A huge reason I wanted to study abroad in Italy was its close vicinity to so many other countries. Being able to experience as much of Europe as I could in the time I was there was a personal priority for me. While a lot can be said for spending time in one city and really getting to know it, its rewarding to see as many new places as possible as well. With Rome as a home base, I hopped from Prague to Dubrovnik to other cities across Italy.
The first step to travelling during your program is to consciously budget for it both before and during your time abroad. If you know that you’re going to want to visit other cities or countries on the weekend, know that it’s going to cost more. So while you’re saving money leading up to your trip, take this into consideration.
Additionally, try to limit your spending in your host city as much as possible until the end of the trip. If you have things you want to buy, but are wary they might cut into your travel budget, hold off on buying them until the end of your stay so that you know how much you have left, and that spending isn’t going to negatively affect your travel budget.
Travelling in a group will also help make your travel cheaper. Split not only accommodations, but also groceries, transportation, etc. Also, use public transportation when travelling. Learn the bus or the subway systems and avoid travelling by taxis to save a bit of extra money.
Here’s some additional tips for budgeting side trips while you’re studying abroad:
// Fly cheap.
Book with budget airlines. Don’t assume that it’s going to be more expensive than taking a train or a bus, though those are often great options too. If you plan in advance, you can usually find great deals. If you aren’t familiar with the names Ryanair or EasyJet, you soon will be. They may not be the most comfortable flights, but the prices make it worth it. Make sure that you try to book at least two weeks in advance. We found ourselves procrastinating plans often until the last minute, and we ended up paying for it. Flights will be a lot cheaper the earlier you book them. Additionally, pack lightly. Avoid checking any luggage – if you’re taking a short trip, consolidate your luggage into a carry-on to avoid extra baggage fees.
// Sleep cheap.
Unless it’s a great deal and you have a sizeable budget, avoid hotels. The cheapest ways to find places to stay are – 1) Airbnb. There are some really comfortable, well-located, welcoming and nice places that you can find to stay in that won’t break your bank. This is especially great if you are travelling with a bigger group that can split the cost. 2) Hostels. Scary movies aside, hostels are a great, cost-efficient way to travel, and also to meet fellow travelers! There are some really nice hostels, and if you prefer not to share a room with strangers, many hostels offer private rooms. 3) Consider other options, such as couchsurfing.
Pay attention to reviews when you’re booking a place to stay, especially with Airbnb. Look for places that are near public transportation, have free wifi and have free parking if you’re travelling with a car. The best Airbnb’s we found offered to pick us up from the airport for a small additional fee, which saved us from taxi fares.
// Eat cheap.
Save money when you travel by not eating out for every meal. Restaurants will break the bank. Use TripAdvisor to find good restaurants within your budget to make the most of the meals you eat out. Although trying local cuisine is definitely an important part of travel, maybe only eat dinner out every night, and instead hit up a local grocery store for some eggs to share for breakfast and sandwich supplies for a quick and easy lunch. Snack throughout the day, pack a picnic, find bars that offer free food during happy hour or “apertivos,” and eat out sparingly.
Finally, remember that things happen. Always be flexible and go with the flow… you can’t put a price on the memories you will make while seeing the world.
How do you budget your travel?