Buon Viaggio! The art of traveling on a shoestring budget

By Nicole Lee, Assistant Account Executive

The idea of week-long trips in countryside Italian villas sounds fantastic, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the budget of an average American college student.

So, as an experienced European traveler and two-time study abroad student, I have compiled a list of money-saving ideas for those wishing to travel throughout Europe while studying abroad, but wish to do so on a budget.

Take advantage of cheap airfare: Travel sites like Ryanair and easyJet offer low-cost airfare and great last minute deals. Booking in advance will assure you less expensive tickets with almost any airline. 

Avoid baggage fees; pack a carry-on: Like in the U.S., many European airlines charge to check a bag. For shorter trips, try packing only a carry-on or backpack. Some airlines do weigh carry-on baggage, so be sure to check your airline’s weight limit before packing.

Forget the five-star hotels; opt for a hostel: When on a budget, shelling out the cash for a bed can definitely put strain on your wallet. Websites like Hostelworld.com are great for finding favorable rooms without the hefty price tag. But if you can’t live without free mini hand soaps and a turn-down service, try Hotels.com for hotel rooms at lower costs. Be sure to check guest ratings and comment recommendation for any place before you make a reservation. While it may look fantastic on the web, it could turn out to be less than satisfactory in person. 

Utilize Google Maps: The cost of renting a car or taking a taxi may not always be figured into your spending. Google Maps is a great resource for getting directions to your final destination using public transportation. 

Always bring your student ID: Many museums and popular tourist destinations offer student discounts on entrance fees, bus tours and more, so always ask if there is a student discount offered. 

Skip dining out; make your own: Eating out can get expensive fast. Making your own meals can save cash and most hostels have kitchens available for guest use. Packing a picnic lunch or buying a pastry from the local market can also be a great way to have an adventurous and inexpensive dining experience.

Remember, sometimes paying higher prices for things is unavoidable. Don’t skip out on making memories that will last a lifetime because the price tag is higher than you had hoped. For example, my 70 euro gondola ride through the canals of Venice with three of my best friends was definitely worth every penny. 

Nicole and her friend Meredith Andre on a gondola ride through the canals of Venice.
Gondola’s in Venice at sunrise.

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