5 Tips for Traveling on a Student Budget

It's no secret that I love to travel. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who instilled the travel bug in me, and continue to do so- my mom is a travel writer after all (talk about goals). But most of the time my bank account doesn't quite agree with the images of wanderlust I have in my head.

I think it's so funny how a lot of my friends from home think that because I live abroad now, that I jet off to exotic destinations every weekend. But that couldn't be further from the truth- most of my weekends are spent happily in Edinburgh, doing work, running, and cooking. But I can't deny that living in the UK does grant me incredible access to the best that mainland Europe (and beyond) has to offer. 

Even if I can technically leave at the drop of a hat for Paris or Rome, I always prefer to be a bit more calculative in my travel. If I didn't plan anything, man would my wallet me hurting. But traveling on a student budget doesn't have to be as boring or limiting as you think. I know I've rambled on about student travel in past posts (like the one I wrote on Venice), but I thought I'd use this post to accumulate my best tips for travel that aren't "duh" obvious. 

Consider less popular destinations // While I know that places like Rome and Amsterdam are on everyone's bucket list, there are so many beautiful places in the world that don't get the same amount of hype. And they're usually much cheaper. We once considered a trip to Gdańsk in Poland because the flights were ridiculously cheap, and while we didn't end up going, it made me realize that you can find fun and fascinating things to do anywhere. Our next trip is to Béziers in the South of France. While it's not as well-known as Paris, Bordeaux, or even Montpelier, it's set to be an incredible trip (with flights from £14 each round trip, it was a no-brainer). We just set our SkyScanner preferences to "London to Anywhere" and found the flight from there! Sometimes the best trips are to places that no one's ever heard of.   

Choose your accommodation wisely // You probably already know that hotels are basically a no-go for those of us on a student budget. But if you do enough research, you might be able to squeeze a 2 or 3 star hotel into your budget, depending on the destination. HostelWorld surprisingly posts a lot of cheap hotels on their website, so sometimes you can score a deal. Otherwise, hostels are usually the name of the game. But that doesn't mean all hostels are created equal (in price and in quality). While most people prefer staying in the city centre when on holiday, I actually prefer to stay a bit further from the crowds. Not only is it cheaper, but it's also quieter, which is nice to come back to after a busy day of sightseeing. I wouldn't say you should go so far as to be miles and miles away from the city centre, but don't discount a place just because it's not in the main square. Ben and I stayed on the Lido (an island just off of Venice) when we visited Venice, and it was perfect. 

Seek out the deals // Now I'm not saying that you have to book a "package holiday," but you should always look to see where you can save a penny or two when it comes to your trip. A lot of restaurants do set lunch deals or pre-theatre menus where you can have your bigger meal earlier in the day for less. Ben and I have already booked a 3 course lunch (with wine!) at a swanky restaurant in Béziers for just £23 (!). As a student, you should also see what sites and attractions offer a student discount. So many people forget to do this before going on a trip, and it can save you so much money. 

Think outside the restaurant // Not every meal you have on holiday has to be Michelin-Starred, insta-worthy material. Some of my best foodie moments in Europe have been spent having a casual picnic with food bought from a local grocery store or market. Sometimes, the most authentic food can be found in the shops, not the restaurants. Pick up some local bread, cheeses, and fruit, or even take a peek into local's shopping baskets to see what they're buying, and set up your own picnic in a park, by a river, or anywhere you please. If you're not so into DIY meals while you're on vaycay, you can also seek out local food stalls for a bit of street food. I'm so looking forward to having a picnic in sunny Béziers with a nice bottle of rosé. 

Three words: Free. Walking. Tours. // Walking tours are one of my favorite ways to get the feel for a city before venturing out on my own. But did you know that so many of them are free? Long gone are the days where you had to pay for expensive "expert" tour guides, or hop on a crowded bus to see all the sights. On free walking tours your tour guides are more often than not locals who are simply passionate about their city and want to share it with you. Most of the time they also show you more "insider" places and can give you the best restaurant recommendations. If you think the tour was worthy of your money, you can always leave a tip, or you should at the very least give a good TripAdvisor review in kind. I've been on some fantastic free walking tours in Venice, Barcelona, and Dublin, and have not once been disappointed.  

Traveling as a student is all about learning along the way, and I can't say I haven't made a few financial mistakes before learning how to navigate student budget travel like a pro. If anything, though, traveling on a limited budget makes you think creatively and realize just how much is out there in the world. So are you ready to pack your bags yet? 

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