Wondering about which questions to ask when traveling abroad? Being proactive and speaking up before you get in a taxi, exchange money, or make a purchase is essential to having a stress-free trip and avoiding rookie tourist mistakes.

Here are the top 5 questions to ask when traveling abroad to avoid common travel mistakes:

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

Some swans just chilling in Zürich.

Can I have a printed receipt?

 

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

Bratislava, Slovakia

Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have eliminated this issue in many cities, as you can get a fare estimate before you book and track your route from the app; however, this is still on my list of questions to ask when traveling abroad just in case you need to take a cab.

Be sure to ask your driver for a far estimate and printed receipt as soon as you get in the vehicle. Having a printed receipt (not handwritten as is sometimes offered) can help protect you if you get into a meter dispute with a crooked cabbie.

If you book a private car ahead of time (e.g. a private airport transfer or a shuttle to an attraction) be sure to confirm that it’s your car before you get in (especially if you asked multiple companies for quotes!)…or you could end up like baby Emily and be certain you were about to be taken out by the Italian Mafia. Read about it here.

See also: 

Do you accept credit cards?

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

I took this picture on my panic-induced ATM run. Prague is still pretty, even when you’re stressed AF.

 

This is an essential one of the questions to ask while traveling, but the key is asking BEFORE you order. Many restaurants abroad (i.e. not in the USA — although some places are reverting) are still “cash only” businesses. If you ask before you are seated, you’ll have the luxury of finding another place to dine if they don’t accept cards, or going to find at ATM at a leisurely pace if you really want to eat there.

When Smoky and I were in Prague, we made the mistake of assuming a burger place would take cards (I mean, they had WiFi and were playing Ed Sheeran, so it was an easy mistake), so since we found out AFTER we had ordered and eaten, I was tasked with running around Old Town Square in the dark like a maniac looking for an ATM while Smoky was held hostage in the restaurant.

And then I had to carry around hella Czech coins for the rest of my trip since I didn’t feel like giving the guy a $10 tip (y’all this place was barely even a cash only place — it was a COIN only place based on the change he gave me.)

See also: 

Do I have an international data plan?

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

My house in Budapest.

Y’all. This is one of the most common travel mistakes and so it’s one of the most important questions to ask when traveling abroad.

The world is becoming increasingly connected, but certain companies seem to be lagging behind, so international data charges are a monster travelers should actively avoid. For example, when I travel with Smoky (a TMobile customer) she can just turn on her phone in any new country and it works like it would at home with no extra charges.

But if I did that ( a Verizon customer), I would literally have to sell my soul to lord satan to be able to afford it.

Thankfully,  if you don’t have an international data plan you can easily

  • Pick up a sim card with a few gigs of data on it at the airport or in the city center.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode and hope there’s abundant free wifi available.
  • Just use some walkie talkies or smoke signals or something idk.

See also: 

What time does this close?

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

Salzburg, Austria

As an American, I’m used to things being open in fairly predictable patterns. Most offices operate roughly 9AM – 5PM and places to eat stay open until at least 10PM (often later) — but abroad, it’s often an entirely different story.

When I lived in Italy, places like offices, museums, and ancient sites would often close for lunch, or even an extended siesta in the middle of the day. Sometimes an attraction was open all weekend, so it was closed Mondays to make up for it.

A common travel mistake is to just assume the thing you want to do will be open. As you are planning your trip, be sure to note any peculiar closings or hours, especially if it’s a “must see” for you.

See also:

Is my shampoo lid screwed on all the way?

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

OKAY Y’ALL. Common travel mistakes 101.

It’s story time. Story time about those days of yesteryear when I didn’t think I needed to put my toiletries in a plastic bag or double check that they were closed before, you know, zipping them into a confined space with my computer, clothing, and passport copies.

Turns out, face wash doesn’t make your camera clean and clear and under control…it just makes it hang out in a bucket of rice for a few hours while hoping for the best.

So, learn from my mistakes. One of the most important questions to ask when traveling abroad is simple: are my freaking toiletries closed?

Pin it: 

Travel questions Questions to ask when traveling Questions to ask while traveling common travel mistakes

Follow:

Looking to create a study abroad bucket list? Look no farther! I’ve put together the ultimate European Scavenger Hunt so you and your friends can hit the highlights of Europe and make memories to last a lifetime.

I’m on Instagram at ShesATripBlog  and would LOVE to see your entries as you complete the list.  Make sure to tag me!

