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European Travel Tips

Gap year student abroad in EuropeA new decade is almost here. With 2020 right around the corner, the next cast of Up with People returns to Denver, CO to begin preparing for their spring tour. They will be making several stops throughout Europe (stay tuned on our tours and events page to see where they will be going next).

Are you thinking of taking a trip to Europe yourself? Thankfully, we have a lot of helpful tips to consider when preparing for your European adventure.

European Travel Do’s:

  • Double check the luggage size that is permitted in the overhead bin on the airplane before purchasing extra luggage.
  • Pack lightly. Dress for comfort and focus on the experiences instead. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Get a travel rewards credit card. There are many out there that provide incentives like 0% interest, cash rewards, or travel points.
  • Learn the basic language skills of the country you are visiting. Know hello, goodbye, thank you, directions, and “Do you speak English?” Some will get offended, but unless you plan on making Duo Lingo a top priority for the next few months, get the basics down.
  • Learn about the weather. Don’t just check what the forecast says. You will need to know when the rainy season is so you don’t spoil your trip. Do the same for every European country you visit.
  • Find time to write in your journal and keep track of your adventures. This way you will never forget the incredible experiences you have had.
  • Talk to everyone. Traveling is about learning the culture and immersing yourself in it. You can’t do that by spending the entire time scrolling on your phone.
  • Wash your hands and prepare to get sick. Traveling will expose your body to different types of bacteria, and you may not have built up the proper immune system..
  • Bring a good pair of sneakers. Sounds simple, but it is essential for the amount of walking you’ll find yourself doing.
  • Buy a luggage rain cover. It will definitely rain at some point while you are there.
  • Double-check your belongings  before you exit every flight. How many water bottles and headphones do you think RyanAir now owns from other people leaving them behind?
  • Try to accept that things will get lost along the way. With that being said, your precious valuables should probably stay at home.
  • There will be stressors back home you can’t control. Don’t let them ruin your time or experience abroad.
  • Bring extra socks and underwear. If you think you have enough, pack more.
  • Keep track of what you spend. It can get out of hand pretty fast if you aren’t careful and you’ll be out of cash before you get to the second country on your itinerary.
  • Figure out your cell phone plan. For example, T-Mobile offers an international plan called T-Mobile One that provides unlimited talk, text, and data in 144 countries. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the people you are texting and calling won’t get charged.
  • Be patient with language barriers.
  • The Dart and The Metro are two different rail systems in Europe. Both will close early, or at least earlier than you might intend. when thinking about how much money you want to spend on your trip abroad, make sure to budget in taxis and Uber or Lyft rides if they are available.

gap year student in europeEuropean Travel Don’ts:

  • Don’t wait to exchange your money until you arrive in your new country. Exchange rates and fees at the airport will be much higher  than finding somewhere to do it prior to leaving for your trip.
  • Don’t forget to hit the ‘open-door’ button on the National Rail! Not all trains and buses are the same and some won’t open automatically.
  • Don’t try to always figure everything out on your own. Set your pride aside and simply ask the locals. Plus, you are guaranteed to have a more genuine experience if you do rather than always trusting TripAdvisor.
  • Don’t think you understand the currency of each country before you exchange your money or start spending. Educate yourself beforehand so you are not stuck spending more than you expected to.
  • Don’t be afraid to ditch your clothes or some of your extra stuff. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to buy cool new things you would never have in your home country.
  • Don’t care so much about what other people think. You’re living life on the road and things get weird. Weird is fun. Weird is adventurous. Weird is what you will always remember.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for the WiFi password if you think it’s going to make you look too much like a tourist.
  • Don’t forget deodorant.
  • Don’t forget to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. They care about you and want to know you are safe. They may even love spending a little time in your shoes and hearing about your amazing adventures. Shoot them an email or Facebook message every once in a while to keep them up to speed.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “No thank you.” You don’t always have to take advantage of every opportunity if it means not taking care of your mental or physical health.
  • Don’t allow changes in your plans to scare you. Remember, things don’t always go according to plan and surprise adventures can sometimes be the best experiences you’ll ever have.
  • Don’t assume WiFi is easy to find, especially in Europe. Have a backup plan just in case.

This list is nowhere near complete, but it does introduce some helpful travel tips for those who are visiting Europe for the very first time.

Have any other tips to share? Put them in the comments below and help your fellow travelers out!


“Journey on, Journey on
You can’t stay where you are for very long.
Don’t give up, find the strength you need to journey on.
‘cause in the end, it’s not just where we go,
But how we get there and who we’ve known
On this long walk, together we will journey on.”

Journey On © Up with People

Top Places to Spend New Year 2020

winter in europeNew Year’s Eve is right around the corner. Whether you are in the desert of Arizona or on the coast of Santorini in Greece, there are always amazing things to do when the ball drops and the new year begins.

Where will you be this year when the ball drops? Here are some of the top places to celebrate the turn of the new year in 2020.

