Can you really travel on a Student Budget?

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Like many, as a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get to University, knuckle down, party hard and enjoy my independence for what I assumed would be my first time away from home.

At 17, I discovered the opportunity to travel and live in Australia, using my limited contacts would cut some costs, but I still had over $10,000 to find for my trip. This turned everything I envisioned living my future to be upside down. Working in every spare moment, sometimes full-time in quieter study periods to ensure I had that money.

Though, I only saved a third of my desired figure, I managed to drive 30,000 miles over Australia and travel to six further countries in nine months, before coming home with limited debts.

Now a full-time student, fulfilling my educational ambitions at university, I can’t help but wish I had the flexibility and funds that a full-time job would give me to travel once more. So, like any alcohol-fused person, I booked myself a holiday, to test the waters, see how much I can really afford at uni: within a month, its all paid for leaving minimal costs for when I touch down.

Feeling somewhat inspired by my own breakthrough, I thought it necessary to share some of my best money-savvy techniques for saving large quantities at university:

How to use your Student Status to Travel Further:

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Finding a Scholarship or Inspiration Abroad:

Studying an arts-based course means that there’s only so much inspiration that can be drawn from pinterest. When you study opinions and interpretation rather than hard facts, the most efficient way to learn is to speak to others: learn about their story and their social and political motives.

Art is everywhere. From the fifteen century European buildings to the graffiti littered streets in Melbourne. Van Gogh’s sunflowers hanging in Amsterdam aren’t the only place you’ll learn about his story.  His fans can be tracked globally, each with unique insights on his work. It’s up to you where you choose to travel to, but picking somewhere that will relate to your subject choice is an easy way to justify the time off or the money coming out of your student loan.

The best thing about this option is that there are hundreds of bursaries and scholarships to help you. A simple google search could open up an all-expenses-paid holiday for you: Top University is a good place to start, if you’re studying a Bachelor of Arts degree try their art scholarships around the world page.

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Brick Lane, London, UK.

 

Travel Local: 

There’s nothing wrong with going for a day-trip or weekend away in your home country: some of the best work can be found right on our doorsteps! Whether its applying for an internship in another city or wandering the streets for fresh inspiration, there’s no need to splash mega bucks just to find new sources of information.

London: it’s our capital for a reason, try the TATE Modern for traditional pieces or head to the streets of Shoreditch for street art and wacky conceptual work- Brick Lane especially.

Manchester: For that edgy 80s mancunian feel, have a look around Affleck’s Palace, you’ll find independent artists, retro cameras and enough vinyls to fill any collection.

Cornwall: The coast is a severely under-rated piece of art, St Ives is home to the largest collection of seagull and beach front pieces, or Mevagissy for a Cornish Pasty and some fresh sea air.

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Tate Modern, London, UK

 

Utilise your loan/overdraft:

Minus rent, some leave us in the minus, others with thousands spare, regardless of your starting funds, its easy to let student nights get out of hand or order a takeaway once too many times than your bank account may like.

Travelling as a student is all about budgeting: set up spreadsheets and pick through everything. Work out a budget an stick to it, most of the time. If you work, put something aside every time you get paid, if you get a loan each term, make a separate savings account specifically for travelling, worst case scenario you use it, but by separating that money it’s just that extra barrier that will make you ask do I really need that? 

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If you enjoy fast food, cut out one meal a month: it’ll save you enough for a RyanAir flight just about anywhere

 

Get a part-time job:

In general, students find that they do have enough time to work 10-15 hours a week somewhere, but this doesn’t always have the best outcome for their social lives. Personally, I work about 30 hours a week since I only attend University two days a week so that I can strike that balance. It does require compromising a Saturday night out every once in a while, but if that means you can afford to travel, that pay cheque is 100% worth it. Instead of spending money, you’re not only saving it but you’re earning more too.

September is usually prime-time for getting a part-time position as stores will be wanting Christmas temps, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find work at other points too. Find something that works for you, since Universities are usually in city centres, you won’t be too far from your next opportunity.

Working online is also becoming increasingly popular and I have found this the most flexible for the strange balance of studying as a student. Going freelance is also a valid option, it takes a while to build up clients but if there’s something you’re interested in or a skill you can teach others, you’ll be looking at more than minimum wage pay.

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Check out James Innes Professional CV Centre for tips on resume writing or to see how you can fix your CV up to maximise your employability.

How to Book your Travels for Less

We’ve all seen the adverts,agoda, travelsupermarket, trivago... just about everywhere seems to offer the ‘best’deals. Yeah, sometimes you’ll find that $5 is saved on your hotel or find a 10% sale on somewhere, but the savings aren’t how the ads make it out.

By all means, I’m not saying they’re useless- they don’t spend thousands on their ads for nothing. But there are better options out there for those looking to save more than a few dollars.

When you’re always looking for your next adventure, you become accustomed to various deals and websites, but there’s always more to learn. Here are a few tips that have proven successful for my own travels:

Do your research!

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Hours of internet research will put you in a better position: it might help you to decide on where you really want to go or what your budget needs to be!

Sometimes you’ll find the perfect price straight away, but it’s very unlikely. Particularly as the January blues set in, its easy to think ‘this’ll do’ or ‘I just want to have something booked’. Take those ideas out of your mind and shop around, you wouldn’t buy the first car you drove or first house on Rightmove?

