By Isabella Verga – Ohio State University | ISI Florence Spring 2023
One of the best parts about being abroad is the ease of traveling from country to country on weekends. It is also one of the reasons I chose to study in Florence because of the endless places to travel to around me. Planning weekend trips can be stressful, but as someone who has made mistakes and learned from them, I can provide some great tips to get you through that stressful planning process!
1. Try to plan flights and where you are staying in advance.
I know sometimes you can find great last-minute deals, but I have found that booking in advance allows you to track prices and find the best deals. Booking your flights early will also give you more time for planning the fun stuff such as restaurants and sightseeing.
2. Always check surrounding airports for better prices.
Florence has a small airport with flights that might be more expensive than other nearby airports. Check the airports of Bologna and Pisa, which are an hour away from Florence and budget airlines fly out of them. Make sure you always compare the prices of the train tickets to these other cities because sometimes it ends up being the same price as just flying out of Florence, and with less hassle!
3. Be prepared to pack light when flying with RyanAir, Vueling, or EasyJet.
If you are like me and are planning to fly budget airlines, be prepared to only get a personal item with your ticket unless you pay extra for more luggage. For weekend trips I have been able to fit my clothes in a personal item bag since it is only for a few days. I recommend looking up the size requirements of a personal item bag on these airlines and then finding this sized bag in local shops in Florence.
4. Make a shared Google document with your friends traveling with you (or just for you if traveling alone!).
Making Google docs has been helpful when planning trips and making sure everyone gets to see their top choices in a place. It also helps you see what is left to plan such as dinner, reservations, or booking tours. If you are traveling with friends often, it is a good idea to take turns planning trips so everyone gets an opportunity to plan, and one person is not stuck with the stress of planning every trip. I like to color code sightseeing, eating, and travel details to make the document clear for everyone.
5. Always research how to get from the airport to your Airbnb/hostel.
Before starting your travel day, it is important to look into your transportation options from the airport. Oftentimes there will be a bus or train option that is much cheaper than taking a taxi. However – as always, be very aware while on public transportation and hold on to your bags to avoid pickpockets!
6. Stay calm during flight cancelations and delays.
Flights that get delayed or even canceled are inevitable when traveling. It happened to me when flying back from Paris due to an airstrike and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. It can be frustrating and stressful when your travels don’t go as planned, and the language barrier adds to the chaos. Just remember that you will get on another flight eventually and will almost always be reimbursed. This is part of the fun of having the opportunity to travel the world!
7. Don’t forget to explore your host country!
One thing that most study abroad students regret is not spending enough time in their host country. It can be challenging to find a balance between wanting to see as many countries as possible and taking advantage of where you are living. If you plan on traveling every weekend, make the most of your time during the week such as going out to eat and visiting museums and local shops.
8. Don’t overdo it.
My last tip is to remember to listen to your body. Studying abroad and traveling every weekend is exhausting and you want to make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating right so you can enjoy all your trips. Take a weekend off to relax and recharge if you feel worn down and don’t beat yourself up about needing some time to yourself!