Travel Topics / Transportation and Traveling While Abroad

Transportation and Traveling While Abroad

There will be a few differences between your home here in the U.S. and your home abroad. One of those major differences will be transportation. When you're here in the U.S., you may have quick and easy access to a car, or maybe you use the Lexington transportation system. But when you're won't have a car. Your host family might, or perhaps your group will have a van that you get to ride in. For the most part, though, you'll be getting around like a local. This could mean a number of transportation options, so keep reading to catch a glimpse into the world of international transportation.

Local Transportation

Each country, region, and town will have different options for traveling. Some popular modes of transportation include trains, buses, metros, taxis, cable cars, trolleys, and even some ride hail companies like Uber or mytaxi. While those options may differ, there is one thing we can tell you for will walk...A LOT. It will really pay off to get some comfy shoes (break them in before you leave if you don't want blisters). Sure you'll walk a lot, but you'll get to see more than you might if you were always in a car, you'll save some money, and you'll get some great physical activity.

Before you arrive in your host country you should already have an idea of how you will get around through your new town. Doing a little research for this is easy! Look up some things like:

  • Do most locals walk to and from their day-to-day activities?
  • Do locals use public transportation, such as taxis, metros, buses, trains, etc?
  • Ask your host family, program provider, or program director what is the easiest way to get around.

If, after researching, you think you'll be paying to commute regularly, be sure to take that into consideration while you're budgeting for daily or weekly expenses. Public transit in some countries may offer prepaid cards for a certain number of rides, which can help you save some cash for those extra travels. Mastering local transportation, or at least doing your research, will definitely help when you decide to travel outside of your local area.

Traveling While Abroad

Once you've taken the first big step to go abroad, wanting to travel more can become contagious! If you're itching to travel a bit more when you have a break in your course load, it's a good idea to keep some things in mind like: where you want to go, how you will get there, cost, is it feasible with everything else going on, and keeping someone in the loop. One of the biggest pieces of advice is to plan in advance. Like even before you leave for your program. It can be tempting to wake up on a Friday to find out your class is canceled and wanting to leave town. Try to avoid that. You want to take the proper planning steps even for a short weekend excursion. Below are some questions that you should ask yourself while you're planning additional travel during your program.

  • Where do you want to go?

    Ask your program director, host family, and locals if they have any recommendations. Having first-hand experience, people familiar with the region may be able to provide some lesser-known areas to see or perhaps touristy ones that aren't worth it. Or, if you have somewhere in mind already, they may be able to give you some insight like if it's feasible to see in one weekend, or if it's better for a longer trip.

  • How will you get there?

    Will you take a bus, train, plane, or ferry? Check schedules and purchase your ticket(s) beforehand. Also, just like a plane, always look to see if there's a check-in time or an onboard time. You may need to arrive at the location an hour before departure. There's nothing that puts a damper on a weekend quite like missing the departure time for your train.

  • How much will it cost?

    While the option to explore different areas once you're abroad is really exciting, keep your budget in mind. Depending on the time of year, local holidays and festivities may cause travel prices to go way up. If you plan ahead, you'll be able to see prices ahead of time and maybe even delay your trip a week or two in order to save 1500 Yuan. Different types of transportation may also change the cost. Consider taking a bus instead of a train, or a train instead of a plane. Don't forget that you have to have a place to stay if you're going overnight! it'll be easy to find a fancy, expensive hotel in the middle of a city, but if you do some extra digging, you might find something more cost effective just on the edge of the city. Don't forget to ask people you know for recommendations!

  • Who should know where you're going?

    This is one of the most important things you should do. No matter where you're going, if you're going alone or with a group, make sure you let someone know of your travel itinerary - where you'll be, any ticket info, your lodging, how to contact you, and your return. Some programs may require you keep directors informed, but, if not, you should relay the information to your host family, friends in the program, and, of course, family back home.