How to Do Everything You Want with Limited Money and Time

By Lauren Alexander
Published February 10, 2012

So let's say you’re going to study abroad for a semester, which when broken down, is only four or five months. You probably want to visit every neighboring country and major city, right? Plus, you probably want to get to know your own study abroad destination city inside and out too. But you only have five months, so what do you do?

Here lies the answer to all of your worries…let’s ask some experts who have recently studied abroad:

Traveling on a Dime 

Logan Ruppel studied abroad in Rome, and visited a majority of the surrounding countries in Europe. For traveling out of the county, he suggests booking flights “well in advance on cheap airlines like Ryan Air and EasyJet. I found that medium length train rides can be cost effective, but the Eurail pass is overly costly and hard to use.” So go with a cheaper mode of transportation and choose to spend your money on excursions instead of travel!

Prior to traveling, Logan researched hostels to “find some very cheap yet comfortable rooms, while avoiding dirty and dingy rooms. Staying with friends studying abroad in cities you visit is another good way to save money.”

Traveling takes a lot of preparation, especially when on a budget. Go to a student travel agency, maybe on campus, to check out deals and packages for flights and accommodations. And don’t forget, book early!

Staying Local Can Be Cheap 

Many cities have websites which keep locals and travelers in the know about citywide events. Shefali Kapadia, who studied at Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires, took advantage of local websites while abroad in Buenos Aires. This site released a weekly article full of local events and deals. One of them, “5 Things to Do for Under $5” included “well priced, fun, crazy, random events you would never find out about.” Here she found a deal for a large cheese pizza for the equivalent of $1.75 which she claims was “the best pizza she had in Buenos Aires.”

Dining out is a big part of understanding a culture and country, and spending money on food and drinks is an easy way to lose sight of your savings. Don’t be afraid to ask local students where to find discounts and deals to make exploring the city on a budget easy and fun, and who knows, maybe you’ll make a new friend to explore the sights with.  

What you want out of your abroad experience may be simply to become friends with locals, or become fluent in the national language or jargon. Campus activities are often available to meet other international students, but meeting locals out in the city can be super easy, and free. Head out to a cool underground bar and start chatting with people – they think you are just as unique and interesting because you are foreign.

Study Abroad Bucket List 

Before you head out abroad, make a bucket-list of all you want to accomplish. Create a list of personal goals, as well as travel goals. The most affordable and most exciting or exotic places to travel may not in fact be the most touristy destination. Just remember that wandering is free! You may just discover exhilarating scenery, thrilling events, and the coolest people off the beaten path. And even if you perchance happen to blow your life savings, most students say its worth it…but their parents would tend to disagree.

Lauren R. Alexander studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia in 2011. She is currently working towards a BA in Communication and Theater at American University in Washington, DC.