WANDERLUST: Travelling on a budget

When it comes to travelling, being a student can be both, a major advantage as well as a restricting factor. Semester breaks oftentimes seem endless and give you an amazing feeling of freedom. I often remind myself that once stuck in a nine to five job, it will be much harder to squeeze an adventure into the busy work schedule, which is why I should travel NOW. However, while time might be on your side, your bank account will probably seem like your biggest enemy. Let’s face it; students are always broke. So what can you do to have a great time travelling without being in major debt afterwards? These 5 tips on how to travel on a budget will help you to make the most of your time and money.

 

  1. Don’t go abroad

Wait what, I thought I’d get tips on travelling and now you tell me to stay at home? Wrong. The first thing to remember is that a great adventure is not measured in kilometres you travel, but in experiences you make. If you cannot afford to fly around the world, look for exciting places in your own country that you haven’t been to so far. Go to remote Scottish islands, explore the highlands or visit a city. Did you know that you could live above a small vintage bookshop in the picturesque village of Wigtown for free if in return you run the shop by yourself for the duration of your stay? You can read more about The Open Book project on their blog (theopenbookwigtown.tumblr.com).  See, opportunities are everywhere, just go and look for them.

  1. Don’t go the easy way

Transport will, of course, use up a big chunk of your travel budget, which is why you should think about different possibilities to reach your destination. If the timing of your trip is not set in stone you can make some great deals when booking flights. Browse flight search engines like kayak or skyscanner for special offers and sign up to a few airline’s newsletters in order to not miss any great deals anymore. Oftentimes you get the best inspiration for your next trip when stumbling over a really cheap flight to a destination you otherwise wouldn’t even have considered. Also, travelling with hand luggage only will save you a little fortune! However, flying is not the only way to make your way around. Interrail Passes allow you to see up to 30 countries in Europe with only one reasonably priced train ticket. Community marketplaces like BlaBlaCar.com allow you to search for cheap ridesharing and carpooling possibilities.

  1. Look for alternative accommodation

Yes, it is important to feel safe and comfortable at the places you are staying during your journey. However, that does not mean that you have to book a crazily expensive hotel or hostel rooms. If you browse the Internet for alternative accommodation you will see that you have lots of other (cheap) options. Airbnb is a platform that showcases hosts from around the world who rent out their private apartments, holiday homes or spare rooms. This is not only a great way to safe money, but also to experience a more homely accommodation and get an authentic inside into local living. House-sitting, as offered by platforms like TrustedHousesitters, follows the concept that travellers watch someone’s house and care for any pets while the owners are away. In return, they can stay for free! Another way to sleep for free is Couch Surfing. As the name suggests, this website will help you to find people that will let you sleep on their couch, which is also a great way to meet locals! You can also work in return for a place to sleep and food – check out wwoof.net to learn more about volunteering on organic farms around the world.

  1. Step out of your comfort zone

I promise you will make the best memories when you step out of your comfort zone and connect with the places, culture and people surrounding you during your travels. Reach out to travel communities, such as the Travelettes Facebook page where you can get in touch with locals, ask questions and get inspiration for your journey. Ask your friends and family for contacts they might have and simply chat them up to learn more about the place and its sights or attractions. This is the cheapest way to get to know an area as it will safe you lots of money you might spend on travel guides and rip off tours for tourists.

  1. Be creative

Travelling is a fantastic opportunity to do fun activities that you cannot or would not do at home. However, lots of attractions and sights are really expensive so it is important to plan ahead. Set yourself a daily budget to spend on activities and see how much you can get out of it. Lots of cities offer free walking tours that will take you to famous sights and hidden spots. However, it is always nice to tip the guide of course. Many museums around the world are free during certain times of the week so do your research before planning your days! Spending money on public transportation can also add up, so try to walk as much as possible – this is also a great way to see more of the area and explore it off the touristy paths. When it comes to eating, try to avoid the touristy areas and eat like a local instead. Having meals at local farmers markets, cafés and restaurants will not only make your bank account happy but expose you to unique culinary experiences.

