Tips and ideas for travelling on a student budget

Student traveller. Photograph by Daria Nepriakhina
Student traveller. Photograph by Daria Nepriakhina

Just because you’re on a shoestring budget as a student doesn’t mean you can’t travel! There are so many ways to make travel work on a small budget – after all, it’s about the experience, rather than splashing out on luxuries. Take home priceless memories with these great tips.

1. Plan ahead

The sense of adventure and going with the flow might be ultra appealing for a lot of reasons, but planning ahead will save you plenty!

Showing up randomly for transport or accommodation bookings is going to mean you are faced with price hikes – or missing out on the most affordable tickets or places to stay altogether.

Of course, you never know what will come up whilst you are travelling, but do your best to stick to your plans, instead of making last-minute changes.

2. Search for the best accommodation deals online

There are so many great places to compare and contrast the cost of accommodation, including Expedia and Kayak for more conventional accommodation locations.

Of course, if you really don’t want to pay, consider Couchsurfing. But be careful, and be safe: make sure you aren’t going at it alone, and read up on good reviews from previous guests.

3. Have a clear budget

If you have a clear idea of what you can spend per day or per week, this will go a long way towards keeping you within your student allowance.

Make choices ahead of time about how much you want to splurge on extras, and have a clear number in mind. This requires some organisation of course, but it will help keep you on track.

Factor in insurance to your budget – if you do get hit with unexpected extras due to accidents, theft or transport cancellations, at least you will be able to recuperate the cash. This is a cost that is absolutely worth considering as part of your overall budget.

4. Pack light

Having lots of heavy and expensive luggage will only weigh you down and often ends up being more costly to transport. Keep your luggage light and stick to a backpack or more portable baggage wherever possible.

5. Take up volunteering

Consider volunteering your time somewhere, which gives you a unique experience without any costs attached. Sometimes food or accommodation might be offered in exchange for your time, and you will have the chance to do some great work for the local community of wherever you are heading.

Check out Go Volunteer for more ideas on this.

6. Consider an International Student Identity Card

For discounts along the way, consider signing up for an ISIC. You will need to prove your student status, so make sure you do this ahead of time. It will entitle you to reductions on museum and gallery entry, as well as discounted transport and other items along the way (depending on what country you are in).

The ISIC site has more information should you wish to sign on.

7. Choose trains over planes, and walk lots!

In Europe, train travel often comes a lot cheaper than plane travel. This is also particularly true of the UK, where the 16-25 Railcard comes in particular handy.

Compare flights if you must using Skyscanner, or take a look at train travel options here. If you’re sticking to Europe only, GoEuro is a great resource for comparing prices.

Of course, walking is always free. It’s also one of the best ways to really experience your destination, so if you can walk instead of using public transport, make sure that you do!

8. Ask the locals

One of the worst things about tourist-friendly spots is that they often come at a price – areas known to attract tourists will often attach additional costs as a result.

Be sure to engage with locals, at your accommodation or wherever you might get chatting. Locals will know the best spots that the residents go to, with local-friendly prices, and the most authentic experiences.

Do you have your own tips for travelling on a student budget? Share them with us below!

Photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina

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