I never go anywhere without reading about it first. When it comes to traveling, I read extensively about the places I intend to visit. Why? Reading up on my dream destinations allows me to be a more excited, inspired, and practical traveler than I would be without the help of numerous paperbacks and publications. With such an abundance of information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know where to start when researching new spots to vacation or planning your next big trip abroad. While most of us are stuck at home during this pandemic, we can only dream of being able to travel for pleasure again. But that time will come again and once your flight is booked, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a great novel, set in the idyllic spot you’ll soon be exploring. Literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines are the three types of paperbacks and publications you should read before setting off on your next adventure.
Literature: Bringing the Excitement & Awe to Travel
Whether you’re jetting off for a European summer or packing the car for a road trip through the mountains, you can’t forget your literature. Reading a novel set in the spot you’ll soon be visiting allows you to familiarize yourself with the destination. There is nothing better than visiting a landmark or driving down a road you read about in your latest book. It’s incredibly exciting to be present in the setting of a great novel and see with your own eyes what you could once only imagine as you read. If you’re heading to Rome anytime soon, I recommend Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. After finishing the novel, I traveled to Rome for the first time and stood in awe of the small country set inside the city that connected with the book. The same can be said for reading Brown’s The Da Vinci Code if travel to Paris is in your future.
If you’re a less experienced traveler or are just looking to stick a bit closer to home, Elin Hilderbrand writes novels that will have you finding the next flight out to the Massachusetts Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Having visited Martha’s Vineyard myself, I love nothing more than to read all about the tumultuous relationships that she creates within the five small towns on the vineyard. I can’t think of a better way to get excited about an upcoming trip than to read a powerful story about it.
Guidebooks: The Practical Info You NEED to Know
Guidebooks may not sound like the most exciting thing you’ve ever read, but they can’t be beat in terms of practicality. Rick Steve’s guidebooks single handedly saved me numerous times on my travels through northern Italy. Rick writes guidebooks intended for Americans traveling abroad in Europe and his tips on getting around, hotel and restaurant recommendations, and careful analysis of all the best spots are a must-have, especially for first-time travelers. I didn’t carry much as I walked the Italian streets, but I always had Rick Steve’s Italy in my backpack. Don’t overlook guidebooks when you travel; these books provide some of the best information about amazing spots you don’t know exist and that you’d likely miss.
Travel Magazines: The Best Inspiration
If your idea of preparing for travel is looking at pictures of your idyllic destination on Instagram, travel magazines are perfect for you. Magazines like AFAR and BudgetTravel snap the best shots and offer great advice on how to spend your time, whether that be in one of the hottest cities or a quaint, coastal town. There is no better way to gain inspiration for your travels than to browse a travel magazine. Setting your eyes on a coastline or skyscraper that you’ve seen in a hundred different photographs is a gratifying feeling. You’ll be elated after experiencing firsthand what you’d previously only ever seen on a glossy page.
I firmly believe that there is more than one way to transport yourself to a new place. Whether you’re planning for an actual trip or simply dreaming of a future trip, literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines allow you to visualize, prepare, and dream about a destination before you arrive, enhancing your experience as a traveler. This is a short list of paperbacks and publications that inspire me as a traveler, and it’s by no means exhaustive. I am always looking for the next great story that will have me dying to visit a new place. If you do one thing before you travel, let it be to read.
University of Louisville student Delaney Henson shares her unique perspective on the recent disruption in education, including peer reactions, the changes to her courses, and general advice on coping with the uncertainty.
While she feels “pretty prepared” for online learning, she also balances that with the amount of self-motivation and teamwork it will take to make this new learning environment a success.
Just last spring, I travelled to Italy with my sister and two friends. It was without a doubt, the most empowering experience of my life. Call me cliché, but I am forever changed as a result of that amazing trip. It ignited in me a desire to experience different cultures and meet diverse groups of people. Travelling abroad taught me to challenge myself, and it showed me that limitations exist only in our imaginations. The rush that comes from laying eyes on sights you’ve only seen through a screen is incredible, and worth every penny. Planning and executing a trip abroad—without emptying your bank account—is easily accomplished. Help keep expenditures under control by following these tips regarding accommodations and transportation.
