How to Save Money While You’re Studying Abroad

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Don’t let finances hold you back from thoroughly enjoying your study abroad experience! Take notes from our IES Abroad Ambassadors on how to save money while studying abroad.

Grocery Shop More

  • “Shop at grocery stores! Honestly eating out is so expensive but the grocery stores are usually pretty fairly priced. Discover (cheap) foods you like and buy them in bulk, as well.”
    – Sadie D. (IES Abroad Auckland, Fall 2017 | University of Rochester)
  • “A major way to save money is to cook at home as much as possible as opposed to eating out. Groceries are cheap, and eating out is typically expensive. It is tough to not eat out every day when you want to experience this new culture, but try cooking one meal a day in home, with groceries to cut down your costs.” 
    – Cara H. (IES Abroad Amsterdam, Fall 2017 | Penn State University)

Find Travel Buddies

  • “I saved money when I traveled by choosing destinations where I had a friend to stay with or that I could travel to with friends to save money.”
    – Julia M. (IES Abroad European Union, Summer 2017 | University of Puget Sound)
  • “If you plan on traveling around (which I recommend), get together a core group of friends and look for deals and such as a unit. That way you can get reduced pricing, and save money by eating together.”
    – Sadie D. (IES Abroad Auckland, Fall 2017 | University of Rochester)

Cut Back on Shopping

  • “Don't spend money on extra clothes unless you really want to. I know a lot of people got roped into buying a ton of clothes and couldn't even fit them in their luggage coming home.”
    – Isabella C. (IES Abroad Barcelona, Fall 2017 | University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)
  • “Souvenirs can be heavy (which means baggage fees) and expensive, so I limited myself to postcards and/or one purse-sized souvenir in every place I visited.”
    – Julia M. (IES Abroad European Union, Summer 2017 | University of Puget Sound)

Cost-Saving Study Abroad Advice by Location

Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador who has studied abroad in your location. Having “been-there-done-that,” they are full of insider knowledge of small (and big!) ways to save money while studying abroad. Check out a few of their tips below:


  • “Get the Albert Heijn rewards card! They have great deals on a weekly basis. And you can find cheaper food, I promise. You just have to look.”
    – Mikaela S. (IES Abroad Amsterdam, Fall 2017 | Purdue University)


  • “Take advantage of the clubs and student discounts you get! There are lots of deals and discounts that being enrolled at University of Auckland can get you.”
    – Sadie D. (IES Abroad Auckland, Fall 2017 | University of Rochester)


  • “Utilize menú del día at the restaurants you go to! They're a great way to get a full meal within a reasonable budget. I usually wouldn't pay more than €10-12 for a menú del día. Also, using your metro pass and the autobús to the airport is much cheaper than using taxis everywhere (as there are no Ubers in Barcelona).”
    – Sophia B. (IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2017 | University of Wisconsin – Madison)
  • “Try not to get sucked into going to western chains that are scattered around the city – they're usually more expensive and you can experience that when you're home. If you want to get a coffee, go to a local café, the coffees are much less expensive.”
    – Isabella C. (IES Abroad Barcelona, Fall 2017 | University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)

Buenos Aires

  • “Some of the best ways to save money are to cook in hostels when traveling instead of eating in restaurants, bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere (especially in countries that don't give free water at restaurants), and eating at places off the beaten tourist path. Those might also end up being some of the coolest restaurants and memories!”
    – Liz J. (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2017 | Case Western Reserve University)
  • “Go to all the IES Abroad events (they always have free food)! They are looking out for you so join student council (if you are inclined and excited about it), and go to all the talks because they always bring lunch along at least.”
    – Jessie D. (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2017 | University of Virginia)

Read more advice from Jessie in Budgeting in Buenos Aires: Tips & Tricks for Saving Money While Studying Abroad.


  • “I tried to take advantage of all the free museums and cultural experiences Dublin had to offer, such as the National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and exhibits at Trinity College, as well as spending days wandering around Phoenix Park and St. Stephen's Green.”
    – MollyMaeve L. (IES Abroad Dublin, Spring 2017 | University of Iowa)


  • “Shop at Real, you can buy more food for less money. And take advantage of the Münstermarkt for cheaper produce.”
    – Spencer A. (IES Abroad European Union, Spring 2017 | George Washington University)
  • “I used Pinterest to search for free things to do in Freiburg (where I was based) and in other places I traveled to, which helped me plan my visits. Another small thing I did was line dry my clothing so I didn't have to pay to use the dryer in my residence building.”
    – Julia M. (IES Abroad European Union, Summer 2017 | University of Puget Sound)

For more advice on study abroad finances check out these other articles:

Did you know that we commit $5 million in scholarships and financial aid to IES Abroad students? Learn more about financing your study abroad or internship adventure on our Scholarship & Aid page.

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