By: Allee Feuerman
Studying abroad is arguably one of the best opportunities that exists in college education today. You will hear it a million times, from tons of people who have been able to experience this popular form of travel, that if you have the chance to go abroad—do it.
However, I know firsthand how expensive traveling can be. Once you have already paid your flight, tuition, and accomodation fees, you may find yourself wondering, what now? Once you have gotten to your destination of choice, will you even have enough money to go out with friends, travel to nearby locations or even to nearby countries?
If we are being honest, I am still continuing to struggle trying to do the most amount of traveling throughout Australia, while spending the least amount of money. Luckily, I do have a few tips that may help when planning your adventures abroad.
- If you have the option to choose a meal plan…. Do it.
Now this may go without saying, but budgeting for meals can get a bit stressful. Meal plans may not always be the most appetizing choice, however it will definitely make a difference when it comes to your wallet. If you have already paid for your meal plan before you even arrived in your abroad location, the weight of having to balance, not only trips and going out, but also where each meal is coming from, will be lifted off your shoulders.
If you do not have the option for a meal plan however, do not panic. Most local supermarkets will provide cheap meal options. Many students here in Australia do not have a meal plan like I do, and meal prepping has been their saving grace.
In addition, you should keep on the lookout for markets and food truck events. These kind of events are usually low priced and are also a fun thing to do with your friends!
- Public Transportation is your new best friend.
One thing I know I was not familiar with before traveling abroad was the public transportation system. And if you are anything like me, it can seem kind of intimidating. But do not let this discourage you from giving it a chance. Ubers and Taxis can be very costly and definitely not the most efficient way to use the little cash you have.
Get yourself a public transportation card as soon as you arrive in your abroad location. Some public transport systems will even have apps to help you figure out how to get around easily. And at most universities, you will even qualify for student discounts, which can cut down half the cost of an already inexpensive bus ride.
- Part time or casual job.
If the opportunity arises for easy access to a part time job, take it! One mistake I made was being too hesitant to apply for casual jobs upon arrival. If you know you are going to be traveling elsewhere while studying abroad, your smartest bet is to look for a part time as soon as you settle in. Once you are further into the semester and try looking for a job, businesses will be less willing to hire you over students who will not be fleeing back to the states in only a couple months.
- Book flights early!
I cannot stress this tip enough. Make a plan early on and book your flights as soon as you are certain. Booking a month or two ahead can save you hundreds of dollars. Sites like Skyscanner and Kayak will help tell you which month and airline is the cheapest to fly. Also, take advantage of student flight centers. If you are traveling in bigger groups or even by yourself, student flight centers can get you some great discounts on your flights and usually they are free of charge!
- Take overnight trains/buses when exploring nearby.
Overnight trains may take you a bit longer than a flight might, but the price makes all the difference in the world. Make sure you do some research before booking a flight because there may be a much cheaper option by public transport. It is not always available when traveling further distances but if you are given the choice, it is worth it. Not to mention, the views of the sunrise on the train or coaches can be breathtaking.
- Hostels, Hostels and more Hostels!
This tip applies to anywhere in world, however in Australia especially, hotels and Airbnb’s can be quite costly. Hostels are a great alternative. Most hostels are located in a “backpacker’s area”, which are very accessible to public transportation, cheap food and some great sightseeing opportunities.
If you are traveling on your own (or even with someone), hostels are a great way to meet other travelers. You will make tons of friends from completely different places this way, and you may even continue your traveling together. Many hostels will even offer discounts to certain attractions, unlike a hotel or Airbnb.
- Always bring your student ID with you.
Your student ID is probably one of the best benefits you will have for traveling. As a student, you apply for discounts basically everywhere you go. All you have to do is flash your ID and you can have access to major discounts. Do not be afraid to ask at restaurants near campus, sporting events or even clubs.
If you are looking to study abroad, do not be discouraged by the cost of traveling. WCSU has an amazing program to help budget your travels so you can have the adventure of a lifetime!