Whether you’ve just started university or have just gone back, one question; aside from “where are we going out tonight?” or, “which sports club should I try – would I be any good at ultimate frisbee” (to which my answers would be; the one with the best drinks offer, and hey! give it a go, you never know!), might be “how can I travel more on a student budget?”
I don’t think I’ve ever travelled more than when I was a student (I’ve also never had more money than when I was a student).
As a student you get an endless amount of holidays and can take advantage of extra student-only discounts. It’s seriously doubtful you’ll ever have as much time to travel as you do when you’re a student and I urge you to make the most of it!
The biggest problem a lot of students, and maybe you too, have when it comes to travel? Money.
Money doesn’t have to be a problem though. In fact, my years as a student were my most money secure yet. No, I didn’t have parents paying my rent or giving me allowances. I just made sure to save my student loans and grants. I worked part time during term time and took all the hours I could get during holidays to save up more money for travel.
There are other ways to help make travel more affordable on a student budget read on to see my top tips for travelling on a student budget!
In the summer holidays of my first and second year of university I travelled to Dublin, Canada, Paris, Australia and worked at Reading Festival and The Big Chill.
Get a part time job
If you’re an arts student you’ll find yourself with loads of spare time. Lectures will likely take up less than 10 hours a week and whilst you will be working and reading the rest of the time, I promise you there’s plenty of time for you to earn some money on the side with a part time job.
If you worked in a supermarket whilst you were in sixth form or college, ask whether you can transfer to a branch nearer your university during term time. Or, why not apply for a job at the students union? It’s a great way to make new friends!
I used to work in my student union coffee shop, Curiositea, and our uni’s version of Subway, The Bread Oven. We were paid weekly and by working around 16 hours a week I earned enough money each week to cover my food and going out costs. I didn’t have to use my student loan and grants meaning I could save them and use it for travel.
Make the most of student discounts
Students have it good when it comes to getting discounts! Whether you’re shopping for clothes, food or travel, you can snap up some great discounts with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC).
For just £12 you can get discounts at hotels, restaurants, shops and with tour groups in over 130 countries. I used mine to get a discount on my Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu and at lots of museums and attractions in South America.
If you’re no longer a student but are still under 31, you can even get a Young Person’s Discount Card to save some money!
When it comes to flights it’s always worth checking STA travel. They have special prices for students and travellers under 26.
Set a budget for a night out, take out £20 and no more
The best thing about student nights is that they’re cheap. You don’t need to spend any more than £20 on a night out and you’ll still have a great time!
If your transport to and from the bar/club and entry fee will cost more than £20 then give yourself a slightly bigger budget but avoid paying for drinks on card, or getting more money from the cash point. You’ll only regret it the next morning…
Work or study abroad for a year
If you get the chance to study or work abroad for a year then do it. It might seem scary at the time you sign up but just go for it. You’ll not only learn a huge amount about yourself, develop self-confidence and whatever happens you won’t ever regret taking that leap and working abroad for a year.
It almost goes without saying that working or studying abroad for a year is the perfect way to travel more.
As I studied French I got to spent my third year abroad in France. I chose to spend this year in Grenoble which was the perfect way to spend my weekends with skiing exploring the Alps. However, I could have spent my year in the French Caribbean or Canada. Spanish students can often spend their year in South America. History and politics students have spent their years in Europe or even further afield in Australia.
The opportunities are pretty much endless.
If you’re also a language student you’ll likely get the opportunity to work or study abroad. I strongly recommend working. I worked as a language assistant and whilst I was absolutely terrified to start with (standing in front of a bunch of 6 years olds who don’t speak your language is scary!), I was pushed to improve my French so as to communicate with the students and teachers and my confidence grew hugely.
You also get really good pay for just 12 hours a week of your time – more money for adventures!
Make the most of your long summer holidays
As a student you’ll get around three months off during summer. That’s a long time. And as nice an idea it might seem to just relax at home and do nothing, you will get bored.
With my summer holidays I chose to work half of them and then spend the other half travelling. In the summer holidays of my first and second year of university I travelled to Dublin, Canada, Paris, Australia and worked at Reading Festival and The Big Chill.
They were fantastic!
Another great way to travel during your summer holidays is to work at a summer camp. You’ll get your boarding for free and earn a little bit of money on the side. You’ll spend your whole day doing fun activities, make new friends, see a new part of the world and it’ll look great on your CV. Camp America is just one example of companies offering this.
Want to do something really different with your summer. Why not head to Australia or New Zealand and take on a ski season?