Living in luxury: Airbnb style
If you haven’t heard of Airbnb, you’re missing out. Hotels are often overpriced and less than ideal for those travelling in groups. I stayed almost exclusively in Airbnb accommodations throughout my time in Italy; from Florence to Pisa, to Cinque Terre, to Venice, and finally, Rome. Airbnb has an easy-to-use app that allows you to choose specific search criteria to limit your results and see what the exact price of a place will be. You can even split the price of an accommodation between multiple people, so it’s great for group travelers.
When booking accommodations with Airbnb, make sure that you read reviews and don’t make the mistake of choosing a host with poor reviews. The best way to ensure that you’ll have a great host is to choose Super Hosts, verified by Airbnb for their amazing accommodations and hospitality. Some of the kindest Italians I met were my hosts; they provided unparalleled advice on what was worth seeing and where to eat.
Travel like a local
If you can book housing within walking distance of things you want to see, you can eliminate transportation costs entirely. In Florence, I could see the famous Duomo from my flat’s window! When it comes to transportation, it’s best to follow the lead of the locals. It’s almost impossible to rent a car for most college students and it’s undoubtedly incredibly expensive to pay for a driver. If you can’t get somewhere on foot, try taking the bus. If you’re unsure of how these systems run in a foreign country, the internet is a great place to find out before you head out for your adventure.
If the country you’re travelling to utilizes trains, you should use them too. I traveled by train to each different city—even crossing the entirety of the country from Cinque Terre to Venice—and found them to be incredibly timely and comfortable. Booking your train tickets in advance of your trip will save you a great deal of money. I paid approximately 80 euros to travel to five different cities in Italy. If you purchase a train ticket on the day you plan to travel, you’ll easily spend a lot more.
Going to another country can be stressful for you and your wallet. Advance preparation can pay off by increasing your confidence and saving you money. With your accommodations and transportation booked ahead of time you’ll be able to more fully enjoy your time abroad. Once you’re there, go off the itinerary a little and live like a local!
(This is part 2 of a 2-part travel blog. Click here to read Part 1!)
Pearson Students: What are your favorite resources to use for trip planning? Share by commenting below!
What is the greatest obstacle that college students face when they consider traveling abroad? That’s easy. Money. As college students, we’re tasked with affording tuition expenses, books, and just general costs of living. When forced to budget, it is understandable that traveling to foreign countries often falls low on our list of possibilities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you plan ahead, traveling abroad can be affordable, allowing you to experience a place unlike any other.
A prime location
Odds are, there are a few countries on your Must-See list. Personally, Greece has always been on mine. But flights to Greece are consistently upwards of a thousand dollars, and I didn’t have that kind of money to spend solely on a flight. There are certain countries that are much cheaper to fly to and Italy happened to be one of them. Some will have less expensive flights, food, and excursions, than others. When it comes to booking a flight, you’ll want to book well in advance to snag the best rate, and don’t be afraid to stray from your usual airline. There are some great European airlines that often times offer the best deals. Someday, I will get to Greece. But when travelling abroad in college, it’s best to pick a country that you can reach without throwing your budget out the window.
Before heading to Italy, I readRick Steves Italy 2017, which taught me all I needed to know about Italian cuisine and tourism. You’ll want to pick a country that offers affordable food choices. Many countries also have numerous markets where vendors sell great items at negotiable prices. Don’t be afraid to bargain. Italian vendors like to name their price depending on how affluent they judge a potential buyer to be, so most items at these markets didn’t even have a price tag. Many vendors are good at spotting tourists who may not know that prices are negotiable, so be polite but persistent in bargaining for a fair price. It is important you read up on the culture so you can be aware of how to interact with the locals. I recommend checking out any one of Rick Steves’ guides before you go. It was his book that outlined how to budget for every excursion imaginable in all of Italy’s most famous spots.
Affordable travel is attainable if you’re willing to work for it. You shouldn’t have to wait for someday to have an inspiring experience abroad; you have everything you need to make it happen today. As college students, we’re at a unique place in our lives, just beginning to discover who we are and who we want to be. I want to be a person who pushes past barriers, whatever they may be. So start searching for those flights, grab yourself a copy of a Rick Steves travel guide, and you won’t have to worry so much about money. There is a vast world out there, and you’ll never regret exploring it.