While I was in university I wish that I had traveled more and seen more of the world before I was as constricted in work with a maximum number of days that I could take as holidays in the year. One of the things that did stop me was the cost of traveling – sometimes it just appeared too expensive and out of my reach. Since I have left university I now see how I could have traveled at a lower cost and some of the trips that I have taken over the last number of years have not been overly expensive.
Today the amazing Louise from Thrifty Lilpixie is here with a guest post all about Travelling on a student budget and since many students are heading back to college at this time this post may be helpful if you are thinking of heading away at Easter or for some long weekends! And now without further ado here is Louise’s amazing tips article;
I have been in college for almost 8 years having done 4 years of undergraduate studies followed by nearly 4 years of postgraduate studies. My student days are coming to an end this summer but such a long time as a student has thought me countless lessons. One very useful lesson has been how to live on a student budget. In these 8 years I haven’t missed out on the opportunity to travel having visited: Tunisia, Lake Garda, Venice, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Paris, London, Derby, York, Liverpool, Lanzarote, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Krakow and plenty of Ireland too. I’ve been scuba diving, on camel rides, on a gondola, slept in a yurt and been to Disneyland.
Obviously I’ve barely seen a glimpse of the world compared to many people’s travels; regardless I am pretty delighted with what I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my college years. So with those cherished adventures in mind I thought I’d share some of my tips for travelling on a student budget. Naturally every student has a different budget and level of flexibility in relation to whether or not they get to travel, or where they can go, but hopefully my tips might come in handy anyway.
-Don’t pay extra for check-in luggage: If you’re doing a short city break or even a long beach break give the check-in baggage cost a miss. If the trip is short you honestly don’t need that many clothes or shoes, no matter how much you try and convince yourself otherwise! If it’s a sun holiday you already know you’re going to live in a swimsuit and flip-flops so leave the travelling catwalk at home.
–Do your research: This applies hugely to getting around. Before I visit somewhere new I like to research the public transport, that way when I get off the plane I know where to get my bus or train and how to get to where I’m staying. Knowing your bus number or location before you even leave home will save so much confusion and the added cost of taxis that you may not need. Also this is convenient for sightseeing too, if you print yourself out a map and do a little planning you’ll quickly work out the cheapest way to get around. When I visited Krakow this year I soon found everything I wanted to visit was easily found on foot so that saved us a few euros!
–Travel off peak season: Student life often allows for time flexibility, maybe your class schedule allows you to take long weekend city breaks or you can book a trip during the winter when your exams are finished. I visited Paris, London and Lanzarote in late January and March during time off after exams had finished and saved a fortune as well as avoiding throngs of summer tourists.
–Join a college society: Get involved in a society you’re interested in and as a bonus they often organise subsidised trips. I joined the Biology society in my third year in college and got to enjoy a subsidised scuba diving trip to Lanzarote for around €300 for 5 days. We fed fishes under the sea, rode camels up a volcano and drove around the island, visiting the blue lagoon and cactus gardens, plus I got a tan in January! Tanuary!!
–Embrace the last minute deal: In the summer just before I started my final year of undergrad I worked all summer and the week before college started I went into a travel agent with a friend on a Wednesday asked was there any holidays available for that weekend and we were on a flight to Tunisia by Saturday. We got an all-inclusive 7 night holiday in a 4 star resort for half price (€700) as it was last minute, basically I got to enjoy a holiday I couldn’t have even imagined experiencing (or paying for) at is full price.
–Use your student card: Student discounts are a blessing so make the most of it while it lasts. You can use it in clothes, cinemas, museums, all kinds of tourist attractions really. In Paris our student cards got us in free to a number of places including the Louvre. Sometimes the student discount only amounts to a few euros it all adds up so always ask.
