Going abroad on a student budget

Going on holiday with your mates is always going to be great fun, but it is important to try not to overspend too much! I recently took a trip to Barcelona, and put together some top tips for keeping within budget whilst still having a good time.

1. Book your flights early

Once you’ve decided where you want to go and who you’re going with, the best thing to do is to book your flights ASAP. Not only do flights go up ridiculous amounts in £££ as you get closer to the departure date, but lots of websites also use cookies to store the destinations you’re looking for and show you the pricier options. Websites such as skyscanner are very handy to compare costs across different airlines. Edinburgh airport is quite small and doesn’t fly to a huge amount of destinations, so it is also worth checking out what flights there are from Glasgow as well.

2. Make use of your friends studying abroad

Usually what bumps up the cost of a holiday is the accommodation, especially if you’re not familiar with the area you’re travelling to. It can be easy to get stuck in expensive tourist districts, and even the cheapest accommodation can set you back quite a bit. This is where being a student can actually come in handy… you’ll have friends living and studying in cool cities abroad! We stayed with a friend studying in Barcelona, and this meant we had the best of both worlds; free accommodation and a good tour guide. However, if you’ve not got friends in the places you want to go, try to make sure you’re not just picking accommodation because it is central to the big tourist spots, as this hikes the price up considerably. Try sites like Airbnb and look slightly further out from the centre of town, as these can be more reasonably priced than big-name hotels.

3. Getting around

getting around by cable car, as you do

We were lucky enough to have our own personal tour-guide who knew the ins and outs of the city and the cheapest ways to get around. Make sure you check ahead and see if you can book tickets for big attractions online before you go, as this will mean you won’t be spending lots on tickets whilst you’re away, and it’ll help you skip the queues too! Make sure to keep an eye out for student discounts, (most places do have some sort of concession for students), and maybe invest in a NUS card, as these are recognised in most places abroad and will save you any discrepancies over your uni student card. Its also worth researching the public transport systems, as there are often ways to avoid spending heaps on getting around. For example, when we were getting the metro in Barcelona, it worked out cheaper to buy a ticket between the two of us that has 10 journeys on it rather than buying a return ticket each time we travelled. Little things like this will help  you save a few pennies here and there.

4. Do explore!

Do try and explore outside of the main tourist attractions, as you’ll often find more authentic places to eat and drink in these areas, but for a fraction of the price! Again, it is helpful to be with someone who knows the area, but also its worth asking people you know who have been to the place you’re going to, as they’ll often have some great recommendations that they enjoyed. Do check out sites like trip advisor as they’ll have honest reviews and help you filter through lots of places quite quickly.


5. Make an itinerary

It sounds like something your mum would do, but it honestly helps in terms of keeping track of your spending. Work out a rough itinerary of which days you’ll be going to which places, and how you’re going to get there. This helped me to work out how much money I needed to budget for each day of the trip, and also how much I would need to exchange before I went.

6. Keep an eye on the exchange rate

Its pretty naff for euros at the minute, but do keep an eye on what the rates are doing. I was quite lucky when I exchanged my money just before the article 50 nonsense, as the day
after the exchange rate plummeted. Obviously it is a bit of a guessing game as to what it will be day to day, but at least if you’re up to date you’ll have a good idea of how much money you’ll need to exchange to have enough to cover the trip.



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