Set out a list of exactly what you want to get out of your trip: is it a beach holiday or city break? What’s your budget? When do you want to go? And most importantly, what are you willing to sacrifice, if anything? No place is perfect, you might have to take a night flight or spend a little more to get what you want and it’s essential to recognise that before you get your hopes up!

Travel out of Season

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Visiting Thailand in April doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise on the warm weather or things to do, it just means you’ll find a cheaper deal!

This doesn’t necessarily mean travelling to Spain for a beach holiday in January, but travelling mid-week (if you can) will bring the prices down: in fact, the cheapest day to travel is a Tuesday!

Top tip:If you’re travelling to somewhere in Asia, I have found that you’ll get a lot more done at a lower price if you travel slightly out of the tourist season: I visited Thailand in April, with half price flights and had no worries about tours fully-booking before I got a look in!

Try a new Destination

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Amsterdam remains a firm favourite for my Winter Breaks, but every time I visit, it gets more expensive… maybe it’s time to try something new?

We all hold various locations very close to our hearts, and for good reason! Perhaps you had the holiday of a lifetime there or you fell in love with the food, but be broadening your horizons, it’s possible to find a new place to fall in love with and create new memories at a lower price.

For summer holidays: Turkey is making a comeback as a desirable holiday, whilst Croatia appears to have hiked up its prices after experiencing a tourism ‘boom’ in recent years. Spain and Portugal remain firm favourites for Brits and so prices are ever increasing: to the point where you can take a trip to Cuba for the same price if you look around!

Work out Logistics in Advance

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Amsterdam has many surrounding airports, but make sure you aren’t compromising too much by adding a longer transfer time

You’ve found the perfectly priced trip for your budget: but does this mean you have a longer transfer time? Or are you staying half board to save £50? Certainly, at the time it’s nice to have something booked at the price you can afford, but more often than not, this might cost you more in the long run.

Amsterdam is a classic example of this: If you fly into Eindhoven, it’s possible to get £20 return flights, but it takes upto 3 hours to get into the centre of Amsterdam from here and will cost you an additional £30. It’s possible to fly to Amsterdam from £40 return from the UK and would save you both time and money, although it may not seem like it at face value.

Book Last Minute

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India is a beautiful place to visit and it’s cheap enough to fly between cities but book at least a week before you plan to fly!

This is perhaps the riskiest thing you can do, since you could come up short, but it depends how late you leave it. Owners on AirBnB are well acquainted with this and often offer a last minute discount and travel deal sites use the last minute prices to entice customers for a reason! Of course, you are left with a limited choice, but backpacking trips especially benefit from these deals as often you won’t know where you’ll be one day to the next!

Don’t leave it too late though! I travelled to India in May 2018 and booked a last minute flight to Goa, even though I needed to be in Mumbai the following week. Whilst I bagged a bargain to fly to Goa, the flight to Mumbai was 3x the original price because I left it until 48 hours before I had to leave.

Think about Alternative Transport

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The Train from Ella to Sri Lanka is long but you’ll be so busy taking in the views and capturing the moment that time flies by!

In more remote places, you’ll need to make sure you can reach your hotel, simple. Although when Amsterdam you’re usually better off flying directly, that rule doesn’t work everywhere. If you’re travelling around Asia, trains, taxis or even tuk-tuks could save you hundreds!

In Sri Lanka, most flights will head to Colombo International Airport, but most backpackers or holiday makers will want to travel to the Centre or South. Try taking the train from Colombo to Ella for £8, it takes around 10 hours but travelling through mountains and tea plantations is an experience you’ll never forget!

 

Admittedly, it seems too good to be true. I get it, it’s hard to budget for a holiday when you can’t even afford a pot noodle for dinner. But it is possible, I receive a Government-funded student loan, but other than that I get no additional financial support, it’s up to me to save for my food shop and pay the rent. I love the independence that University life has brought me and the travel opportunities that leaving home has granted.

This year, 2018, I have travelled to 11 countries, each for a maximum of two weeks at a time, it is possible. Just keep budgeting and reminding yourself of the reasons why.

Have you managed to travel as a student? As always I would love to hear from you, tell me about your student experience and how you have travelled alongside studying.
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5 Comments

  1. February 7, 2019 / 8:59 pm

    I believe travel (even if it’s a few miles away) is key to becoming well-rounded. You have to get out there and experience all the world has to offer.

    • February 7, 2019 / 11:14 pm

      For sure! The stereotype of ‘my gap year changed my life’ rings true in many of us, it doesn’t matter how far you travel but by experiencing other cultures, it definitely makes you appreciate different things that we would usually take for granted back at home!

  2. ilovedeverythingisawdotcom
    February 7, 2019 / 9:08 pm

    I love this post. So many good tips. I’m currently saving as hard as possible for travel too and sometimes it’s hard – but so worth it 🙂

  3. February 7, 2019 / 9:44 pm

    When I was at uni I managed to save to go to turkey, Spain, USA and Poland all with loans/part time job! Looking back now, I could have travelled more but thats ok… iI’ve got plenty of time! These tips are great and there are so many ways of cheap flights/air bnbs now that can make it cheaper.
    Liz x | whatlizloves.com

    • February 7, 2019 / 11:11 pm

      That sounds amazing Liz! I definitely think that companies like RyanAir and AirBnB are making this a lot more accessible for students! x

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