As students, we all have a budget. The study abroad experience can become expensive very quickly in seemingly “hidden costs.” There a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way to keep the budget in order and save a few dollars (or pounds!) along the way.
While this may be obvious, take advantage of every free opportunity. This may include food opportunities, visits to museums, soaking up the environment in parks and trips to the beaches, whatever it might be – free is a great way to experience what the country has to offer. As a study abroad student, it is also important to take advantage of what is included in the cost of the program. For example, CSE offers a breakfast at the guesthouse we stay in, and each day I’ve made sure to wake up – even if it was earlier than I intended – to enjoy what was truly a delicious breakfast, and save me from purchasing a breakfast, snack or coffee out.
When studying abroad, I also recommend visiting the local grocery store to stock up on snacks and casual meals to eat on the go. In the UK, grocery stores have a “meal deal” option which includes a sandwich or pasta salad, drink, and snack. While not the most glamorous, eating out every meal makes a huge dent in the budget. I think it’s important to keep a balance between indulging in local eats and eating on a budget. It also doesn’t have to be boring! Head to the grocery store and try out new fruits and veggies, snacks, and drinks that aren’t available in the states. Just do so on the cheap.
Weekend trips are a part of every study abroad experience. I think it’s important to take the opportunity to explore more of your host country. When planning weekend trips, I evaluated the cost of transportation and compared the train/bus cost. While the train was one pound more, it also saved me an hour and a half, which I deemed worth it as I had only two days. Had the train been double or triple the price, I would have opted for the bus to save money. A friend and I took the weekend trip and we compared the cost of an AirBnb to a hotel and a hostel. A hostel is generally considered to be the cheapest option, but when staying in a group, it sometimes makes more financial sense to pool the money and split it at a hotel or AirBnb. We were able to find a private AirBnb room for the same price as a 12 dorm hostel, so we opted for the privacy and better location and had a great time!
Travelling on a budget can be a bit time consuming – it’s important to do a cost comparison. Sites like Rome2Rio help with comparing transportation options – including routes, time, and cost. While it might take a bit of extra time, the savings can certainly be worth it. My last money saving tip is to check out local food markets – always packed with local and delicious food at staggeringly lower prices when compared to sit down restaurants. Enjoy the travels and money saving hacks!