When studying abroad, it's natural to have the desire to visit everywhere. Each place you hear about in research looks more beautiful or more fun than the next. That can be a challenge due to timing and, of course, money. It's hard to travel the world on the college student budget. I am no exception and wanted to share my travel tips with other students in the hopes that it will help.
My first piece of advice is to create a budget at the beginning of your program and stick to it. I set the amount I wanted aside into my checking account and am not touching my savings while I'm abroad. If you realize during the semester that you are spending too much money in one area from your original budget, or have way too much money set aside for an item, it's good to adjust your budget to accurately reflect where you are spending your money. In order to stick to my budget, I keep track of my expenses in a small notebook. While I do not account for every single Euro I spend, it makes it easier to stick to my budget knowing about how much I have left.
I also encourage people not to travel every weekend. I believe that students abroad have the tendency to focus on what other countries they can get to, while forgetting to explore their own town as well. This is also a good way to save money. Exploring locally can be just as fun as traveling to a new place, especially when it makes you feel more at home there. In Freiburg, we have wonderful hiking around the Black Forest region. By staying local and hiking for a couple of weekends each month, we get to see beautiful views and get to better know Freiburg, all while doing a free activity.
Another tip I have is to plan early (especially when it gets into summer months). While it can be difficult to do during study abroad, the earlier you plan, the better deals you are going to be able to get. Tickets are usually much more expensive if you buy them a week before versus a month before. In order to get the best deals, I encourage people to make a travel priority list and plan where they want to go the most first. This will make sure you get the best prices on places you really want to go and then you can plan other travel around those breaks or weekends you've set aside. Additionally, when looking at tickets, it sometimes pays to go directly to the budget airlines' websites. While websites like SkyScanner and JetCost will compare prices, it sometimes saves a bit of money to book directly through RyanAir or EasyJet. Wizz Airline is another budget airline that I have been using.
Speaking of planes, don't be afraid to not use them. While the trips can sometimes be longer, bus and train travel and good alternatives if you're looking for a bit of a cheaper option. For example, when I went to Berlin, I decided to take a 12-hour overnight bus. While it was not the best night of sleep I've ever gotten in my life, it was not bad and saved a lot of money. Instead of paying a couple hundred dollars to fly, I spent only 30 Euros to get to Berlin and back. While overnight buses are not glamorous and always take longer than flying, the savings will allow you to see more places. However, if you're traveling alone and the only stops or layovers are in unsafe places, then I definitely recommend spending a bit more on a faster, more direct method of travel.
My last piece of advice is hostels, hostels, hostels. If you're traveling in a large group, it can be more fun to get an Air BnB and stay all together. However, if traveling with two or three people (or alone), hostels are the way to go. They are usually much cheaper and allow you to meet a variety of fun people as you travel. Just bring a lock and read the reviews on HostelWorld.com and you should be set. Hostel owners often provide extra services as well such as free breakfast or airport pickup and drop-off. Looking for amenities like this will save you even more money and allow you to get to know the people in your hostel better.
All this being said, don't be so worried about money that you don't take the opportunity to travel while you can. There is a difference between saving money in a smart way and penny pinching to the point that you're cutting yourself off from experiences. After all, studying abroad is like nothing you'll ever do again. These are just a few tips to keep in mind when booking your next adventure.
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<p>My name is Sarah and I am studying environmental studies and journalism. Although born and raised in upstate New York, I now go to college in Washington, DC. My perfect day involves eating lots of good food and getting lost on a hike.</p>