By Carlie Vassos, October 19 2017 —
Throughout your time as a student, you may feel bogged down by exams, assignments and a job — or maybe you just crave adventure. A common solution to student lethargy is travelling. Many students plan to travel, but financial restrictions often deter us from making these dreams come true. Having previously never been farther than Banff, this past summer my boyfriend and I decided to take a month-and-a-half long backpacking trip across Europe. To get around the financial limitations of being a student, I kept a few things in mind to budget my expenses. Here are five tips that can make travelling on a student budget a reality.
- Set a money limit:
Before you start making an itinerary, set a limit of how much you are willing to spend in total. Create a list of necessary expenditures such as transportation costs, food, accommodations and activities. Account for a bit extra in case of emergencies or unplanned purchases. Also, look into the currency exchange rate. Know how many Canadian dollars you will need to exchange at each stop.
- Have a backup plan:
Have a backup plan for your backup plan. Choose the place or places you want to visit and do extensive research on them. Naturally, one place may be more costly to stay in than another. For example, in Greece, it was much cheaper to stay in Athens than in Santorini. Be flexible with locations before looking into accommodation costs. Sticking to a schedule is great but a wrench may get thrown into your plans. Your plane or bus may be delayed, the museum may be closed or you might simply make a mistake and get lost. Being as prepared as you can be will save you a lot of time and trouble. Apps like MAPS.ME are great because they’re free and offer offline maps with step-by-step navigation. And while it’s old-fashioned, having a physical pocket map and itinerary will save you if your phone fails.
- Stay in hostels:
Hostels are a great choice if you are a student. Depending on location, hostel bookings can be as low as $15 a night. They not only cut costs but are great places to meet and befriend students travelling from other parts of the world. Hostelworld is a great app to find these accommodations.
- Book in advance and look for deals:
A key cost saver is taking ample time beforehand to look for deals on flights, hostels and ticketed events. Flights are the trickiest, but sites like StudentUniverse and Skyscanner find deals specifically for students and compare prices between websites. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy tickets for local transportation upon arriving at your destination, but it’s often easier and sometimes safer to purchase tickets online. If you are going somewhere like Greece and want to take the bus or ferry, purchasing the tickets online or at least having an idea of transportation costs will save you a lot of time and trouble. I would also recommend purchasing a Eurail pass. It is an affordable and easy way to travel Europe’s extensive train network. With deals running through the year, student prices range from $77–$385.
- Have fun:
The restrictions of student finances don’t have to stop you from making your dreams of adventure a reality. Student life can be stressful. Your vacation shouldn’t be.