Top 5 ways to save money while traveling abroad without sacrificing experience

By Melissa Wang, StudentUniverse

Limiting your spending while traveling abroad can be difficult when there is so much to see, do, and eat around the world, particularly when you’re on a student budget. Here are five ways you can save money on travel without having to skimp on experiences.

1. Walk or ride public transportation.

Skip the taxi and walk as much as possible instead! Some cities, like Amsterdam, Netherlands or Boston, Massachusetts, can be traversed almost completely on foot, and the views are spectacular, too. The chance of getting lost in a foreign country can be intimidating but can lead you off the beaten tourist path and expose you to the hidden jewels of the city you’re in. This way, you can actually stop to grab an éclair from the corner pâtisserie you just stumbled upon rather than watch the store pass farther and farther away from the backseat of a taxi and making a mental note to return there tomorrow. If your feet get tired, take the bus or subway or rent a bike. Their rides are both still cheaper than a taxi’s!

2. Find a hostel that provides free meals or a kitchen.

Though eating the local food is undoubtedly an important aspect of experiencing the local culture, going out to eat three times a day can be expensive. Especially if you’re staying in one city for a while, it might be worth finding a hostel with a kitchen or that serves free meals so you can save money spent on food. Some hostels supply free dinner, and even more provide free breakfast, which not only helps you spend less money on food, but also is a natural way to meet other travelers. On the WeHostels mobile app, you can see which hostels have kitchen facilities and serve free breakfast and/or dinner.

3. Avoid baggage fees; pack lightly.

Many of the high-flight-frequency, budget airlines around the world offer the cheapest flights, but they may charge customers a variety of other fees. Some will charge for everything from checking in luggage to printing out your boarding pass at the check-in desk. Packing lightly—by perhaps just bringing one carry-on—will help you avoid the extra baggage fee, make it easier for you to get around, and save room in your bag for souvenirs. Who ever thought rolling a heavy suitcase along the cobblestoned streets of Bruges, Belgium would be fun? Consult the airlines you plan to travel with to see what their policies are.

 4. Exchange money beforehand.

In many cities, particularly in the heavy tourist areas and at airports, money exchange rates can be serious rip-offs. Acquire some foreign currency at your local bank ahead of time so you aren’t left penniless when you arrive abroad, and then if you need more cash, withdraw it from the foreign bank. Some domestic banks have partnerships with other banks around the world, eliminating the foreign transaction fee that is applied with each cash withdrawal, so check with your bank to see if these costs can be avoided in any way. Withdrawing money in large amounts, which limits the amount of times you take money from the ATM, will also help reduce these transaction fees. Ask your bank for clarification!

5. Put your phone down and live it up!

No matter how attached you think you are to your smartphone, you can survive a day in a foreign country without checking your text messages or Facebook. Making a call or using data on your phone abroad can really bloat your phone bill, so wait until you get back to your hostel to use the free Wi-Fi there, or if you’re really desperate, huddle outside a Starbucks or McDonald’s to mooch off their Wi-Fi. Wouldn’t you rather be 100% immersed in your travels anyway?

When you’re planning out your travel budget, make sure you have enough money for lodging and food, of course. But set aside money for some potential impulse buys or spontaneous excursions too, because for the most part, those spur-of-the-moment decisions can give you unforgettable memories that are worth the dented wallets in the long run. With these money-saving tips and StudentUniverse’s discounts on travel for youth, though, you should be left with extra funds to enrich your travel experiences around the world.

Online since 2000, StudentUniverse is a travel company that provides exclusive discounts, rewards, and experiences for students, faculty and youth (18-25). StudentUniverse negotiates exclusive airfares with over 60 airline partners globally and features discounted rates on hotels and tours all over the world. We believe that travel enriches education and that students should be able to explore their world without breaking the bank.