As a student you’re probably only too aware of the need to save money wherever possible. Travel often has a reputation for being extremely expensive and while that can be true, with a small amount of research you could find yourself travelling through Vietnam on just $300 a month. A lot of students wait until they get a full-time job before they even begin thinking about seeing the world but we believe that the best time to travel is when you’re young.
There are hundreds of ways for you to make travel more affordable and this article covers the best and easiest ways of doing so.
1.Choose Your Destinations Carefully
Opportunities to save money begin before you even leave home. One of the most important decisions you’ll make while planning a trip is choosing where you’d like to go — you could get by on a backpacker budget of $10 a day in Si Phan Don, Laos or easily spend $150 a day while sightseeing in Stockholm, Sweden!
Slightly more expensive destinations, where you can expect to pay $30-$60 a day include parts of Eastern Asia (barring Japan) and large amounts of Africa. Most African countries can be done on the cheap but the cost of activities such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, hot air ballooning and safaris can really add up. South America can be cheap but long-distance transport is expensive — and you’ll be doing a lot of it.
You can expect to spend anything upwards of $60 a day here.
Now that you’ve decided where to go, it’s time to start saving as much money as possible while you’re there!
2.Save Money With Accommodation
The easiest way to save money on accommodation is by staying in dorm rooms in hostels. You can find hostels in almost every country around the world and it’s quick and easy to book them online using a website such as HostelBookers.
Hostels are extremely safe and are a fantastic way to meet other travelers on the road.
If the idea of staying in a dorm sounds like your worst nightmare, then nearly all hostels offer private rooms for a slightly higher price. You’ll still get to meet other travelers in common rooms but you’ll also have privacy and a much better night’s sleep! Private rooms in hostels are still nearly always cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Hostels not your thing? There are still plenty of options for getting cheap or free accommodation while traveling.
- Couchsurfingis a popular website that helps you to connect with locals who are offering up their couch for travelers to sleep on for free. Not paying for accommodation is a great bonus but the main benefit of Couchsurfing is that it allows you to meet locals, gain a deeper insight into their culture and discover parts of city you probably wouldn’t have found on your own.
- WWOOFing(Willing Workers On Organic Farms) is a website that allows you to receive free accommodation and meals in exchange for working 4-6 hours a day on a farm.WWOOFing is great if you’re looking to stay in one place for more than a few weeks. It’s a way to prolong your travels while connecting with locals and learning about their culture and customs.
- Housesittingis another way of finding free accommodation. Housesitters travel the world by looking after the owners’ pets and homes while they’re on vacation in exchange for free accommodation. It takes a lot of work to become a housesitter and you’ll need to have previous experience and references in order to find a house to sit, as well as loose travel plans. However, if you’re planning on travelling long-term then it’s a fantastic way to see the world without spending a penny on accommodation. Trusted Housesitters andHouse Carers are the two main sites that have the largest selection of housesits.
3.Save Money With Food
In general, when you’re traveling through more expensive countries such as Western Europe, the US and Australia, it’s always going to be much cheaper to buy food from a grocery store and cook in your hostel kitchen instead of eating out. Similarly, a lot of hostels offer a free breakfast as part of their rate so if this is the case then make sure to eat as much as possible.
In some regions of the world there’s often no reason to eat in your hostel at all. Parts of Asia, in particular, have an incredible street food culture where you’ll frequently be able to find a meal for under $1. These meals will nearly always be fresher, cheaper and much more delicious than eating out in a restaurant.
While you’re out sightseeing make sure you eat a big lunch and have something smaller later in the day – dinner is often the most expensive meal so this can really help cut down on costs.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a large percentage of backpackers’ budgets are spent on alcohol, so if you can cut back on your drinking you can save a lot of money. If not, then opt for the cheaper alcoholic options – drinking local beer instead of imports and no cocktails.
Make sure to reuse your water bottles, especially if you’re in a country where you can drink the tap water. Water might not seem like a lot of money at the time but if you’re buying several bottles a day this can easily add up.
4.Save Money With Transportation
It’s nearly always cheaper to travel overland (and it’s much better for the environment) so always try to travel by bus, train and ferry wherever possible.
If you’re short on time or need to fly then you can use Skyscanner or Adioso to find cheap airfare. Both websites have several useful features that help you find the cheapest flights. You can search for flights by country rather than city and check prices for dates over an entire month. This is especially useful if you aren’t travelling with fixed plans. Skyscanner even allows you to select “everywhere” as a destination, a fun tool if you’re not sure where to head next.
The website Flightfox can help you save money if you have a complicated route with multiple stops. You pay a small amount and then flight hacking experts set about finding you the cheapest fare – you’ll usually end up saving a lot more than the fee.
Public transport is always cheaper than taking taxis and offers a much more local experience. Only take a taxi if it’s late at night, if you’re in a dangerous part of town or if there isn’t any public transport. When you arrive in a new country make sure to research the most reputable taxi companies to prevent getting scammed or charged extortionate rates.
If you’re going to be travelling in Europe then Eurail/Interrail passes are a great way to save money and explore the continent by train. These passes work best if you’re going to be seeing a lot of Western Europe (where long-distance train rides frequently cost over $100) over the space of several weeks or months. You can still save money using Eurail passes in Eastern Europe, but it won’t be as much.
Hitchhiking is another option if you’re looking to travel for free. Hitchhiking is most common in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, parts of South America and the United States, and it’s a fun way to meet locals. Make sure to stay safe when hitchhiking. We’d recommend against females hitchhiking alone. If someone doesn’t make you feel at ease, then don’t get in their car. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If hitchhiking isn’t your thing then an alternative could be car-sharing websites, such as LiftShare. These websites allow you to travel for free, or very little, in someone’s car in exchange for gas money. You could also check the noticeboards in hostels to see if anyone’s offering a ride to where you want to go.
5.Save Money When Sightseeing
Most major cities around the world have free walking tours led by volunteers, which aim to show you the main sights in the city. These are the perfect way to spend your first morning in a new place – you get to find your bearings, see the most popular attractions and learn about the history and culture of the city.
Many museums, especially those in Europe and the United States, have certain days of the week or month where they offer free admission. For example, The Louvre in Paris is free on the first Sunday of every month. It’s worth researching this before you arrive as it can help reduce your sightseeing costs.
City tourist cards are another way to save money. Such cards can get you free admission for anything from the most popular museums and attractions to discounts on public transport. You can even sometimes use them to skip the line at busy tourist spots. Bear in mind that these cards usually have a time limit attached to them so they’re best if you have a limited number of days to explore a city.
6.Save Money as a Student
Fortunately, as a student there are plenty of extra ways for you to save money!
The first thing to do is pick up an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), a discount card that is recognized in 125 countries around the world. This gives you access to discounts on accommodation, transport, tours, guidebooks, local SIM cards and more!
Companies such as STA Travel offer student airfares, but be wary of these as they are usually more expensive than flying with budget airlines, especially if you’re looking at a short-haul flight. It’s worth taking a look before booking your flights to see if there’s a sale on, but make sure you also check Skyscanner or Adioso.
There are plenty of student discounts available on overland travel companies too. In the United States, Amtrack offers students a 15% discount card for $20 and the Greyhound Student Advantage Card gives you a 20% discount on fares for $20. In Europe, Eurail/Interrail passes give you a 35% youth discount if you’re under 25.
So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to save money while you’re travelling. All you need to do is to choose a destination that fits your budget, spend a short amount of time researching discounts and offers and be willing to occasionally sacrifice your comfort levels.