As the semester draws to a close and I look back on the trips I took, I’m realizing just how easy it has been to travel from Prague, as there are so many options to travel cheaply — if you’re prepared to sacrifice a little comfort along the way.
Students are drawn to Prague because of the combination of its location, the abundance of cheap beer and a legal drinking age of 18. From Prague it’s insanely easy to just jump on a flight and jet off to Paris, London, Madrid or any other European location for a long weekend, especially because the airport is a mere 30 to 40 minutes from campus by public transportation.
However, there’s more to Europe than London and more to the Czech Republic than beer and a convenient airport. This semester, NYU Prague offered 15 trips, ranging in length from one to three days, to destinations throughout the Czech Republic, as well as one to Dresden, Germany.
Having studied in Shanghai and New York, where free trips are rare if not unheard of, I was at first surprised but quickly learned to appreciate this perk of studying in Prague. While trips do not remain constant throughout different semesters, there are always many different types directed towards varying interests on offer. For example, one trip that I went on was a day-long hike in the Sumava National Park, which was perfect for those who wanted to relax and enjoy nature, while another one I went on was to the bustling Dresden Christmas market.
So what to do if you’ve exhausted all the free NYU trips and still want to travel?
While trains are also available, FlixBus or budget airlines are the way to go. Of course, this depends on your location of choice — Poland, Austria and Hungary are the most popular and viable options if you decide to take the bus, with most of these destinations costing around 20 USD for a one-way trip. I’ve taken overnight trips with FlixBus, lasting six hours from Budapest and 10 from Warsaw, and while you might not get the best sleep of your life, it’s safe, there’s Wi-Fi and it costs a fraction of the price of a flight.
I was lucky this semester in the sense that I have no travel horror stories to tell regarding any of my trips. One thing to remember is that low-cost carriers like WizzAir, Vueling or Ryanair (which is especially notorious for trying to exert extra hidden fees from customers) usually have fairly stingy policies regarding baggage. Make sure you check-in online before going to the airport to avoid hefty fees, and remember that these options never include checked baggage. Some carriers allow a small carry-on, which you should be sure to measure beforehand to make sure it complies with requirements.
All in all, Prague is an amazing city, whether you want to travel every weekend or explore where you’re living. One last thing I would say is that people sometimes go overboard, booking trips for every weekend before the semester has even started, solely because of Prague’s location — and how easy it is to travel. It might be a better idea to consider spreading these trips out between weeks, leaving a week or two between each, taking time to relax in Prague, than risk being overwhelmed by schoolwork as a result of too much travel.
Email Orsi Liddiard at [email protected]