It’s no secret that an opportunity to study abroad will inevitably lead to catching the travel bug. Traveling can easily be considered one of the best parts of studying abroad, where you will collect many memorable experiences that you are sure to never forget. Different destinations each weekend, numerous new cultures to experience, historic landmarks to visit…honestly, who can disagree!? But deciding who to spend those mini-vacations with can be difficult, especially if you have different goals or opinions about how you want to spend your weekends away.
When planning your trips, it’s important to make sure you can accomplish the goals you set for your time abroad. Whether your goals are to travel to a specific number of countries, visit as much of your host country as you can, or maybe to experience as much as possible of your host city. Whatever they are, be prepared to stay flexible and open to different suggestions from your travel mates.
If you want to travel with your roommates, or close friends you went abroad with, be sure to vocalize your goals for each trip, as they might be different from the everyone else’s. Make sure to take into consideration what everyone in the group wants to do and try to figure out a way to accomplish at least one thing on everyone’s lists. This will ensure that you are all on the same page before you leave and everyone will return as happy campers.
When trying to find the perfect companion don’t limit your options. Spend a few weekends traveling with your roommates or close friends but also look for travel buddies in other places as well. You might find someone in a class you’re taking that has similar travel goals and ambitions. Invite them along on your next trip or even plan a trip together. You might find out that they want to visit a specific place that you were looking to go to as well. Use this opportunity to go together! Maybe you have just made a travel companion for life…who knows!?
Don’t be afraid to go on an organized trip by yourself! If your program, or another company, offers weekend getaways take advantage of them – even if you’re the only one that wants to go! Chances are very high that you will make many new friends on this trip. Better yet – going on a group trip alone shows off your individuality and courage to be independent!
Common issues with potential travel buddies and how to deal with them:
I want to travel with my roommates but they sleep the day away! Communicate! Make sure that your roommates know these weekends away are important to you and your experience abroad. Before you leave, express that you would like to wake up a little earlier so you can make the most of your days. Schedule a tour in the morning as opposed to the afternoon to get your friends up and at ‘em! Or, maybe you found a great breakfast restaurant that you want to try before you leave. Mention this to your roommates so they know they have to be up early. Either way, make sure your sleepy roomies know it’s important to you to make the most of your days away.
I went abroad with one of my best friends from school. Do I have to go on every vacation with her? Most definitely not! While you might think it’s rude to go on trips without someone you specifically went abroad with, it’s good to go separately and with different people. This works out especially well if you have a few vacations planned to the same destinations but at different times. Once you return, you can share all the must-see’s, the don’t-leave-before-you-do-these, and good-eats in each place!
My friend and I have different budgets for studying abroad. How do we travel together on our own budget? If your budget is a little lower than that of your friend’s don’t be afraid to speak up and say if something is too expensive for you. It’s a great idea to look for a few places to go before you leave that would be more in your budget. Suggest these places to your travel buddies beforehand so they have a good idea of what’s an appropriate price range for you or other people in your group. Make sure to budget your money accordingly and allocate it based on what’s most important to you. After all, you worked hard for your money so spend it where and however you like!