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Surviving on a Small Budget While Abroad

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

1. Start with the flight. The most difficult way to save money is to start with the flight.

a. Book in advance. The earlier you book a flight the cheaper it is, so sit down sooner, rather than later, and work out your flight plan.

b. Be flexible. Be flexible with your dates as well as with your timing. Apps like Skyscanner and Kayak can give you prices with flexible dates. Flying on certain days (like Tuesdays) tends to be cheaper. Flying on red eye flights or really early in the morning may be inconvenient, but can save you some money, so be sure to do thorough searches before booking your flights.

c. Avoid holiday periods. While it is tempting to take a trip for the holidays, it is one of the most expensive times to travel, so try to avoid mid term and Christmas trips.

d. Use reward programs. Check about frequent flyer programs and reward programs. Some give you points just for signing up which can really help booking your next trip. You can always cancel later.

e. Check for discounts. Many airlines will give you discounts for being a student or part of ISIC or STA Travel. Make sure to double check if your student status gives you any perks.

f. Try Social Media. More and more travel sites and airlines are offering discounts over social media so if you can like your neighbour’s dog walker’s cousin’s photo, then you can like and follow your favorite travel sites.

2. Accommodation. Accommodation is another way to drain the bank quickly so try alternatives to hotels.

a. Hostels and Guesthouses. Hostels and guesthouses are much cheaper than hotels and also a great way to meet fellow travellers to explore with. There are tons of sites like Hostelworld and offer a thorough list of hostels available. Be sure to do some research on the reviews as they are good indication on the state of cleanliness and comfort. Most offer free Wifi and some even have free breakfast so save you a few extra bucks.

b. Airbnb. Airbnb is a great way to stay for a bit longer and save some money. There are places in Brighton that offer accommodation at half the price of hotels with a full kitchen available to cook instead of eating out.

c. Couchsurfing or Housesitting. Another great way to save money on your travels is to couchsurf. Some hosts offer private rooms and use of their kitchens. Housesitting is another way to have free accommodation for a night or two. You may need to feed and walk a pet while you do it, but who doesn’t love cuddles from a friendly dog?

d. Ask for Long Stay Discounts. Places are always willing to give discounts to people who are staying for multiple nights. There is no harm in asking, they can only say no.

3. Food and Drink. Another big expenditure is food and drinks, but it is also something we can’t go without so there are a few tips and tricks to keeping your food budget tiny.

a. Self Catering when possible. When you are getting a hostel or Airbnb, check that there is a kitchen available for use. Getting groceries and cooking your own meal is far cheaper than getting take away or eating out.

b. Eat out for Breakfast, Lunch or Brunch. Eating out for morning or early afternoon meals is cheaper than eating out for dinner. Try grabbing a brunch out and getting a few pieces at the shops for dinner.

c. Stay away from Tourist Streets. While it is tempting to pick a restaurant when you are out exploring the tourist attractions, it is cheaper to move away from tourist streets (even just one street over) for a more economical, and authentic, choice.

d. Book Accommodation where Breakfast is Included. Plenty of hostels and hotels offer a complimentary breakfast so be sure to book in where they do. Others offer breakfast at a discounted rate, which can add up in savings.

e. Avoid plastic. Try shopping at local farmers’ markets or food stands. It will support local businesses, avoid waste and be easy on your wallet.

f. Drink Before Going Out. As much as we want to party like rock stars, our bank balances don’t always agree. Try grabbing a few drinks at home first then hitting the town. Shops are always having sales on some sort of alcohol to give you the best bang for your buck.

4. Use Cash. Leave your debit and credit cards at home and go with cash. Once you have used your allotted cash for the day, that’s it. This way you won’t be tempted to get more and overspend. Using cash will also save you on transaction fees and possible unfavorable exchange rates.

5. Get a Travel Appropriate Bank Account. Before you head on your trip go to your bank and be sure to get an account that minimizes fees when using foreign cash points and limits transaction charges. Pre-paid travel cards allow you to lock in exchange rates and keeps transaction rates low.

6. Walk or Use Local Transportation. Walk around as much as possible, might take a bit longer but you will get to see plenty you normally wouldn’t. If you can’t walk, take public transit too save money on a taxi. BONUS TIP: try renting a bike if you are going around for a day; its good exercise and easy to get around.

7. Go Free. There are many free things to do in every city. Start with free walking tours (which only ask you to tip the tour guides) and any gardens and parks. Many museums offer free dates or discounted times as well. Always check in with the tourism center in your destination for city tourism cards and discounts.

8. Bargain. Bargain. Bargain. Nothing to be lost and everything to be gained from asking for discounts at farmers markets and flea markets. Other places may give discounts if you offer to provide positive feed back on different social media and travel site (like Trip Advisor or Yelp).


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