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A Novice Traveler’s Guide to Going Abroad

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Traveling anywhere can be pretty exhausting, especially if you are going somewhere where jet lag might tag along. Here are some tips (tried and tested by yours truly) for combatting jet lag, saving money, and making the most of your travel experience. 

On Beating Jet Lag

The best piece of advice I can give you is a pretty well-known tip: sleep on the way to your destination, and stay awake as long as possible when headed home. Or, if you really want to get ahead of the game, Sleep Reset recommends (prior to leaving for your trip) “If you’re traveling east, go to bed an hour earlier for a few nights, and if you’re going west, go to bed one hour later for a few nights.” I also love these all-natural, homeopathic jet lag prevention pills from Amazon, which have over 2,500 great reviews (and taste great!). 

Your Packing Essentials, No Matter the Destination

Wherever you are traveling, regardless of location, weather, and plans, I cannot recommend packing these items enough:

  • A sleep mask (makes a world of difference on the plane)
  • Noise-canceling headphones/earbuds
  • A wireless charger that is compatible with your device
  • Local currency (P.S.: make sure you check out conversion rates and credit/debit card policies before you leave for your destination. You do need to alert your bank of international travel if you are going to use a card at any time, otherwise your bank may decline overseas transactions.) 
  • Photocopies of your government-issued ID, passport/visa, health insurance card, COVID-19 vaccination card, and any reservation/booking details
  • Good-quality walking shoes

On Saving Money

Often, vacation expenses can pile up really quickly, which can cause a lot of financial and mental stress. Between housing, food, fun activities, and of course, plane tickets, it can feel difficult to cut down on spending, especially since vacations are meant for treating yourself. My tips? Planning a trip far in advance will help combat many stresses, especially because plane tickets and hotels/Airbnbs sell for cheaper when bought further in advance. You also do not want to risk booking a trip and then not being able to find a place to stay. Travelocity, Expedia, KAYAK, and Booking.com are all great sites to hunt for deals on places to stay and things to do. Plus, many of these sites allow you to book plane tickets, hotels, and car rentals all in the same portal, which is super convenient. 

On Making the Most of It

If you are traveling to a destination that speaks a different language than you and/or your home country, try learning a few key phrases (I recommend ‘Hello,’ ‘Goodbye,’ ‘Can you help me?,’ ‘Where is ___?,’ ‘Please,’ and ‘Thank you’). I’m a sucker for Duolingo, and have been learning Danish and practicing my Spanish through it for over a year. I can confidently say that knowing even a little bit of Danish when I lived in Denmark helped me feel more comfortable in a new environment, make connections with locals, and form a deeper cultural appreciation for all things Danish. 

Another great way to make the most of your vacation is to avoid the super tourist-y, kitschy sites—or at least don’t only visit these places. Sure, some über-famous places, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are absolutely worth seeing, however you shouldn’t completely forgo other historical sites, museums, restaurants, weekend getaways, and neighborhoods/towns. To find places to visit that are often overlooked by visitors, look for a guide book written by a local, check out travel blogs online, and do a quick Google search on your destination. Maybe I’m just a history nerd, but there are a lot of places you might not think to visit if you don’t know anything about the city, country, or culture’s history. 

Finally, be open. Some of my most cherished memories from my study abroad experience are from walking around, whether by myself or with company, and just seeing where we ended up. You’d be surprised at what you can find when you aren’t looking for anything in particular.    

Wherever your next destination is, I hope these tips are helpful. Travel safe, live in the moment, and remember to be open. You never know what you might find!

Jordan Chamberlain is a fourth year student at the University of Colorado Boulder and an editorial assistant for CU’s chapter of Her Campus. In her editorial position, Jordan reads and edits many of her fellow authors’ articles, providing feedback on spelling, grammar, AP formatting rules, and cohesion and flow. Jordan herself enjoys writing about traveling, education, her home state of Colorado, and the general messiness of life in your early twenties. Outside of Her Campus, Jordan can be found working on her Elementary Education degree at CU Boulder. She is very excited to graduate in May of 2024, and hopes to transition directly into the teaching profession. She hopes to teach upper elementary, and is currently a student teacher for fifth grade. In her free time, Jordan enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, listening to music, and disappearing into fictional worlds through reading, creative writing, and watching an unhealthy amount of T.V. shows and movies. You can find her scouring Boulder for the best coffee shops, collecting funky postcards, and listening to a chaotic collection of music.