How to Research a Travel Destination

While studying abroad it’s hard to spend a lot of time researching places you want to go. You have school work to finish and friends to make, on top of that you’re probably going on a trip every weekend. So how do you prep for a trip you barely have time to google?

Let’s start from the beginning, where to go. Maybe you have an idea of the places you’d like to travel or maybe, like me, you want to go everywhere and don’t know what to visit first. Capitals are usually the easiest, Paris – Stockholm – London – Budapest, central European cities are doable year round which takes care of a lot of guess work. Need extra adventure? Join a travel club, international student houses exist in most cities.

So you’ve picked your destination, let’s say it’s Morocco. Ah Casablanca, how epic is that?

Can you afford it? Search Easyjet, Ryanair, and Expedia to compare fares (Expedia can save a lot if you do flight + hotel). Add 100 local currency for food for a 4 day trip. Add your shopping, activity, or alcohol budget based on proclivities (scuba diving is expensive but so is clubbing every night). Then google how much a coffee costs and how much a taxi costs these will show two sides to the exchange rate and you’ll get an idea how much fun you’ll get for you buck. Inflate your final figure based on these results. – Example: I’m heading off to Croatia next month and while there plan to sit around the beach which is free and eat all the local delicacies. Compared to London Dubrovnik is cheap, so my 100 local currency budget is going to go pretty far there and I don’t feel like I need to cushion it. Although I do generally budget for a 100 pound cushion in my travel budgets.

Is this a safe place? us.gov* has advice for foreign travelers in every land imaginable including little red tabs that say ‘are you crazy don’t go here go to Paris you fool’. The fact is not everywhere is safe to travel, and this goes double for women (you may think it goes triple for white women as the whole blonde hair blue eyes Western stereotype is difficult to hide, and in many places it is, but in just as many places women who ‘blend in’ get harrassed.) Look up both the travel warnings and the FAA warnings to make sure it’s safe to fly there. Also ask around, friends usually have the best annecdotal evidence for why a country is great or dangerous. In the case of Morrocco I have multiple friends who will in one breathe tell you it’s gorgeous and a must see and in the same breath tell you to go in a tour group.

Don’t forget – Before you go on your trip make sure you have money and that your card will work, there is never a guarantee of this. Write down a few phrases in the local language, hello, help, toilet. Learn the transportation from the airport to hotel and any major destinations. Transportation is always the hardest to figure out.

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