A poor student’s guide to travelling

After spending your entire student year surviving on your loan, gathering your loose change to find money for a night out and living off of pot noodles, somehow you’ve still only managed to save about 5% of what you promised to for Summer.

But you’re going travelling, you’re hysterically excited for all your new adventures and the hot weather you’ll be in. However in the back of your mind you’re a bit worried about how you’re going to survive with the little money you have. Here’s how:

1) Don’t buy the nicest suitcase/backpack

Whatever you use to carry your things in, it will be thrown on and off trains, have to survive the rain and you will most likely end up using it as a chair when you have nothing else to sit on. Make sure it’s strong and sturdy and that’s all that matters. After about three days of carrying it you will resent it and wish you could leave it behind, no matter how pretty it looks.


2) Pay cheaper for a shared room

When booking hostels, it can work out to be up to £10 cheaper a night if you share a room. Some people fear of ending up with strange people they won’t want to share a bunk bed with, but most of the people travelling are just like you. You’ll make more friends in a shared room, and end up having drunken chats when you all get in at 3am. They can also give you tips on what to do if they’ve been somewhere you’re heading to. Most hostel rooms have lockers with your own key or padlock so you don’t need to worry about leaving your things in the room with them either.


3) Make sure you understand the currency exchange 

Foreign money can be very confusing. In places such as Budapest there are notes saying 10,000 on them, but they are equivalent to about £25. Make sure you’re not getting ripped off or unintentionally picking expensive restaurants just because they’re the closest. Before you go into a restaurant, check the prices on the menu, and make sure you don’t end up paying £4 for a bottle of water. Use the internet or a calculator on your phone, or a money exchange App to help. 

4) Pre drink

As a student you’re probably good at this by now. A glass of champagne from The Champagne Bar at the top of the Eiffel Tower costs a lot more than a carton of wine from the shop five minutes away from it. Buying drinks in the touristy parts where you’ll be going to are pricey, so find a supermarket and buy your drink there. If you’re staying in a hostel, everyone else will have the same idea, so you can make drink with them and make more friends whilst saving money. 

5) Don’t eat out for every meal

Don’t leave your ability of being able to survive on cheap pasta and beans on toast at home. Obviously you want to experience the food of each culture and it’s nice to eat out now and again, but don’t spend money on eating out everyday, when it can be spent on more exciting things. Most hostels have fridges, toasters, microwaves and hobs. Just write your name on the food and nobody will take it. Most hostels also offer a cheap all you can eat buffet, so fill yourself up on that and you won’t need an expensive lunch.

6) Walking

Obviously you’ll have to use public transport at some point, but once you’re in a big city don’t keep paying for trains that you’ll only be on for a few stops. Walking will let you get to know the place you’re in a little bit more, and you’ll accidentally come across things you might not have seen otherwise. Even if you get lost, you’d be surprised how many people in other countries speak enough English to tell you the right way to go. Most countries are hot during Summer, and so you’ll even get a tan too.


7) Take your student card

You wouldn’t think that your little plastic card saying which university you go to would be of any relevance abroad, but it can save you a lot of money. It will get you discounted entries to zoos, museums and lots of different attractions, and even sometimes cheaper entry to clubs. 

But most importantly, more important than being cautious with your spending, remember to have fun. You might never go back to these places ever again, and this may unfortunately turn out to be the last time you ever go travelling. So if you want to spend fifty euros on a bungee jump then go for it, and if paying to go on a jet ski on your last day means you have to go into your overdraft then do it. Go crazy as much as you can – as it won’t be long before you’re back at university in September, wishing you could do it all again.

Photo Credit: Andrew and Annemarie via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Kitty Terwolbeck via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: eggrole via Compfight cc

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Sinead Morrissey

"Professional napper with a love of all things fashion and beauty. Easily bribed with a bag of Doritos."

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