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Planning Small Trips While Abroad

April 14, 2018
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

There's no doubt that when you study abroad you're going to want to do some traveling. As much as you love your host city, there's so many other places to see and visit. Going on a small trip does take some planning, but it's definitely manageable and can be easy to budget for. Here's how to organize a successful mini-trip while abroad:

Select Your Destination

There are so many beautiful and fascinating places to visit. Get inspired by looking on Pinterest, go to your dream country, or take up a friends recommendation on a place they visited and loved.

 Headed to Amsterdam

Find Your Tribe

There's bound to be someone else who wants to travel with you and if not then a solo trip is a good way to go. It's better to see the places you want then to tag along on another trip that you're not as excited about. That being said, if your friends ask you to go somewhere, go, because trips are about the memories you make with other people, not necessarily the location.

 My group of friends I traveled with in Barcelona, Spain

Set Your Dates

Normally your school will give you your entire class schedule at the beginning of the year, so you'll know the times you have open for potential traveling. Give yourself at least two full days in one place which may not seem like a lot but it's actually plenty of time to experience a new city. If you want to visit multiple countries on one break think about which one's are next to each other making it easy to take a bus or train to the next destination.

 Planning my solo trip in my Lily Pulitzer calendar

Get Yourself Around


Flying- Often the best way to travel since Easy Jet and Ryan Air offer cheap prices and you get there faster

Bus- The cheapest way to travel but be prepared for mediocre comfort and overnight times

Train- Surprisingly a more pricey option

Bla Bla Car- Ride sharing has gotten very popular and it's safe and cheap

Book Your Lodging

Hostel- If you want to see amazing places without the price tag, hostels are the answer. Check out to select a hostel that works best for you. Hostels are great if you're traveling with a friend or two. I tend to research them thoroughly and here's what you should look for:

  • A central location, but not necessarily directly in the city center. They can be more expensive and not as nice that way. One that exists a little outside the city center is usually better with only a 15-20 minute walk.
  • Make sure it's easy to get to from the airport/bus stop/train platform (normally the hostel gives directions on their website)
  • If with a big group, try to all fit in one hostel room and then you won't be alongside strangers.
    If you're a woman traveling solo, stay in an all-girls dormitory (this can normally be selected)
  • Make sure they have free Wifi
  • Included towels is a plus since you don't want to travel with them (they take up too much room)
  • Don't worry about a complimentary breakfast. They are never that good and you'll want to experience the local food that comes from boulangeries or cafes. It's not expensive to do so and entirely worth the effort. 
 My hostel in Prague, Czech Republic

Airbnb- If you're traveling with a big group, I highly recommend this option. The prices are affordable and you split the cost among your group. Airbnb now even has the option to do split pay between group members instead of having one person pay the whole sum and everyone having to pay the person back. Find a place that fits your needs using their easy to use website!
 Our Air B&B in Nice, France

Plan Your Activities


Now for the fun part! Research the place you are going and discover what culture, monuments, art, buildings, museums, restaurants, and things to do that interest you! I recommend scrolling through Pinterest and finding people's blogs that describe their experiences, show pictures, and give tips and advice.

Now you have a trip that is completely planned and all you do now is look forward to it!

Before You Go

  • Pack LIGHT and carry a BACKPACK. You don't want to be toting along a suitcase no matter how small. A backpack is perfect for a small trip and holds all the essentials.
  • Print out your boarding passes/tickets (even if you only need the mobile version, you don't want to chance your phone dying)
  • If you're worried about getting to your hostel or Airbnb, print out directions to get there or contact a hostel employee who will guide you
  • Withdraw cash (just enough since you can always visit an ATM once you arrive and you don't want to carry too much with you)
  • If in a large group, make a spreadsheet for everyone's finances. Finances can be tricky with multiple people involved so it's important to keep track of who's paying for what and how much it is. Then at the end of the trip, people can pay back accordingly.
  • Don't forget your passport and visa!

Mikaela S. is a CEA Alumni. She studied abroad in Grenoble France for a year (Fall 2016-Spring 2017) and is currently a senior at Chapman University.

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