Tips to Save Money Abroad

As a college student, I learned a few tips before and while going abroad in order to stay somewhat afloat in regards to my financial situation. Since I paid for the trip myself, I knew that I had to be very careful about what I spent money on. Here are a few things I learned throughout my experience

  1. Walk as much as you can! Transportation fees can really add up if that’s what you use to get around for the majority of the trip. If you go to a city or somewhere conducive to walking, be sure to pack comfortable shoes so you can use them to save money. Cabs, subways, trains, and buses may be convenient, but walking is healthier and useful.
  2. Budget your days! If you set aside a certain amount of money for each day, you will be less likely to spend too much on one specific day. One way to do this is take some cash out and only take that amount with you while you travel for the day. This will force you to not go over your limit each day.
  3. Stay at hotels with included free breakfast! It may seem like a small thing but three meals a day can really add up. By getting a complimentary breakfast, you will eliminate one full cost per day that you are there. That money can be used for something more useful, like touristy things or drinks.
  4. Take advantage of the free walking tours offered by hotels! It is the best way to see the sights of wherever you are by people who know what they are doing with no cost. Going on tours with a official tour group could cost a good amount of money and trying to walk around without help could be unsuccessful.

Perks of Traveling with Friends

I give props to those people who can travel across foreign countries without any companions, but I think I’ll stick to exploring by my friends’ sides.

I think being with the people you love in a place you may have never been before is an amazing experience that many people do not have. Or if you have been there before, there is something magical about showing your friends your favorite place away from home.

Friendships grow (usually) while experiencing something as wonderful as travel. Many relationships are stationary, as in they exist in the same place for possibly their entire existence. But when you are given the privilege of seeing new things and experiencing new places with those people, you see a new side of your friends and can fully know them.

Another, more common, reason of why traveling with friends is better than not is because seeing famous buildings, statues, parks, art, etc. is more fun with people you know and love. Being able to witness Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Duomo were all so much more memorable because I was with my closest friends. Now we can look back on what we experienced together and the pictures we took and remember those times. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Europe not only because I was able to see the amazing architecture that I’ve learned about for years, but mainly because I was able to see those things with my best friends.

Traveling Europe in 10 Days

I would like to give you all just a short synopsis of my trip because I simply cannot stop talking about it.

So just to get things started, I am 100% going back to Europe ASAP.  My friends and I are already planning our next Spring Break trip to Florence and Dublin (so we are there for St. Patrick’s Day) while our other friends are planning their stereotypical trip to Cancun. Don’t get me wrong, that will probably be a great time, but once you spend a week in London and Florence, you probably would rather go there instead of a beach too.

There is probably not one thing that I did not like about this trip. Okay, maybe the men trying to sell roses and selfie sticks were kind of annoying, but that was nothing in the grand scheme of things. The beauty and excitement that was at every turn was nothing like I have ever experienced before.

I was surprised by how comfortable I was with traveling the world with just a few friends and building relationships with locals. I suppose that had something to do with the fact that a few of my traveling companions had been to the places we went before, so I knew I was in good hands. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable, even when I was with just one or two friends instead of the entire group. This was especially the case in Florence, where I often walked around with just one person just to explore. Even if we got lost, we never felt unsafe or felt the need to ask for assistance. We were actually kind of forced into that because the majority of us did not have service while abroad so we really did not have much to rely on when it came to directions.

Overall, this trip solidified my desire to travel the world and see as many places as possible. I have always been told by my parents to travel in my twenties because that is the time to do it, and I’ve always agreed but never really made plans. Now I am creating a list of all the places I absolutely need to visit before I’m tied down with a family and a career. Point is, traveling changed my life and I’m only 20. I cannot wait to see how it changes me as a person and helps me grow within the next ten years.

Traveling Venice

My day trip to Venice was an interesting experience. I was amazed by the amount of tourists all around and the beauty of the small streets within the canals. It was not the nicest of days but the experiences we had made it worth it, even though there were a few strange occurrences. Overall, I was able to walk around the squares, go on a gondola ride, and see the crowds of tourists on tours of the city.

Speaking of the gondola ride, my friends almost made the guy lose his license.

We didn’t do it on purpose, but there is a rule that there can only be six people on the ride at a time but we had seven people. Sure, we could have split up and gone on two rides, but it was the tale end of our trip so we were all running out of money and each ride was $80. I simply did not have an extra $30 laying in my pocket that I could spend on a ride (I would much rather spend that kind of money at a bar). So we stood by the gondola men for a while discussing our options when the guy says to us that he can take us on the ride, but only through the canals instead of the entire tour. We agreed because it didn’t matter how long we were on the ride, all that mattered was that we got to experience it. So we all squeezed in a small boat and went merrily on our way. Right when we got off the boat, the man mentioned that he could have lost his license for that, so we quickly paid him and the ran away.

That was not the only strange encounter my friends and I had in Venice. When we first got to the city via water taxi, we decided to get some lunch. We ventured to Piazza San Marco and found a small restaurant in the middle of the square. We figured this was the perfect place as it was in the middle of all the action. Wrong. It was the worst meal in my entire life. I went into the trip thinking that Italy had the best food so I would never have a bad meal. I was clearly mistaken. It was a sandwich and pizza place, things you would think would be hard to mess up. Wrong. My friends and I all ordered sandwiches and we were very surprised when they came out looking like a thrown together, not fresh, store bought pieces of crap. Unfortunately, we were in too deep at that point and way to hungry not to eat anything so we scarfed down those disgusting sandwiches. Not only was the food gross, but the service was not much better. My friend ordered the same sandwich as me but it didn’t come when everyone else’s food came. We waited and waited and eventually asked our waiter if her food was coming. It wasn’t. The kitchen did not have her order. So then she ordered again (keep in mind we already are aware the food is gross). We waited and waited again until finally her sandwich came out. Nope. It was the wrong sandwich. So they take it back. At this point we are all finished with our food and are fed up by this place so we cancel her order, pay for the pieces of cardboard, and leave. Lesson learned: do not buy food in the most touristy parts of the city.

Other than that, Venice was actually very beautiful and I understand why it is such a popular tourist destination. If it was any other group of people, I’m sure they would have had an amazing time without taking so many losses, but since it was my friends I’m not surprised at all by the experience we had.

Traveling Florence

Being in Florence was an amazing experience and something I will never forget. Unlike London, when I was in Florence it really felt like I was abroad. The history and architecture is unlike anything I have seen before, and the city itself was full of colorful personalities and experiences. I was amazed by almost every sight, including the Duomo, the many piazzas, and the mini streets with cute shops and restaurants.

Obviously, Italy is known for their food, and when I visited, I was not disappointed. I ate my weight in pizza and pasta at almost every meal so its actually pretty impressive that I didn’t gain at least twenty pounds by the end of the trip. Two of my friends had studied abroad in Florence this past summer, so we were able to find the best (in our opinion) places to eat. One specific place that we continued to go for dinner night after night was Dante’s. It had fantastic food and I ate an absurd amount of pasta every time I went. Another main reason that we continued to go to this place was because if you are a student of the local Florence college, they gave you unlimited wine for free. We were not students at that college but they assumed we were so we did not complain.

Another thing that you should be aware of when you go to Florence is the amount of people selling things on the street and the gypsies that walk around asking for money. The amount of times I was asked to buy a selfie stick is unbelievable; I didn’t even think there were that many selfie sticks in the world. They also sold a lot of purses, bracelets, and roses. The key (which I learned after the fact) is to completely ignore them. It sounds bad because that is not what we are taught in our culture, but if you show any kind of interest, they will not leave you alone.

Overall, Florence was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life so far. I met so many amazing people because workers are so kind and welcoming. My friends who came on the trip with me met a few people when they studied abroad so when we went, we met up with those same people and built friendships with them. I cannot wait to go back, and I’m already planning my next trip there for next Spring Break!

Traveling on a Budget

This one is for all my fellow college students out there who want to begin traveling the world but are living off a broke college student budget.

There is no denying that it is difficult to travel while young. Working part-time jobs can only get you so far, and if you’re anything like me, you spend most of your money on eating out and clothes that I probably don’t really need. But that is no reason to limit yourself of seeing the world. Whether it be to the state over or across the globe, find a way to save money and travel.

I will be spending my Spring Break in both London and Florence; two places I have never been but have always wanted to visit. I am going with my six best friends and we have all been discussing our budgets. Some of us are paying for the whole trips ourselves while others got some help from their families but all in all, we all need money to spend while on the trip. For me, I found that working all summer and getting a part-time on campus job has helped a lot. I had a lot of money saved up throughout my years of growing up, so that of course went to use also. The trick for me when I am tempted to eat out while home is to remember the places I will be going and the restaurants I will want to eat at. If  I do that, I remember that I will probably be unable to eat all the things I want to eat and do all the things I want to do if I spend all of my money here at home. This small thing helps me save money so I am able to pay for the Air B&B for Florence and hotel for London. That is another important thing to remember while planning to travel on a budget. Think about where you are going to stay. I lucked out by traveling with a large group because we were able to find places that were decently priced by splitting it between seven people. If you are going alone or with just one or two companions, search the Web for cheap but clean places to stay, because they are out there!

But we all can’t go across the Atlantic for a trip. Some people could have just as much fun traveling somewhere nearby. This can cost much less because you can cut out expensive travel expenses like flying. Taking a car, train, or bus to a nearby state (or somewhere within your home state) could be just as fun as traveling somewhere abroad. This is especially regarding young college students. Go to a beach, or a city, or some middle-of-the-woods area where you could spend the day relaxing. These types of places are often very affordable and could offer deals for students.

The moral of this post is that if there is a will, there is a way. Start saving up now for your upcoming trip (even if you don’t know exactly what it will be yet). Remember that traveling helps people gain worldly experience which will help you later in life. Remember that you are only young once, so live it up as much as possible. And lastly, remember that it doesn’t matter whether you travel near or far, just getting away in general may be the thing you need most.