Sydney, Australia

From the harbor side to the dance floor, there are plenty of places to spend New Year’s Eve throughout Sydney, Australia. There are several cruises that take you out onto the water and give you a front row seat to the fireworks. One of the most ancient and traditional customs among the Aboriginal Australians involves the smoking ceremony. This involves smoldering native plants to produce a smoke which they believe to cleanse and ward off bad spirits as they bring in the new year.

Valparaiso, Chile

In 2007, Valparaiso, Chile was enlisted in the Guinness Book of World Records for setting off 16,000 shots of fireworks into the air for their celebration of the New Year. Every year, millions of people from all over the world come to witness the pyrotechnic display. The city suggests booking your trip early as it becomes extremely  busy this time of year.

gap year students celebrating new years in europeMiami, Florida, USA

When you think of Miami, you probably think of beaches and parties. You couldn’t be more right, especially during the turn of the new year. This year, big stars like Snoop Dogg and Pitbull will be performing over-the-top concerts with more than 150,000 people in attendance. Looking for something a little more low key? Dine in at Jim and Neesie with a four-course meal, a bottle of Prosecco, a screening of The Great Gatsby, followed by live music by the Keith Johns Trio.

Berlin, Germany

Between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, you will find 1.8 km filled with about one million people ready to celebrate the new year. Among the beautiful city, you will find fireworks, music, dancing, food, and magic shows that are fun for everyone. If you aren’t looking to go to a dance party, you can take a more romantic approach with a dinner for two or a walk through Viktoria Park and the waterfall.

Tokyo, Japan

You can always find the classic fireworks and late-night parties in Tokyo, Japan. However, there is something special that happens here you will not want to miss. The monks create a unique experience with the ringing of the temple bells. Monks of the temple will ring bells 108 times as it is believed that you are cleansed by those bells as you enter into the new year.

No matter where in the world you will be, Up with People wishes you a happy, safe, and fun New Year.


“There’s a rhythm that is you, and a rhythm that is me
A progression and a tune, all connected to a beat
An orchestra that grows, everywhere the people go
Gotta keep the music going, ’til the rhythm’s overflowin’” 

Keep the Beat © Up with People

Top 3 Apps For Learning a New Language

gap year student at the airportTraveling to a new country can sometimes be overwhelming and it’s common to experience some initial culture shock. Many of the cast members who travel in our gap year program have joined specifically to learn English while immersing themselves in new cultures. Learning a new language can be challenging, but thankfully there are many applications you can download to your mobile device to help you out along the way.


This app has 35 different languages to choose from. With over 300 million users, Duolingo has become one of the most popular language learning apps that are currently available. The best part is that Duolingo is completely free to use with the option of paying a premium fee for more advanced features through Duolingo Plus.

Duolingo’s game-style interface is easy to use for all ages and focuses on reading, writing, and pronunciation. While you might not become fluent in the language just from practicing with this app, it’s a great starting point for learning the basics during your time traveling abroad.

Duolingo is also a good choice for those who want to learn multiple languages at once. This could be very helpful for the cast traveling in the Up with People program, since they will visit multiple countries while on tour.

Duolingo even offers two fictional languages! You can learn High Valyrian from Game of Thrones and Klingon from Star Trek. They might not be the most useful languages for your travels, but they can still be fun to learn!


Memrise is another fantastic app to help you learn new languages. Instead of a game approach like Duolingo, it offers flashcards like you would use to study for an exam. The paid version,  Memrise Pro, offers more extensive features that allow you to play games, work with chatbots, and download courses so that you can use it offline while you are traveling or in-flight to your next destination.

host family in italy

Memrise is best for those who are looking to learn how to speak conversationally or use local slang. It’s a less formal approach, as you hear phrases recorded by native speakers of a language. You’ll learn quickly that voice and tone can make all the difference when speaking a foreign language.

Rosetta Stone

For over 25 years, Rosetta Stone has been the leader in digital language-learning tools. Because of its longevity in the industry, it has adapted its technology to provide an easy way to learn one of 24 different languages from around the world. The Rosetta Stone software provides a more in depth approach to foreign language education.

It is a subscription-based tool that is one of the better options for auditory learners. You start with the basics by hearing words, repeating them back, and matching photos to the appropriate phrases. Originally in a box set for your desktop, Rosetta Stone is now available for your mobile device too.

Learning a new language can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! There are many tools available for you online or in your app store.

See what the experience of learning new languages has been like for different cast members and be a part of the Up with People experience by applying today!


“Words are not the only language
To feel what your eyes have heard.
The voice of your heart is speaking
With unspoken words.”

Unspoken Words © Up with People

9 Gift Ideas for Travelers

student traveling on airplaneThe holidays are approaching soon, which means it’s time to start shopping for seasonal gifts for friends and family. With the next cast of Up with People preparing to travel in  January 2020, we thought it would be a great idea to provide a little inspiration for this year’s gift giving season for your young traveler.

Here are 9 gift ideas to get your holiday list started! (Don’t forget, Cyber Monday is happening December 2, 2019! Scroll to the bottom for more details!)

