Study Abroad

How to Travel on a Budget While Studying Abroad (96 Tips!)

College is a memorable time in your life where you can study, meet people and expand your cultural horizon. Why not take that one step further? As a student, you typically spend a lot of your time in the library or in the classroom, which doesn’t leave you too much time for fun. Now, many students empty their savings account and fly somewhere tropical for a spring break trip - but I'm here to tell you how to make those hard-earned dollars take you even further (for even longer!). It’s very important to travel and learn about the world outside of your own; however, you don’t need to break your bank account in order to make that happen.

Typically, the cost for a person to buy a one-way ticket to another country is less than one thousand dollars. Once you’re there, things are going to cost hundreds of dollars, right? Wrong! It's totally possible to have a blast while studying abroad on a budget; here are many ways you can make it happen:

  1. Plan ahead!
  2. Budget your money in advance; don’t try to do it on the go.
  3. Create your own version of a first aid kit.
  4. Wrap duct tape around a pen in your backpack - you'll be able to write and fix almost anything!
  5. Small pocket knives are handier than you think.
  6. Train passes in Europe are cheaper than flights!
  7. Beers cost less at fast food joints.
  8. Earplugs can be the cheapest/best tool in your bag in a noisy city or hostel.
  9. Expensive suitcases are unnecessary; just grab a backpack.
  10. There is nothing more satisfying than a packed lunch on top of a mountain. The climb will probably be free too!
  11. Touring a city = burning a whole lot of calories. Don’t be afraid to save $$ by eating fast food.
  12. Don’t carry much cash on you; you’ll be in bad shape if you get mugged.
  13. Check local tipping laws before handing extra dough to your bartender or server.
  14. Feeling brave and ultra=cheap? Hit up local outdoor markets or hawker stands.
  15. WWOOFing allows you to earn your keep by working on a farm. A unique way to explore the world!
  16. Why not give bartending a chance!? Make some extra cash while traveling and often times the bar will feed you during your shift.
  17. Sign up for a rewards credit cards useable worldwide and immediately begin reaping the benefits!
  18. Fruit stands and fruit shakes. Healthy, filling, and typically inexpensive.
  19. Hotels are too expensive; rough it a little in a hostel!
  20. Don’t stay overnight inside the city; hostels outside the city limits will be easier on your wallet.
  21. Nothing turns a destination into a home like exploring on your budget-friendly feet.
  22. Buy good sneakers upfront that will last you. Better to fork out money once than replacing a pair somewhere down the road.
  23. For longer treks, bus tickets, instead of taxis, can save you big bucks.
  24. Buy food in bulk and cook your own food when possible.
  25. Don’t waste anything on your plate, you’ll regret it.
  26. If you have an iPhone, use your Facetime to talk instead of paying for minutes abroad; these costs vary, but all countries are expensive.
  27. Talk to local people, they might have cool ideas for smaller, inexpensive restaurants.
  28. Try to find local work if you are abroad for an extended period of time to help immerse yourself in the culture and earn some extra money.
  29. Some museums offer free tours - just ask!
  30. Many hostels and pubs offer student discounts, so don't leave home without your student ID card.
  31. Couchsurfing is a great way to travel and meet people. If you haven't couchsurfed yet, get on it!
  32. If you’re friendly and chatty, you never know what the guy next to you might offer to you.
  33. A little goes a long way with haggling - most people are willing to barter if you act like you know what you're doing.
  34. Being organized will save you (oodles and oodles of) money!
  35. Swimming in the ocean is a cheap and relaxing way to spend your day.
  36. On that note: reading on the beach is free.
  37. All inclusive packages will be more fun and are often much cheaper.
  38. Pack sunscreen so you don't fall victim to jacked up prices near tourist-filled beaches.
  39. Dropbox is a free and easy way to share photos while on the go.
  40. Bring a phone that can double as a great camera!
  41. Around Me is a helpful (and free) app to show you where the best places are to go.
  42. Bring your own laptop/tablet to a hostel because some charge for your time spent on theirs.
  43. Volunteering while abroad is a productive way to spend your time. It also helps you meet people.
  44. Drinks are cheaper in your own hostel.
  45. Hostelworld is perfect for securing accommodations; planning ahead will often allow you to save money!
  46. Nothing is cooler than touring a National Park. Beat the paid entrance by starting your hike early.
  47. Talk with local people to get a free vocabulary lesson in a new language.
  48. Take advantage of any cooking/kitchen spaces in your accommodations.
  49. Photo collages are a great way to document your trip.