–Make travel a priority: I worked throughout college to help pay for my education and also some of the amazing travel experiences I’ve had. If you really want to travel then try to prioritise it financially if you can. That could mean cutting down on those takeaways that are so much more tempting than cooking (we ate a lot of vegetarian pasta bake throughout college), or reducing the number of nights out and new dresses for said nights. It might mean letting the people in your life know how much travel means to you so if they’re stuck for a Christmas or birthday present they might help out towards your travel fund. My parents, along with my boyfriend’s parents; helped pay towards us going to Paris for our 21st and London for another birthday. Our housemates in college came together to pay for us to go to Disneyland while we were in Paris as a joint birthday present too. Similarly for one of my sisters birthdays as I gift I helped pay towards us going to Krakow together. Experiences are the most incredible gift whether you give them or receive them. If you have already spent your hard earned cash on clothes instead of your dream holiday don’t despair that’s what ebay, depop, car booth sales and designer clothes exchanges like Siopella are for. Turn things you don’t love anymore into cash for adventure.
–Visit family and friends: Nowadays we all know someone living away from home so why not use this as an excuse for a holiday! It doesn’t have to be somewhere tropical, for New Years a few years ago we visited my boyfriend’s sister in Derby. It meant visiting a new place without having to find the money for accommodation and having your own expert tour guides as a bonus.
–Staycation: You don’t need to get on a plan to travel or spend a huge amount of money. The country you live in holds countless adventures too. Act like a tourist at home, visit somewhere new close to you it’s likely you overlook the places in your locality that other people would find fascinating. Go on a road trip: pack up a car and hit the road; camping is a very budget friendly option.
–Your education can be your ticket: As a student there may be opportunities available to you because you’re studying; there’s J1s, Erasmus, and internships, if you’re doing a postgrad you might be able to attend conferences abroad through your funding. I was lucky enough to visit America for the first time while attending a conference at the start of my PhD. Check with your college to see what incredible opportunities might be available to you. Inter-railing is not just for students obviously but is very popular due to the student prices offered.
–Book as you go, learn to haggle: When I travel abroad I like to book before I go to save on stress. If I’m adventuring closer to home than I can play it by ear. If you decide to do a road-trip, book as you drive from place to place and try picking up the phone. Always call a hotel directly as they can always offer better rates than any you find online, with a little playful haggling. While driving the Wild Atlantic Way we found waiting until short notice and ringing up in person got us cheaper prices on accommodation and the odd brekkie thrown in without any extra cost.
–Mix up where you sleep: Obviously a fancy hotel is the dream, but we’re living a bit closer to reality so try out different accommodation ideas to make savings. Try hostels, B&Bs, campsites, couch surfing, Airbnb, house sitting or college accommodation. Renting an apartment if you’re travelling with a group is far better value than staying in a hotel. I rented an apartment in York with 2 friends while attending a conference there and not only was the apartment absolutely gorgeous it saved us a great deal of money being able to cook all our own meals. There’s also WWOOF (wwoofinternational.org) where you can live and work on organic farms, you can travel all over the world from Ireland to Tanzania, stay for free in return for farm work.
–Don’t collect souvenirs just bring home memories: The money you spent all those weekends earning to be able to afford to travel shouldn’t be spend collecting plastic souvenirs to gather dust in your bedroom at home. If you’re sticking to a student budget step away from the fridge magnet in the shape of the country you are in, put down the key ring that says I LOVE LONDON, stick that €5 back in your wallet for food and just bring back memories instead.
These are just a few tips from my own experience travelling as a student, I hope they are helpful or at least inspire you to go on an adventure of your own this year. If you want a little more travel inspiration, check out my blog thriftylilpixie.com for new places to visit and where to stay.
A massive thank you to Louise for writing such an amazing piece and I would highly reccommend that you go and check out her Thrifty LilPixie blog, and you can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also get lost for hours on her amazing Pinterest boards, her dream destinations board is definitely my favourite – so many travel ideas!
All images kindly provided by Louise from Thrifty Lilpixie.