Travelling on a Low Budget: A Guide for Students

The First Step: Come up with a Plan

We all dream about spontaneously going to the airport and catching the next best flight that is available. Well, sometimes this is a great way to find cheap last minute flights but you have to be very flexible and open for any destination. If you know exactly where you want to go, I would definitely recommend you booking your flight in advance!

Start looking 6 months before your adventure starts: Get an overview of the costs and set a ticket alert to be notified about price drops. If your schedule allows, make sure to travel out of season. A lot of companies offer overpriced deals during high season and even restaurants, public transports, etc. take advantage of it. Also, there are fewer tourists and you might get a better experience.

Booking a one-way ticket might feel very adventurous and exciting, but if you need to watch your expenses, it definitely helps to book a return flight. Running out of money at the end of your travels and booking a last-minute flight can make deep cuts in your budget. Not only book your flights in advance, also make sure to plan your stay. You don’t need an hour-by-hour schedule but it definitely helps to know how many days you want to stay and which places you want to visit.

Travel euipment with camera, map, backpack
© by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Accommodation

You don’t need to stay in the most luxurious hotel possible. Hostels offer very nice shared-rooms, even private ones. They are definitely cheaper than hotels and free breakfast is mostly included, even though it’s probably going to be cereals and toast for your whole trip but hey, free is free. Your budget will love it! Don’t forget to pack some snacks for later. Moreover, especially when you are traveling alone, hostels often host nice events making it easy to meet like-minded travellers. There is always the opportunity to book a private room on Airbnb or to share the costs for an apartment with other travelers (you might have met in the hostel).

Another great option is WWOOFING. Have you heard about it? It stands for World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms. You basically work and help out on a farm while getting free accommodation in return. Not a huge fan of farms? Try couch surfing and stay at a local’s home for free and get a more in-depth experience of their culture.

Embrace Public Transport

Buses and trains often are a cheap way to go from A to B. They might be more crowded or take longer, but you can save a lot of money. Nowadays, there are great companies that try to make your trip as comfortable as possible with free wifi and air condition. Also, if you take an overnight bus or train you have one less night to pay for accommodation. Get a good book, download your favorite songs or watch a nice movie while you are on your trip. Time will fly that way! Also, don’t forget to bring enough water and food.

Definitely check if the country you are visiting offers rail passes (like Interrail in Europe). They are a great opportunity to get more for less. If so, be careful and check in advance if all trains are included in the pass. Trust me, I’ve been there and ended up spending more money in three weeks in Europe than for backpacking 2 months through Australia.

Happy girl travelling on a low budget
© by Church of the King via Unsplash

Become a Pro in the Kitchen

Hostels often have a shared kitchen where you can store your food and cook nice and cheap meals. You can save a lot of money doing smart grocery shopping. Look out for deals, many go shopping just before shops close (to reduce food waste, supermarkets sometimes sell veggies and fruits for half the price). Also, look at the bottom shelf to get the cheaper version of a product.

If, after a while, you are tired of pasta with tomato sauce, find a group of people and plan a dinner party together. As you can already guess, a hostel is the easiest way to meet other “low budget travelers” that are as happy to share the costs as you are. Enjoy a fancy dinner together and have a good laugh over a nice glass of wine under 5€. Sounds amazing? It definitely is. If you want to try some local food, don’t go straight to the first restaurant. Rather get recommendations from locals, compare prices on Tripadvisor and try to avoid touristic areas.

Happy people having a bbq at a hostel
© by Albert Renn via Unsplash

Flexibility is the Key

If you have the freedom and time to be flexible, then definitely use it to your advantage! Be flexible on time, dates, airports and transportation. This will help you to save some money. You might meet a group of people that are planning to do a road trip or a tour together. Be spontaneous and do as many things as possible in a group. Hello to group discounts and shared costs!

Work and Travel

The classic jobs in hospitality never get old. Bartending or working in construction are still popular among travelers. But, maybe you want to do something more fun and exciting? Share your skills and work as a surfing, skiing or diving instructor. Are you good with kids? Join a kids club and entertain the little ones while their parents are relaxing at the pool.

Thanks to digitalization, we have a lot more ways to earn money nowadays. Become a digital nomad and enjoy the benefits of working online or work as an online tutor. Make sure to (if necessary) get a Work and Travel Visa and you are ready to go!

Do you want to gain work experience and live in a different country for a while? Just apply for an internship abroad. Especially when you are a citizen of the European Union, it is super easy to work abroad, so definitely benefit from this advantage! If you need help to create the perfect CV, have a look at this free CV-Builder and get ready for your career.

Who does not love free stuff?

You might be surprised, but there are a lot of ways to get free stuff. There are credit cards which reward you with miles every time you pay for something. Or become a Miles & More member and collect the miles you are flying. You can either get a flight for free or save a loooot of money, depending on how many miles you have collected.

You want to do some sightseeing without expensive tours? Almost every touristic city offers free walking tours. A local will show you around, mostly for 2h, and will give you all the insider information. At the end of the tour, you can pay as much as you like. Also, some museums or theatres offer free entrance on some days. If you are traveling on alow budget, always do your “homework” and ask for a student discount!

You are not ready to start your adventure yet but want to start with saving some money? Have a look at the application tips and get ready for your next student job! With all of these tips and tricks, I’m pretty sure you can make the most out of your travels. In the end, it’s all about having fun and enjoying life! So don’t be too hard on yourself and most importantly: take care of yourself! :-)

Header image by Becca Tapert via Unsplash