Shanda Kopp shares her tips for weekend getaways.

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Now that the excitement of Freshers has come to a close, attention turns to what else can be done on the weekends besides going to The Vic. Since so many St Andreans hail from outside Europe, it only makes sense that students may choose to travel on weekends or short breaks. With that in mind, remember these five tips to make your short getaway easy and memorable.

  1. Make your destination relatively close and popular.

Personally, I define a place ‘close’ when the flight is under 4 hours. This is important because it allows you the maximum amount of time in your chosen destination. Getting to the airport is not the shortest of journeys, and you’ll most likely only have a few days. However, it’s also important for getting cheap direct flights — which helps with saving on accommodation. For this reason, places such as Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen make great weekend getaways.

  1. Make a rough plan.

Planning is important because it insures that you don’t miss out on attractions. Many restaurants and museums in mainland Europe have strange opening times, so researching this beforehand and creating a rough trip outline will prevent dissatisfaction with your trip. If you know there’s a specific café or exhibition you’d like to make it to in Madrid, planning a general route for the day can make it possible to get to both.

Paris by Moyan_Brenn, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Moyan_Brenn 
  1. Get up early.

Though I don’t always follow this one myself, an early morning is vital to getting a head start on your day. Sleep is for the dead, right? Many of the best markets are only open for the morning, and these are always a travelling highlight. They’re also great places to people watch, and to really get to see the locals. I know many people who have met wonderful locals at the morning markets, and have  gained wonderful further insight into the city they travelled to.

  1. Stay up late.

Maybe it seems counterintuitive to the last tip, but going out in a new country is a great way to meet friends and learn about their culture. Many European countries have a night life that’s quite unique to their identity –often with great music you’ve never heard before. Try to make it into places that the locals go, but make sure to keep your wits about you and be safe.

Prague by Moyan_Brenn, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Moyan_Brenn 
  1. Go with the flow.

None of these tips mean anything if you’re not willing to jump on opportunity when it arises. If nothing goes according to plan, be open to finding better activities. Maybe the museum was closed for refurbishment, but you’ve heard about a great pop up festival in the park. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go to the best restaurant in Prague, but along the way someone asks you to dinner at a local hole in the wall. These experiences are unexpected and special– and can often be the highlight of a trip.

The best thing about travel is that there are no rules. While these tips may help you get the most out of your trip, make sure to find your own way in the world of travel. Get out there and go for it!

Shanda Kopp