Friday, December 18, 2015

Year in Review 2015: Travel By The Numbers

2015 isn’t quite over yet, and I’m not quite done traveling but in my last few days of blogging this year I thought it would be nice to do a bit of a “round-up” of all of my traveling. This morning I found a nifty website that allows me to put pins into a digital map. After playing around a bit I was amazed at just how many places I have been to, both in and outside of the United States.

United States- I always say that I need to travel more within my own country, it’s so big and there’s so much to see. I did better this year, though my time was exclusively spent on the East coast. I need to get out west man! Montana is on my bucket list for 2016, we’ll see how that goes.


Home- aka Berkshire County, though I spend less and less time here every year, I still love coming home and really appreciate it the longer I’m away. I spent time in January, March (the worst spring break ever-not because I was home but because my school closed…), May, and August in the Berks. I was usually working but I still had time to enjoy the area.

New York/Boston- While I’ve loved visiting these cities in the past, in 2015 they were used exclusively for their airports.

Misquamicut- Spent a day at the beach with mom and Hannah the day after I got home from camp and I didn’t get sunburned (YAY…considering last time).

Hartford- I’ve become very familiar with Trinity College in Hartford over the past couple of years thanks to my frequent-as-possible visits to Jess.


Sweet Briar/Lynchburg- I of course spent plenty of time at SBC this spring as that is where I go to school.

Charlottesville- I always say I should go to C-ville more, but this spring I was there for Foxfield and a few Sunday drives

Farmville- Because…yeah.

Washington DC- I know this isn’t technically Virginia but I didn’t want to make a whole separate category. I drove 10 hours each way to DC to hand in paperwork for my visa in July. I stayed overnight with a friend but was in the consulate FOR FOUR MINUTES.

The rest of the Southeast-

Hendersonville, NC (and surrounding small towns) - I spent ten glorious weeks working at Camp Ton-A-Wandah this summer (minus the part where I had to drive up to DC). It was amazing to say the least.

Asheville, NC- I love Asheville. I first went there in March to run a half-marathon at the Biltmore estate and then spent several nights off there during the summer. It’s what I like to call “hippietown USA” and I LOVE it.

Charleston, SC- I got to spend about a week with my friends down in Charleston after finals, before graduation. It was a blast and can be summarized by “sunburns and Kraminsky’s”. I can’t wait to go back, the city was beautiful!

International- So obviously I’m abroad now and this past semester has been a whirlwind of European traveling though I do consider myself to “live” in Sevilla right now as opposed to visiting, which is super cool. Actually, Sevilla is the place I’ve lived the longest this year being here over 15 weeks already.

Burkina Faso- Let’s not forget why I stated this blog! At the very beginning of this year I spent about two weeks in Yako, Burkina Faso. Though it was sometimes very hard, I loved it and it has been calling my name ever since. Look for a super exciting post about a beautiful little girl I worked with there very soon!


Sevilla- My beautiful home. I have absolutely fallen in love with Sevilla. Though I’d never call myself a city girl, Sevilla really is the perfect size for me. It’s taken a bit of adjusting but I’ve really come to love the Spanish way of life.

Madrid- I’ve been up to Madrid several times this year, usually I’m just passing through but I’ve also had time to enjoy the city and it’s slowly growing on me. La Latina is my favorite neighborhood by far including this marvelous vintage store called “Remember”. It also has its fair share of free museums and exhibitions including a printing press museum. Oh, and the coolest feminist bookshop.

Cádiz- At the end of orientation we spent a day in this historical and beach-y city. It was cool but not overwhelmingly so.

Córdoba- My favorite part of Cordoba was walking around the old Jewish Quarter. It was beautiful and had some amazing artisan shops.

Ronda- A geographically cool city, Ronda is built on the side of cliffs and is surrounded by mountains. I probably would have like it more if it didn’t rain the entire time we had free time.

Granada- Granada was beautiful and though I had seen it before, the Alhambra was amazing. This time I was really taken by the mountains, we had an amazing view from the top of a fortress. I could have stared at them all day. I also bought a pair of fair trade boots from Colombia and have worn them pretty much every day since.

The rest of Europe- I have written extensive posts on all of these so I’ll keep them short and sweet.

Lisbon/Sintra, Portugal (Trip Post)- This was my first trip outside of Spain and I fell in love with Lisbon. Oh and Sintra was a magical fairytale land.

Amsterdam (Trip Post)- I still have mixed feelings about this trip, but in general I learned a lot, ate yummy food, and took some amazing pictures

Dublin (Trip Post)- I could see myself living/working in Dublin. The energy of the city is great and I felt so at home. Also visiting friends is a plus.

Athens/Aegina (Trip Post)- I spent my birthday in Greece and it was magical. The food was great, the landscape was breathtaking, I met new people, and had a blast in general.

