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Nate Nault, StudyAbroad.com’s study abroad student expert and editor of The Study Abroad Blog, partnered with StudyAbroad.com to create the Study Abroad Student Guide.
One of the main reasons I think any student goes
abroad is so that he/ she can see the world - hence "abroad". As I've
learned, it's not always the cheapest or easiest of tasks, but it is possible,
even on a tight budget. I made many mistakes in my earlier travels, but having
been on many trips to numerous countries on both sides of the globe, I can
confidently say I've gotten pretty good at stretching a dollar while traveling
away from my abroad university.
This section came about after I began putting
together all of the knowledge I had acquired over the course of my time abroad
into one place. I've learned exactly how to fly, sleep, and eat cheap, the best
way to make your way around large and unfamiliar cities and how to make it home
in one piece.
While I can't give you a step-by-step budget
plan, I hope the information I have provided will help you see the world
without breaking your bank account. I've done most of the grunt work for you,
now all you need to do is put my advice into practice.
wants to bring a little piece of their travels back home with them. The problem
is that souvenirs can be expensive, they take up room in your suitcases and
carryon bag, and are often times just cheap trinkets that will either break
before you get home or collect dust when you realize you have no use for them.
You know the kinds of things I’m talking about –
paperweights, key chains, picture frames, shot glasses, items of clothing,
coffee mugs, etc. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy those things, but if you’re
a student on a budget who doesn’t have any room left in the one carryon you’re
allowed to take on your flight, then those aren’t really practical options.
Here is what I’ve done, and have found it to be
both cost and space efficient. Follow this motto – don’t buy, collect. What you
don’t realize is that you already have a handful of reminders of your trip
without having to buy that cheap snow globe with Buckingham Palace in it.
Think about it: You rode the Tube in London –
public transportation tickets are small and free. You bought a ticket to get
into the Coliseum in Rome – why not keep it as a souvenir rather than wasting
money on a Coliseum paperweight? Maybe you have a pamphlet from the tour of the
Guinness factory in Dublin – sure, buying a couple of pint glasses from the
gift store are great, but do you really need a fancy cup to bring back
memories? Collecting memorabilia from the attractions you visited and the
events you attended can easily be collaged into a scrapbook that will last a
lifetime. They can also create a really neat-looking shadowbox frame that you
can hang in your bedroom once you’re back home, or in your office once you land
your first job.
So start collecting. What do you collect you ask?
Here’s a list:
transportation ticket stubs
menus (a lot of times places will sell them to you for a penny)
(especially from places like breweries)
can save money before you even step foot on a plane or in a foreign country by
researching things like flights, hostels and restaurants well ahead of time. A
little preparation and research in the beginning will end up saving you a lot
of money in the long run. It’s often about waiting for the right season to
travel, the right day to leave and the right hostel for the right price.
Touring a city or country at the right time of year will undoubtedly factor
into whether or not you break your wallet.
cheap flights. There’s no real trick to this. Unfortunately, prices of
seats fluctuate right up until the day before the flight. Just remember,
cheaper fares can often be found at low cost carriers such as Ryanair, EasyJet,
KLM and Wizz Air. Use travel services like STA Travel, Wegolo, Kayak, and the
travel agency at your abroad university (if they have one) to assist you in
finding the best deals.
Compare results with major travel search engines like
Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity to make sure you’re getting the best
deals. I don’t recommend paying for
things like priority boarding or travelers insurance. Every seat is usually the
same on low cost carriers, so priority boarding isn’t worth it, and most
travelers insurance provided by the airlines won’t reimburse you if you miss
surfing. Now there are a few different ways to do this. If you are lucky
like me, there are other students from your home institution who are studying
abroad in other countries. Instead of staying in a hostel, see if you can crash
on their couch. They don’t have a couch? Crash on their floor. It’s not the
most comfortable surface, but with the cheapest hostel probably running at a
minimum of 20 euro/ pounds a night, who cares.
3. Go in
the offseason. So maybe you want to visit Germany, and you think to
yourself, “I’ll go during Oktoberfest”. Well if your sole goal is to go to
Oktoberfest, then by all means, go during the busiest season of the year. If
your goal is to actually to see a lot of Germany on a tight budget, plan your
trip at an off-peak time instead. For example, hostels during Oktoberfest
triple in price, so if Oktoberfest isn’t a priority, then choose a different
season that will have cheaper rates. This applies to all countries with major
tourist seasons. Because business is slow during the offseason (which can vary
from location to location) many hostels, airlines and local restaurants will
dramatically decrease prices to attract business.
Accommodation and transportation are probably
going to be your biggest expenditures, but don’t let this deter you from
traveling because there are many ways to get around the steep costs of flying
and lodging. Just remember; a little research and a little patience before you
book will make a big difference.
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