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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.