Indiana University Overseas Study

Erik Trautman

I’m often asked to compare the lifestyle in Europe to that in that in the United States and I constantly grant Europe points for it’s transportation services, however, they can throw a first time user for a loop. After a frantic scramble between trains to get my family to the Liguria coast, I’ve got the hang of traveling on trains. After one plane trip to Seville and another to Dublin, I’ve got planes figured out, and after eleven-hours of bobbing around on a bus with friends like a bunch apples in a tub as we careened through the French Alps on the road to Grenoble, I have a grasp on bus travel. Below are six tips that will help you avoid some of the speed bumps I hit along the way.

  1. Plan ahead! Trains are the most comfortable way to travel but if you don’t book them far ahead of time your wallet will be empty by the time you arrive at your destination. Also, validate your tickets on regional trains and check for connections. I made the mistake of neglecting these last two things and paid a hefty fine. Furthermore, often you’re destination won’t appear on the screen because they only list the final destination of the train, check for the train number instead.
  2. If that ship has sailed, BlaBla Car is a good ride-sharing service that is largely available in Europe. Basically, you create a profile and search for your destination. If a driver with the same destination has open seats, you can send them a message requesting the spot. I was tentative at first but most drivers have past reviews and a rating. I’ve used the service to go to from Bologna to Milan for twelve euros as well as the return to Bologna for the same price and from Bologna to Turin for twenty.
  3. If you’re traveling by plane Ryanair is a good low-cost airline. Travel light because your first bag is free but if it doesn’t fit the measures (roughly a stuffed to the brim backpack) you’ll be hit with a baggage fee. Be warned that the flights are cheap because it’s a minimal airline; the seat aren’t comfortable and don’t recline.
  4. If Ryanair doesn’t reach your destination, Skyscanner will find the most affordable airline, it found me a flight for about half the price of Expedia’s best suggestion.
  5. As for places to stay, make friends with Erasmus students. Erasmus is like overseas studies, however, Erasmus is only for European students. The word is often misused to describe any foreign student, but Erasmus students come from all over Europe so they often have connections in popular destinations and they make great travel buddies.
  6. If you can’t find a buddy to stay with, AirB&B and Couch Surfing are good alternatives. Although I have never personally used their services, they both come highly recommended. Hopefully it goes without saying, use caution and your best intuition with couch surfing.

Although travel can be chaotic, after a few trips you’ll surely get the hang of it, and in the end it’s well worth the hassle. Below are a few photos of where my trips have taken me. Safe travels, or as they say in Italian, “Buon Viaggio!

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