Study Abroad on a Budget: Top 9 Ways to Save

One of the hardest things about studying abroad is staying within a budget. It can be easy to lose track of spending early on and be left scrambling for cash at the end of the semester. To help avoid spending too much money, and ensure that your funds can be used for travel, follow these helpful tips about conserving your money while abroad.

1. Create a budget

Money. Euro.

Don’t take your change for granted! 1 and 2 Euro coins quickly add up.

While making a budget may not be the easiest (or most fun task) it will save you from running out of money. Before your trip sit down and really think about how much money you will spend on food, travel, textbooks, toiletries, and other expenses. Pick a number you intend to spend in each category and stick to it each week. Your wallet will thank you later. For more money saving tips, be sure to check out my post Study Abroad on a Budget: Top 9 Ways to Save.

Pro tip: I put 50 Euro in my wallet every Monday so I know how much I have to spend that week. Each time I make a purchase, I can physically see how much I have left to spend, which is a great reminder to stay within my budget. 

2. Forget international fees

Check with your credit card or debit card company to see what international charges or withdrawal fees are in advance. Develop a strategy to avoid racking up useless fees. The $5 you get charged each time you use an ATM begin to add up. If you can, consider finding an international bank or credit card plan with no fees.

3. Do your research

Oftentimes a little time spent planning ahead and researching the cheapest flights, hostels, travel companies and tours can save you money. If you plan in advance, many times you can try to visit museums on free days, get a better rate on travel or accommodation, or purchase a city pass which will save you dollars. A little research can go a long way.

4. Cook

While enjoying local cuisine is a huge part of studying abroad, you don’t have to eat every meal out. Even if you just make breakfast and lunch at home, a trip to the grocery store is sure to save you money, and heading to a market is a great way to soak up some local culture.

5. Beware of bars


The best things in life are three…three Euro wine that is. Grab a bottle from the grocery store and enjoy a glass before or after a dinner out to avoid paying the same amount (or more) for just a class.

If you are out for a night on the town it can be easy to forget how much you are spending. Leaving your card at home, looking for drink deals, and paying after each drink as opposed to starting a tab will keep you from coming home with an empty bank account.

6. Ask for student discounts

Many places may not advertise student rates, but if you just ask many times you can get a museum ticket, tour, or even meal for less with a student card. There is no hurt in asking, so be sure to have a valid student ID on you at all times.

7. Avoid pickpockets

While this may seem obvious, there is always one person in every program who loses a camera, 100 Euro, or a cell phone due to carelessness or a clever pickpocket. Watch out for your things and avoid keeping too much cash on you at one time.

8. Pack properly

Packing can play a huge role in saving money. Arriving at your destination prepared for the weather, with all of your essentials, and any products that are difficult to find outside of the U.S. will prevent you from having to purchase items at stores.

9. Bargain buy

Florence. Leather.

This leather jacket was a steal after bargaining, I ended up with an 80% markdown from its original price!

Many vendors expect you to bargain to get a better deal. If you shop around, you can often find the same souvenirs for a better price, or a vendor selling them for cheaper. There is nothing worse than buying a “one of a kind” souvenir only to see it 20 minutes later for 3 euro less.

What are some of your favorite ways to save while traveling? Have any of these ideas worked for you?

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For more great study abroad tips, check out these posts!

Study Abroad On A Budget

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