Getting Around Town
Rely on bus, train or subway – three types of transportation that won’t empty your wallet. Learning the ropes of public transportation is one of the best ways to shed the “I’m not from around here” vibe and blend in with the locals. Ask about discounts for international students or young adults and make sure to buy the correct type of train ticket (local, express, etc.) to avoid extra fees. For the ultimate old-fashioned, money-saving trick, nix the taxi and take a walk. As your own tour guide, you may stumble upon some of the best-kept secrets of the city.
Whatever you do, take advantage of this deal. Whether you’re taking classes overseas or just someone under 26 years of age traveling abroad, purchase your International Student ID card as soon as possible. The discounts you receive with this card are unbelievable, and you can even earn free passes to visit monuments like the Colosseum in Rome.
Food and Drinks
Set aside a big chunk of money for food. If you do splurge every now and then on drinks or desserts (hello, irresistible gelato), don’t worry. Use these tips and you’ll be back on track with your budget in no time at all.
1. Find the local gems. Allison Lantero, a Boston College recent graduate, discovered the Italian aperitivo tradition while she traveled in Milan. From 6 to 9 p.m., certain bars offered a great deal: access to a huge buffet with the purchase of an 8-euro drink. Do your research of the area and talk to locals. Find hole-in-the-wall restaurants with dirt-cheap, incredible lunches; discover family-style restaurants that offer big portions for little cost. If restaurants have frequent buyer cards, grab them. You could score a few free meals later on.
2. Make your own gourmet dinner. Shop at open-air markets for high-quality produce, meats, fruit and snacks. The food will likely be less expensive (and even more delicious) than what you would buy in the local supermarket. If you have access to a kitchen, turn on your “Top Chef” skills and whip up dinner for less than the cost of a restaurant meal.
3. Know the customs. Simply understanding cultural differences will help keep some change in your pocket when dining out. “Americans fall into the habit of leaving a tip, but it’s not customary [everywhere], so you can save a little there, too!” says Lauren Kaplan, an Emory University senior who studied abroad in London.
Trains are often the most convenient and cheapest form of transportation for weekend getaways to other countries or cities in Europe. If you must fly, websites like Skyscanner and Ryanair will be your best bet for cheap flights. Keep in mind that a flight that costs 15 euros will likely cost more once the airline tacks on extra fees for baggage. “Also, the low-cost airlines tend to fly into airports that are far away from the city centers, so look into airport shuttles beforehand so you don’t end up having to take an expensive cab to your hostel,” says Michelle Lewis, an UNC-Chapel Hill senior who studied abroad in France last semester.
To save money, avoid the big cities. Carrie Morris, a collegiette who studied abroad in Paris a few years ago, suggests that you travel outside city limits, venturing into the more secluded, less commercialized towns. If possible, try to arrive at your destination before Friday or Saturday. The cost of transportation and hotels are less expensive on weekdays than on weekends, similar to in the United States.