It can be hard to keep track of all the traveling you do when studying abroad. And for someone like me, who likes to plan and keep mementos, the best thing I did for myself was buy a journal specifically for planning adventures and keeping track of my experiences. So I bought myself a nice Moleskine bullet journal. I decided against the one with lines simply because I love to sketch architecture and the bullets are just better for that. Before getting to France, I organized lists for each each country I wanted to visited and made checklists for the sights and cities I was interested in visiting. Once I’m back, I stick all my tickets and small souvenirs onto the pages so that I can always remember them.
Once I got to France I began journaling in it too, documenting any difficulties and/or cultures shock I was facing, but also sketching and describing the beautiful sights. I found that this helped me deal with the culture shock much better and appreciate the little elements I was enjoying.
Once my program started and I began traveling, I used my journal to plan.
I try to begin by simply listing all the places I want to hit when in a particular city. Once I have done my research and decided on the definite sights, I go to google maps. They have an ‘add destination’ feature where you can map out a path between all your destinations and compare distances. This was so helpful (especially in Florence) for deciding which parts of the city to hit on which day. Once I have mapped my life away, I check the weather and decide which days to do inside activities and when to do outside ones. Then I get to work organizing each day. I just list all the places I want to hit, then on a separate sheet I figure out the total costs for each sight or event. While I don’t always get to everything, this still puts my mind at ease because I know what I will likely spend and if I run out of things I have backups.
One of the ways I keep my memories is in the form of post cards. As a student I don’t have much money, so I find that postcards are perfect cheap souvenirs. I usually buy 4 or 5 from every place I visit and send 2 of those to family and friends then keep the others for myself. Right now, I have them all pinned in chronological order with the name of each place on the wall next to them. Once I get home, I plan on getting a large framed bulletin board where I can organize them. I love the way they look and the memories they carry, plus most of them are little works of art in and of themselves.
I also keep all my pamphlets, maps and wristbands from museums and activities. It is so cool to look at an old map and see all the places you went. Plus, they are great (free) souvenirs to take back to your family.
I hope this post helped you and gave you some good advice on planning trips abroad. If you liked this post give me a comment and feel free to request more study abroad posts! I would love to answer any questions 🙂