How to Manage School While Traveling

Last summer, I was in the midst of taking an online Spanish course at my community college when my family and I left for a trip to Europe. To be honest, I was slightly irritated that these two things (school and vacation) had to overlap because I understood I couldn’t focus 100% of my attention on either one. I’m a pretty anxious person as it is, and the thought of having to worry about juggling a college class while traveling around 3 countries really stressed me out! Luckily the whole experience turned out to be nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be, which is why I thought I would share some of my best tips for managing an online course during a jam-packed vacation!

I’m sure a lot of you have experience with college courses, particularly online ones, and you know that professors aren’t the most understanding when it comes to late work or even missing the 11:59 pm due date by one minute. But you shouldn’t let a heavy class schedule hold you back from traveling! Unless you’re taking 3+ classes or have in-person class, it’s completely doable to double task.

Tip #1: Plan your schedule

If you’re anything like my family, you’ll want to cram as much sightseeing as possible in one day; but, because you have to juggle a class, try to spread things out so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Plan the exact times for tours or sightseeing so you know exactly when you have the time to do schoolwork. Whenever you’re not “touristing,” try to use your time as efficiently as possible!

I cut out about an hour or two every day to work on my Spanish class (I mostly did this when my extremely jet-lagged family was napping), and on some days the workload was definitely more dense than others. I would have to take 3-5 assessments that were only available through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I made sure to carve out more time on these specific days. Also, since the class was 100% online, I needed to turn in assignments at certain deadlines that were a bit more difficult to figure out because of the time difference between Europe and California. I don’t remember exactly how it worked, but I do recall that it definitely wasn’t a big issue – so you should be totally fine.

Tip #2: Find a good balance

A lot of times my sister (who was also doing schoolwork) and I would search for a cute coffee shop that had WiFi so we could be productive but also get a taste of the city at the same time. We definitely worked a little slower because of all the distractions, but it was much more enjoyable to be out of the tiny hotel room and in the company of others. However, if you’re not someone who works well in noisy environments, I would recommend drawing a line between sightseeing and schoolwork; basically do as much work as you can in your hotel, then only focus on sightseeing afterwards. I found that a good balance between these two options was the most efficient method; it just depends on what you personally prefer!

Tip #3: Work ahead

I know this isn’t a possible option for every class because some professors are very specific with when they release assignments. But, if you are able to, try to get ahead on assignments so your workload isn’t as heavy. This will save you a lot of time and stress while you’re on your trip! In my scenario, my professor released the entire week’s assignments on Monday, so I would try work ahead on Mon/Tues to save time later in the week. I found this method really helpful, although I did have to sacrifice a big chunk of time each Monday.

Final thoughts

If you’re still really worried about how you’re going to juggle a class while traveling, don’t be! You will figure out a routine when the time comes and you’ll see what works best for you. Ironically, I was learning Spanish in France, but I got pretty lucky that I didn’t have to take a core subject. Overall, you just have to keep a positive mindset and remind yourself that you’re in… [insert destination here]!


Thank you so much for reading, and I hope my advice helped you in any way!

< 3 Pauline

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