The Travel Essentials of an Exchange Student

Being an exchange student of De La Salle University in Europe is a rewarding and wonderful opportunity. I am currently studying in Lille, France for one semester. Today marks my second month and second day away from home. Even though I miss home, the excitement this trip gives me overpowers that sadness.  Travelling sounds like fun, no doubt it is. Despite the tiresome walks and hops on the trains, bus, planes and over baggage packing, I know its worth because of the memories I keep – even though it has a tendency of emptying pockets.

When you’re in a foreign, new place, take the chance to explore! Here, I share my no-fail travel essentials.

1) Passport – You dare do NOT part with this treasure, my friend. You will be put in a life and death situation should so happen. Kidding aside, your passport will be your number one best friend for the trip. It also helps to memorize your passport number, too.

2) Passes / Tickets – your second travel buddy serves as your golden ticket upon entering an unfamiliar place. Like your passport, it should stick to you like velcro.

3) Camera – Once in a lifetime opportunities are memories worth keeping. Freeze those moments and share them with your friends and family back home! Phones with good cameras would be good for instauploading. Go Pro or Go Amateur, who cares? And having said that, comes… (refer to the next number)

This is me taking photos of my travel buddy and co-exchange student Marga. Photo from my Instagram account.

4) Selfie Stick – of course, this item. Winning hearts of tourists around the world, this would come in handy .. literally. Download a camera-timer app or provide a bluetooth remote, you’re good to go.

A candid photo I took of my travel buddy and co-exchange student Justine as she goes happy-clicky with her selfie stick.

5) Student ID – Get discounts to museums and tourist spots! Saves a few money’s worth than the regular price. Provide both your home university ID and your international student ID of your host university. Just recently, my admission to the Musee du Louvre was free!

6) Umbrella – Weather can be unpredictable. Save yourself from the hot rays of the sun or the drizzling showers.

7) Powerbank – Tend to play with your apps when you’re bored on the train, or perhaps took too much selfies or panoramas of that picturesque view, or consumed much of the Wifi? These are battery draining. Charge those gizmos!


8) Belt Bag – Tucked below navel area or under your shirt, storing your emergency belongings such as medicine and money would keep you away from the travel predators called snatchers or gypsies. Make sure it’s well-hidden.

9) Coins – “Saan abot ang singko mo?” (Where can your 5 credits take you?)  With that minimum amount, [whatever currency that may be], you can purchase a nice, cold bottle of water, cellphone load or telephone credits for emergency, food, metro ticket and the like.


10) Universal Socket – Sockets may vary per country. You’ll need these to recharge your gadgets if your local socket is not similar to the place you’re at!

11) Socks – The worst case scenario would be getting your socks wet from the rain or puddles, or having your tootsies frozen from the cold. Trust me, socks can save your trip from becoming a disaster.

12) Local Souvenirs – Want to be remembered by your new-found friends? Feel free to give souvenirs from your country – they’ll get an instant feel of your home when they visit!

13) Map – Plot down all the places you’d want to visit the night before your trip or right before you head out and explore. Many maps are provided for free at your respective accommodation but if you want to go techy, Download CityMaps2Go. It’s for free and can work offline! (Available for Apple and Android).

Marga and Justine navigating the map for the day’s itinerary.

14) Soft copy of your passport, visas, tickets, etc. on your email/phone – For the worst case scenarios, should anything happen to you, you have a secondary reference for your important documents. Better yet print them too and stash them on your bag.

15) Smile – You can’t go anywhere without it. Hey, it looks good on you. Enjoy your trip! 🙂

Grins from the exchange students of Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University at the Dunkerque Carnival at Dunkerque, France.

What are your no-fail travel essentials? Share them in the comments below!

Categories: #experience

Ysabel Vitangcol

A retired competetive figure skater and cheerleader; a wandering soul.

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