PackingPack light! Experienced travelers suggest that you bring half as much luggage as you think you need. Check with your airline for specifics on baggage allowance. Check the web site of the Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) to be sure that everything you pack is allowed. Remember to leave space in your suitcase for items that you will purchase overseas. Do not forget that you are sharing a room with other students. Be considerate and limit your luggage to one large suitcase and one backpack for day trips. Do not pack your passport in your suitcase! It should be kept on your person while traveling for safety and easy access. Returned students highly recommend purchasing a money belt or similar device to keep money and passport close to the body and secure. Make photocopies of your passport and all credit cards and carry copies separately from the originals. Carry essentials onboard; occasionally luggage gets misplaced.
Clothing:Versatile wash-and-wear clothing is recommended, since dry cleaning is very expensive. The weather in the UK is surprisingly cool in May. In addition to casual everyday clothes, students from previous summer programs suggest that you pack a nicer set of clothing to wear to finer restaurants, theater performances, concerts, receptions, and other events outside of the classroom.
Shoes:Be sure to pack a pair of comfortable shoes, since you will be doing a lot of walking. A pair of nice sandals or casual shoes may also be useful. If you plan on wearing new shoes, break them in before you leave or you will have plenty of blisters!
Travel outside of class:
Some students choose to stay after the end of the program to travel around the UK and other countries in Europe. A National Rail or Eurail pass (purchased in the US) enables students to visit the UK or Europe, but it is important to estimate how extensively you will travel before purchasing. For some students, the card is not economical. Former participants recommend purchasing a good guidebook before going abroad.
Web Sites:Eurail: http://www.raileurope.com
Traveling by Train:Traveling by train is the best way to see Europe. In most countries the trains are punctual, clean, comfortable, and inexpensive, and they go nearly everywhere. There are various rail passes available. The Eurail pass provides unlimited second-class travel throughout Western Europe (except the UK) within a specific period of time. Eurail passes can be purchased at www.eurail.com and at US travel agencies. In addition, each European country offers its own passes. Consult a travel agency, a travel guide or a web site for more information about travel in Europe.
Hitchhiking:Hitchhiking in Europe can be dangerous and is NOT recommended. Hazards include road accidents, frequent thefts, and personal assaults.
Taxis:Use only official taxis. Always take a seat in the back of a taxi.
Tube:Most of your travel in London will be by Tube (underground train) or bus. Your fees will pay for at least one week of Tube travel, and in some years we have been able to pay for all four weeks. One of our first tasks will be to purchase Oyster cards (they're gray, and they make the world into your oyster), which enable you to travel by Tube and bus without searching for change.
It is highly recommended that students team up with other students who are interested in traveling to similar areas. As a traveler, be well organized. Keep your documents safe but readily available. Study local maps to become familiar with your destinations, noting which areas are considered safe. While much of the pleasure of studying abroad on a summer program is getting to know people and sharing adventures, be prepared to rely on yourself for things such as money, access to transit, transit schedules, etc.