Traveling as a full-time university student requires some serious saving. One of the first questions you guys ask me is how I afford to go on all these trips and live out of home, while not having a stable job. I’ve narrowed down what I’ve learned in the last three years into these three budget tips for students.
How I Afford to Travel – 10 countries in 3 Years as a Full-time University Student
Since I graduated high school, I haven’t stopped moving. This is my third university in three years and my fourth city. Because I move so much, I don’t have a stable income coming in each month so it isn’t easy for me to plan to have a certain amount of money saved to travel.
And before you ask/assume, no, I do not use my parent’s money to travel. My parents have supported my travel in a different way, they taught me to budget, travel smart, and to always question your world. This mindset is what’s helped me travel and save for travel, not their money.
Honestly, money and budgeting is something that still worries me a lot. I’ve taught myself to be really conscious of my spending habits to afford travel as a full-time student, and I’ve summed up what I’ve learned into these 3 easy tips –
My 3 Best Tips for Student Travellers
1. Save for travel with minimalism
Ultimately, saving and spending comes down to basic maths. And if you’re not making enough to have extra money to save for travel, then it’s time to either not travel or cut down on spending.
I don’t track all the coffees I buy and beers I drink (even though I probably should). But every so often, I’ll break down my credit card bill and see what I’m spending my money on so I can figure out if I’m spending too much on coffee or beer (I likely am).
When I moved out, I got into minimalism. Minimalism is living with less stuff, which in turn is supposed to give your life more meaning.
This basically sums up how I afford to travel – I never own more clothes than what could fit in a suitcase and I only spend money on what’s important to me, sometimes this means extra comfort foods in my grocery cart and other times this means a flight home to see my family.
Here’s my article on how minimalism helped me save for travel, published on the Penny Hoarder
2. Student Travel is Budget Travel (Especially Study Abroad in Europe!)
With the amount of scholarship students receive and special subsidized programs designed just for students, it’s not hard to find examples of amazing travel opportunities.
Living close to Stanstead Airport on my study abroad exchange made it easy and affordable for me to go to Luxembourg for 72 hours or plan a trip to Croatia to meet a friend for the weekend. If you want to travel in Europe, doing a study or work abroad program is your best option. It’ll be cheaper in the long run and I’m happy to answer your more individual questions about budgeting or saving for study abroad programs.
Here’s a blog post I wrote featuring 6 students doing study and work abroad programs around the world!
If studying abroad isn’t your thing, try contacting the International Office at your university and asking about volunteer abroad programs or temporary research tours. They will be able to offer the options for your specific degree program and interests, and tell you what scholarships may be available.
There are many sites that offer discounts to student travelers – like Student Universe and STA Travel. Make sure you shop around to find one that works for your degree and interests, I’d start by checking out GoAbroad, Go Overseas and Operation Groundswell tours.
3. Volunteer/intern and pick up temporary jobs
I know that students have to spend a lot of time studying, I get that. But, if you do have a little bit of free time, I think volunteering or interning is one of the best investments students can make. Money might not grow on trees but if you focus on doing what you’re passionate about, growing your network, and making yourself more employable (not just getting a job), you’ll naturally end up with more opportunities coming your way.
Side note – Take the time to find a cause or company that you’re passionate about, never ever volunteer at a place just to buff up your resume.
If people know you are looking for ways to make some extra money, they’ll contact you if they need a dog walked or kid babysat. I’ve found some of the best jobs by applying for jobs at local events – that’s how I ended up on the floor at a Beyonce concert and backstage at a local music festival. It’s not quite as fun as going to the event with friends, but at the end of the day I made money, got to see the concert for free, and really enjoyed the atmosphere I worked in.
Looking to volunteer AND travel? WWOOF is like AirBnb for volunteering – travellers can work on organic farms in another country in exchange for room and board.
This is how I afford to travel as a full-time student, it’s based off what’s worked for me in the last few years. If you have questions about saving, study and work abroad scholarships, and student travel budget – send me a message and I can try to give more personalized advice!