I’m not going to lie to you. Studying abroad is expensive (for the average student). From committing to flight tickets to purchasing a transport pass, you’re going to drop money. And this doesn’t include your tuition bill back at your home university! Knowing this, I made peace with myself the day accepted my program. I said, “Self, I’m going to spend an obscene amount of money this summer…But it’s going to be worth every single cent.”
BUT that doesn’t mean I have to break the bank. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned the following and I hope you can pick up a few helpful tips before your own adventures.
1) Have a flexible bucket list
Why is this important? Having some idea of what you want to achieve during your time abroad will help you decide what to spend on – whether it’s your time, energy, or moolah.
Flexible is the key word here! When I first came abroad, I wanted to do too many things in too little time. My friend sat me down and suggested that I focus on the things I want to this summer versus things I’m okay with postponing to my next Eurotrip adventure. This helped narrow down my options, especially when it comes down to weekend trips – which leads to my second point.
2) Transportation Scenario Planning
If you’re interested in traveling around, the most ideal situation is to plan at least three weeks ahead. Plane, train, and bus tickets will only jump up in price as time runs down. This also applies to the availability of affordable hostels. So do your research, now!
I highly recommend using GoEuro.com, Skyscanner.com, and checking out the local train lines. In Germany, I was able to find some great deals on the DB rail. Don’t be afraid to mix up your transportation methods – fly there and train/bus back.Mixing up your options usually is cheaper and you’ll get to see different things. Speaking of seeing things…
3) Scope Out the Scene
Most of us on this trip have used TripAdvisor to scope out things to do, foods to try, and even research how to dress in Berlin! The online forum is the one of the best place to get honest feedback and opinions. It helped me plan for my weekend trips to Dresden, Salzburg, and soon to be Barcelona and Brussels.
Remember: TripAdivsor. Use it.
4) Keep a Mental Tally
The last point I want to make is where the money matters. During my time here, I noticed myself getting comfortable with the currency system. What I mean by this is that when I saw 5€ for a dress/souvenir/food, I was ecstatic to find such a good deal. Over a week of good deals, I easily spent over 100€ – good thing this was only the first week! What I also failed to remember is that 100€ is not $100…it’s more. So keep in mind what you spend on and where you can save.
While you’re living abroad, you should make some of your meals. My roommate and I spent about 10-15€ during the first weekend (and about 5-10€ to restock) to make breakfast for the week. Not only was the food healthy, it also saved us from buying 3€ breakfast every morning. It seems really simple, but I know that I wanted to try all the local foods. I’m really happy that we could save ourselves some money in this regard.
Can I afford this ice cream or kebab? Or should I make food?
Another thing about money is that you should research the country you’re visiting. In Germany, credit cards are used less frequently and accepted only in larger stores. I usually carry a few small bills to get food and buy something on the street. There are many ATMs around, but read and understand your bank policy about withdrawing money.
Being a planner, I like to keep tabs on how much I spent, how much is left in my budget, and what I can do with that budget. I recommend you keep a mental tally of where your money is going and think about if certain purchases are important/worth it. The money you can save here and there can fund your next weekend trip: I bought a 13€ round-trip ticket to Dresden.
Hope this helps. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
More to come in SEVEN | Salzburg