I am great and life is great because I just got back today from my Thanksgiving break trip to Denmark and Norway. It was so amazing and now I can definitively say I have a favorite trip I’ve been on.
Whenever you study abroad, chances are you’ll have some time to travel to other places. Clearly, I have had the opportunity to take a lot of side trips, but this extra time off for Thanksgiving offered me (and pretty much everyone else in my program) some extra time to take the one trip to that place you’ve always wanted to go. I also saved enough on other trips to be able to freely spend on this one and do all of the cool things that I did like sailing through the fjords and also stay in really nice places. I actually have also started to realize how much I didn’t know about saving money when it came to planning trips and even planning trips in the first place, and all of the ways I could have saved more on my earlier trips. So how did I do it and what did I learn? With that: a short vocabulary and trip planning lesson from yours truly.
1.) What even is a hostel?
I realized that before I came here I didn’t even know what a hostel was. Sure I had heard people talk about them, but I actually had no idea what they were.
Hostel (noun): cheap dorm-like, sort of hotels to stay at in almost all cities/ towns
When I say dorm, I truly mean dorm. You will typically sleep in a room with MINIMUM six to eight people, possibly mixed gender. All hostels are different when it comes to gender and room size. In general, the less people in the room, the more the room costs. I’ve stayed in everything from a single to a twenty person room. Bathrooms can either be shared by the room (if you’re lucky) or by the floor. Hostels also range greatly in quality. I’ve stayed in ones that could have easily been a nice hotel and I have had friends in ones where they got bedbugs and their things stolen. Price wise, they can be anywhere from ten dollars to seventy dollars per person, per night.
The best hostel booking site is hostel world.com because they show all of your options by location, price, quality, etc. and all of the hostels have tons of honest reviews. Some cities will be more expensive than others. For example, in Ireland it cost us less to stay in a Holiday Inn just outside of Dublin than to get a hostel in the city center. Just do your research and try to book at least two weeks in advance. Hostels fill up!
Airbnb (noun): paying someone a set amount of money per night to rent either a room in their home/apartment while they are there OR paying to rent the entire home/apartment while they are not there.
I stayed in Airbnb’s in Denmark and Norway and loved it, but some people find it creepy to be literally living in someone else’s life. Airbnb was created to cater to those looking to live like a local when they travel places. Personally, I loved having our own place to hang out at night, cook our own meals, have a nice bathroom, and a nice bed. You’ll understand the “luxury” of these after staying in a hostel. In Norway and Denmark, booking an Airbnb was actually cheaper because they are expensive cities and I was traveling with enough people. They can be cheaper because the rent might be $150 a night, but you split that between the four other friends you are traveling with instead of each person paying say $40 a night for a hostel. It really depends on the city, so do your research.
ALWAYS book Airbnb’s through the actual airbnb.com because all of the people renting their places have to be verified for safety and whatnot, and there will be a ton of reviews to judge them off of. Note that after you stay in one, the host reviews you too and it goes on your profile, so if you leave the place a mess and get a bad review it could affect you trying to book and Airbnb in the future.
3.) Cheap flights
Nine words: USE GOOGLE FLIGHTS AT LEAST A MONTH IN ADVANCE
Google flights rocks because it compares all airlines and prices and allows you to book separate airlines right there to allow for the cheapest combination. Just don’t forget to always clear your cookies and browsing history before searching for flights because the price goes up depending on demand.
In general the cheapest airline will always be RyanAir or EasyJet. Personally, I don’t like EasyJet because it is disorganized, uncomfortable, and you don’t get a personal item. RyanAir is all of those things too, but you get a personal item and I think the staff seem to be a lot nicer. The flights are so cheap because of strict baggage rules: one carry on and one personal item. You can bring an actual suitcase, but checking it costs a fortune. My advice would be to go to the RyanAir website and buy a duffle bag that fits their requirements exactly. RyanAir will do random checks of your carry on luggage size, and if yours is too big you will have to pay at least sixty euros on the spot. Be careful! I have seen it happen to my friends.
These flights are way less than glamorous, but I paid twenty dollars for my flight to Copenhagen, and with prices like that I can’t complain.
4.) Save on places to stay and flights and splurge on everything else.
Pretty self explanatory, but I thought I’d say it again. When else was I ever going to have the chance to sail in the fjords of Norway with my friends? Maybe never so I dropped the cash. You should do the same in order to maximize your experience.
That’s all I have for you for travel tips! This weekend is my last trip, but I am going to Budapest for all of the Christmas themed activities. As a Christmas enthusiast, I AM SO EXCITED.
Have a lovely week and check out my pictures from Denmark and Norway!
I'm Liz Bixenman, an interior design student living in Rome for the semester. When I'm not doing schoolwork, you can find me wearing a cat shirt, reading a book, and most likely eating more carbs than I'm proud of.