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Travelling on a Student Budget in Europe


I have always wanted to live in Europe and travel to every country in Europe. When I left Toronto two months ago, I thought I was well on my way to checking those two things off my bucket list, but very soon two harsh realities hit me like a big, yellow bus.

1. Europe is expensive.

2. Students are poor.

That doesn’t mean I am going to compromise on my game plan. I am determined to find ways to travel Europe for cheap and share that wealth of knowledge with everyone else (no pun intended).

A couple of trips later, here are some valuable things that I have learned about saving those Euros, Pounds or in my case, Kroners:

• Whoever told you that your passport is your best friend while traveling abroad, didn’t visit Europe. Your student card is going to be your best friend. When you leave your home country, make sure you have a valid ISIC card. Alternatively, if you are starting school in Europe, then put off any travel plans until you get your student ID from your university. I have saved up to 50 per cent on entrance tickets for attractions, transportation, and even food with my darling Aarhus University student ID.

• If you come from Canada, like me, you’ll soon realize that distances are tiny in Europe. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that transportation is inexpensive. It can be, if you know where to look. Sometimes train tickets are more expensive than flights. Sometimes a flight on a Monday is going to the half the price of the same flight on a Friday. If you are flexible with your travel dates, you can find some really good deals. You can compare travel dates and prices on the most popular budget airline websites like Ryanair and EasyJet.

Skyscanner’s website gives you the option of finding the cheapest tickets to go anywhere from your departure country (that’s how my friends and I found $40 return tickets to Poland). If you have more time and enjoy traveling via trains, opt for regional trains as opposed to express trains. For example, a train from Paris to Amsterdam might eat up your whole day, but it saves you a lot of money and you get to gawk at the beautiful countryside for hours. That’s a win-win in my opinion.

• Accommodation can be one of the priciest line items on a travel budget. I am starting to enter the school of thought that hostels aren’t always the most economical option. Now, if the hostel offers a free meal that might seal the deal. I am not ashamed to admit, I chose my hostel in Venice, solely based on the fact that they offered free vegetarian dinner every night. Couch surfing is another option that’s getting wildly popular with students. But, the best of all: find friends in Europe that are willing to host you and in return, be a good host when you can be.

• Eating out in Europe is expensive. Period. Expand your knowledge of recipes that you can make outside of a kitchen and hit the local grocery store. Street vendors are also a great option, but sometimes they can be tourist traps.

• Now that you have made your way to an exciting new city, found a place to sleep, had some found, the big question is how to save money on sightseeing? A lot of hostels offer “free” walking city tours. The expectation is that you leave a small donation but it’s still better than paying a tour company or getting lost trying to find everything on your (free) map. Many European cities have free entrance to museums and churches on certain days—take advantage of that!

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Roop Gill

After finishing her undergrad in Toronto, Roop Gill worked as journalist for a year. Giving into her wanderlust, she packed up her life in Canada and is currently doing a cross-continental MA through the Erasmus Programme that will take her from Denmark to Australia to England. She can’t understand how this happened, but she has managed to pick three of the most expensive places in the world to live as a student, but she is determined not to let that stand in her way of travelling.

Website: roopgill.com/

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