What are you waiting for? Start planning, pack your bags and see the world.

Author: Kim Dohmen

M83

For those nights when you feel the need to slow down.

If you like some kind of “chill out” music, then you have to give a listen to some M83 songs. M83 is a French band consisting of the French musician Anthony Gonzalez and a couple of other people who kind of came and went over the years (M83 has been a band for 15 years now!). You might have heard some of their songs in movies like The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, Insurgent and Oblivion. They make somewhat electro slash ambient slash dream pop music that is sometimes compared to artists like The XX, The Naked and Famous, MGMT and Empire of the Sun. Their songs make you feel very much at peace and perfectly accompany those nights when you’re lying on your bed just, you know, thinking about life. Also, it’s that kind of music that’s easy to focus to; it can be a new addition to your study playlist on Spotify! I can’t forget to mention that M83 have just released a new album “Junk” and are going to be playing at numerous festivals around Europe, you should definitely check out their website to help you decide where you’re going to go this summer.

Author: Gabi Kaufmanova

Shadowhunters

 

Your new Netflix binge-watch series!

You may or may not have seen this new series on your Netflix homepage, however, whichever way it is, you have to see at least the first episode. And then another one. And another one. The plot might be quite familiar to you; like the 2013 film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones they’re both based on Cassandra Clare’s novels The Mortal Instruments. If you were like me and were desperately waiting for the next TMI film you might have been quite surprised when a whole new TV series with a totally new cast appeared out of nowhere!

The story follows Clary Fray/Fairchild who on her eighteenth birthday learns that she is a Shadowhunter – an individual born with both angel and mundane (human) blood – whose duty it is to protect the world from demons. Sounds pretty cool, right? Until later her mother is abducted by the underworld’s most wanted Shadowhunter who also happens to be Clary’s father. Then she has to face all that comes with being a Shadowhunter – dealing with vampires, warlocks, werewolves… You know, just your average day.

If you find yourself into a bit of fantasy; magical beings, vampires, fighting demons and all that sort of stuff; I guarantee you you’ll enjoy this as well! It’s one of those series you can just relax to, it doesn’t have a complicated synopsis and you also get quite a lot of eye-candy. Did I mention Dominic Sherwood and Matthew Daddario play the lead roles?

Author: Gabi Kaufmanova

ADULTING 101: How to save money

One requirement of being a grown-up is having the ability to feed yourself and not spend all your money just on food. We’ve all been there though, eating stale bread whilst crying when seeing our bank balance. Believe it or not, there’s a way to prevent that from happening again, just take a look at these few tips on how to put an end to the massive overdraft at the end of each month.

