While abroad the opportunities are endless; the sky's the limit, but unfortunately so is your bank account. You will probably find yourself dreaming BIG wanting to explore everything Europe has to offer, but you may be discouraged when those explorations come with a hefty price tag. Some of my friends may call me a "professional" when it comes to finding deals, but I just call it being smart and properly managing my money.
When I first arrived to study abroad in Barcelona, I had access to thousands of dollars. This money was for program fees and necessities, but in my eyes I was rich. Don't get excited by your initial funds and go crazy with that money. Remember, you are here for another 3 months!
Here are Some Tips on How to be Broke and Still Have Fun:
Cook: Personally, I couldn't do this myself (I only knew how to order take-out), but after a few tries my creations were actually edible!
- Cooking is a great way to eat what you enjoy at a cheap cost
- Make cooking enjoyable: Learn from/teach your roommates - its actually fun, but it may get a little messy
- Shop Locally: Unlike in the United States, it is not normal here to get all of your groceries at a central market. Buy your fruits/vegetables at a fruit market and your bread at a bakery. You will notice that aside from being cheaper, the products are actually better quality as well!
- Ask locals: Locals are more likely to know the hotspots and those places tend to be much cheaper. Do not always base your dining decisions off of websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Many amazing places are not even listed or reviewed on these sites.
- Don't Leave Tips: In Europe, gratuity is usually included. If you have an amazing experience, you may leave a tip if you'd like, but it is not expected here.
- Go for lunch: See a nice place that looks a bit pricey? Check to see if they have a lunch menu! Lunch is the biggest and most enjoyed meal in Spain, so many restaurants offer great deals for tons of food.
- Clear your cookies: When searching for flights or hotels ALWAYS clear your website data/cookies. You will notice that prices will go up each time you search these websites (even in the same day). Websites save your 'cookies' to use your frequent searches to determine a new price. More searches=higher cost
- Booking your flight: Use cheap websites like skyscanner.com, ryanair.com, kyak.com and easyjet.com to book flights!
- Fun Fact: On skyscanner.com you can put in your dates and in the destination box you can type "anywhere". This feature allows you to check out the cheapest flights in Europe from your location during that week.
- Check-In: ALWAYS check into your flight and print your boarding passes 24 hours in advanced. These flights are cheap for a reason-failure to print your boarding pass can result in a hefty fee (varies per airline).
- Transportation: Pre-determine transportation to-and-from the airport. Many airports are far from city centers and it may be more affordable to take local transportation or an airport bus.
- Souvenirs: Although we may all want them, you may not be able to afford them. One idea to bring your memories home with you is saving business cards of shops/restaurants you have visited, receipts for museums, maps and other free 'things' that will remind you of your trip. A collection of these items would look really cool in a scrapbook or a frame and best of all-they are FREE!
- Packing: Only bring a carry-on for short weekend trips--trust me! Aside from saving valuable time at the baggage claim, you will be saving money and the chance of losing your valuables. Be sure to check the baggage allowances on the airlines website before your departure (I have seen airlines make people check their suitcases right before boarding the flight).
- Student ID: Bring it when you travel! There are SO many discounts on activities and sometimes they are even free for students.
- Walk: Don't be lazy! Trust me, I am someone who tends to be bedridden, but you can rest in four months at home! Walking is a great way to explore the city, meet new people and learn your way around!
- Metro: Use the metro in your own city! I do not suggest using it past midnight, but during the day it is super safe. I suggest buying a T-10 pass instead of a monthly just in case you lose it (9.95 euros). Each ride comes out to less than 1 euro and it works on the busses and trams as well. The metro may seem intimidating at first, but it is actually quite easy! TIP: The stops that have already passed are lit up and the upcoming stops blink (opposite from the US).
- Museums: Many museums offer free admission for the public/students on Sundays and hours before closing time
- 18 free things to do in Barcelona
Brittany Stark is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a senior at The University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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