Updated: Feb 15, 2019
Other fellow students are always so shocked when they find out how often I go on trips abroad. But before I get into how I do this, I should probably give you some context to prove to you I know what I'm talking about. Since starting university just under 2 years ago, with my own funds I have visited:
And have been on 5 road trips around the UK.
Another thing I should mention is that if you're looking for a 'How To Travel Around South East Asia For 3 Months On A Student Budget', this isn't the blog post for you. (I'm currently saving money to do that particular trip so I'll get back to you on that one in a year or so!) This is for the students who can't wait long enough for the summer break to come around, and just want some cheap flights for a quick get-away and briefly explore what the world has to offer that isn’t deadlines, essays, or exams.
TOP TIP NUMBER 1: Get A Part Time Job.
This one is short and sweet and clearly very obvious. You need some £££ if you plan on going travelling/on holiday/whatever you want to call it, because let’s face it, student loan isn’t going to cover this one. Obviously committing to a part-time job will depend on how much free time you have between lectures, essays, exams etc. (I’ve been quite lucky because my university course doesn’t have many contact hours a week). But if you don’t have a job already then I’d advise getting one, because the money you save will be your ticket out’a here, literally.
[Quick side note about tickets 'out-a here', I just want to quickly de-bust a myth. So many people I speak to think that plane tickets are expensive. If you use flight comparison websites like SkyScanner.com, and you're flexible with the times and dates of your flights, you could do what I do and fly to somewhere like Prague for £15. If you put the research in, it's super easy to find cheap flights and cheap hotels or hostels.]
TOP TIP NUMBER 2: Learn How To Save.
Basically, don’t buy stupid sh*t. Of course you need the essentials like food, drink, a regular night out with mates – basically enough to make you feel like you actually have a life at university. But, I know for a fact that I manage to save enough money because I refrain from buying that nice top I really like, or I muster up enough will-power to say no to a Domino’s pizza. Hey, if you want to travel, it’s serious business - you’ve got to make sacrifices for views like this one.
Speaking of sacrifices…
TOP TIP NUMBER 3: Don’t Go Glam.
If you think you can afford to stay in a 5-star hotel on a student budget, you’d be wrong, and also crazy! In my opinion, it’s all about hostels. When some people hear me say that, they go ‘ew, that’s so gross’, but you’d be surprised at how nice yet cheap some of them are out there. The Wikipedia definition of a hostel is as follows:
“Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation”.
Like, what more do you want as a student? I know it’s not glamorous, but they’re a lot of fun, and the best friends I’ve made traveling have been the ones I’ve met in hostels; a lot of whom I’m still in touch with today. Not to mention the huge benefit of making friends with someone who lives in another country: free accommodation if they invite you to visit! (A very handy money saving tip).
In my experience, the chain of hostels ‘St Christopher’s Inn’ has been nothing but great, and it's my 'go-to' hostel. (No, this isn't a sponsorship, sadly, but I couldn't recommend them more!) They’re modern, stylish, clean and cheap, and the ones I’ve stayed in have always had a bar – and happy hour! €1 for a pint of beer in Prague isn't too shabby.
Photo Credit to TheHostelGroup.com
[A little side tip: If you’re a female and you want to meet new people, I would recommend staying in mixed dorm rooms. Most hostels will offer the option of staying in an all female room, an all male room or a mixed room. For whatever reason, I’ve found that guys are a lot more willing to start conversation with strangers than girls.]
Also if you’re really on a tight budget, stay at a hostel that has a communal kitchen, and therefore you won’t have to splash out on meals in fancy restaurants every day.
TOP TIP NUMBER 4 (for those that can’t stand the idea of Top Tip Number 3): Go For Last Minute Holiday Websites.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re feeling ‘bougy’ and you want a pamper (or you just read my advice above and thought ‘yeah, no thanks’, then ladies and gentlemen I’m here to give you the good news. If you want a 5 day all inclusive holiday by the pool for a somewhat reasonable price, you’ve got:
These websites will give you good prices if you don’t fly too far from home and don’t plan to go away during school holidays. So if you really want to save the most money, avoid these types of holidays during the times of year like Easter, Christmas, July-August – basically avoid doing trips like this between semesters. And no, I’m not suggesting you bunk and miss your lectures. Use times like 'Reading Week', or when you know you’ll have a long weekend because your lecture is going to be cancelled etc etc. I know it’s not ideal, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures! You can save a hefty wad of cash doing these types of holidays last minute, and these websites won’t screw you over.
TOP TIP NUMBER 5 (for when all else fails): Find A Friend Who Can Drive (If You Can't)
If you’re truly desperate for a getaway but can’t get enough funds together, take my advice and explore the UK. England has some surprisingly beautiful places that you can get to via train or car. I’m not kidding! Take a look…
(I've just realised that both of these photos were taken in Scotland. Two different occasions. Obviously.)
Depending how far you’re willing to go, petrol can often be cheaper than the train, so if you’re longing for a quick escape... my advice? ROAD TRIP! Last semester my housemates and I drove up to Scotland for the weekend in 'Red Weather' Warnings, so if we can do it, you can too!
And there you have it, some pretty useful tips that I hope will inspire you to travel and adventure to new places. Like they say, ‘travelling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’.