Studying Abroad in Florence: Planning a Weekend Trip

If you are going to be studying abroad for a length of time of four weeks or more, you are most likely hoping to take a few weekend trips to see different parts of the country or different countries altogether. I highly recommend! In other parts of the world (especially Europe), traveling is so easy and cheap by hopping on a train for a couple of hours or taking a quick plane ride. So, here are some of my tips that I learned from my first weekend trip in Venice, Italy.

  1. Plan ahead!!! Prices go up the closer you get to a date. They will even increase over night. So, the farther in advance you can book things like a train or plane ticket, AirBnB or hotel, etc, the better! One way to plan ahead before you even go abroad is to purchase a rail pass if you know you will be taking the train a ton. For Italy and 27 other countries in Europe, you can purchase a eurorail pass that will give you up to 8 days of travel. However, they only ship to the U.S. and it must be ordered about two weeks before you leave. I wish I had known about this before I left, because it would have saved me so much money!
  2. Try to do activities that immerse you in the culture. While strolling around and taking fun instagram pictures is great, you will get more out of the trip if you dive in. In Venice, my travel buddy and I took a mask painting class at one of the last of five workshops on the island. We were able to learn all about the history of Venetian masks. They were originally worn during a season as a way for citizens to not be recognized when doing undesirable things like going to gamble. The government permitted this so people would continue to spend money. Now, the city just celebrates a carnival for 10 days, and everyone dresses up with the historical masks!
  3. Don’t overdo it! I know you want to see all you can while you are in whatever destination, and you only have 2-3 days, but make sure to schedule in some free time to rest or take it easy. If you overfill your day, you will be so exhausted from running around that you might not enjoy all the cool things you have planned. On my trip to Venice, we also decided to see Lake Garda. We ended up spending almost half a day laying on the beach by the water like many of the locals. This time to just take a break made the rest of the trip so much more enjoyable!
My hand-painted Venetian mask!

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