It’s a matter of common knowledge that traveling at a young age is unbelievably important. Apart from the obvious reasons that you can develop cultural sensitivity and enhance your language skills, traveling also helps you to build confidence and gives you thousands of possibilities to expand your network. All this can be very beneficial when you finish your education and want to enter the job market. So, believe it or not, traveling can even be beneficial to your career! But enough dreaming. Hard facts on the table: Travel costs money. However, it does not always have to cost as much as you imagine. A student’s wallet can afford it – with the right resources and the right planning. If you continue reading, you’ll find out how to travel on a student budget.
I am constantly broke. I’ve been studying for four years now and although I had some part-time jobs, it’s just not the same as a full-time income. I love student life and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world, but having no money to spend can be frustrating. However, I still try to travel as much as possible even though I’m on a tight budget. And YOU can do it too!
To give you a mini overview here, I’m going to recommend you some resources (which mainly relate to cheap accommodation and work in exchange for accommodation) I use to plan my travels, as well as give you some advice on budget travel. There are tons and tons of websites out there you could use, but I find the ones listed below very well-arranged and easy to use. Are you ready to go on your adventure?
The very first thing I’d like you to understand is that you’ll always pay for comfort. It’s an essential thing you need to consider. You can travel on a low budget, it’s possible, but it is not always the most comfortable way to travel. If you want to have a full breakfast and lunch and dinner buffet, a spa and a pool, you’re not on the right blog (sorry). Pheeww, glad we got this out of the way! Now, here tips on how to travel on a student budget:
GO FOR HOSTELS INSTEAD OF HOTELS
There are some super cool Hostels out there and they are a great place to meet other travellers. Hostels often offer different types of accommodation, ranging from private bedrooms to 4-bed dorms to 12-bed dorms. The more beds in the room, the cheaper (bring earplugs). I like using Hostelworld for an overview – but remember to always book directly with the hostel as you don’t have to pay a booking fee then. If you’d rather stay in a Hotel, check out the website RoomerTravel.com. Here you can book hotel rooms from people who had to cancel their trips.
DON'T BUY THAT STARBUCKS COFFEE
Seriously. If you want to travel on a student budget, you need to do without your daily luxury of a steamy cappuccino. Or if you go out three times a week, cut at least one of those party nights out. It’s often only a little change of habit that helps you save the extra money you need for your travels. If you think traveling is not worth this, well… then I don’t know either.
COOK YOUR OWN FOOD
Every good hostel has a (more or less) fully equipped kitchen. Make use of it and cook your own dinner and do packed lunches. You can save a ton of money if you don’t eat out every day while you’re traveling. It’s ok to indulge in the local cuisine a few times (after all, you want to get to know the local culture!), but you won’t have money to do this every day. You can quickly prepare a sandwich and some veggies for your lunch and it’s so much fun to cook with other travelers in the evening (it’s also a great way to get to know some more people).
A Little Extra: My Top 5 Resources for Dirt Cheap Travel. For you to download – for free!
When you do couchsurfing you can stay in someone’s house (in their room or their couch) for free. To be a good couchsurfer, you should, at least, bring a little “thank-you present” or offer to cook for your hosts. It’s a great way to get to know local people and if you’re lucky, they show you some hidden gems. Couchsurfing.com is the most popular platform, but you can also check out trustroots.org. I have been couchsurfing several times and, overall, I had good experienes with it (I used couchsurfing.com).
STAY WITH A LOCAL FAMILY
Another way to get to know local culture very easily is to stay with a local family. HomeStay.com (worldwide) and hostuk.org (for the UK) are opportunities for international students and/or travelers to get in contact with families. I’ve never tried this out, but I think it’s a great way to immerse yourself to the local lifestyle of a country abroad. Let me know your experiences in the comments below, if you tried this out!
Another way to save money on your journey, but simultaneously get some work experience, is volunteering. Of course, there are a lot of volunteering opportunities out there, but big charity groups or organisations normally charge you for a registration fee. However, there are some job listing websites, where bars, farms, hostels etc. are looking for travelers to work for them. Here are three of them: HostelTravelJobs.com (lifetime membership for 5.99€), GrassRootsVolunteering.org and AnyworkAnywhere.com. I would like to kindly remind you that working in exchange for free food and/or accomodation is a gray area in most countries, so it is neither completely legal nor illegal, but it is generally tolerated. However, if you get money for your work you need to have a proper work permit. Never work and take cash if you do not have a work permit.
ALWAYS BOOK THE CHEAPEST
Every budget traveler needs to know these two websites:
1. lastminute.com: website provides five-star deals at three-star prices through its ‘top secret hotel’ deals where you only see the hotel’s name once you’ve agreed to pay.
2. skypicker.com: If you’re not too fussed which airport to fly from or to, tell skypicker when you want to go and then pick any country in Europe. It’ll give you a list of the cheapest flights.
TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD
If you’re thinking about trying to earn some money while on the road, consider a TEFL / TESOL Certificate. With that, you can teach English abroad. Find out more about it here.
That’s it! My basic and hopefully accessible tips on how to travel on a student budget. Please remember that university life is not only about reading books, it is also about getting out and discovering the world. You do not need to have millions of dollars/euros to travel. The biggest advice I can give you on cheap travel: If you really want to travel, you can make it happen!
Do you have any advice on how to travel on a student budget? Or do you know other money-saving sites for traveling? Let the world know in the comment section below!
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