Editor’s note: I took many of these photos during my actual semester abroad, many moons ago before I was a blogger. Pre-braces and with a bad haircut. Be nice!

Study Abroad Bucket List // Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I’ve organized these by country first, then by points level — but, fair warning, everything is made up and the points don’t matter. 

See also: 

Study Abroad Bucket List Austria

  • 5 points 

Horsing around with the dancing Lipizzaners in Vienna.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Making music at Beethoven’s apartment — minus the hedonism (or not).

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 10 points 

Recreating any part of The Sound of Music in Salzburg.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

The “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” Gazebo.

Study Abroad Bucket List Czech Republic

  • 5 points 

“Imagining” a photo at the John Lennon Wall without anyone else in it.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Hot tip: going to Prague in the fall means it’s waaaay less crowded.

Eating a Trdelnik (even though they’re not Czech at all and you should probably just eat a Koláč).

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

A photo chilling at the Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge Prague Crowded

  • 10 points 

Since Charles Bridge is dubbed “the most annoying place in Prague” by locals, you deserve extra points if you can find an actual Czech on it. And yes, dragging the guy you were czeching out at the pub onto the bridge totally counts.

See also:

Study Abroad Bucket List England

  • 5 points 

The truly ~*iconic*~ London phone booth pic. Make sure to include Big Ben — the only British boy who will never break your heart.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Drinking Butter Beer at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Trying to get to Hogwarts at Platform 9 3/4.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I’ve since been sorted into Slytherin. Choosing not to live that truth.

A photo crossing Abbey Road.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

legit almost got hit by a car fam.

Hanging with the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 10 points 

If you bring friends to accurately create the Abbey Road cover, these bonus points are for you.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 100 points 

If you can get one of the guards to laugh, enjoy these major bonus points.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

His wife took this photo! <3 “Oh dear, looks as though I’m famous” – him.

See also:

 Study Abroad Bucket List France

  • 5 points 

A Hall of Mirrors selfie at Versailles.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

The classic Mona Lisa selfie. Be prepared to literally fight everyone to get to the front.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

The overdone-but-still-cute Louvre Pyramid Touch.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Modeling with the Eiffel Tower.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Looking “nice” in Nice.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Study Abroad Bucket List Germany

  • 5 points 

The classic Oktoberfest pic.

Can you wear normal clothes to Oktoberfest Oktoberfest costumes Oktoberfest outfits Cheap Oktoberfest costumes

Channeling your inner-Kennedy and Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

See also:

Study Abroad Bucket List Greece

  • 5 points 

Doing some heavy workouts at the PanAthenaic Stadium.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I’m so out of shape just looking at all these stairs made me feel tired.

Cheesing on the Acropolis.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 10 points 

Looking for Kostas on Santorini (#DatCalderraDoe)

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Study Abroad Bucket List Italy

  • 5 points 

Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa — it ain’t gonna do it alone!

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Channeling your inner Lizzie McGuire and tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Trying not to get eaten by a lion at the Colosseo.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Can’t forget a Gondola ride in Venice — that’s amore!

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

waaaay before Instagram — this is the only photo I have of myself on a gondala haha.

  • 10 points 

Literally just you eating some pizza.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Study Abroad Bucket List Ireland

  • 5 points 

The Guinness Storehouse pic in Dublin.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

This is at Jameson Distillery — but I feel like it still counts.

Kissing the Blarney Stone.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

This was right after. I’m scared of heights, so I need a second to recover.

See also:

Study Abroad Bucket List Monaco

  • 5 points 

Pretending to be hella rich and fancy while trying not to lose your last 20 Euro at the casino.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 100 points 

Monaco is known as a hangout for the rich and famous — so if you spot a celeb, you’ve earned these points!

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I met Eddie in London, not Monaco…so maybe I’l just take 50 points.

See Also:

Study Abroad Bucket List Morocco

  • 10 points 

The iconic camel selfie (up to you if you want to ride them — make sure they are being treated well!)

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Kammerlohr with her camel.

Make all your friends at home jealous with a snap of the Hammam Baths.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Study Abroad Bucket List the Netherlands

  • 5 points 

Just chilling NEAR the I Amsterdam sign because you’re wearing tight pants and aren’t that fit anyway, so you can’t climb up.

Is flixbus reliable

Hanging out inside a giant wooden shoe.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Making sure all the lame ~* under 21s*~ back in the States know you can drink in Europe by posing at the Heineken Experience.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 10 points 

Chilling on top of the I Amsterdam sign because you’re a literal monkey.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Peep my friend Mattias on the M.