  50. Make nice with the bartenders and they will reward you.
  51. Renting a bicycle for a day is much cheaper than joining a tour.
  52. Be flexible.
  53. Expect to be late while traveling so never tell your hostel exactly when you will be arriving. If they give away your room, you’ll be in trouble and out of deposit money.
  54. Use travel search engines like Trip by Skyscanner to find cheap accommodations.
  55. Make a list for everything you need at stores and stick to it.
  56. Use exchange rates to your advantage. Don’t travel to Switzerland, but instead to Poland.
  57. Bigger cities will ALWAYS be more expensive. Leave the beaten path in search of a wallet-friendly adventure and a real experience.
  58. Overpacking = pesky baggage fees. Most airlines charge for a small carry-on.
  59. Never underestimate a relaxing walk through a beautiful park.
  60. Student credit cards can be very helpful if you don’t have the money for a vacation up front.
  61. Bring your own padlock to a hostel.
  62. Get more bang for your (time) buck: start a blog to keep in touch with multiple friends and family members at once.
  63. Chamois cloths are cheap, compact and much cheaper than buying a towel from your hostel.
  64. Large group dorm-style rooms are cheaper than private rooms at most hostels.
  65. Try to fly on “standby” and you can hop on a flight for less!
  66. Never turn down a free handout - whatever it is, it will be used.
  67. Booking your exciting trip well in advance could save you hundreds!
  68. The Eurail Pass is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to travel through Europe; they also offer special passes for travel within a limited number of countries that you may choose.
  69. Check with the hostel manager before using hostel Wi-Fi; if it is not free, then seek out free coffeeshop Wi-Fi.
  70. With their economic struggle, Greece is a beautiful and cheap destination for anyone’s wallet. Other affordable and beautiful countries include Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Egypt and India.
  71. Pick a cheap time of the year to travel - avoid major holidays and summertime!
  72. Fridays and Sundays are very expensive days to travel.
  73. Try to find package deals for your and your travel buddies - they do exist!
  74. Vegetarian meals are always the cheapest on the menu.
  75. Skype allows you to call home for low, monthly payments and typically has better quality calls than other services.
  76. Flying with reward miles is much cheaper than regular flights; go ahead, use them!
  77. The Trip It travel app is a free tool that helps plan out your entire travel itinerary.
  78. Joining loyalty clubs will save you money in the long run.
  79. News apps are sometimes free (like USA Today). Don’t bother buying a local paper.
  80. Be willing to get up suuuuper early for cheaper flights.
  81. Don’t buy a language/translation book because you can get by with just a few words here and there.
  82. Convert currencies at a bank, not a teller in the airport.
  83. Souvenirs collect dusk once you’re home so do not waste your money.
  84. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill up as often as possible from safe faucets.
  85. Share a meal with a travel buddy.
  86. Take out large sums of money at the ATM at a time to avoid repeated transaction costs. Just keep it safe!
  87. Carpooling can be very convenient and cost-effective for traveling in groups!
  88. Plan out a to-do list. Don't skimp on the "must-see" expensive activities, just counter-balance them.
  89. Take advice from student bloggers; you aren’t the first student to travel so why not learn from others’ mistakes?
  90. Try new things, the whole point of traveling is to experience the world.
  91. Buy travel insurance. If your trip is interrupted, you’ll be glad you bought it.
  92. Seatguru helps your choose the cheapest seat on the plane.
  93. Bring your own food on your flights. Liquids may not be permitted, but foods are!
  94. If you're flying within the European Union, flights delayed more than a few hours can permit you to compensation for your time.
  95. Make your own travel-sized toiletries, don’t buy them.
  96. Just go. Every penny spent today can be earned tomorrow. College years are for living!

Traveling the world as a college student is important for so many reasons. With our world becoming more and more connected, it is not unreasonable to have friends from all over the planet who speak several different languages. As a student, your responsibilities are fairly minimal; aside from classes and internships, you have numerous school breaks which allow you time to blow off some steam. Why not use that time to travel the world, cross off a few bucket-listers, take some pictures and make stories from wild adventures? So get out there and make it happen!

You have numerous school breaks which allow you time to blow off some steam. Why not use that time to travel the world, cross off a few bucket-listers, take some pictures and make stories from wild adventures?

Disclaimer: We have paid relationships with some of the companies linked to within this article.