Studying abroad can offer much more than the experience of a foreign university and a different educational system. It is also a splendid chance to travel Europe and discover a lot of new places, cultures, and people. However, traveling on a student’s budget is not the same as a planned vacation to some specific destination. It requires thorough planning and reasoning. Still, there is no need to refuse an attractive opportunity to see Europe in all its beauty.
It is not surprising that the major expenditures should be allocated for transportation and housing. Indeed, while many European airlines tend to be rather budget-friendly, it does not mean you can travel entire Europe cheaply. Besides, accommodation may be rather expensive, especially in some popular locations. Moreover, you need to eat something; thus, food is another area of spending. In addition, it is simply impossible to refrain from some noteworthy excursions and buy some souvenirs to remember. Some expenditures are truly unavoidable and must be taken into account. However, smart planning and a bit of cold calculation can help to cut back on excesses and find a way to save some money for more important purposes. Here are some useful tips on how to travel through Europe on a student’s budget.
Transportation is probably the bulkiest item of expenses while traveling. It encompasses not only the plane tickets to and from the country of your destination. It is also about the transfer to the airport and from the airport to the hostel, the way between the countries and the cities, metro passes, and tickets for other public transport to go around the city. Thus, reasoning and planning are necessary.
As has already been mentioned, there are enough budget-friendly airlines in Europe. Some of the most popular ones are Ryanair, Wizzair, EasyJet, and Vueling. However, some of them charge high for checking the luggage, take additional payment if your cabin bag does not fit their standards or has wheels, and may have other unexpected extra fees. Thus, it is wise to plan and conduct thorough research about the airlines of your choice.
The transport mode to travel around Europe is another difficult decision to make. Here, you need to consider which is more preferable: speed, comfort, or low price.
- Of course, the plane is the fastest and the most comfortable option. At the same time, it is also the most expensive one. While it is good to save your time, it will definitely impact your budget negatively.
- Efficient European train systems make this mode of traveling very attractive. It is much cheaper than planes though still takes longer to cover some distances. On the other hand, you save loads of time on security control, check-ins, and the way from the airport to the city. Besides, spacious and comfy trains can offer additional facilities like buffets and wi-fi while overnight trips save you additional time and money for hotels.
- And of course, the cheapest mode of transport is a bus. However, it is also the slowest one and not as comfortable as a plane or train. An overnight bus can save even more money since you do not need to stay at a hotel or a hostel. It’s up to you to decide if you are ready to make such a sacrifice. But if you aim to experience more at a lower cost, it is worth trying.
A pleasant part of studying abroad is the availability of student discounts that can work anywhere. Besides, you can get inter-city discount passes that help to save about 50% on transportation and time for buying tickets for every separate trip.
There is no need to mention that hotels are the most expensive place to stay, however, you can find some real bargains and special offers online that can allow you to access late deals and offers. Moreover, you may find it particularly useful to visit platforms like thishotel.com that only list top-rated hotels and even offer a price-match guarantee, ensuring you always secure the cheapest rate available.
Another solution is a youth hostel, which is in abundance nowadays. However, not all of them are cheap, especially in very popular tourist cities like Paris or London, for example. Besides, a cheaper hostel somewhere in the outskirts may come at a cost considering the need to pay for additional transportation.
Some more favorable options are apartments, rooms, or places in private settings. Airbnb or CouchSurfing are some of the resources that can help you find people who offer their houses, apartments, rooms, and even couches for travelers. This option is probably the cheapest and has a lot of other benefits. Firstly, you will have a kitchen to save on food expenses. Secondly, you have someone to ask about the directions or other recommendations concerning transport, sights, and culture. Finally, you will simply have someone to talk to and to spend time with in a fun and pleasant way.
Food is one of the core items of expense since it gives our bodies and minds the needed fuel for new discoveries. The best way to save on it is to cook your meals on your own instead of going out each time you get hungry. Choose hostels with kitchen facilities. Local small markets offer goods cheaper than supermarkets and touristy marketplaces. Here, you can get fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, and nuts to prepare your breakfast and lunch and save up to €10 per meal.
But how is it possible to visit a country without trying its traditional delicacies? Well, having saved on self-made breakfast and lunch, you can spend more on a dinner out. One visit to a restaurant per country can be enough to experience local cuisine. In addition, street food vendors offer unique local snacks that often do not cost much.
One more valuable secret. Many restaurants (in Spain and Italy, for example) have a wonderful tradition to offer so-called “aperitivo”. If you buy a drink at about 4 pm, you also get a chance to try an abundant variety of appetizers served as a buffet dinner. And as long as you are having your drink, you have the access to this amazing spread of delicacies until you are full and done. It is a perfect way to save money and not starve yourself to death.
Many European countries have a wonderful tradition of free walking tours. Yes, you are right, they are absolutely free. Guides’ payment is the tips. Of course, you can choose not to tip since you are not obliged to. However, some €5 as a sign of gratitude for an interesting trip and story is much less than a 20-euro full-priced excursion.
You can also grab a map and an advertisement brochure with all the local attractions available at a front desk in any hostel and go walking around the city on your own. The information about each site can be found in the brochure or on the Internet. However, such walking trips can tell you more about the city than any museum with its expensive entry tickets.
City Museum Passes
If you still plan to visit museums, get to know if any city museum passes are available. The situation is different in each country and each city. So, it is advisable to research the issue ahead. Besides, it will depend on the number of museums you are planning to visit. Still, it may be an additional advantage during your explorations of new places.
Studying abroad is exciting though may be a bit burdensome. Being away from your family and friends is not that easy, especially in a country with a culture totally different from yours. However, it is a tremendously valuable experience and a chance to explore the world. While you are still away from home, there is no need to focus solely on your lectures, assignments, and grades. You can always ask someone “Please, do my math homework for me” or engage in an additional course to improve your credit history. But if you lose a chance to travel, you will regret it later on. So, do not skip the opportunity to plan your trip and go explore Europe right now.