Microfiber Towel

Each week, the cast will visit a new city in various regions throughout the world. Microfiber towels are handy because they are extremely small and dry fast.

Portable Charger

A busy day on tour could mean not being able to find a place to charge your phone. Different countries may also have different outlets depending on where you are. A portable charger means no more excuses of a dead cell phone battery so you can stay in touch with your child while they are on the road.

Travel Neck Pillow

Travel days on tour can mean long hours spent on the bus ride or on an airplane. A travel neck pillow will help your student catch up on some much-needed rest while in transit.

Reusable Straws

Up with People is all about protecting our environment and encouraging others to do the same. This is why we created an eco-friendly reusable straw! Spare your child from getting sick while traveling and help them be more sustainable with their own Up with People reusable straw.

view from airplanePacking Cubes

We have a free downloadable packing list to guide anyone who might need help keeping their luggage to a minimum. Packing cubes are a great gift for someone who travels because they help keep everything organized and condensed.


Life on the road can be busy, but maybe you know someone who enjoys reading before bed or while they travel. Instead of carrying around heavy books or having to look for something new to read in your own language, Kindle or similar reading tablets are a more efficient way to go.

Water Bottle

It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated while you are on the road. Your child can represent Up with People with our colorful collection of Nalgene Water Bottles! Customize it by writing their name or adding fun stickers to it too!

Cell Phone Tripod

Your young traveler will always be with other members of the cast. Sometimes while exploring a new city, there may be no one around to take a photo. A portable cell phone tripod is small, flexible, and a lifesaver for capturing those perfect moments on the go.

A Journal

We always encourage our program participants to document their experiences. Writing in a journal, cell phone, or tablet can be a great way to do just that. Tell a story and have memories that will last a lifetime.


Cyber Monday is just around the corner! Save 20% on everything in the Up with People online store on Monday, December 2, 2019 starting at 12:00 AM (Mountain Time) until 11:59 PM (Mountain Time).

Spend $75 or more and get a free surprise gift from us!

Looking for more gift ideas for the holidays? Find more on our Up with People online store!


“Home is where the
Heart is home is
Where we share our
Love is home is”

Home © Up with People


Why You Need To Experience Aperitivo In Italy

Gap year students in Up with People travel Italy
The cast of Up with People is in their last week of their Italian tour!

The cast is finishing up their final week in Italy!

When people think of Italy, food is often one of the first things that comes to mind. Italians have a very special gift when it comes to cooking, and some of the most delicious dishes were invented in Italy. You might have heard the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And it’s true! The Roman Empire facilitated trades in exotic foods, spices, and herbs. This, along with the true pride they take in the experiences of cooking and dining, could be the reason why Italian cuisine is internationally known and loved.

What is Aperitivo?

While we may have happy hour here in the United States where the Up with People World Headquarters is located, it’s no comparison to aperitivo in Italy.

Aperitivo is known as a beverage before your meal to build your appetite. It will usually happen between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at different bars and restaurants in various cities throughout Italy, but more specifically in Rome, Naples, and Florence.

How did aperitivo start?

Thanks to distiller and inventor Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the concept of aperitivo was created in 1786 when he distilled one of the first types of vermouth, a red or white wine flavoured with herbs. According to Carpano, the combination of herbs and spices within his wine stimulates a person’s appetite. Fun Fact, ‘aperitivi’ comes from the Latin word for “opener,” meaning to open a meal with an aperitivo!

What types of food will you eat during aperitivo?

The biggest difference you’ll find between a typical American happy hour and an Italian aperitivo is the selection of food. In Italy, instead of having just one meal or maybe ordering one or two different appetizers, you will receive an entire buffet.

Different bars have different setups and systems depending on where you go. Large tables will typically be placed around the establishment piled sky-high with delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts that will make your mouth water.

food in italy

In many places that host aperitivo, you’re unlikely to see the same food twice. The types of food will rotate every so often or as plates begin to run low. Following aperitivo, a typical Italian dinner will happen anywhere between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. which can seem late to those who are not familiar with the culture. While aperitivo is not meant to replace your dinner, this might be the case given the amount of food you’ll experience.

The types of food will vary throughout the night and depending on where you go. Some things you may find include:

  • Frittata
  • Risotto
  • Charcuterie stuffed sandwiches
  • Miniature pizzas
  • Pastries
  • Various cheeses and breads
  • Calamari
  • Prosciutto finger sandwiches with homemade aioli
  • Salami puffs

As you can see, the list can go on forever. If you’re traveling abroad in Italy, make sure to find out where the next aperitivo will be. We promise your stomach will be very happy after what is meant to be an appetizer, but turns out to be a full-blown feast.

To see more of the experiences the cast of Up with People is having on their tour throughout Italy, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Want to travel abroad for a semester in Italy or know someone who would be a great fit for the program? Sign up for our email list!


“Pierogis and pizza and bread, Festa Humana,
Everyone’s going to be fed, Festa Humana.
Voices of children at play, Festa Humana,
Piñatas and papier-mâché, Festa Humana.”

Festa Humana © Up with People