Studying abroad will surely be one the most thrilling experiences of your college career. You couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful and charming place than Florence, Italy! Once you’re settled in, you’ll most likely be ready to begin your travels throughout Europe and beyond. In order to travel successfully, here are a few tips that I assure you will come in handy!
1. Upon arrival at any airport, don’t fall for the guy conveniently standing in front of baggage claim with a taxi or shuttle service sign. Take a few minutes to look into subways or buses; they will be a much cheaper option.
2. Try not to confuse Florence with New York City—hailing cabs isn’t really a “thing” here. If you are trying to get to the Florence airport, call the cab company in advance and they will pick you up at any location. There is a set rate of €20, plus baggage fees, so between you and your friends the cost is pretty reasonable.
3. Chances are, you will have a love-hate relationship with RyanAir. It’s the cheapest airline you will find, with flights to nearly everywhere you want to go. Getting through the website is always a process—just make sure you say “no” to all of the advertisements. If you accidentally click “yes”, you could end up getting charged! Most importantly, don’t forget to PRINT out your boarding pass prior to your flight. They will charge you a ridiculous amount of money if you don’t have it on hand at check in.
4. Walk. Walk. Walk. It’s seriously the best way to get to wherever you are going. You’ll end up seeing parts of the city you wouldn’t have seen, and plus it’s good exercise. Side note: Your shoes will most likely get destroyed, so choose your cheapest, most comfortable pair; it will be worth it, I promise.
5. Don’t be that person to get on the train only to realize you haven’t validated your ticket. It happens way too often! There are machines in the train station that you use to validate your ticket before you depart in order to avoid absurd fines.
6. Most likely you’ll have limited time in the places you’re visiting, and when you’re traveling, time is money. Try to plan things out the night before so you’re not aimlessly walking around for half of the day.
7. If you’re on a tight budget, or if you’re just cheap when it comes to spending money on food (like me), try to bring some food for the go. Granola bars, fruit or whatever else will help you avoid buying the pricier foods offered on the streets.
8. While you’re not expected to tip in most parts of Europe, some restaurants do have “cover charges” or “service charges,” which are usually around 2-3 euros per person. Make sure you check the bottom of the menu to see if a service charge will apply.
Through experience, I think these will be the most beneficial tips! Most importantly, though, while you’re traveling, take a moment to realize how lucky you are to have this opportunity. Breathe it in.
Rachel Conners, University of Connecticut