Before embarking on your study abroad adventure, it’s essential that you know as much information as possible about the country you will be living in. The best way to do that is by checking the Foreign Travel Advice section on www.gov.uk. Here you will find a specific guide for the country you’re going to, and all about the different cultural customs, appropriate dress codes, places to avoid, political events and any medical jabs you may need. This is all really important so make checking this your first priority!
When your destination is confirmed, you will want to book your flights as early as possible to get the best deals (especially if it’s a long haul flight!). Skyscanner is a great site for finding cheap flights. STA also have very good deals; but you won’t be able to access these directly through their website. So go into a shop and see what bargains you find.
Once you’ve done all this admin and settled in, you’ll soon want to start planning your travels in order to make the most of the once in a lifetime opportunity whilst you’re living in an exciting new country. Planning beforehand is definitely necessary, especially because moving to another country, sometimes even to the other side of the world, probably means you won’t be able to fit lots of guide books in your suitcase. But not to worry, there are plenty of online sources to help you out, like lonely planet ebooks. I think it’s important not to make a guidebook your bible anyway, hostels usually have a good stock of resources. You can also have a look at the country’s official tourism website; it will have lots of useful information and ideas about where you can go. Worldtravelguide also has some good information about each country and travel magazine websites would be a great place to start.
Blogs, blogs, blogs:
Once you’ve found some ideas, I’d recommend reading about people’s personal experiences in the country. Personal and even company blogs can be a great source of travel inspiration and advice; you should always be wary of the writer’s motive, not everything you read online is trustworthy. There will obviously be biased views if someone has been paid to endorse a company or activity. That’s why I found small personal blogs really useful in planning my travels, because there’s no ulterior motives so they will usually be very genuine in writing about their favourite experiences and recommendations. Equally important of course are the things they wouldn’t recommend doing!
Word of mouth:
Although online inspiration is great, don’t underestimate learning from people who are travelling themselves! The best advice I got was definitely from fellow travellers who had already been to the places I was planning on going to. They can recommend hostels, essential places to visit, places worth avoiding, transport options and the best tours. Don’t worry about asking people lots of questions or approaching them. The best thing about being a traveller is you are all in the same boat and there’s nothing you love talking about more than places to go and things to do. No one ever gets bored of sharing their travel stories, that’s a fact! Make sure you also ask local people but bear in mind they will have a different view of the local tourist spots than tourists like yourself would.
Most importantly, make the most of the opportunities you have to travel. And remember some of the best spots are the least touristy so don’t get too caught up in always following the typical tourist trails. Some of the best travel experiences you’ll ever have come from the most spontaneous of moments.