A lot of people (namely my parents..) wonder how I managed to travel so much while studying my bachelors with only a student loan and part time job to support me. So I’m going to let you in on a secret… it’s actually very easy! Making a call between essential and non essential spending plays a big part as does being a good saver (what that means is no Starbucks on your way home from uni!). But, obviously there is a lot more you can do to take full advantage of your empty summers! So if you’re interested in learning how I’ve managed to travel on a student budget to 12 countries and over 25 cities, keep reading!
Setting a Budget – I budgeted when my student loan arrived. Firstly working out how much money I’d have left over after paying rent and bills and then dividing it between the weeks of the year. Then I’d work out how much from that could be put aside each week and transfer that lump sum into another bank account (one without a debit card). Same principle if you receive a salary. To travel on a student budget, I’d say a part time job is essential. We all know student loans are crap and no one really gets enough to live on. Even if it’s just eight hours a week, as a 21 year old on minimum wage (£7.38 per hour) that’s over £3000 a year which equals loads of travelling!
Saving Extras – Christmas and birthday money… I saved it in the bank account with no debit card. Gifted money is the fastest money you’ll ever make and I’m sure whoever gave it to you would love it to be spent on experiencing new places and cultures.
Apply For Grants – Make the most of every grant you are eligible for be that through your university, your part time job (I got a £300 grant each year from Clarks for going to university!) or external funding bodies. There is so much out there, especially for young women and people on creative courses, so do your research! Grant money for materials means more of your hard earned cash can be saved for travelling during the summer.
Make Your Money Go Further – Skyscanner is a godsend. You can compare a whole months worth of flights and choose the cheapest time to go. So useful when you’re trying to travel on a student budget. If you’re not set on a certain location to travel you can also use the website to ‘search anywhere’. Then they’ll show you a mixture of low cost flights to a mixture of places. Generally flights are cheaper when you book in advance too. Also if you have a Clubcard you can use your points on flights. Hostel World, Booking.com and Airbnb are great for finding really nice places to stay for decent prices. Surprisingly Airbnb isn’t always cheaper and staying in a hotel is always fun so I check both. Of course if you are really budgeting, like I did on my backpacking trip from New York to Montreal, Couchsurfing is great as long as you are sensible!
Save There – While on holiday I tend to be less careful with budgeting as my main priority is having a good time (/Instagram (joking)). However, there are a few things I do to help save where possible. Shop around for the best exchange rate. I find withdrawing money abroad rather than exchanging at home gets be a better deal. However this will vary bank to bank as some have different charges so definitely check that. Another simple thing I do is use public transport rather than taxis. I think you see more/take more in on a bus anyway. Lastly, if there is a kitchen wherever I’m staying I’ll make the most of it.
Use a Budgeting App – Trail Wallet is great for tracking the money you spend while away and sticking to a preset budget. It is especially useful for long backpacking trips.
And that’s about it to be honest. Once you get your head round how to travel on a student budget it is pretty simple. Just think, get yourself some £30 return flights to Prague for a long weekend. Couchsurf while there, meaning you make friends and gain local knowledge on the best places to eat cheap etc. Budget £40 a day. You’ll find it’s loads when you’re making use of the kitchen, cooking for your host too of course! Add another £50 to cover getting to and from the airport and other bits and bobs and you have yourself a trip for £200. Not bad really.
Do you guys have any other tips on how to travel on a student budget? If so, please share in the comments!