Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Woohyun Kwen headshot
Woohyun Kwen
December 12, 2023

I've had a lot of posts on traveling around Spain and Europe, and this was a really fun part of my study abroad experience! While traveling does come with expenses, I think traveling around Europe is very affordable and easy for small budget college students like myself. As a low-income student, I thought traveling would be impossible, but here are some of my tips that helped me travel with a manageable budget!


  • Renfe Abono: This pass basically gives unlimited, free transportation to and from Madrid as students in Salamanca. All of the airports and main train routes are in Madrid, so this Abono is a lifesaver that gives me unlimited rides. 
  • Madrid transportation card: I really recommend applying for the Youth transportation card that gives you unlimited public transportation rides in Madrid for a very low cost (8 euros)! You can apply for this online and pick it up at a metro office that is found in many stations in Madrid. 
  • Renfe Trains: When traveling around Spain, I really recommend looking into the Renfe trains that give efficient, affordable transport across all the cities. They are cheaper if you get them a few weeks or months in advance, but they are definitely more affordable the earlier you book them!
  • Flights: The Madrid airport has many affordable flights to many destinations across Spain and Europe. I recommend using the Kayak student flights website to find any student discounts, and definitely look into each airline policy for any student discounts!


  • Hostels: If you are traveling alone, getting a hostel bed is the best budget friendly option! I recommend hostels that are near transportation stations but not in the exact center of a location as these tend to be more expensive. Also, check in advance if the hostel had extra charges like towels so you can pack one to prevent an extra charge for towels (I once had to pay 5 euros for a small towel!)
  • Pensions/BNBs/any private host run rooms: These are not exactly hotels but you get to have your own room, and sometimes a shared bathroom. If you are traveling in groups of 2+ people, these options are often cheaper and give more privacy as well! I stayed away from AirBnBs for smaller groups (less than 4) because AirBnB has lots of hidden charges like the cleaning fee that made them sometimes more expensive than hotels. Again, weigh your options regarding the distance to the center of a location and amenities, but these are great alternatives to hostels that were often cheaper for groups of 2+ people!


  • Backpack!: For all of my trips, I brought only a small backpack around to fit all of my clothes. This was definitely a challenge as I didn't get to bring my laptop, much clothing, and much free space in my bag. However, most of my flights didn't include carry-ons (remember, I was on a small budget) so this saved me a lot of money on checking extra bags! In addition, this was very helpful since some of my flights landed very early and I was able to explore my destinations without having to drop my luggage off at the hotels earlier.


  • Find the local secrets: Most popular tourist destinations are unfortunately full of tourist traps that aren't authentic and overpriced! I recommend looking at travel guides that emphasize local favorites or even searching in the local language to find the best, most affordable restaurants.
  • Take-away stores: In many locations, I found that the affordable, quick take away stores had one of the best foods! While you might not get a nice sit-down meal, this is a great option as well.
  • Grocery Stores: I opted for this in Switzerland, because the local restaurants were just way too expensive! The grocery stores had great takeaway options which was a lifesaver for my personal budget.

I hope this mini-travel guide was helpful for planning travels, and always remember to enjoy the trips! Europe is defi and more affordable than traveling across the US, so remember thwre are always budget friendly options available:)

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Woohyun Kwen headshot

Woohyun Kwen

Hi! I am a junior studying Education Studies and Psychology on the pre-health track at Amherst College. In my free time, I love to paint scenery, go on long walks, and sing my heart out to my favorite pop songs.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Amherst College
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