So you know you want to travel, and you know you’ve got nearly four months to do it, between the stress of your end-of-year exams and starting afresh another year older, if not wiser, in September. You start thinking about where you could go and, before you know it, you and your housemates have a fully laid out and labelled plan to go backpacking through Europe, before someone chimes in with the question nobody wants to hear.
“Hang on, isn’t this all going to be a bit… pricey?” You look around at each other and shuffle your feet. Your parents aren’t keen on funding your flouncing around the world, your part-time job barely manages to keep your “three-nights-out-per-week” lifestyle afloat, and your savings are looking a little ragged after the squad went on a mad one to Ibiza last year. All this considered, how can you spend a couple of months travelling without completely busting your overdraft? Flights are going to be pretty much the same no matter how well you budget, so as long as you use a site like Skyscanner or Lastminute.com, chances are you’re going to be able to find a good deal on getting wherever it is you’ve decided to travel to. Let’s think about the three things you probably splurge most on when you go travelling: accommodation, food and activities.
How can you spend a couple of months travelling without completely busting your overdraft?
Tempting though it might be to go for hotels or art-deco hostels, if you’re travelling on a budget, pricey accommodation can easily eat up the bulk of your funds. One way to get around this is by using Couchsurfing; a lot of people are still leery about this, but whilst you can come across the odd weirdo anywhere, the vast majority of people signed up to the website are young travellers or expats themselves who are more likely to be your friends for life than try anything shifty. Just sign up to the website, fill in your profile, and you’re good to go! Couchsurfing has millions of members, particularly in Europe. Did I mention that it’s free?
Another option if you’re travelling for a longer period, or on your own, is to use a work-exchange site like Workaway. By paying a small signup fee, you get 2 years of access to an enormous database of hosts around the world who will offer you free food and accommodation in exchange for helping them out for 5-6 hours a few days a week. Placements can range from teaching English, to childcare, to construction projects; there’s something for everyone!
Eat local! If you’re going further afield like Asia or South America, you’ll find that the best, and cheapest, food can be found on the streets. No, not like that. Ew. Street markets and stalls can introduce you to foods you wouldn’t come across if you were just sticking to your English staples, and for a fraction of the price! Try to avoid chains and go for independent cafes or restaurants; they could use the business and you’re unlikely to get ripped off.
Whilst entry to the vast majority of famous landmarks and attractions is going to be a little pricey, if you’re saving pennies, or cents, or rupees, you’re better off prioritising one or two of the bigger things, and then looking around for free or low-cost attractions in your destination of choice. You can find free museums in nearly every city you’d care to visit, and the ones which charge usually offer a student rate. Make use of student discounts wherever you can; you’ll save more than you might think!
Whether you’re travelling alone or in a group, you’ll soon find that you don’t have to sacrifice quality just because you’re on a student budget!