The tribulations of traveling abroad

First off, I would like to acknowledge that I know this is a first world problem and that I am incredibly lucky to be studying abroad, let alone also travel Europe during my summer vacation.

However, planning weekend trips is incredibly stressful.  I am a planner and worry easily, so this only makes the process worse.

Before I started searching for planes, trains (but not automobiles)* for travel, I figured that the tickets would be incredibly cheap.  Decide to go to Dublin for the weekend? Get a plane ticket for $50!  Want to go to Warsaw on a whim? Book a train for $60!

…I was sorely mistaken.

Perhaps it was because I was only booking a little less than a month ahead of time, but I could not find a ticket to London or Rome, my two dream destinations (after Paris of course) for less than $150.  I ended up paying about $180 for a plane to Rome and $260 to take the Eurostar to London.

After I recovered from the shock of the prices, it was tough to coordinate times and weekends to go with the other Lehigh students on the trip.  We have a Facebook group that we talk on, but with different schedules during the summer it was hard to get things done quickly (you also don’t want to buy a nonrefundable ticket only to find out that no one else can go).

I booked my trip to Rome through Ryan air earlier this week, and then had to book London.  Earlier in the week, I tried to book a train and the purchase wouldn’t go through, saying that there was a problem with my card number.  After triple checking my card number, I realized the website defaulted to the UK page…and when I switched to the US, the price of the ticket went up (even with converting euros to dollars).

So now tonight, I finally had the basics down–we had the times finalized and I had the right country selected this time.  But the saga wasn’t over yet, I was still getting an error message.  In a panic, I called my bank and went through the frustrating menus until I reached a human being.  And so I learned my latest lesson in planning trips abroad–tell your bank that you are going to be overseas, or they may do pesky things like decline purchases on your debit card (even when you actually have money in your checking account!)

I am hugely relieved now that we have two weekend trips finalized.  For the other two weekends, I am hoping to travel to Normandy beach and somewhere else in France before Bastille day on Sunday the 14th and am going to throw caution to the wind and spontaneously plan a trip for the third weekend.

I leave tomorrow (there are no words to describe how I am feeling right now) and am spending the last night at home watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The most exciting month of my life starts tomorrow!

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