How to save money before studying abroad and how to spend money wisely while abroad

How do I save money before I go abroad?

From the moment you know you want to study abroad, you should start saving up money. Studying abroad is not a cheap thing to do but you can definitely find ways to save money before and while you study abroad. If you are studying abroad for a full semester, most people recommend saving around $5,000 to $10,000 for traveling expenses. 


Some things you can do before you leave is get a part-time job and set aside money from each paycheck. You can create a budget and cut back on non-essential expenses such as entertainment, shopping, and eating out. Picture this… would you rather eat a meal from your local Arby’s or lunch off the coast of Italy eating the best pasta and gelato you’ve ever had?? (spoiler…they will be around the same price) 


Before and during your time abroad, be sure to take advantage of student discounts offered by retailers, restaurants, transportation services, and entertainment venues. Be sure to carry your student ID with you and don’t be afraid to ask about discounts offered wherever you go. While I was abroad, I noticed the most common places that offer student discounts are museums and national parks!


How can I save money while studying abroad?

While you’re traveling between countries, give yourself a budget and track your expenses and see where you are spending money the most. You can cut your cost by taking advantage of cheap flights, splitting airbnb’s, cooking meals with your friends, and using public transportation.


A perk of studying abroad during the fall or spring semester is that it’s during off-peak season. Prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions tend to be lower and fewer crowds. But that being said, some popular cities have tourist traps year round that often have inflated prices. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and discover local spots, restaurants, and markets where prices are typically more reasonable.


Although it is important to set a budget for your traveling, make sure NOT to give each destination the same budget!! Countries have different costs of living which will affect the price of everything. For example, Switzerland has the highest cost of living in Europe while Portugal is one of the lowest. So if you set aside $300 per weekend, maybe give Switzerland $400 and Portugal $200!


What apps should I download before going abroad?

Some apps to be sure to download is the Airbnb app which is perfect for finding accommodations and excursions, Hostelworld to book hostels in the town you are traveling to, Google Maps which will give you walking and public transportation options, and FreeNow which is a commonly used (and most of the time cheaper) version of Uber that most countries use in Europe. 


After studying abroad for a semester, I found it was cheapest to split Airbnb’s with a group of friends, use the kitchen to cook group meals, and watch the sunset!


Throughout your time abroad, there are plenty of ways to save money by splitting costs with friends and by making small changes in your daily routines. Just remember that saving money while traveling doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice experiences. It’s about making conscious choices, being mindful of your budget, and seeking out affordable alternatives that still allow you to enjoy and immerse yourself in the local culture and experiences.

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