Before going to Madrid last semester, I did my research. I read many travel blogs and watched many YouTube videos on travel. I even reached out to students who have studied in my program before me. However, as prepared as you think you can be, you will always learn something new. Maybe you will even learn something that the other people didn’t. These are some tips that may sound very odd, but believe it or not, have helped me.
Always keep a tissue in your pocket. My nose runs whenever it’s cold outside, so I usually have one on me for that reason, but I have found that it has come in handy for other situations. You are bound to run into some instances where there is no toilet paper in the bathroom. This is where your pocket tissue comes in handy. Many a time has this happened.
Don’t pack school supplies. So many people suggest not packing school supplies until you get to Europe and realize that 10 cent folders and notebooks do not exist here. Also, I know some people who are picky about what kind of paper they write on. If you are looking for regular lined paper or blank pages, it may be harder to find in Europe, at least from my personal experience. Packing one or two notebooks and one or two folders really doesn’t take up a lot of space. When I went to Spain, I had to spend more money on school supplies than I would have liked. In France, I already had a couple of notebooks and folders, so I didn’t need to spend money and I still had room in my suitcase.
Underpacking is a thing. You may be reading this post and thinking that nothing I am saying is helpful but the amount of times I have heard people in my program, specifically girls, saying that they underpacked was more than I would have thought. Why? We all read online articles emphasizing overpacking being a problem. Yes, you’ll want to leave room for clothes you may buy wherever you are studying and you will definitely want room for gifts to get people, but bring more than just a few things.
Take advantage of free stuff in hotels. I love those small lotions you get in hotel rooms because I could always have lotion handy in my purse whenever my hands would get dry. Now I also love the little soap and shampoo/conditioner they give you in hotels. If you plan on traveling on your own during your semester abroad and have to take a plane, stocking up on free hotel items is a great idea. You will never run out of necessary items on a trip and you do not have to worry about the amount being too much to go through security.
Take a night bus. This is probably the only thing on my list that is not weird. I am not a fan of night buses because I can never sleep on them, however I have taken them many times and can say that they are cheaper. They also give you a whole extra day wherever you are going, considering you will arrive at six or seven in the morning.
Do you have any weird tips when it comes to packing or traveling?