First Weekend Trip Do’s & Don’ts
Written by andrewgippert September 26, 2022
It’s been just over one week since our student cohort arrived here in Paderno del Grappa and I still can’t get over how gorgeous this campus is… We’ve all stayed extremely busy, as our time’s been filled with fun teambuilding activities, interactive problem solving/decision making classes, and late-night trip planning sessions where the craziest ideas get thrown out there. However, the highlight of my experience so far was the quick trip some friends and I took to the nearby city of Venice (Venezia if you’re Italian or boujee) during our first weekend in Italy. So, to help out future CIMBA students, I put together a quick list of 3 Do’s/Don’ts for your first weekend trip while studying abroad!
DO #1: Plan with a group
Being a student at CIMBA has many benefits, but one challenge at the start is forming quality relationships amongst others in your cohort who you’ll be living, studying, and traveling with for the next few months. And in my opinion, there aren’t many better ways to get to know people than by staying up until 1 AM debating if a beach vacation is possible in 60 degree weather or if we really need to get a place to stay in Venice for the night (the answer is yes by the way). While you may have your heart set on a destination that others aren’t as excited about or you think that it’ll be easier to travel alone, I promise you that planning and traveling with a group from the start will form strong bonds, teach you how to prepare for trips, and help save money on things like Airbnb’s and hotels.
DON’T #1: Plan an elaborate, overly complicated excursion
In the months leading up to CIMBA, I’m sure you’ve had your heart set on many fantastic excursions and trips that’ll surely level up your Instagram (and that’s perfectly fine), but for the first weekend, I highly recommend, for a couple reasons, visiting somewhere simple and within the region (Venice, Verona, Padova, etc). The first is that these “smaller” trips are much more manageable as teaching experiences for your future, larger travels. Second, these trips are simply more affordable than other grand plans and you’ll appreciate being closer to Paderno del Grappa when you’re still experiencing the affects of jet lag.
DO #2: Purchase certain passes ahead of time
While myself and many others at CIMBA preach spontaneity, there are certain things I recommend planning in advance, like visiting museums or other attractions that require tickets. In Venice, our group really wanted to visit Saint Mark’s Basilica, but that excitement died when we saw the “non-ticket” line wrapped around the square, down a canal, and all the way to Rome. However, if we would’ve pre-purchased tickets earlier in the week, we could have skipped the line and have actually entered the beautiful church.
DON’T #2: Wear uncomfortable shoes
From one young adult to another young adult, I know that when we hear our superiors warn us to ditch our fashionable shoes for more comfortable walking shoes, we sometimes roll our eyes. But in Europe, this advice is crucial. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, I personally walked a total of 44,000 steps… I don’t think I need to say any more.
DO #3: Ensure your cell phone data/service will last the ENTIRE trip
For phone coverage, I’m personally using an app called Airalo that allows you to purchase virtual eSIM cards for specific countries/regions that last either a set amount of time or GB storage. Before the weekend, I purchased 1GB of data usage for $4.50 which was great – until I got separated from the group and immediately ran out of storage, leaving me with no form of communication. So, to ensure that your travel buddies don’t have to wonder if you’ve been kidnapped, robbed, or fell into a canal, I highly recommend buying larger plan than you’ll actually need.
DON’T #3: Eat where there are men outside ushering you in
One of the best pieces of advice our Airbnb host gave us was to avoid restaurants with a man out front attempting to get you in. Instead, look for the places where there are many people already eating and the staff are more concerned with serving food and drinks rather than convincing you that their pizza and pasta is the most authentic, because it’s probably not. To take it one step further, I found that my favorite meals came from restaurants where the staff barely spoke any English, the reason being that the highest quality restaurants and cafes are frequented most by the local Italians, so there is hardly a need for the workers to learn new languages.
BONUS DO: Interact with the locals and other tourists
While I don’t advise chatting with suspicious people looking to take advantage of an American tourist, I do suggest that you make conversation with the locals and others from various countries because this lead to some of my favorite memories from the trip. Jack Resier does a great job detailing some of these stories in his blog post so I suggest reading that, but for now I’ll say that this weekend, I learned that bachelor parties are in fact a world wide occurrence and the Italians enjoy including everyone in on the fun.
To conclude, I know that advice from our professors and instructors can often times seem mundane and repetitive, but I genuinely believe that these seven items were the most impactful towards our group having a great trip! Ciao and good luck with your (future) travels!