We have all been there. We want to spend a week or two in Europe, fly away to the Bahamas, experience a new culture in South America, but we just don’t know how. Should we travel alone? How do we know we will be safe? Where do we even start?
Luckily, there are people out there who are well versed in the travel lifestyle, and they all started somewhere too. Even better, the best way to feel more comfortable engaging in a new travel experience is by learning from new people. So, why don’t we just ask?
This interview edition will allow us to get some answers for our biggest travel questions. I interviewed Adrian Doppler, a student from Vienna, Austria who studied abroad at UW Madison during Fall 2018. Adrian calls himself a xenophile, a person who has a respect and love for new cultures. He has traveled to countless places, and is the person I have been able to ask my personal travel questions. Considering I would call myself a ‘newbie’ at travel, I always find it most helpful to talk with those close to me about their travel experiences before I venture off into my own. Adrian is one of the people with the most helpful answers, so I figured you could benefit from his answers too.
Q (Claudia): How do you look for a place to go?
A (Adrian): The most important part is your budget. As a college student, assuming you have a lower budget, you might have less choices. But overall, the average places are all within a reasonable price range. This price depends on where you go as well, and sometimes not all places have the same infrastructure. This can make it more difficult. But research and understanding where you are going, especially if it’s somewhere unlike your homeland, is very helpful.
Q: What do you find most helpful to look for when booking a stay?
A: Well, there are several categories of places to stay, and it also sometimes depends on what you plan on doing. Let’s say you are backpacking, you could either go wherever the wind blows comparing prices, or you could just take what you can get. When it comes to booking in advance, looking for websites like Airbnb, booking.com, or expedia are the best places to find lower prices. On booking.com specifically you can set filters, price ratios, categories, stars, how many people in a room, your own room, etc. It is kind of like like Airbnb but with hostels and guest houses included, so that is really convenient.
Q: What do you recommend for housing when you are traveling alone? What about traveling with a group?
A: When traveling in a group, Airbnb is better because there are usually two or three sleeping options, and you can split the price. This is nice because splitting the price makes it cheaper. For solo traveling, it would be cheaper to stay in a hostel.
Q: Do you prefer traveling alone or with friends?
A: It really depends on what you are comfortable with, and if you have friends that also want to travel. I prefer to travel alone. More people than you think are traveling alone, and sharing conversations with them is the best. You’re actually never alone because we all thrive for social connections, especially when being forced to. Traveling alone forces me to spend more time branching out and make new connections. It’s a great eye-opening experience.
Q: If you look into hostels, are you most often sharing with people you don’t know?
A: Yes, you must be comfortable with that. In order to evaluate the situation, you can also read reviews on multiple websites to make sure you’re in a safe environment – the reviews don’t typically lie. I personally think it’s a plus to meet new people in hostels, you can get recommendations of places to go near you, and secret spots that you wouldn’t have found if you didn’t have new people telling you what to look for.
Q: What do you do if your housing experience doesn’t live up to your expectations?
A: Sometimes the pictures posted aren’t accurate, but you can always book it and see the room first before you actively move in and they will cancel if you want. This can cause trouble because you may be in a place without wifi or use of your data. You might need wifi to search for places, but hopefully there are places nearby where you could connect, like a coffee shop. To be extra safe, just attempt to make sure you aren’t booking a place in the middle of nowhere.