Category Archives: Tips

Travel Tip of the Week – Be Heard

Despite it being so awesome being thrown in an unfamiliar language while abroad, it is still nice to take a weekend repose back to your mother tongue.

I love speaking Italian, reading the beautiful language, and listening to it around me. Those of you who are in other countries like Spain, Germany, France, among all the other great languages of Europe can agree with me (except those of you in Prague, because let’s face it, if you weren’t born in a Slavic speaking country, it’s probably difficult).

When I studied abroad two years ago, I made efforts to learn the language everyday. It was new and I was curious. I am sure you all feel the same. Bill Bryson, the greatest travel writer ever once said that the great part of being in a country with a new language is feeling like you are 4 years old again. You can’t understand what all the adults around you are saying. It’s tranquil bliss. As exciting as it can be, sometimes you need a break from misunderstanding, being misunderstood, and having to dedicate so much energy to deciphering directions.

My sostare (that mean “break” or “rest” in Italian), came when I visited Ireland. Sure Irish English can be hard to understand, and yea some places still speak Gaelic, but for the first time during my semester abroad I was able to have a full conversation with the locals. We could make fun of each other, talk about sports, and discuss cultural difference on a new level. Best of all, I knew when I was ordering cow brain at a restaurant as opposed to thinking it was chicken.

If at any point during your time abroad, you begin to feel this same sensation, I will tell you to go to Ireland; it was where I found my words, until the Cliffs of Mohr left me speechless. I promise that was not meant to be cliché, But in truth, any other place that speaks the same language as you will suffice. For me it was Ireland, but it could have been London or Glasgow. So if you are feeling like you need a break, need to know you are understood, just know that your beloved mother language is only a few hours away….

Travel Tip of the Week – Making ‘Cents’ of Changing Money

This blog entry was written by Tony Ubertaccio. 

Making “Cents” of Changing Money…How to not get ripped on the exchange rates.

By now I’m sure you’ve gotten a handle on the whole Euro vs. Dollar thing and the always challenging “How much should I withdraw?” dilemmas that every study abroad student encounters. I hope you have found which banks are affiliated with your banks in the states and have learned to withdraw as much as is within your means to defend against that sometimes-painful service charge. Today, Euro bills and coins no longer feel foreign. Without so much as a second’s hesitation, you can reach into your pocket and grab just three coins to pay for your 3,50€ panino. Bravo.

But this weekend you’re going to Croatia and, uh oh, they’re not on the Euro… what now?  Will there be ATMs? I have 200€, should I exchange it when I get there? For those of you traveling to countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, or Croatia, it is okay to be asking these questions. You are not alone. To help make some sense of this whole changing money conundrum I’ll give you the same advice I gave the passengers on the trip.

If you have money in the bank and Euro in your pocket, don’t touch your Euro. Whenever you convert Euro to another currency like Koruna or to Kuna, in Croatia, you will be charged by the converter and lose some money in the transaction. That doesn’t make sense if you know you’ll be back to Florence on Sunday and will need those Euros eventually.

So fear not when leaving the Euro countries. Go places your friends have never been before. And spend money you might never again have the opportunity to use. And, if you can, hold on to some… Franc, Kuna, Forint, Koruna, and Euro are some of my favorite souvenirs from my travels abroad.

For the most up to date exchange rates, we recommend visiting XE or X-Rates.

5 Tips for a Successful Travel Semester

You’re all embarking on your semester in Europe and rumor has it Europe is an extremely easy place to get around. Maybe you have heard the same and chose to study abroad in Europe for this exact reason. Here are some travel tips we at Bus2alps use when studying or traveling abroad that will help you to better take advantage of cheap and easy ways to explore your new backyard.

1) Book early – Many airlines, tour companies, and trains release ridiculously cheap fares months in advance. If you plan ahead you can reap the benefits of cheaper deals. In addition, many tours, flights, and trains fill up quickly, especially on popular weekends like Oktoberfest. Don’t live vicariously through your friend’s photos of Prague- get out there and take your own!

2) Go where you want – As a social society, it is natural to want to be with a group of your close friends. However, not all your friends or roommates are interested in traveling to the same places or on the same dates as you. Don’t let this deter you from going to a destination you truly desire! If the idea of navigating Europe solo freaks you out, join a group tour. Venturing out on your own gives you the opportunity to meet friends you may never have met otherwise, while sharing the beauty of the French Riviera or Paris.

3) Always travel with your original passport – If you have left your study abroad country yet, you have realized the sad truth that since the European Union became so friendly, the days of stacking up stamps in your passport are over. That being said, you still ALWAYS need your original passport for border crossings. Do not get stuck at the border because you thought a copy would suffice.

4) Get outside the norm – Surely Europe has the definitive destinations you must visit while here. How could four months in Europe be complete without visiting at least one or two of its major cities, like Paris, Amsterdam, London, or Barcelona? Of course you should check these out, but keep in mind the less visited destinations like Budapest or Croatia, which offer incredible experiences at a fraction of the cost.

5) Money, money, money – Whether your budget is big or small, keep in mind that you are already in Europe; the most expensive part of the trip, the flight from the United States, has already been covered. As your time abroad winds down, you may be crunched for cash. Don’t let this deter you from checking out one or two more destinations you truly want to visit! You may not think you have that extra 200 euro to spend now, but keep in mind it will cost you over $1,000 to fly back at a future date. Take advantage of exploring Europe while you’re here!