Can you really travel when you’re a student?
“Wait until you graduate!” “You have more important things to spend your money on!”
For years I have had the travel bug, desperate to see as many different places as I can. Unfortunately, for years I have also been told “you’re too young”, “you can’t afford it you’re a student!” Believing that these words were wise and sensible, I took heed and settled for waiting until I graduated before jetting off.
Last year, I decided I have had enough. Persistently told I would never be able to afford a holiday with just my wee student loan and only 3 weeks of work, I still managed to pay for a 10 day trip around Iceland including renting a car (which believe me, at my age, is NOT cheap), and I am currently in the process of doing the same for this summer. Here are some tips (other than your usual ‘don’t buy coffee’) that I believe make saving for your adventure that little bit easier, and will hopefully help you dismiss the voices telling you to wait until you graduate.
- Budgeting your trip
One of the things that I found made it easier to save was to estimate and budget of what I’d need to save for each part of the journey. What did I expect to spend on travel, food, accommodation etc. Once you have a rough idea of what you need to save, and break it down it surprisingly becomes a little less daunting! Also, putting money aside thinking, “I’ve paid for that night out” is a very great feeling.
- Do you really need a 5 star?
One of the best things about a budget trip is the weird and wonderful accommodation you find yourself staying in. Sure luxury hotels with a spa are great, but it’s also great to find yourself surrounded by the culture. I found myself staying in a one room cabin in the middle of nowhere, camping on the side of a mountain, and a hostel room so small you could barely breathe. Apps such as Airbnb and Couch Surfing are great for this. Not only are they a great way to save money, but you meet the locals of the place you are staying in and quite often receive great tips from them if you want to get off the beaten track. Couch Surfing is great for the tightest of budgets as it’s completely free! As the name suggests you can be sleeping on someone’s couch, spare room etc. for no charge. Not to forget, hostels, if you’re feeling really brave! Despite the cliché, they really are a great way to save money, and meet some very weird and very wonderful people.
- Good old skyscanner
Quite often booking your flights can be the first boulder you come across, with places such as New Zealand costing up to £1000! As most of you will already know, skyscanner is a wonderful website that scans for the cheapest flights over many different airlines. Going onto an airline website repeatedly bump up the price, whereas skyscanner is magic and keeps your searches secret. Using this as well as making your dates flexible and checking the price regularly to find the best price (they really can vary from day to day!) will help cut costs on your trip.
- Eating out
One of the best parts of travelling to a new country is being able to try all the different foods. Going out for meals is very exciting, but also raises your budget. Most camping grounds and hostels have cooking facilities, and in Airbnbs you usually have your own kitchen. Find the nearest supermarket and stock up on food to cook! It’s a great way to save money and also try cooking new foods. I have fond memories of sitting in a cold camping ground kitchen eating raw sausage and cold pasta… (just make sure the person cooking can actually cook). Cooking your own food rather than eating out every night will lower the amount that you need to save for your food budget massively, and give you money to spend on something else!
In case you’ve never heard of it, it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s not really as complicated as it sounds. This organisation allows you to live with a family or person for free, in return that you help them in their day to day work. You’re provided with a place to stay and food. By wwoofing you are given a locals perspective on the place you are visiting, and get to see places that most tourists will never even hear of! From apple picking in Japan to rice picking in India! Be sure to research thoroughly where you’ll be going, and try to avoid places that take many people at a time, otherwise you may find yourself never even meeting your host!
Hopefully these tips will inspire you to save for your adventure, because with the right amount of saving and budgeting it can be done! (Yes, giving up those Starbucks coffees). Happy travelling!