If you're a student or the parent of a student preparing for a trip abroad, chances are you've read up on all of the basic money-saving tips. You know to be mindful of exchange rates, to keep cash stored in several places rather than just one, and to try not to have to withdraw much money at foreign ATMs that will have significant fees.
These all fall into the category of basic financial management while abroad. However, there are some other tips that you don't always see listed that can also help students to save money - or rather, it may be more appropriate to say, to avoid spending too much of it!
A few of these tips you may want to keep on hand are as follows.
Find Affordable Public Transportation
When you're a young person in a foreign country you're not used to, it's tempting to take the easiest and most comfortable transportation you can find. That is to say, when you first land, you'll probably want to take a taxi or car service to wherever you're staying, because it feels secure and you don't have to worry about anything. That's fine for now and then, but you should look into more affordable public transportation for your day-to-day movements. Mastering public transportation while abroad can mean different things in different places, but generally speaking a metro or bus pass, a keen understanding of the relevant maps and routes, and in some cases even a rented bike or electric scooter can work wonders helping you get around affordably.
Opt For Pubs Over Cocktail Lounges
Depending on where you are abroad this may not be too much of a concern. Often though, when you look up the best things to do or the best places to eat and drink in a foreign city, you'll see some well-reviewed nightlife options that basically amount to cocktail lounges. They can look very cool online, and in some cases the setting will be too much to resist. For your casual nights out however, local pubs are better options. You can have cheaper drinks and enjoy more authentic surroundings anyway more often than not.
Resist The Allure Of Land-Based Casinos
Particularly for students traveling from the U.S., where casinos are few and far between, land-based casinos in foreign cities can be a major draw. It can be tempting to try it out once, then a second time, and then to spend a night or two each week playing games. Naturally, however, this is an easy way to wind up losing a lot of money, not just in the games but through all the extras. Instead, if the itch strikes you, look to the internet. Casino gaming is massive in Europe and around much of the world, and is expanding in the U.S. as well for that matter. Online you can play the same games either for free or for very little money, meaning you can have the fun without as much risk, and save your time out for more social activity with friends.
Use Any Student Perks You Have
We can't go into too much detail here because it depends entirely on the involved schools. However, there's a decent chance your study abroad program will offer certain perks. That might mean an included metro pass, it might mean dining options, etc. Whatever it may be, take advantage of it to avoid spending unnecessarily elsewhere!
Pick Up A Side Gig
This isn't really about saving money so much as balancing out what you spend. However, there are various ways to make money while studying abroad, from picking up freelance work online, to teaching English (if relevant to where you're staying), to babysitting. If you're concerned about your budget while studying abroad, this is a great way to make sure you have some money coming in to make up for what's going out. And it doesn't even have to be a particularly busy venture. If your'e taking advantage of the other ideas here and living frugally, a side gig that takes up just a few hours a week can make for very meaningful income.
Prioritize Your Travels
If you plan on traveling at all from your destination, even if just for a day trip on the weekends, you should spend some time carefully prioritizing your options. It can be tempting, particularly if you're at a destination with lots of nearby neighboring countries, to believe you're going to visit 10 other destinations over the course of a semester or summer. And if you can manage it on your budget and with your time constraints, go for it! But traveling means spending money even if you have a rail pass or a cheap bus option, and that means you'll probably have to narrow down your options. Taking adequate time to do so will ensure you're not spending money where you can't afford to.