There’s a misconception that studying abroad is really expensive, and only certain people can afford it. However, my own experience is a testament to how affordable it can be! I can barely pay for school in general, yet had no problem affording a study abroad experience. There are a lot of easy ways to save money studying abroad!
There are SO MANY scholarships for studying abroad! Your college likely has a few, so check there first. There’s a lot available online as well! Here are my favorite places for study abroad scholarships.
Save on Flights
The flight ticket alone to reach your destination can be daunting. Plane tickets have big price tags, and if you’re trying to travel from the USA to somewhere as far as Asia it can be downright impossible. You’ll need to put in some effort in finding the best deals. The good news is that there are a lot of student discounts you can apply for that make the prices more reasonable! Also, consider flying on off-days, and be flexible with your dates! My favorite website for getting student discounts is StudentUniverse.com which allows you to compare flight days in an easy to read chart.
For example, in this search for flights from Miami to London, the cheapest day to travel is Monday.
Choose your location wisely
It’s just a fact that some destinations are more expensive than others. The US dollar goes a long way in Southeast Asia but falls short in Europe. If money is an important factor for you, it might be worth considering some more exotic locations. There is no wrong choice in choosing a place to study abroad! As someone who has traveled to both first and third world countries, I can easily say that the places that impacted me the most were the ones that pushed me from my comfort zone. Here’s a list of my favorite unusual study abroad destinations which might give you some ideas for how to save money studying abroad!
Take out a lot of cash at once
I know this might seem daunting, but ATM’s abroad are very expensive. We’re talking charging over $5 with each exchange. It’s worth taking out larger chunks of money at once time to avoid having to frequently use the ATM or an exchange service. Be sure to safely store your withdrawn cash to avoid theft! Never keep all your money in one place, and never carry it all at once!
Get an International Student ID
This student ID has so many discounts it will become your best friend. It’s really easy to apply for one and you can get it before you leave on your trip. This little card can get you great deals on museums, transportation, and excursions so do not pass it up! Here’s the neverending list of benefits and discounts this card can get you!
Focus on experiences, not things
Let me just tell you right now that you will cherish the memories you make abroad more than the trinkets you buy. That $30 euro replica of the Eifel Tower might look pretty on your nightstand, but it will mean significantly less than the hours you spend laughing with new friends wandering the streets of Paris. It can be tempting to buy a lot of stuff on your trip abroad, but these add up SO FAST. Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on experiences? Here are my favorite inexpensive souvenirs to help save money studying abroad:
- Postcards (even better if you mail them to your home! When you return you’ll have a handful of cards with local postage!)
- Magnets (lightweight and cheap!)
- Maps (usually free!)
- Ticket stubs
There are a lot of apps you can install on your phone that will help you save money studying abroad! Here are my favorite apps that help you save money studying abroad!
- Skype (free video calls over wifi)
- Viber (free voice calls and texting over wifi)
- Trip Advisor (what’s worth it and what’s not)
- Wifi Finder (find hotspots)
- Hotel Tonight (last minute hotel deals)
- Couch Surfing (free accommodation with locals!)
Avoid Expensive Tours
I don’t mean you shouldn’t do any tours at all, but use your discretion! A prime example of this was when I was in Germany and a lot of other students on my trip paid $120 for a day trip to a concentration camp. My friends and I were skeptical, and after a little bit of research we decided we could do it cheaper! Boy were we right! We took a local train and a local bus for around 5 euros round trip. The concentration camp had very cheap admission under 10 euros. Yes, it would have been easier to have a private bus take us there, but we had a lot of fun navigating the local transportation, and it really wasn’t hard at all!
I always recommend looking into local transportation and prices before paying for an expensive trip. Sometimes the tour really is the best option. Another example is when I was in Puerto Rico this past spring and my boyfriend and I wanted to see the rainforest. There really was no safe or affordable way to get there on our own, so a tour was the best option. Check reviews on LonelyPlanet before you book an excursion to make sure it’s worth it and do your research!
A photo posted by @samanthability on
Stick to a budget
It can be really hard to stick to a budget abroad because you don’t want to miss out on anything! It can be helpful to make a list of the things you must do before you begin you trip, and calculate the costs of those into your budget. Consider the living expenses of your destination, and whether any accommodations such as housing or food will be provided. Remember that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time!
Do you have any tips to save money studying abroad?