Whether you are a world traveler or it is your first time leaving America, the pressure of organizing Fall Break is real and just a little daunting!!! Even if you have expertly planned travel for you and your friends in the past, Europe is big, there are lots of strange normal and low-cost airlines and often multiple airports in each city. Not to mention shuttles, hotels vs hostels and then things to do and see. So let’s approach this the Rory Gilmore Way and do a pro/con list!
Plan Your Own Fall Break
|• You can make your own itinerary.
• If you really do your homework you can save money.
• There will be fails along the way (view them as part of the adventure)
• Independent travel is very satisfying. You will have a sense of accomplishment at the end.
• You can take each day as it comes. You are the boss of your travel.
• Traveling with a small group of friends will allow you to get into places that don’t accept groups or don’t have enough space to accommodate so many people all at once.
• It makes you resourceful.
• It can be a great bonding experience for you and your fellow travelers.
|• Requires a lot of planning
• Low-cost airlines are not always low-cost
• Some airports are an hour or more away from the center. Make sure you factor in the cost of shuttles both ways.
• Flights only run at certain times on certain days and may not match up with your schedule
• Once you have booked flights, airport shuttles and accommodation, you still have to research places to go and things to see.
• It can be tiring doing everything on your own.
Biggest planning fail: Booking an early flight then realizing there are no trains or buses that will get you to the airport in time. This means you spend a lot of money on a hotel and taxis or you sleep in the airport for a night.
Travel Tip: Don’t only stay in Airbnb. There are a lot of new and really nice hostels in Europe. The hostel experience is really fun. You meet people from all over the world. They usually have a bar in the hostel which is great if you are too tired to really go out. And the people you meet in the hostel often have great recommendations of places to go. You don’t have to stay in a room with strangers. Book a private room just with your friends.
Use this introduce a friend to Booking.com link and get a €15 credit back after your stay. www.booking.com
Booking.com is a huge portal of hotels, hostels and also apartments. They often have great discounts. And sometimes a hotel room can be cheaper than a hostel. It is worth comparing.
Check out hostelworld.com. You can book hostels all over Europe and you just pay a 10% deposit to reserve. Tip: if there are 5 of you, book a private 6-bed room and split the cost of the extra bed.
Use skyscanner.com to find the best flights. Why? because the skyscanner portal gives you a huge range of solutions that include low-cost and normal airlines. Plus when you search you can ask it to search flights not just from your ideal departure airport but also the ones nearby. Example: Florence is close to Pisa and Bologna. Better to have options.
Don’t be afraid to use trains and buses. www.flixbus.com is the new low-cost bus around Europe option. And check out trains in Italy www.trenitalia.com and other countries by searching google for rail plus name of country. It is usually always better to buy your train tickets from the official rail website. Portals for European rail travel often bump up the prices and have hidden costs. When traveling by train or bus, just be pratical. Lock your bags. Keep your real valuables with you. Buy a travel pouch to wear under your clothing.
Book a Tour
|• All the planning is done for you.
• Bus tours provide door-to-door travel so you won’t have to take shuttles, the bus will drop you off and pick you up right in front of your hostel or hotel.
• Most of your traveling will be done at night so you can take advantage of the day time exploring the city you are in.
• The activities are optional. You have the freedom to choose whether you explore a city with your friends or together with the group.
• The tour guides have great recommendations because they have been many times before.
• If something goes wrong, you have back up.
• You will get to know other people on the trip, some of whom will become friends that you hang out with for the rest of the semester.
• Groups get great deals in restaurants and for extra activities.
|• You have to follow the pre-established travel itinerary.
• Sometimes you will share rooms with other travelers in the group.
• Traveling with groups means that everything takes just a little bit longer. There will be some waiting around.
• Long bus journeys can be tiring.
• Just like flying, there can be unexpected delays due to traffic or road works.
Travel Tip: You will be staying in hostels. Sometimes you will need to leave your bag in a communal luggage room. Don’t bring unnecessary valuables. And bring a lock for your bag.
If you are looking for a fun and relaxing Fall Break with a dash of culture – hands down go to Greece. Enjoy partying in Corfu, take in the sunset in Santorini and get those epic Instas and drink in all the culture of Athens and the Acropolis. We like FlorenceForFun for this trip. The itinerary is well organized, the tour guides are great, knowledgeable and fun. The groups are generally not too big so the experience is more personal. Check it out Greece Island Hopping Fall Break
If you are looking to cross cities and sights off your bucket list and you want to see and do as many things in Europe as you can during your semester, we recommend looking at the Bus2alps Northern Loop Tour and Western Loop Tour. You get to visit 5 cities in 10 days. This is virtually impossible to do traveling independently. Their itinerary is packed with activities and they get great deals on local tours. Remember that you can always elect to do your own thing for the day if the group thing becomes overwhelming.
Both FlorenceForFun and Bus2alps will have sales in the first few weeks of semester. This is the best time to book. If you get 30% off a Fall Break Tour, there is almost no way that you can bet this price planning on your own. And of course you can use your CAMPUS promo code to SAVE even more…