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European travel made easier Professor, book offer tips for simplifying upcoming overseas expeditions

April 23, 1997

Courtesy Photo

University students will travel to Europe this summer to visit famous sights such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, pictured above.

By Kelly Maher

Lariat Reporter

Every student dreams of taking a semester off, backpacking through Europe, staying in youth hostels for little money and maybe finding a European love. With the many opportunities offered today this dream has become a common reality. Before jetting off to Europe, however, there are many things first-time travelers should know.

First, anyone who has been to Europe knows to pack light. This is more essential than many realize.

Dr. Bill Pitts, professor of religion and professor for Baylor in Great Britain, emphasizes this point. 'Take a lot fewer clothes than you have planned. In place, take more money.'

'Clothes are the worst culprit-- bringing too many will make you feel that you spent two months doing nothing but carrying a giant mass of dirty laundry around Europe,' said Louise CasaBianca, author of First-Time Europe: A Rough Guide Special.

Some students have encountered unusual incidents by forgetting to pack essentials like an adapter for electrical appliances.

'Make sure you take the right adapters for electrical appliances because I didn't and my hair dryer blew up,' said Marla Kennedy, an Irving sophomore and European traveler.

Also when traveling in Europe, the phrase 'When in Rome do as the Romans do' definitely applies. It is important to acclimate yourself to the surrounding culture in order to enjoy your stay in Europe.

'When traveling in Europe you have to adapt to the people of the places you visit. You must honor their customs and habits in order to have a good time,' Kennedy said.

The answer to the question of how much money to bring is budget, budget, budget. This is important in order to prevent yourself from buying every ware being peddled by street vendors. Fortunately for students, traveling can be much cheaper because of the many student discounts offered.

CasaBianca gives $3800 as a realistic estimate for a two-month excursion, but often one can travel much cheaper. Students should obtain an International Student Identification Card. Almost any student travel agent can issue one with just a small photograph and proof of student status. Students will save on anything that can be considered 'educational,' according to CasaBianca's guide. This may include museums, tours, airfare and other cultural attractions.

Another item students must obtain prior to leaving the United States is a Eurail pass. These must be purchased before leaving for Europe and allows the student to travel to almost any major European city.

'A Eurail pass allows you to just hop on a train and move from city to city, and if you need to save money you can take overnight train trips and just sleep on the train instead of having to pay for a room,' Pitts said.

Travelers should use traveler's checks and credit cards whenever possible. Often credit cards from major companies offer a better exchange rate, and credit cards also are a great convenience.

'If we want theater tickets, credit cards save time,' Pitts said. 'We just call up and order the tickets over the phone with a credit card, then we just arrive 15 minutes ahead of time to pick up our tickets.'

Travelers should also look out for crime because tourists are often the unfortunate victims.

'Europe is extremely safe on the whole-- probably much safer than home--if you come from a big American city,' CasaBianca said.

A common crime is having your purse snatched by one of the many moped drivers prevalent in the major cities. A moped driver will pull up to you, make the snatch and speed on by, leaving you often with just the strap of your purse.

According to CasaBianca's guide, robbery by gangs of small children is common. The children run up to you, swarm and distract you, then the contents of your purse or wallet are swiped.

For Baylor students wanting to travel abroad, the University offers many opportunities. One of the most popular is the Baylor in Great Britain program. This program led by Pitts and Dr. Andy Moore of the English department offers students credit hours in many subjects in addition to the incredible experience of traveling around England and other European countries.

'There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to see different things such as one of the many plays or symphonies,' Pitts said.

Students are in the prime time of their lives to travel and see the world. They have no major responsibilities holding them back and travel is more affordable for students than for anyone else. The time to travel is now, and with a little knowledge and preparation, traveling to Europe can be easy and enjoyable.

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