Mapping Out & Planning Your Travel
Hi! My name is Kansas Cushing and I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and was also able to visit London and Amsterdam while abroad. You’ll want to make the most out of your experience when you’re in a new country and will need to figure out some of the best locations to visit. It can feel overwhelming being immersed in a different culture, and sometimes a new language, but I have a couple of tips that can help you make the most of your travels abroad!
Tip #1 - Look up some best-reviewed restaurants
While abroad there is NO reason to eat bad food. Most often, restaurants near larger tourist locations are easily accessible to tourists, but may not be up to ‘local standards’ where locals would choose to eat. While it's always nice to stop into a restaurant while walking and exploring the city, making a plan to go to specific highly recommended restaurants gives you something to look forward to, and is a great way to find off-the-beaten-path restaurants.
Some great websites to use are Eater, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and small travel blogs.
Tip #2 - Use Airbnb to find local activities
Airbnb has a great experience section, where locals advertise their services that go beyond visiting a popular sight or eating at a restaurant. Most major cities will offer things like dance lessons, cooking classes of the local food, private tours, photography tours, and much more. One of my favorite memories was doing a boat tour with a local guide, where we saw the city in a whole new way and got great recommendations for other things to do and see.
Tip #3 - Use Maps to pin locations you would like to visit
If you’re traveling with a group, it can be especially hard to narrow down your sightseeing must-sees if you have a limited amount of time in a new city. Before leaving for your trip make a list of everything your group wants to do and see and pin all the locations on your Maps app. This is a great way to see how the city is laid out, figure out the places you can visit on the same day.
A bonus tip is a lot of smartphones can be set up to give you GPS directions if you set it up while on WiFi. Just leave your location and stay on the path and it should lead you right there! (Make sure you can remember the way back because you can’t reroute with no WiFi!)
Tip #4 - Find local resale/vintage shops
Visiting local thrift stores/vintage shops is a great way to find one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect the local culture/style. Depending on the location, some of these shops may be higher priced, but you can almost always find small jewelry/decor items.
REMINDER: Some of the thrift shops that are cheaper are often needed by locals who need clothing, shoes, etc. Try not to purchase more than a few items because people in that community don’t always have another option to shop somewhere else.
Tip #5 - Write down things as you buy them to bring home
One great way to remember what you bought, especially when going through customs on your return to the U.S. is to write it down after you buy it! It will also help you remember the gifts you already bought for friends/family.
Kansas is a 4th-year Computer Engineering Tech major in the College of Engineering Technology and studied abroad in summer 2019 on the Going Green: Exploring Innovations in Engineering faculty-led program.