  • Make shopping lists. It may seem a bit unnecessary but if you think about it, it’s really smart! Before going grocery shopping look through your kitchen cupboards, fridge and the freezer and write down stuff you need to buy. When you get to the shops, stick to your shopping list and you won’t impulse-buy. Also, a golden rule, NEVER go food shopping when hungry! It’ll just make you buy stuff you crave at the moment.
  • When making plans for grocery shopping plan your meals ahead of time so that you buy all the ingredients required and nothing else. I’m referring to all those vegetables and cheese gone off.
  • Get your regular customer card. All the times you’ve heard stuff like “have you got your (blank)card?” from the check-out lady could’ve come in handy. It might seem like another useless piece of plastic in your wallet but if you’re a regular somewhere all the points add up and eventually you get discounts and/or vouchers. Plus it doesn’t cost you anything, you just sign up online or in the store.
  • Shop the supermarket’s own-brand stuff. It’s a rule that own-branded food is a fraction of the price of normal branded food and usually serves the same purpose, although always check the ingredients first though and shop smart!
    • Difference between Ambrosia custard and TEV custard – TEV is just water and milk
    • Difference between Heinz spaghetti hoops and TEV spaghetti hoops – Heinz uses actual tomatoes, TEV just tomato puree
  • Ask yourself “do I really need that?”. The number of times rethinking my purchases has saved me a couple of £££ is too high.
  • Check supermarkets’ websites or even download their apps. Although you might not necessarily be ordering groceries online, you have an overview of all the offers they have at the moment, therefore you can plan your shopping in advance. Also, you can compare what stuff is on offer elsewhere so you can shop different things in different stores (if they’re all close to you)
  • Now, designer brands might not be employing cheap workforce, but if you’re on a budget you can’t really buy £200 jumpers, can you? If you overlook the ethical issues and stigmas associated with Primark, H&M etc. they make some very wearable clothes for reasonable prices!
  • Earn some extra money by selling stuff that’s just taking place in your closet, that you don’t need anymore. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
  • Nights out can be quite expensive especially when all your friends are out and when drunk you is so eager to buy everyone a couple of rounds of drinks (hey, we’ve all been there). The cheapest thing to do is to not drink at all and stay in bed, but let’s not be naive, shall we? Many of you have probably already discovered this style of a night out but I thought I’d still include it here. Pre-drinks. Not only it’s a great way of socialising, it’s actually a really smart way to drink. You buy yourself a bottle in Tesco’s (preferably half price) and it’s still cheaper than a couple of shots of the same drink in a club. Just don’t get too drunk otherwise you won’t even get into the desired club/pub/bar. Also, keep an eye out for cheaper entries for students, so don’t forget your student ID!
  • Instead of getting the bus to uni every time why not wake up earlier and walk or cycle? You can get some cheap second-hand bikes online and some cities even do free memberships for their university students on nextbike.co.uk. Yes, those are the bikes that you can rent all around your city; just check their website for further information.
  • If you’re a smoker, STOP! On average one cigarette now costs approximately 40p and depending on how many a day you smoke it all adds up. And if you simply can’t live without your cigarettes the cheaper option here is to buy tobacco, filters and papers and roll your own.
  • Do you have a gym membership? Yes? And how many times have you been there in the past month and be honest! If the answer is less than four times then you’re just wasting your dear money. We can all imagine the situation when you’re thinking whether or not to buy it and you decide it is worth it in hope that it will motivate you, but guess what, it doesn’t. Just be true to yourself, are you actually going to go there? If you’re not sure, spend a while working out on your own at home or start running and when you start craving more, look for a one-time gym entrance. When you start working out regularly then it’s worth getting a membership.
  • Get the most out of your student status. So many shops, restaurants, tourist attractions and transport companies offer student discounts nowadays, so always ask, just in case.
  • Check your phone plan; are you actually using all that you’re paying for? If not, change it or change to pay-as-you-go.
  • Check all your subscriptions – Spotify, Netflix, Graze etc. Are you actually using all of them and are you getting benefits from it? I know it’s probably useless to ask about Netflix and Spotify but what about the rest? Do you know what you’re paying for?
  • This leads to another point – get internet banking and/or your bank’s phone app. You can check your bank balance and all your transactions anywhere you are; just make sure that your connection is secure.
  • Make packed lunches. It may seem like a lot of effort but when you buy yourself a BLT sandwich for £2 every day with some other stuff like a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar it’s quite expensive when thinking long-term. Plus making a pasta salad or an avocado toast isn’t that complicated and it’s delicious as well!
  • Re-think whether you need a TV license. If you don’t mind watching your favourite TV shows or the news after they’ve aired on TV, you don’t need to pay that £145.50/year. Plus if you’re watching Netflix all the time, it’s really not worth it. The only rule you have to keep is that you watch the programme after it’s aired.
  • Re-use your bottles. Stop buying bottled water and instead keep one or two bottles, which you fill up from the tap. That is if you live somewhere where tap water is safe to drink, maybe re-think this option if you’re touring Africa.
  • Get your own reusable shopping bags. Not only they look better, they can also often carry more weight than the 5p plastic bags that tear quite easily.

Useful websites:

www.mysupermarket.co.uk – a summary of all the deals that are happening in the shops, you can also compare the prices amongst other supermarkets

www.lovefoodhatewaste.com – tips on how to reduce food wastage

Author: Gabi Kaufmanova