Traveling is easy when your parents arrange your vacations, or when a travel agent carefully plans your itinerary down to every hour of your trip; however, what happens when you actually have to plan a trip yourself? Well, that’s simple. As college students, we have been blessed to have most of our vacations fully planned and more importantly, paid in full, but now I have been handed the very overwhelming task of becoming my own travel agent. Let’s be honest, I do not know much about the travel industry and what I do know, I have learned from my stepmother in the process of planning all of our family vacations. Since arriving in Spain, I have only traveled once outside the country and four times within Spain, and I have learned one major lesson: traveling is expensive. I am a college student and I am on a tight budget. So, how do I travel within my country?
I will describe the weekend adventure that took me to the heartland of Dublin, Ireland. My decision to go to Ireland was prompted by a fellow student in my group and my own desire to experience the luck of the Irish. Ireland is probably the most expensive trip, besides Great Britain, that one could plan to make while studying abroad in Europe. Dublin is the farthest from most cities in Europe and also requires one to briefly fly over a great body of water.
My friend and I began our planning with the flight. We clicked away at various search engines to find that what we thought was the cheapest was in the American dollar. However, we got tricked and my friend’s credit card was charged unknown taxes and fees and converted to the euro. When it comes to booking flights, take caution and reread the fine print a few times. One can easily find a cheap flight through Easyjet.com, but the luggage is usually not included, so pack lightly.
Next, one has to have a place to sleep. Lucky for us, our sleeping arrangments in Ireland were free because we were welcomed into the home of friend of a friend from the United States. But I can promise you the best deals are found at Booking.com/es and that is where all the rest of my hotels have been booked. The best way to travel when booking a hotel, hostal or even apartment is to go with a larger group. In Barcelona, I found an apartment for 169 euro for three nights; divide that by five girls and the total is about 30 euro each for the weekend. Hard to beat if you ask me.
One should also know that I am in Toledo, a small city situated outside of Madrid in Spain. The closest airport to me is in Madrid and by bus that is about an hour, and by train that is roughly twenty-five minutes. The starting price for my weekend excursions begins with this choice, bus or train? Well, the bus is 4.65 euro and the train is 10.60 euro. The choice is simple; I will take the cheaper alternative, making the round trip from Toledo to Madrid back to Toledo about 10 euros.
Upon arriving in Madrid, I must take the Metro to the airport, unless I prefer a cab, which can be very pricey after the supplemental airport fee. The Metro is two euro total and very easy to navigate. Lastly, there is spending money; this is your own created amount, but I found plenty of ways to save a euro or two by eating something small on the go and avoiding fancy dining.
Traveling in your country is a lot of trial and error. One makes the biggest and most expensive choices on their first trip and after a major hit to your bank account, one becomes more cautious and less needy. Every time you plan a trip, put aside some time and just allow yourself to get lost in the planning because I promise that every second and dollar you spend is worth the adventure of a lifetime.