By Christie Day, money-saving blogger at Savoo.co.uk
You’ve just handed in your last assignment and the imaginary school bell rings in your head. It’s finally time to ditch the textbooks for passports and backpacks – result! The adventure of summer beckons.
But how to travel on a student budget? The meagre income from your part-time bar job has slowly been squirreled away for the past six months – now you just need to make it last for your entire trip. There’s no secret formula, but these tips can help you make your travelling budget last as long as possible. Whether you’re going three weeks or three months, the last thing you want is to be left scrimping half way through.
- Research, research, research
Research is key to avoid overspending when you’re travelling. What’s the average cost of a night in a hostel? What about a pint of beer? Having a rough idea of key costs allows you to create an accurate budget and gives you a ballpark figure of how much you’d be spending each day. Take note of cheap eats, bars, and hostels to avoid getting caught out and falling into pesky tourist traps.
- Pre-book any tours or activities you know you want to do
Always dreamed of bungee jumping off Sydney Opera House? Or has a volcano hike in south america been on your bucket list for years? Researching and booking any tours or activities you’re interested in beforehand can save you a lot of dosh. Scope out options to find the best value trips rather than going for the dearer option out of lack of choice once you’re there. Check out the sightseeing tours at Viator and adventure tours at Lonely Planet to get inspired.
- Create a smart and realistic budget
Once you’ve done your research into costs and pre-booked any activities you’re interested in, you can create a realistic budget that you’ll actually be able to stick to. Everyone’s different, so what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Try giving yourself an allowance per week based on your research. You can then adjust your spending if you have extra pennies leftover or have spent more than anticipated on your hostel. Head over to Budget Your Trip or Goodbudget create a budget you’ll stick to.
- Track every expensive – even if it seems miniscule
Admittedly, nobody wants to think of money constantly while travelling but tracking your spending ensures you don’t have phone up your parents to bail you out – or even worse cut your trip short due to lack of funds. Tracking everything you spend money on, from accommodation to that extra bottle of water to get you through the blistering sun, keeps you on the straight and narrow. Use an app (like Mint or TrailWallet), take notes on your phone or keep track in a notebook.
- Account for unforeseen circumstances and emergencies
It’s fair to say that you’ll probably be taking part in more adventurous activities than you normally would when travelling. Trekking through the rainforest? Check! Deep sea diving? Yes please! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that any of these activities come with a much higher risk of injury compared to sitting in front of Netflix all day. Making sure you have enough cash to tide you over throughout a rough patch or injury is key. Accidents aside, having an emergency back-up stash – either in cash or in your account – can be your safety net if you do find yourself running low on funds.
- Stay with friends or use couch surfing websites
While some will want to spend a little more on good accommodation, being open to other options is a great way to make your budget stretch a whole lot further. If you’ve got friends or family that can put you up, you could save up to £57 a day on accommodation, depending on where you’re travelling. If not, there are tons of websites like CouchSurfing and TrustedHousesitters to help you find a bed for the night.
- Consider group tours rather than going it alone
Those keen organisers out there, we salute you. But sometimes it pays to take a back seat and let a tour operator the STA Travel or Student Universe do the hard work for you. Rather than planning out your cities, tours and activities one by one, it may work out cheaper to find an ‘all-in’ tour that includes a chock-full itinerary of activities for a fraction of the price it would cost to book everything separately.
- Travelling long-term? Find a job!
One surefire way of making your cash last longer is to have a steamy stream coming back in. Consider getting a part-time job if you’re on your travels for three months or longer. Some popular options include teaching English to school children (you can even do it online), working in a bar, being a barista, or putting in a shift or two at the hostel you’re staying at.
Whether you’re going on a year-long tour of Australia or a whistle-stop tour of eastern Europe, these handy tips will help you take control of your cash while you’re away. Not only will you have more cash to spend on your adventure, but you might even be able to travel for longer than you first thought.