Are you a student who enjoys travelling but has a limited budget? Find out how you can save money and still enjoy yourself with these top tips for travelling on a student budget!
Travelling, don’t we all love it? But, as students, we’re limited by our budgets and we can’t simply travel anywhere we want without considering all the financial aspects. Luckily, there are many money-saving hacks that can help you with travelling on a student budget.
I used to think that travelling on my student budget was impossible and I didn’t think I could go anywhere outside my home country without blowing my budget.
I loved seeing new cultures and experiencing new ways of life but it felt like I couldn’t do that unless I was going on a family vacation and I didn’t have to worry about the finances.
So, for a while, I never even entertained the thought of international travel alone or with my friends. It always had to be domestic.
That was until one of my friends suggested travelling to a nearby country. I did some research on how much it would cost, and the answer was a pleasant surprise.
From there, I did a lot more research into all the ways I could save money both before and during my trip, and I realised that travelling on a student budget was completely doable as long as I was strict with myself.
So, if you’re wanting to travel more as a student, then I’m here to tell you to go for it!
Use these tips to get you started in saving more money while travelling and soon, you’ll be an expert in travelling on a student budget.
With these tips, you’ll be able to:
- Spend less money planning your travels
- Save money while on your trip
- Spend more time travelling
- Stress less and enjoy yourself more
If you love travelling but feel like you’re limited by your student budget, hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your money so that you can travel more often.
- How to Travel Light (but still comfortably)
- How to Save Money Planning Your Travels
- 30 Little Ways You Can Save Money Now
- How to Be a Frugal Student – Start Saving Now
- Best Part-Time Jobs for University Students
- How to Earn up to $50+/hr as a Private Tutor
- How to Cut Down on Your Expenses from Home
Choosing your destination
Where you choose to travel is a major factor in determining how much of a budget is required. Generally, the closer your destination is to your home country or current location, the cheaper it will be for you, especially in terms of airfare.
Travelling within the country would be your cheapest option, then interstate, and then international. Of course, there are cheaper options still within international travel, such as backpacking, staying in hostels instead of hotels etc. It all depends on how you like to travel.
For example, countries that may be friendlier to an Australian student’s budget includes Bali, Fiji, and many of the smaller islands surrounding Australia. For someone located in Europe, travelling to a neighbouring country would probably be cheaper than travelling to say, Australia. Basically, travelling within your continent will likely be cheaper than travelling outside your continent.
Choose a cheaper destination
There are cheaper destinations and there are more expensive destinations. You can generally expect that the more famous a destination is, the more expensive it will be.
Some of the cheaper countries to travel to include:
- Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia
- Europe: Albania, Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine, Turkey
- The Americas: Columbia, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Bolivia
While you may not get a glamourous, luxury vacation, these are all great countries to travel to if you want to expand your horizons and get to know people from a variety of different cultures.
Have visas ready early
Visas are the most important thing you need when travelling internationally. To put it simply, you wouldn’t be able to enter another country without a visa unless your passport was exempt from needing one.
Getting your visa can be a hassle, but make sure you leave yourself enough time to get it done. Most visas will require a fee, and if you’ve left it too late, then you’ll most likely need to pay more to have it processed faster. This is an extra expense that you could use on your holiday instead.
Book plane tickets and hotels in advance
Once you’ve decided on your travel dates, you can begin preparation for hotels and transportation. Prices will vary a lot depending on whether not it’s the peak season for your destination. Since you can’t pick your holidays as a student, try to avoid travelling around the Christmas/New Year period since that’s when all the families with young children will be jetting off for their Christmas holidays.
There are so many different sites out there to make bookings. You can choose to either book flights and hotels individually or in a package.
Package deals can include flights, hotels, tours, activities etc., saving you the hassle of booking everything individually. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to research and plan your travels, then a package deal is a great option to save you from that trouble.
Groupon is a great site for getting the most bang for your buck, with so many different options for package deals and great discounts on local activities.
Read more about saving money at How to Save Money Planning Your Travels.
Book activities locally
Paying in advance before you arrive will guarantee you a spot, but it will also cost a lot more. So, if you’re on a tight student budget, it’s a good idea to book your activities after you arrive to get the best deals.
However, if you are travelling in peak season and are worried about availability, you can always check online to see if there are any good deals.
Try searching on various coupon sites such as Groupon to see if they have any available discounts on activities that you want to do. Compare any prices you find to the official booking websites of these activities to determine if you are getting a good deal. Otherwise, you may be better off making inquiries once you arrive at your destination.
If you want even further discounts, consider signing up to Groupon Select. For just $4.99 a month, you’ll have access to exclusive savings such as:
- An extra 25% off deals near you
- An extra 10% off getaways
- And an extra 10% off events & tickets
If you can, don’t book activities through your hotel.
Generally, it’s a lot cheaper to book activities at local vendors than it is to book through your hotel. With local bookings, you can haggle for discounts and you have the option to check out various different companies to see who will offer you the best deal.
