Travel budgeting tips for students

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of her campus.

This article was written by a student writer from her St Andrews campus.

As an international student at the University of St Andrews, I love to travel. Any excuse to take a trip, I’ll do it. At St Andrews we have a week off from school once a term; in the first term we have an independent study week (we call it Reading Week) in October and in the second term we have a February break. Since flying home can be very expensive for me, I like to travel with my friends during these vacations. As I write this from a coffee shop in London during my Reading Week holiday, these are some of my top tips for traveling on a budget during the school holidays and even for quick study abroad weekend getaways.

Plan ahead!

Do your research on where you are traveling. Booking flights and accommodation in advance will help you secure the best deals. When I book flights I like to use the Skyscanner website as it will scan the airlines and find the cheapest flights for the dates you specify. The cheapest airlines when traveling around Europe are Easyjet and Ryanair. For example, with Ryanair my flight from Edinburgh to London was only £15! For accommodation, hostels and Airbnb are great options over staying in an expensive hotel.

Set a realistic budget!

Determine before the trip how much you want to spend on flights and accommodation before booking. Then budget for how much you want to spend per day or week. This can help if you tend to overspend on food and love to shop like me!

Off-season travel.

I’d love to go to Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day weekend this year, but the flight and accommodation is quadruple the cost of any other random weekend. Traveling off-season will make flights and accommodation and basically travel in general cheaper. You may also find that popular tourist spots are less crowded, allowing you to enjoy a more authentic experience.

Take advantage of student discounts!

Many museums, attractions and transportation services offer student discounts. Carry your student ID with you at all times to take advantage of these savings whenever possible. Sometimes they’ll also offer EU discounts, especially in museums, so if you’re an EU citizen, bringing your passport or a scanned passport may work to your advantage. Many places will also have lots of free attractions like parks, museums with free entry days and free walking tours. Take advantage of these opportunities to explore the city without spending a lot of money.

Public transport.

Take advantage of the cheaper options available by using public transport instead of hiring an Uber or hailing a taxi. If you plan to use public transport on a daily basis, look for weekly or monthly passes which can provide significant savings.

Make your own food.

If you have a kitchen, consider cooking or preparing your own food instead of going out to eat every meal. Buying groceries and cooking yourself can keep your travel expenses down! This works best when you’re in an Airbnb or hotel room with a kitchen.

Travel with your friends!

Not only can they help you stick to your budget while traveling, but you can also split the cost of accommodation, food and transportation with them.

Limit impulse spending.

Did I have to buy a latte for every cute new cafe I saw in London today? The answer is no. Did I do it though? The answer is yes (about 3 today). The excitement and new experience of being in a new place can often lead to impulse purchases. However, it’s important to stick to a budget and spend wisely to ensure you don’t overspend or regret your purchases later.

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