Travel by the numbers
Countries: 7
States (not counting ones I’ve driven through): 7
Cities (“home” is one): 27
Planes (not counting layovers): 9
Trains: 9
Boats/Ferries (not counting return trips): 2
Buses: Too many
Budget Breakdown

You might not know this, or maybe you do, but I’m really cheap. I hate spending money and save in every way I can. Since I’ve been abroad I’ve kept an extremely detailed weekly budget. One of the things that has always been frustrating to me is that people who travel extensively seem to have unlimited, or at least very flexible budgets. Studying abroad hasn’t been cheap (well actually it’s much cheaper than me being at school) and neither has traveling, but I’m pretty proud of how much I’ve spent compared to how much I’ve done. I thought it might be helpful to share what my budget looked like this semester as far as traveling.

The total I spent from my travel budget was 1,078 euros (~$1,170). I had a weekly budget and on occasion I used any left over money from the week to supplement my trip budget. This totaled about 40 or so euros over the course of the entire semester. How does this look broken down?

Lisbon- 200 euros – this payed for a bus, a two night stay in an amazing hostel, food, transportation within the city, a walking tour, admission into several sites including castles and museums, postcards, and a few souvenirs.

Amsterdam – 317 euros – this included a (pricey-er) direct from Sevilla flight, transportation to and from the various airports, food, bike rentals, left luggage, and a few gifts. I did couchsurfing to avoid paying for accommodation and stocked up on bread, peanut butter, and fruit at a grocery store to cut down on costs. I also skipped the big (expensive) museums in favor of smaller (free) ones that were more off the beaten path.

Dublin – 211 euros (with a bit extra from my weekly budget) – this covered a bus to/from Madrid, my flight Madrid to Dublin, to/from airport transportation in Dublin, food, entrance to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a CD from a band on the street, and beer. I stayed with a friend (Hey Chris!) to avoid paying for accommodation and we walked everywhere, even though it was a solid three mile hike into the center of the city. 

Greece – 350 euros – I’m not going to lie, I got a solid amount of free stuff because it was my birthday, but the 350 euros covered the bus to Madrid, my flight to/from Athens, the AVE (having to buy this at 65 euros made me cringe but I was not waiting 12 hours to take the bus home, plus I love the AVE) from Madrid to Sevilla, food, gifts, the ferry to/from Aegina, and to/from airport/train station transportation. I again stayed with a friend (Thanks Matt!) to cut down on accommodation, are you seeing a trend in my traveling strategy? I also got in free to every historical site which was awesome.

As you can see, weekend trips don’t need to cost more than a few hundred euros. Like I said, I don’t like spending money so I found ways to cut costs, like staying with friends (which is more fun anyways) or taking a 6 hour night bus to Madrid. My travel style helps; for the most part I’m not interested in big tourist attractions. I usually skip them in favor of smaller more off the beaten path ones. For example, I skipped out on the Rijiksmuseum in Amsterdam (about 20 euros) and instead went to the Collier’s Diamond Museum, Royal Delft Experience, sampled cheese at a cheese store and Bloemenmarkt, all for free. Sure they don’t have world famous art, but I’ve been to numerous art museums for free, like the Gulbenkianin in Lisbon and ones paid for by my program like the Prado and Reina Sofia. Also, important to note: I like to drink as much as the next college student, and tend to have a bit of an expensive taste. When I’m traveling, I rarely drink and this cuts down significantly on costs. When I do go out, of course I have a glass of wine or beer with a meal but since I’m not into partying/clubbing/any of that I save a lot. I’ve seen people spend on one night out what I spend in a whole day. Also, do yourself a favor and bring your own food to the airport. A breakfast that costs 6 euros at the airport costs 2,1 here in Sevilla. At the same Café.

I’ve been extremely lucky that my program pays for various trips around Spain. Now, I know that technically we are paying for the trips ahead of time, but because JYS is a Sweet Briar program I had most of my scholarships applied no problem in addition to an extra JYS scholarship, so I personally am not actually paying much at all to be here (again, blessed, one hundred million times blessed). I have had the opportunity to travel all over Andalucía- Cádiz, Córdoba, Ronda, and Granada as well as Madrid.

Looking back at the year, my trip to Burkina was 100% funded by the honors program at my school.

All of that being said, studying abroad is a financial commitment and I spent a lot of time working over the past couple of years to be able to enjoy it, including two jobs at SBC this spring in addition to babysitting in Amherst, working all summer at camp and then at both the Brien Center (a mental health organization) and the restaurant at Jacob’s Pillow when I was home in May/August (usually double days and a few overnight shifts). I have also recently started tutoring here in Sevilla. I have found it super helpful to keep a detailed record of everything that I buy and also interesting. For example I’ve bought 74 cups of coffee here in Sevilla so far. You can also see the dramatic increase in coffee between my first week and this week.

I can tell you that my January trip involves a much bigger budget, but I’m also traveling for a full month, not just a weekend. I know that I’ll be taking advantage of markets/supermarkets, which are actually super fun in foreign countries. I’m also staying in hostels, and even one hotel room but I’ve saved for this trip all summer so I’m beyond excited.

Well there you have it, a pretty comprehensive (I think) breakdown of my travel both over the past year and this semester. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

1 comment:

  1. I should take budget lessons from you. Although I am slowly learning that we ready don't need a lot of "things" A great read.
    Love you.