much more expensive, and only worth it if you have like 8+ people. Also, I don’t recommend being in that large of a group because everyone has things they wanna do, expectations, etc and its hard to satisfy everyone when you’re there for a couple days.
I recommend 2-4 people total to have an enjoyable experience for all.
Seeing and eating new things is an absolute incredible experience, and I wish you the best in your travels, let me know if you found this post helpful, or have any advice to share!