Make the most of your time (and money) while traveling abroad. Most likely, you are going to travel to new and exciting places on the weekend. The only way to do this throughout the semester is to spend money wisely and manage your time well. Saving money through transportation, hotels, packing, eating, and sightseeing will allow you to take many trips with a small budget.
To save money, taking the train or a bus is a better option than renting a car or taking a plane. Always look at every single transportation option to find the cheapest. Even if it means an extra 3 hours of travel time, the ability to save that money to travel and have experiences outweighs the few extra hours. Another tip is to look at all the major airports around the place you are staying for the semester. Taking a train to an airport further away to make the trip hundreds of dollars less is always a must. Lastly, while in cities, use the metro. It is the cheapest way to get around and you get to experience local life as well.
When choosing a hotel, it may be better to sacrifice comfort and proximity to the center to save money. Look at hostels, Airbnb, and the cheapest hotels because it is only a place to lay your head. However, always make sure there is a metro stop nearby so you can easily get around. It is better to save money for souvenirs, experiences, and the ability to go to multiple countries during your stay abroad.
Only bring a carry-on while traveling to different cities and countries. This way, you can check in online to avoid long lines, and there is no waiting for luggage after landing. Also, many airlines allow a backpack and a carry-on for free, but additional bags cost extra. Chances are, you are only traveling for the weekend or the week, so you don’t need to pack too much. Also, if you are not able to check into the hotel when you arrive, many times the hotel allows guests to leave their bags behind the desk (or in a closet) to go sightseeing. Pro-tip: Suitcases with 4 wheels are the best option for walking through long airports!
If there is a kitchen in the place you are staying, buying food to cook is the most budget-friendly option. If that is not possible, buy ready-made sandwiches or small food items for breakfast and lunch. As food is a huge part of culture, you should always go to a restaurant or other eatery at least once a day. This way, you get to experience how food is prepared and served, but not break the bank by going out for every meal.
Pick three must-see places from the city or town you are traveling to. Then, look around those must-see places for other things that might be of interest and use those to fill the rest of the day. Usually, two days is enough time in one city. So, if you are planning a trip for more than that, look at nearby cities and towns you could visit. If you’d like, look at countries that are close to see if you are able to go to another country for a day or two. Lastly, have transportation planned to and from the airport or train station. Whether it be a taxi, a driver sent by the Airbnb, or public transportation, figure out what you plan on doing, and have the money available. The worst feeling is not knowing how to get to the place you are staying for the night, especially if it is late.
Traveling to new places is a great part of your experience abroad. There is so much to do and see, so budgeting is a must while traveling. Make the most of your trips by preparing and planning before you go to see as much as you can!
Ashleigh Litcofsky is the Spring 2019 Alumni Insider in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at Emmanuel College - Boston.