As a student traveler, one of the most important things you’ll learn is how to budget your money. It’s likely you will not be able to work during your time abroad, and going from the possibility of picking up part time jobs at home or paid internships while studying is no longer available. The money is going out and not coming in. The best way to make sure you don’t end up halfway through your semester with nothing left to live on is to plan ahead and spend smartly.
Depending on your program, location and lifestyle, going out at night may become a regular weekend activity while living abroad. It’s only natural to want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and explore all your new city has to offer! Keeping up with your new classmates and friends will begin to cost you though. You may be a bit more adventurous in other cities, if not just to see what kind of people are out and what kind of places there are. It’s important to note many cities have different nightlife regularities. For example, here in Dublin, bars close at 12:30 a.m., or “half 12,” and anywhere you go after that is likely to charge five to 10 euros at the door (and you’re likely to head there after!) Your best bet is to go out earlier, or find the spot that has free entry on the night you’re out. If you enjoy mixed drinks, your mixer will come in a separate bottle at a cost of two to five euro. Some places will give you a “splash” instead, which is what you would normally get in the states, but you’ll have to ask!
Another way to save money is to cook your meals at home. Though we know you want to try that local specialty, save it for the weekends or special occasions. As stressed students, it’s tempting to take the easy way out and grab a quick bite. Don’t take the bait! It all adds up.
Be on the lookout for discount cards like the Student Travel Card available here in Ireland. The card allows you to get a monthly student rate for the bus, tram and train, and many affiliated local businesses offer 10-15% off or special meal deals.
Make the most of any free museum hours or days and special city celebrations offering you cultural experiences for free that you’d otherwise be charged admission. For example, Dublin held Culture Night in September, in which all historical buildings (some of which are normally closed to the public), museums and galleries were all open for free and late.
Just remember, by buying a beer instead of whiskey, or packing a homemade sandwich instead of a quick lunch out in town, you’re saving more money to put towards a weekend trip to another new destination! Once you’ve made the journey abroad, traveling around the region you’re residing in is much easier and more affordable than if you were to make the trip from home. Make sure you take advantage of the new accessibility by budgeting your money for more student travel!
photo: Amy Wiener