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Traveling on a student budget

Choose your transport wisely

When travelling across state or country borders in Europe or through the north-east of the United States, you might be stuck deciding whether to take the train or if you should fly instead. Sure, flying might save you a few hours, but in peak tourist seasons (when we uni students normally end up travelling) plane tickets will be more expensive than usual. Take the train and see some of the countries you’re journeying through.A three hour train ride from Paris to Amsterdam will set you back 135 Euros, but a flight with Air France can be upwards of 200 Euros. Interrail offers some great rail passes if you plan on visiting as many European countries as you can. Budget airlines like Ryanair and JetBlue are great for long-haul travel, but take the train if you’ve got the time to spare. Keep in mind that trains will normally get you straight into the centre of a city, but an airport might be located far out of town. JFK Airport in New York City is anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes away from Times Square in Manhattan, so remember to add on the cost of a taxi or shuttle ride when flying. Speaking of taxis, speak to the locals when trying to arrange transport around a city. If they say taxis are too expensive, have a look at Uber’s pricing or just take a walk around.

Keep your food budget in check

Your spending on food can end up more than what you spend on accommodation, so it’s worth making good use of this. Take advantage of the free breakfast your hostel offers, and if there’s a fruit bowl around, always take something to have as a snack during the day. If you can’t find one, browse a local supermarket and stock up on food you can eat on the go. If you want to go to a fancy restaurant, that’s fine but remember lunch is normally quieter than dinner and prices will accordingly be lower. In the US, where portions are way too much for an ordinary person,don’t feel guilty about asking for a bag to take some leftover food back to your accommodation! Make use of Tripadvisor and any other app to find good food away from the touristy spots where prices are eye-wateringly high, and try to cut back on coffee when on holiday; caffeine is an expensive addiction and overseas coffee has nothing on Melbourne’s. Don’t buy food or drinks at airports either! Take an empty water bottle through airport customs, and try to wait for the free food on the plane or grab something before you head to the airport.

Book accommodation ahead

It’s exhilarating to wake up in a foreign country each day with no clue where you’ll be sleeping that night, but it’s also more expensive. Book a hostel dorm bed or an AirBnB ahead of time, especially if you are travelling in peak season. That way, you’ll have a greater range of room options available, and at a relatively lower price.

Do your homework on your destination

If you’re travelling somewhere like Japan where you’ll mostly be in urban areas with good Wifi connectivity, there’s no need to buy a local SIM Card; free message and phone apps will keep you in touch with friends and family. Also, exchange currency before you get to the airport for better rates. Remember that you might need different currencies with you – shopkeepers in even the fanciest parts of Istanbul frown upon the use of Euros. If you really want to get the most value out of your dollar, travel to Eastern Europe or South East Asia rather than Western Europe, because prices are lower and the crowds aren’t as big. You’ll still have a great time, with the added bonus of having more money to spend on activities and nights out.

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George Kopelis

The author George Kopelis

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