Posing with one of the Dutch male models who work at the Heineken Experience.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I didn’t complete this step, so instead I offer you a photo of my Dutch brother-in-law and his groomsmen 🙂

Scotland

  • 5 points 

Looking for Jamie from Outlander.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

I didn’t find him.

Looking for Nessie.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

  • 10 points 

Literally just finding either of them.

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Final Tally

Best of luck completing your Study Abroad Bucket List! Add up all your points at the end of the semester to see who won (hint: all of you win because you got to study abroad in Europe).

I wasn’t able to do all of these in a semester, so don’t worry if you can’t either — just enjoy the journey.

  • Pin it:

Study Abroad Bucket List: The Ultimate European Scavenger Hunt

Follow:

This ultimate study abroad preparation checklist is here to save your life!

Preparing to study abroad is a super exciting time…so exciting, in fact, that you might forget to take care of some things before you jet off. Because I’ve been there, done that, messed that up, I’ve put together these study abroad planning tips to save you from the stress.

The Ultimate Study Abroad Preparation Checklist

See also: 

Typically, students choose a study abroad phone plan that might allow limited use within their new country, but without access to calls from home. If you plan to apply for a job during your program, then updating your voicemail is one of the most important things on your study abroad preparation checklist.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

Call me beep me, if you wanna reach me…in Istanbul

The message should be short and sweet:

Hi, this is [your name] and I’m out of the country until [date]. In the meantime, please contact me at [your email].

I lost out on a cool job because I forgot to update my voicemail before leaving the country. Don’t let it happen to you!

  • Confirm your Credits 

Confirming your credits is worth stopping by your school’s international programs office in person — just to check. Before you leave to study abroad, there is still time to add/drop classes in your program. Your academic advisor or your school’s international program coordinator will be able to confirm the exact number of credits you need to take abroad and how they will transfer back to your home university.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

My home away in Rome, the John Felice Rome Center.

Check and double check! Study abroad credits transfer is not something you want to mess up. I had a miscommunication with my registrar at Mount Holyoke and had to take two extra classes my senior year to graduate on time. No fun.

Don’t let this scare you, though! It’s not a reason not to study abroad. A little elbow grease and #ConstantVigilance can totally prevent any issues. Just don’t leave it off your study abroad preparation checklist.

See also: 

Don’t leave buying a bag off your study abroad preparation checklist. One of my main study abroad tips for women is to upgrade your purse before you leave. Also, if there are any guys reading this, ain’t no shame in rockin’ a new murse.

I’d like to recommend a “pick pocket + slash proof” bag like this one or this one. But fear not, you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety. I scoured the interwebs for the cutest choices because you’re all #WorthIt.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

My “hella secure and unstealable” purse

Since studying abroad on a budget is also key, a small investment in a budget airline approved suitcase will you a lot of money on weekend adventures in the long haul.

I have this one from Rick Steves and am absolutely obsessed with it. It’s basically a Mary Poppins bag, in that it holds way more than it appears to.

  • Make some Friends

There is usually a Facebook group that you can join to ask questions specifically related to your program and semester and get to know your classmates. It’s a great resource for finding sometime to split the ride to campus from the airport or to share dinner with during that first awkward night.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

the squad and I during my first week in Italy.

It’s also a good idea to touch base with your future classmates about sharing the cost of expensive textbooks, planning weekend trips, or trouble shooting Visa issues.

See also: 

Hate Traveling with Friends? Here’s How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation

5 Questions to Ask when Traveling to Avoid Common Travel Mistakes

  • Get a Credit Card 

Many of my friends had their debit cards eaten by ATMS or swiped by pickpockets. Getting a replacement debit card while abroad is SUCH a hassle, and you don’t want to consume your semester dealing with it. If you bring a credit card with you, you already have a replacement card handy if “disaster” strikes.

Credit cards are also easier to dispute fraudulent charges with, so if you fall victim to any shady travel companies, you are more likely to get your money back, making this one of the ESSENTIAL items on my study abroad preparation checklist.

 

  • Pin it:

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

 

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item via these links, I get some cash money, at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Follow:

Studying abroad can really suck.

You’ve been told that it will be the best experience ever, and it is…at first.

But then the homesickness sets in.

Since most students choose to study abroad during their junior year, most assume that the transition will be a breeze. They think that homesickness is something only freshmen experience. But it’s not.

I was one homesick Texan while studying abroad and I was in ROME. So the homesickness was compounded by feeling guilt for even feeling it in the first place when I was in such a cool city. It was awful, but I overcame it, so I know you can, too.

