Studying abroad doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive, but to be real — it’s not going to be cheap either. Most students have to fund their trips by cobbling together money from scholarships, grants, loans and a little help from dad and mom. Either way you spin it, you’ll want to be as budget conscious as possible during your trip in order to really make your dollar stretch. Not quite sure how to swing it? Check out these 10 easy ways you can make your dollar go further.
Choose an affordable Study abroad Destination
You want to go to Europe. Of course. Who doesn’t? But Europe isn’t the only place in the world to have a life-changing study abroad experience. Choose an affordable destination that lets you get the most for your dollar. Consider locations like Asia, South America or Africa for a significantly cheaper but equally enlightening study abroad experience.
Live with a Host Family
While renting your own flat in a swanky Arrondissement sounds like a fantastic plan, receiving the bill will be a sobering experience — at best. Cut costs and learn about life and culture by living with a host family.
Get your grocery Shopping Game together
If you constantly live off of cafeteria food and fast food at your university, the grocery store may seem like foreign territory. In reality, it’s a haven of all the same foods at much cheaper prices. Pack lunches to take to class, buy groceries to cook dinner a few nights a week and keep breakfast items and snacks on hand at all times. Doing brunch every day at Café Le Nom with your friends is going to add up sooner rather than later.
Skip the Pre-packaged Tours
Paying an arm and leg to sit on a mega bus full of tourists and take pictures of famous landmarks in passing is a pretty terrible idea. Do research and craft your own weekend sightseeing adventures. You can even create your own study abroad trip altogether instead of choosing a pricey package offered by your college.
Paying money to get money doesn’t really make much sense, right? Skip the traveler’s checks, sketchy cash exchange shops and ridiculous ATM fees. Instead, open a local banking account or ask if your bank at home has a partnership with any banks in your host country.
Buy an International Student ID card
It’s universally understood that all college students are poor. International Student ID cards are made for students just like you — traveling the world bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and totally broke. An international student ID card can save you money on food, travel, cash exchanges and more. Plus, it’s super cheap. Worth the investment? Duh.
Ask the Locals for Advice
The locals always know what’s up. Make friends with your neighbors, host family friends and other local students your age to find out where the deals are hiding. They can help you save money on restaurants, groceries, toiletries and pretty much everything else you need. It doesn’t hurt to be nice to local shop owners either. If you frequent them enough with a big smile and an attempt at speaking their language, you could be rewarded with future freebies.
Use Public Transportation or Walk
Taxis are convenient, but cab fares add up way too quickly. If you have a long-standing fear of public transportation, use your study abroad experience as the perfect opportunity to conquer it and become a graceful bus-catching, metro-line-transferring, international public transportation guru.
Be Smart about Nights out on the Town
Eventually, at some point during your study abroad trip, you’re going to want to go out. And by eventually, you’re probably thinking day one. College students know all too well how quickly open tabs, rounds of drinks and tasty late night treats can make a not-so-little dent in your (a.k.a. mom and dad’s) checking account. Instead of wreaking havoc on your budget every time you want to go out and go hard, adopt budget-friendly practices like pre-gaming at home, only taking out a set amount of money, hitting up happy hour like it’s your job and resisting the irresistible urge to buy Irish Car Bombs for the girls you just met while waiting in line for the bathroom.
Get Travel Insurance
Accidents don’t always happen, but when they do, they’re usually expensive, scary and potentially fatal. When it comes to your health and safety, don’t take risks. Investing in reliable student travel insurance can give you the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered in case things take a turn south. Save your risk-taking for $2 street meat and $1 Red Box movies.
Use Skype to Call Home
At the end of the day — or week — you might remember that your parents back home probably want to know that you’re still alive. Skype offers affordable rates on International calls, plus you can multi-task on the Internet while you tell dad and mom about how great your trip is but that it really doesn’t compare to family vacation — honestly.