So you are travelling abroad, you are nurturing your adventurous soul and taking time to yourself. Travelling can be spontaneous, fun and enlightening. You may feel it is unnecessary to plan everything out, which is true because you need to let go to get better in discovering. You need to be lost to know how to find something.
Now let's get down to business.
1. Be flexible. Travelling doesn't need to cost you one month's pay. If you use flight search engines like skyscanner.com, you will be able to select the cheapest month and destination.
You may think you really want to see somewhere and it may be over your budget. Don't just postpone it until you have the money, if you feel like travelling, do it now! Just choose another destination.
2. If you are a student, Airbnb and hostels are your best friends. There are other options that do not require money, you can just welcome your host to your house and from one traveller to another, return favours.
However, if you are travelling with multiple people, this might cause trouble for your companions. I went to Florence with my friends, and had the best Airbnb experience. Just read the reviews about the host, take a closer look to the house's photos and its location.
3. For people who need a visa: If you are applying from your own country, just go to your destination country's embassy website and read all the documents you need to apply for a visa. Check the next appointment time. Give yourself a few days to collect all the documents you need (a fake hotel reservation through booking.com(cancel the booking once you get the visa), booked plane/train ticket, bank statement, passport photo, passport number page, previous visas, etc.).
If you are applying from another country (say you are a student abroad who needs a visa), do the same. You don't need to apply through your country's embassy. I haven't tried using an Airbnb booking to apply for a visa but it might be acceptable as well.
4. Now that you have your travel destination and date, you are anxious to learn more about the place you'll be visiting and the discoveries you'll do once you're there. Though it's fun being the tourist, staring everywhere in awe, you can better your experience by going local. Try and think about the things you would like to know about that place. Buy yourself a map for the city and google the attractions you would like to see. Mark them on your map.
5. Learn about public transport. I think walking is always the best way to discover a place, if it's not only a touristic city where locals roam the streets, you will see how life in that city is constructed. How people live there, what they eat, where they go after work, etc. but if you use public transport, you will use your time efficiently.
6. Talking about the time, you need to plan your days out during your travel. Choose an area you'd like to explore and first go to the main attractions you want to see. Don't waste your time sleeping or eating or contemplating what to do! Just go out.
7. Meet locals and hang out with them at night. They know the best places that won't cost you a fortune to have fun. You can google bars and nightclubs all you want, but the best idea is to ask a local where they go. Bonus: You'll get to meet new people.
8. Don't take many clothes! Especially if you are flying with Easyjet, since they charge you for extra baggage. You can fit a 5 day travel into a cabin baggage and a hand baggage easily. Also, don't travel with ridiculously expensive valuables. Don't bring a laptop/ipad or whatever if you are just going for 3 - 7 days.
9. Make a budget for your daily spendings. Always check if you need to book your place before you go to a museum, learn how much the tickets cost. If you are a student, make sure you have your student ID with you. If you are a humanities student, you get a free pass to museums in some cities (such as Rome and Florence). If you don't like to go to museums, search for local events, markets, concerts, cafés or unique places.
10. Try local food and drinks. This is an absolute must. Definitely don't go to the overly-popular tourist traps. Go to little restaurants in between streets, bars with themes and just follow the happy sounds like laughter, music and people, which will always take you somewhere nice. Follow the young crowd.
But most importantly, have fun!