6 Money Saving Secrets While Studying Abroad

Lauren Ahern is a student at Eastern Michigan University. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Bilbao, Spain.

One thing that always stinks about being a college student is that “college student” is almost always synonymous with “broke.”  Unfortunately, studying abroad can exacerbate an already growing hole in our wallets. Not only are you paying to live in a foreign country, but most of us living abroad are also going to travel to other places while there.  Luckily, there are things you can do to help lessen how much you end up paying for a vacation!

Secret #1: This one might be obvious, but it’s important nonetheless: Always book everything way ahead of time to get the best deals.  I went through this while trying to book a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. My two friends had already gotten their tickets a few weeks or so ahead of me, and what was a 50 euro flight for them was a 132 euro flight for me.  Moral of the story: always book early.

Secret #2: Book hostels instead of Airbnbs.  Hostels are typically way cheaper, and are a fantastic way to meet people.  While in Porto, Portugal I roomed with three German guys and now I have friends to contact if I decide to go to Germany.  Definitely worth the 15 euros.

Secret #3: Assuming you’re following step 2, books hostels with free tours if possible.  Most tours go for about 30 euros or more, but occasionally hostels offer free ones.  I took a free tour through my hostel in Porto, Portugal, and it was one of my favorite things I did while there.  I learned how influential the city was, especially regarding Harry Potter, for the great price of 0 euros.

‘Lady Justice’ This is a statue of Lady Justice in Porto, Portugal that I got to learn more about while taking my free tour!

Secret # 4: While searching for transportation, switch your browser to incognito mode.  Apparently companies track what you’ve been searching, so if they see you’re planning a trip to another country they make the prices more expensive.  This little tip one-ups the trick travel companies use.

Secret #5: Go to grocery stores instead of eating out every single meal.  While it is definitely worth going out sometimes to try local food, it is not feasible to do so every day, so grocery shopping is a cheaper alternative.  While in Portugal, my friends and I bought a grocery store meal and spent 4 euros each instead of what would’ve been 15 in a restaurant, so it is definitely worth it. 

Secret #6: Bring your passport to get into places for free.  This doesn’t work everywhere, but in some places you can into to museums or other spots for free/cheaper if you show your Student Visa.  Recently, I went to Paris and was able to spend next to nothing for sightseeing. What was supposed to be about a 30 euro ticket into the Palace of Versailles turned into a 0 euro one because of my Visa. 

“Palace of Versailles’ This is the gorgeous Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles that I got to see totally for free, among many other gorgeous rooms inside the palace!

In my experience, using these tricks while travelling kept me within my budget.  If you decide to you use them, I hope they provide the same results for you! Happy travels, and here’s to finding the best deals possible!

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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