Year Abroad weekend trip and holiday ideas

Year Abroad weekend trip and holiday ideas Road Trip by José Cuervo Elorza

This article was written by Elissa Parker, published on 6th February 2014 and has been read 5322 times.

Elissa is studying English and French at the University of Leicester and is spending her year abroad in France, working as an English Language Assistant near Lille. Here is her advice for making the most of weekends and holidays on your year abroad - from train travel, couchsurfing and car sharing to working on organic farms and saying 'yes!' to new opportunities...

Living in the UK can be great. But the one thing that gets in the way? The tiny stretch of water called the English channel. It creates a barrier for the scared and nervous, for the lazy, and most definitely for those of us without a lot of cash hanging around.

On your year abroad, a lot of you will find yourself in mainland Europe. This opens many doors for the cultural, the curious and the self confessed wandering souls. Just a few weeks into your new life abroad, it is almost guaranteed that the holiday period will end and you will be itching for more.

From putting your pen down in your final exam of second year to attending yet another freshers week in fourth year, you will find yourself with 15/16 months on your hands. And you no doubt have time to fill...! Weekends are free for all! Assistantships are usually only twelve hours a week, and whether at a placement or at uni, you will get days off!

Here is a brief guide on what to do, where to go, and how to do it!

1. Hop on a train
Travel around your country by train. The British train system, as we know, is nothing to shout about. Yet other countries seem to have hit the nail on the head by not charging you an arm and a leg to travel a few hours. Many countries offer student discounts or 'youth' fares for those under 25. If wanting to go further a field, check out Interail passes. They even offer passes for one country, if you know you're going to be using several trains in just a few days.

Head to the InterRail website to find out more...

2. Take to the skies
With budget airlines dominating the skies, you have very little excuse to not just lock your door behind you and head straight to the airport. Obviously booking early is key, and with airlines offering flights for as little at fifteen euros each way, there is always a bargain to be had. Most airlines allow free hand luggage, which can usually be a small suitcase, just enough room for a weekend away. People who enjoy a lot of legroom will unfortunately need to stay a little cramped, but remember, it will only be for a few hours (personally I don't have that problem.)

Kayak is great for cheap flight comparison.

3. Jump over the border

Have a look within your city or at your university for travel companies. Budget companies often organise coach trips to nearby cities or locations. I have been to Amsterdam, Luxembourg City and Cologne for just €30 return for each trip. Yes, coaches can be tedious, but go with a group of friends and you will have arrived before 'are we there yet' even has time to creep out of your mouth.

4. House exchange
It goes without saying that on your year abroad you will meet people from all corners of the globe. Offer your house as a future base for those wanting to visit the UK, and they can return the favour. Et voila: free accommodation in other countries. Most people love 'showing off' their own city, and playing the tour guide, so ask around!

5. Go surfing
Not actual surfing... well, feel free, but I'm referring to the couch variety! There is a common misconception that couch-surfing is somewhat sketchy. But check out the reviews, have a look at the locations, and it could be one of the best parts of your year abroad! Many people host, find someone they click with, and then arrange to stay with them in their country. You could end up finding a life-long foreign friend! This is perfect for the free-spirited lonely traveller, but many couchsurfers do allow more than one person, so you don't necessarily have to go alone!

Sign up on the Couchsurfing website.

6. Sharing is caring
Carshare! Find yourself with a free few days but have left it too late to book a train? Have a look at car sharing websites and you could find yourself going for a 3-hour car journey for just the cost of your share of the petrol! Great for a cheap journey, and chances are, they will be a native, so you can brush up on your language skills while you travel! And it is better for the enviroment, so you can pat yourself on the back for that!

BlaBlaCar is one of the best!

7. Become a farmer
Stuck for what to do in the holidays, or don't want to leave your country straight away? Have a look at WWOOF. You can work alongside natives, in exchange for accommodation and food. You work on their organic project, whether it be on a vineyard, or a cow farm, the options are endless. No, you don't get paid, but being immersed into the life of a native, most probably in the countryside, is surely the ultimate cultural experience?

WWOOF has all the information!

8. Be a yes man
The final point is more 'sightseeing' than 'travel.' One of the people at your placement is visiting a carnival, or the old lady next door invites you for lunch at her friends in the next town. You have no reason to say no! (Unless you have never met them before... don't talk to strangers) I have been to colleagues' birthdays, or five-hour long lunches with my housemate's family. Yes, these experiences can be daunting, but if there is ever one time in your life to be the 'yes man' the time is now!

The country you are in is important, and every country is bursting with diversity. Yet seeing other cultures and countries is equally as important; get out there! You want to look back at this as the best year of your life, right? Packed with experiences and hilarious anecdotes? Get up and go.

Travel, search, explore; you wont regret it.

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