It’s spring break (vacances de printemps) here in Paris – which means that a lot of APA students are enjoying their time-off with well-earned travel! Having been on the European continent for about three and a half months at this point, with plenty of travel to boot, many of us feel like seasoned travelers. Some of us have been trying pizza in Naples, gelato in Rome, and funny cinnamon sugar pastries in Prague; others have visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam, and sunned themselves on the beaches of southern France. Here’s how we get from point A to point B – and the tools that help us do that:
Skyscanner or Kayak (in incognito-tab): The jury’s out on whether or not this actually works, but it’s worth giving it a shot! The idea is that the prices will go up if you don’t browse without cookies (internet terminology, whatever that means). Regardless, use the Skyscanner or Kayak “explore” tools in a private window to figure out where to go in the first place. You plug in your home airport, dates, and the websites will do all the work for you. Gotta love 30 euro flights to Milan!
Hostelworld.com: Find lodging easily; search using reviews, ratings, and price tools. Hostelworld even has its favorite hostels for different cities – leaving more time for the fun part of travel (which definitely isn’t staying in a hostel, is it?).
SNCF’s “carte jeune”: Save tons if you know you’re going to be taking the train a lot. The initial cost (50 euros) quickly pays for itself. For France-only travel, you can save up to 30% on ticket costs. A word on trains: take them when you can. You see more of the country, there’s usually outlets, and they can be a great place to get some work done between weekend trips.
BlaBlaCar: Train, flight too expensive? Check out this website, which helps travelers find empty seats in cars/buses for cheap.
TimeOut: There’s a TimeOut market in Lisbon (one of our favorites!) but both the website and app are really wonderful for figuring where to eat and where to drink, and what to do with your time when you’re not doing either of the afore-mentioned activities. The app for Paris is actually divided by arrondisement, which can be super useful when you’re trying to stay local. Perfect for finding restaurants and bars.
VSCO: You have to edit all those abroad pictures for a fire instagram, don’t you?
Google Trips: This little-known app from Google helps you map out your travel. Create itineraries in different layers, divided by city or day. Add pins for landmarks, restaurants, or create walking paths.
Mint: You have to pay for all of this, don’t you? Track spending and set budgets.
Some final words to the wise: Leave the rollerboard suitcase at home. Bring a backpack (try 40-55L, do your research) and learn how to stuff it correctly. Buy an even smaller backpack and use that for day-trips – stuff that smaller backpack in your big backpack and you’ve got backpack inception. Microfiber towels are your best bet (they dry quickly, soak up a ton of water, and usually are anti-bacterial). Lush makes great solid shampoo, which is perfect if you don’t want to deal with a toiletry bag. Finally, as fun as the dual-wattage converters are, if you’re traveling with an iPhone and a laptop you don’t need it. They’re also heavy, take up a ton of space, and fall out of the sockets themselves.