Getting Out of Town: The Best Ways to Travel Abroad

Photo: Drozd


If there is one thing we know, its that there is certainly a lot to prepare before jetting off to your study abroad destination. Where will I go? What will I study? How will I pay? However, there is perhaps one thing that may be more towards the back of your mind: how will I get around once I’ve arrived? You can’t take that bucket of bolts from high school you’ve got sitting in the driveway and your train card doesn’t really work overseas. Looks like you’ve got some research to do. Let us fill you in…

In addition to entirely new modes of transportation, some of the methods you’re used to using will be completely reinvented abroad. Signs may be written in foreign languages, common practices such as waiting in lines or signaling for a bus or taxi can be thrown out the window, and sometimes your vehicle could be a living, breathing animal!

Fear not, because getting around while abroad is a new and often challenging experience for everyone, and we’re here to help!

We’ve put together some of the various ways in which students who are abroad get around, from the conventional and practical to the adventurous and unexpected!


For the pseudo-sophisticate studying in the Eurozone:

London feels like an island, Berlin is too  ‘walled-in’, and Paris, although so beautiful, is just not enough to satisfy your thirst for what the Europe has to offer. Your answer: ride the rails.

Photo: EPO

EuroStar and Eurail are great opportunities for students to take advantage of the high-speed rail system running throughout much of Europe. EuroStar covers the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands while Eurail takes you to the farthest reaches; stretching from Portugal to the easternmost parts of Romania and Bulgaria, stopping everywhere between. Students can purchase passes on both these systems for up to 3 months with access to all countries available. Plus, you get to immerse in the local culture by taking transportation that many Europeans themselves travel on. Nothing like spending six hours sitting next to a boisterous group of Danish, Swiss, Italian and Greek nationals! How much more European can it get?


For the Doobie Brothers fan who wants to ‘Take It To The Streets’:

Sure there are large, inter-country transportation systems, but when it comes to just getting around on the streets of your neighborhood or city, your options can diversify. Local buses are popular worldwide, but the key to utilizing these can lie in how you identify them or even get them to stop! Bus lines in some less traditional destinations like South Africa, Ghana and Costa Rica can actually be more or less unmarked, so its always important to consult or even use the bus with those who already know the area before trying it yourself! And don’t mind if you have to squeeze in, as buses can sometimes be the most affordable way to get around.

On a roomier note, in countries like China, Thailand or Japan  there are ample opportunities to hop into a rickshaw for your about-town needs. Usually for a reasonable price, you’ll be zipping through alleyways while watching your driver race past traffic. Although it may seem like a wild ride, the experience is worth the feeling you may tip over into a produce stand while rounding a corner.


For the human-turned-fish who can’t live without going for a daily swim:

Photo: Hiob

Were you born to be submerged (at least partially) in water? Then why not travel that way! Studying abroad in Venice would definitely satisfy the sea-farer in all of us. Who wouldn’t want to ride through town via gondola? If luxurious wading through narrow canals in Italy isn’t your thing, try house-boating! Heading to the Kerala backwaters or Ganges in India, down the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, the ancient Nile in Egypt or the mighty Amazon in Brazil affords a unique experience where you get to learn how civilizations thrive near rivers, all from wooden barges creeping along the banks.

Want the ultimate oceanic expedition? Look into  a ship-based program like Semester at Sea or SEA Semester, where you make the global voyage to multiple countries all while getting a consistent daily dose of salty air and saltier water as you sail and learn.


For the future veterinarian, PETA member or Animal-Planet show host:

Some of us are just natural-born animal lovers. Lucky for you, there are lots of study abroad destinations where you’ll have the rare opportunity to take your furry friend for a ride!

Photo: Magnus Manske

Look at studying abroad in Peru, where you can take an alpaca or llama on a journey through the lower Andes. If you’re studying in Egypt or western China you’ll be able to take a desert stroll on your very own camel, just dodge the spit! Bigger? Take your study abroad aspirations to sub-Saharan Africa, India or Southeast Asia where you may ride atop the majestic elephant. Now there’s a photo opportunity, as well as a great way to give your parents a heart attack  later!

Though entrusting your animal buddy to get you to your next destination is probably not the most efficient or practical way to get around, it certainly is an experience that sets your travel apart from those who are opting to sit in a mechanical beast.

Those are our suggestions! Did you have your own ways in which you got around while abroad? Let us know!


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