See also:

study abroad homesick

My Rome away from home.

Here’s how to deal with homesickness while studying abroad:

Say No Sometimes

Often, people put so much pressure on themselves to “have the best time ever” when studying abroad that they forget how they usually act. While studying abroad IS this amazing once in a lifetime thing, you’re going to burn yourself out and ruin it if you don’t slow your roll every once and a while.

When you’re at home or on your “home” campus, do you sleep in on Saturdays? Do you say “no” to events because you have a paper due? Don’t feel like you have to go 100 miles an hour at all times. You’re there for at least a semester, maybe even an entire year – you have the time to pace yourself.

So maybe the friends in your study abroad program are going to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight, visit the Sydney Opera House, or even zip line in the Costa Rican jungle. So what? Those events will still be there next week, next month, next semester. Don’t feel guilty for sitting out on some things to recharge for your next adventure.

study-abroad-homesick-tips-florence

Taking a break in Florence.

See also:

Get Out There

I’m not contradicting myself, I promise. People experience homesickness differently. While some need a reminder to recharge so they can continue to build friends at their study abroad program and enjoy themselves, others need that nudge to step outside their comfort zone.

Homesickness is often significantly tied to culture shock, which is a real and serious thing. It can be loosely defined as that confusing and nervous feeling that you get when you leave a familiar culture to live in a new and different one.

 Here’s how it usually goes:

  1. The Honeymoon Stage

This is how you feel when studying abroad still seems like a vacation. Everything is new and exciting and you might as well be at summer camp. You might be a little nervous, but you don’t miss your parents or home or dog or whatever because you’re having so much FUN.

study abroad homesick tips

My first week in Italy.

  1. The Frustration Stage 

This is usually when the worst of the homesickness sets in. You’ve been abroad for a few weeks and everything bothers you – even things you once found magical. You might find yourself even actively resenting the place you thought you were going to love.

“Why don’t they speak English?” “Why don’t the buses seem to follow the schedule?” “Why can’t things just be like they were AT HOME?”

In this stage, you long for the normalcy of home. But don’t worry – it gets better.

  1. The Adjustment Stage

There is no set timeline for going through these stages. Those around you might power through them, while you might linger behind.

That’s okay. It’s not a competition.

BUT to get out of the frustration stage and into this one, you need to actively try to make yourself at home in your new city.

As your surroundings become more familiar, you’ll find that you start feeling a little less homesick. This is because you’ll be able to recognize bits of the local language, start enjoying the food, and understand the transportation.

study abroad homesick tips

Finally feeling at home at the John Felice Rome Center 🙂

See also:

You can jumpstart this process by doing any of the following things:

  • Make an effort to learn the language, even if your program doesn’t require that you take it.
  • Take a trip to the grocery store. If you know people’s stomachs, you know their heart. Pop in your earbuds and get to know the local grub.
  • Take a preplanned walk around your city. Bring a paper map with you and wander. Which brings me to….
  • Find a place that’s yours. Maybe it’s a special bench, overlook, of café. Anything that you can call your own will help ease the transitional homesickness.
  • Talk to a counselor. If you’re still feeling down in the dumps, don’t be embarrassed about going to speak with the counseling office at your study abroad program, or the international students coordinator if you’re at a university. Their job is literally to make your time abroad the best time ever.
study abroad homesick tips

My “special place” — Il Pellicano Gelateria

4. The Acceptance Stage

You might make it to this stage, you might not. But after weeks, months, or even years of cycling through the previous stages of culture shock, you will get to the point where you can simply accept your new culture for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you understand it – or even like it – but you can function just fine and feel joy, not resentment.

Practice Self Care

While you’re still navigating homesickness abroad and the stages of culture shock, try these “quick fix remedies.”

  • Set up a weekly Skype session with the person you miss most. And don’t cancel!
  • Watch a familiar show. If you binge Pretty Little Liars in America, keep up with it in Australia. The characters can be like old friends and bring sense of normalcy to your new life.
  • Create a routine. On Tuesdays you have lunch at the café down the road. On Wednesdays you Skype with mom. On Thursdays you do laundry. Stability is a great way to combat homesickness.
study abroad homesick tips

Friends in Firenze.

Now go forth and prosper! And you can cry. That’s totally okay.

If you’re studying abroad this semester and need to vote in the American elections, click here. 

  • Pin it:

 

 

study abroad homesick tips

Follow: