Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting parts of your college career. Although traveling to another country can come with quite the price tag, for most students it is completely worth it. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your study abroad experience without spending all of your money.
1. Make (and stick to!) a budget
This may seem obvious, but unless you actually take the time to plan and write down a budget, it’s likely that you’ll end up spending much more than you intend. Do some research as to how much food, transportation, and other living expenses cost in the country you’re visiting, and then budget according to how much you can afford.
We highly recommend downloading the budgeting app Mint or using their website Mint.com, which combines all of your bank accounts and credit cards in one place to easily track spending.
2. Contact your bank before leaving
If you plan on using your debit or credit card in another country, it is an absolute must that you contact your bank or credit card company and let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. It is very likely that your bank or credit card company will freeze your card if they see it’s being used in a foreign country without any notice from you, so avoid this hassle by letting them know ahead of time when you’ll be out of the country.
3. Ask for student discounts
Many museums, restaurants, stores, and transportation services offer student discounts just like they do back at home! Make sure to carry your student ID with you to take advantage of these special offers.
4. Utilize public transportation
Subway systems and buses are much cheaper than taxis, although you’ll want to keep a close eye on your belongings and avoid traveling alone, especially at night. You also may want to consider renting a bicycle for a cheap and fun way to explore the streets of a new city.
5. Find free entertainment
Fortunately, there are a ton of options for activities that don’t involve spending any money. A few ideas include visiting monuments, museums, hiking trails, and flea and/or farmers markets. Also, going out to bars and nightclubs is common for students abroad, but this tends to be very expensive and leads to overspending. Try convincing your friends to “stay in” several nights a week, and you can have just as much fun playing games and bonding in a smaller setting.
Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant