Top 10 Important Tips For Traveling Abroad On A College Budget

College is a wonderful time to take the opportunity to travel abroad and explore another country. It allows you to experience a different culture and expand your independence in new ways. Traveling abroad on a college budget can be costly and hard to afford, but with some creativity and budgeting, it is possible.

There are many programs that different Universities offer to allow for your dream trip abroad. Check out your school’s global affairs office to see which experience is most suitable for you and caters to your budget best. Whether you’re studying abroad for a semester, a month, 2 weeks or visiting another country with your best friends, here are the top tips to staying within budget during your time overseas.

1. Plan ahead

If you’re traveling with school, most of your time abroad is planned which is a great advantage. However, many programs have free time on weekends where you can explore on your own. With that comes a cost for travel fees, accommodations, food, etc. If you plan on traveling for a few days away be sure to plan in advance. Some important things to remember when planning your weekend getaway:

  • Pick the cheapest airline. Don’t be alarmed if it is a lesser-known airline. Usually, if it’s a short flight, it is your best option.
  • Find the most cost-effective transportation method. For example, if you are in Europe, trains are a cheap option and popular throughout the country.
  • To avoid baggage fees, pack light and only bring a carry-on bag.
  • Research restaurants and places you want to go to find the cheapest options.

2. Stay at Airbnbs, not hotels

One night at a hotel within a big touristy city can be extremely expensive. Research ahead of time to find the cheapest places to sleep whether it be an Airbnb or a Hostel, these are the best options to stay in. If you are traveling to a big city it will probably be cheaper to stay a little outside of the city.


3. Research tipping rules for every country

It is common in America to tip at least 15% at restaurants, but that may not be the case in other countries. Be sure to check if tipping is common in the place you are visiting, this will definitely save you some money. Some countries automatically add a service charge to your bill which is similar to a tip. According to Business Insider, here are some popular tourist countries that don’t tip:

  • Switzerland
  • France
  • China
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Iceland
  • Sweden

4. Be aware of student discounts

Many tourist attractions such as museums offer student priced tickets. When planning your trips, be sure to check out which sites provide these rates and purchase in advance. Check out Groupon and UNiDAYS to score the best deals abroad. Just don’t forget your student ID card!


5. Use public transportation, or walk

Try to avoid taking a taxi as the cost can add up, use the public transportation system whether it be a bus or a train. Do your research for the country you travel to, as it may vary for each destination.

Biking or walking are also great options to explore. Your feet are your best friends and resource when traveling overseas. Walk as much and whenever you can to everywhere. Your wallet will thank you later.


6. Use wifi instead of cellular data

Most public places, hostels and Airbnb’s have wifi you can use which will help avoid costly cell phone data fees. Always keep your phone on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges. This will also help keep you off your phone, allowing you to enjoy this once of a lifetime opportunity.

Be sure to contact your phone carrier to pick the best international data plan that works for you. If you chose not to buy one, you should be able to access Wifi almost anywhere which allows for texting.


7. Pack light

International flights are known to charge extra even if your bag is one pound over the limit. To avoid these fees, pack as little as you can. If you are traveling with friends, you can share clothes if you don’t want to wear the same outfit again.

Investing in a large backpacking bag is also a great option. This will prevent from traveling around bulky luggage throughout the airport and on public transportation. Roll up your clothes to save space and wear your heaviest clothing/shoes on flights.


8. Search for free events

Enjoy a day at the beach, reading a book in the park or explore a historic library. These are great activities that are free and allow you to adventure throughout a new city. Check out any free events such as a concert that may be happening in the area as well.


9. Be cautious with ATMs and currency exchange

ATMs often have transaction fees of up to $2-3, which can add up. Try to take large sums of cash out all at once to avoid multiple transaction fees. Be sure to stay away from using cash exchanges at airports as they are a big rip off. Stop by your bank before you leave home to get the proper local currency, that way you are prepared once you land on foreign land!


10. Give yourself a budget

Plan out a logical budget for each place you travel to. Be sure to set a max limit on how much you want to spend on activities, food, flights, accommodations, and souvenirs. This is key to helping you enjoy a trip without worrying too much about spending all your money at once.

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