1. Stay in hostels.
Although it may be nice to have your own space, trust me when I say booking something like an AirBnb or hotel could hurt your bank account. Hostels are truly the best option for students traveling all over Europe. They are usually centrally located, around $15-30 a night, and have a friendly and fun atmosphere. The typical hostel has about 8 bunk beds per room in which you share a bathroom, and they usually have some sort of event occurring with the goal of bringing the community together. In addition, the employees of the hostels are a great resource for insight into the given city. Ignore your preconceived notions about hostels being unsafe because while taking the usually cautions is necessary, I, nor anyone I know, has had an issue in this space. Before you book, do your research on the neighborhood in which the hostel is located and read the reviews!
2. Don’t eat out every meal.
Europe is not cheap. Yes, there are countries with currency exchange rates that may work in your favor, but eating out every single meal will add up quickly. My friends and I like to splurge on maybe one or two dinner meals, where we indulge in an appetizer, drinks, dinner, and dessert, but only because the rest of the meals we spent so little. It is quite easy to find a local bakery to grab a cheap croissant for breakfast and a grocery store that sells ingredients for a quick sandwich for lunch, and this will save you tens of dollars on eating at a restaurant. By following this method, you are still able to try authentic food on a budget!
3. Take advantage of student discounts.
When you are enrolled in your university in Europe, you should get a University ID card. Take this everywhere with you! Museums, parks, restaurants, and public transportation across the entire continent have student discounts that will save you from paying full price. In my experience, it is advantageous to outright ask if there is a student discount, even if the sign does not show a specific price for students.
4. Only pick a couple experiences you want to do, and skip the rest.
There is so much to do in Europe, and yes, just about everything costs money. Before you plan your weekend traveling, I would put together a short list of attractions that you are dying to see, and splurge on those admission prices. It might even be helpful to look for online prices before you go, rather than waiting to buy the tickets at the door. Take it from someone who has been on a plethora of weekend trips- you will still gain an enriching and educational experience even though you don’t go IN all of the museums and attractions. The Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, and Sagrada Familia were still as amazing places from the outside as they could be from the inside. When you do pick your specific attractions, I would suggest downloading the Rick Steves Audio Europe app for a free audio guide. This app will give you the history on just about any attraction in Europe, and you can even download the guide beforehand, and listen to it without using your data!
5. Strategically plan flights.
If there is any possible way to build your study abroad schedule by not taking classes on Fridays or Mondays, I would highly recommend it. Saturdays and Sundays are the most expensive travel days, so leaving on a Friday and/or returning on a Monday could potentially save you hundreds of dollars on airfare. Also, be careful for which websites you use to book these flights. I have found that Skyscanner always offers the cheapest, as opposed to Kayak or any others. If you are just looking for a place to get away and don’t have a preference, I always used Google Flights because it gives you the option to type “anywhere” for the destination, thus displaying a range of prices for airfare all throughout Europe!
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