What I learned from my first travel “adventure”

Written by sarahtenenbaum June 3, 2022

During the first week of CIMBA, one of the hardest tasks was planning a last-minute trip for the weekend. Unfortunately, when planning a trip last minute, there are always a few things that can go wrong for first-time travelers. When these obstacles happen, there is always something to learn from the experience.

The first thing I learned is when booking a train you should never hesitate when booking tickets. During traveling like this in a large group, we needed to book tickets at the same time. When my group agreed on going to Florence, we were scared to buy train tickets without knowing what we were getting ourselves into. This led to us being unable to be on the same trains and my group being split in half from the beginning. When traveling in large groups, book tickets early and at the same time!

The second thing that I learned during my last-minute booking is if something seems too good to be true it most likely is. While we were on our final train to Florence, Air BnB called our group and said that the Air BnB we booked was a scam. Looking back on it, we should have known when there were zero reviews and a price that was too good to be true. This led my group to wander around for hours all over Florence until finally finding a hotel that would take us at the last minute. The Air BnB was too lovely for a last-minute booking when there are so many other groups of students looking for an air BnB on the same dates. Always do careful research on prospective accommodations! 

The third thing I learned this weekend was to always keep track of my belongings. The second night we were in Florence, I was dancing around and happened to lose my debit card. I was putting my flashlight on the ground and walked every square inch of our location looking for it. Finally, I asked the workers there and he sent me downstairs to the financial office. A kind Italian turned my card in while I was looking and I was able to miraculously get it back in my possession. I learned a valuable lesson about being more responsible with my valuables for the next trip. Keep track of your belongings!

The final thing I learned during my weekend trip to Florence is how to use a train station correctly. While we were trying to find our way home from Florence, we ended up taking the wrong train for two hours to Pisa. Once the train stopped, the staff member manning the CIMBA emergency phone line helped find us a train home. We had to take a train back to Florence and then wait for 4 hours until 2 am to take the night train to Padova. From there, we had to take a cab for an hour to get back to the CIMBA campus. I got to my room by 6 am and I had to get up and ready for classes 2 hours later. This was a serious life lesson for me because I learned to go to larger train stations and always ask for help if we don’t know where we are going. Learn how to use public transportation correct and always ask for help when needed!

After going through this during the weekend, I have set some goals to make traveling easier in the upcoming weeks. My first goal is to sit down and plan my trip from beginning to end as soon as possible before we leave. My second goal is to find a better place to keep my valuables on me and to keep my stuff safer when going out in large cities. My final goal is to get to and from my location smoothly and easily. I would like to learn from my mistakes from the past weekend and hopefully make future trips even better.