Exchange a small amount of money into local currency prior to your trip
To save yourself the embarrassment of not having any cash on you when you need to pay for something, exchange a small amount of money into local currency before you leave for your trip. This will make it much less stressful for you if you need to take a taxi or pay for something at the airport.
Of course, there’s always the option of exchanging money at the airport, but the exchange rates are usually not favourable. You’d be better off finding a kiosk with better exchange rates back at home.
Tip: Overestimate the amount of cash that you’ll need once you arrive and exchange more. I experienced this firsthand when the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was more expensive than expected, but luckily, I had exchanged more just in case.
Do the majority of exchange locally
Exchanging your money locally will usually mean more favourable rates compared to airports or back in your home country. This will, however, depend on the country you’re travelling to so make sure you do your research beforehand.
Go into the city, explore your options and check out which exchange kiosks have the best rates so that you can return if you need to.
Travel money cards
As a student, you probably don’t have a credit card yet and it’s neither safe nor convenient to carry a wad of cash around. This is where a travel money card comes in handy.
A travel money card is essentially a debit card that contains foreign currency that you buy prior to travelling. The best thing about a travel money card is that you can lock in your exchange rate. That means you don’t have to run from kiosk to kiosk comparing exchange rates and determining which one will give you the most back.
Travel money cards are available at most banks, but there are also many other providers online that offer different benefits. Some have reward programs such as the Qantas travel money card, which rewards you with Qantas Points. Find one that aligns with your needs, do your research, read online reviews and then make your decision. Keep in mind that your card will need time to make its way to you so don’t wait until the last day to apply for one.
These are just some of the benefits of a travel money card:
- The convenience of a credit card
- Locked-in exchange rate
- No ATM withdrawal fees at select ATMs
- Avoid overseas transaction fees
- Load more than one currency
However, keep in mind that different banks and providers offer different benefits. Make sure you do your research before purchasing one and loading currency onto it.
Include breakfast with your hotel booking if appropriate
There are pros and cons to including breakfast with your hotel stay. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, it might actually be more cost and time-friendly for you.
Included breakfast usually comes in the form of a breakfast buffet, which will give you many options to choose from and should guarantee that you’ll find something to your taste if you’re a picky eater. However, because it’s a buffet, the options probably won’t change often and you may find yourself growing tired of the options available.
Depending on the hotel you’re staying at, the price for included breakfast per day shouldn’t be too expensive. Additionally, you can’t beat the convenience of a breakfast buffet, especially if your hotel isn’t located in a central business district.
This option will benefit you the most if:
- Your accommodation isn’t centrally located
- You’re staying at a resort with limited outside options
- You have a lot of activities planned and therefore have limited time
Avoid hotel restaurants
Restaurants located inside a hotel are usually a bit more costly than their counterparts located outside the hotel. While it may be extremely convenient to dine right where you stay, it will most likely take a toll on your budget.
Aside from its cost factor, a hotel restaurant most likely will not provide you with any of the local cultural experience. Dining in the city and immersing yourself into the local culture and lifestyle will be a much more valuable experience for you to take home.
Research your transport options
Many countries have their own tiers when it comes to taxis. There are local taxis, premier taxis, private taxis and sometimes there are only specific taxis that are allowed to pick up passengers at the airport. Familiarise yourself with the different types of taxis to avoid getting scammed and paying more than you should.
Every country has its own transportation system that will most definitely be cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere. Some countries have trains, some have light-rail, some have subways, and in some countries, riding a bike is the preferred method for getting around.
If you do need to be driven around, there may also be variations of ridesharing apps available. Many countries have their own versions of Uber and Lyft that locals love to use. Research and plan ahead so you know what the budget-friendly options are.
Be wary of marketplaces catered specifically towards tourists
Popular tourist destinations will usually have markets that are targeted at tourists looking to buy souvenirs to take home. These places will hike their prices up significantly in the hopes that gullible tourists will purchase them.
While their prices may not be ideal, it would be hard to find any store that sells souvenirs cheaply. So, be aware of sellers who are trying to scam you and set a strict budget for yourself. Remember that you’re only trying to buy something to remember the place by and anything else you purchase will probably be forgotten once you return home.
- Compare prices at different stalls
- Visit a variety of markets and stores
- Purchase from local vendors rather than chain stores when possible
TripAdvisor is your best friend
While travelling is all about new experiences, you probably want to avoid as many bad experiences as possible and spend your time discovering new and wonderful experiences. This is where reviews from past travellers are of utmost importance.
TripAdvisor is my go-to site whenever I want to experience anything new. This can be eating at a new restaurant, staying at a new hotel, or flying with a new airline. I don’t like to go into anything blind, so I always make sure I know the good and bad in order to make an informed decision.
TripAdvisor is your best friend when it comes to comparisons. I always go on it to look at photos and reviews from past customers to see which option would be more suited towards me. If you’re finding it difficult to make a decision, I recommend checking TripAdvisor out, just so you have more information at your disposal.
So, those were my tips for travelling on a student budget!
Let me know if any of them helped you save money while travelling.