Travels Beyond Florence

By: Aimelie Moen, BA, 2014-2018

Traveling Abroad While Abroad

The first step was getting here—applying to Marist, packing bags, leaving home and now, you’re here and it’s home.  That same itch that drove you to leave the familiar, explore the unknown, and wander—your wanderlust—has come back, and this time with a vengeance. How can you study, maintain your social life and still travel and explore—and within a budget too?! Never fear, because the seemingly impossible can become quite possible.

Fall break has just ended, but winter break is just around the corner- and its never to early to plan for Spring Break (or even Summer; you do have 90 days after your visa and permesso expire to travel within the E.U. and Schengen countries!) Maybe Europe still intrigues you, but you have the whole world to discover!

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With a quick search online, you can easily plan a voyage away- be it a day trip by train, car, bike (or even hike!) outside the city or, if you’d rather a weekend (or week!) away by plane or train.

Getting There: In my experience, I have found the best prices simply by googling them on google.it/flights/ This site quickly compares all fares from many different vantage points—from hundreds of airlines, airports, and even third party providers (like Kayak and Expedia). It’s a very easy way to find the best way to travel within your own desired parameters.

  • Remember, the train station and airport are NOT the destination! Find out how to get to your final destination upon arrival. It may take another bus, or buses, to get to where you need to be.

Staying There: For those weekend away trips, deciding where to stay is a huge task — one place might be cheaper but in a undesirable location, while another place might be more expensive but *RIGHT* where you want to be. Consider your priorities and day-to-day costs you might spend while there.

  • Hostels: can be the cheapest bet with many young travelers to befriend. Shared living spaces might be an issue although hostels often have great staff who are very informative and friendly! Check out com and hostels.com
  • AirBnB: a total game-changer in travel-lodging, this website follows your preferences to find the best home for your stay. Hosts are usually very friendly and more than willing to give you good advice on where to go and what to do; the best advice always being from a local! Check out com for more.
  • Hotels: usually more expensive, but depends on your personal budget and preferences! Check out com, hotels.com, tripadvisor.com and expedia.com for competitive fares.

Activities There: If walking around isn’t the only thing you want to do, research the place you are traveling to in advance. There may be neighborhoods, monuments, bars, and events that can provide you with the best experience!

  • Tours: Free walking tours are a huge hit if you want to learn some things in a fun environment with a knowledgeable guide. Check com and freewalkingtour.com for walking tours around major European cities. Besides these websites, Tripadvisor, Expedia, AirBnB, and other major traveling providers (check LonelyPlanet.com!) offer competitive fares for unique tours.
  • Museums: I am a huge arts fan, and take every traveling opportunity to see the art of the place I am visiting. Many European museums are free, but not all—so do some research to see what things are available to you. Check eu for more.
  • Festivals and More: If music festivals, concerts, or events are your main drive for traveling—check com
  • Check if the place you are traveling to has a website or social media page that can better provide you with unique and relevant offers that will be available to you.

A Note to the Adventurous

Traveling is one of the best ways to make memorable experiences, learn more about yourself and the world around you, and form some amazingly close bonds with strangers and dear friends. That said, it can be incredibly physically and mentally taxing on you — so plan not only for your activities there, but also for some time to catch up upon return!

I tend to ‘bulk’ travel—that is, on a long break, I will jam pack as many places and things to do as possible! Last Fall Break I went to Milan, Vienna, Budapest, and Dubai before rushing back into school — the winter following I went to Lisbon, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Reykjavik, London, Dubai, and New Delhi before returning back to start the Spring semester. It was no wonder I ended up breaking my foot from all these activities on that next Spring Break!

Note to self and note to you: This is very tiring and taxing on your body and your mind, not to mention your wallet!

Remember to travel safe and travel smart! Traveling is wonderful when you are ready and prepared for it, don’t push yourself to the limit and burn out — but do push yourself to go out and meet new friends and make new memories. Whether a soulful hike in the Dolomites, a city-hopping stop between Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin, or a retreat to a friend’s house (or even exploring a new part of this beautiful city Florence!), these are all part of your own unique college experience and lifelong memories. Good luck, and safe travels!

(P.s., try going outside the box! You’ve already hopped across the pond to Italy, why not try somewhere else? Students have gone to Morocco, Egypt, Thailand, and Japan for their student holidays—you don’t have to limit yourself to Europe! Be safe and be smart!)

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