Being an international student is more than just attending school in a foreign country. Part of this experience is traveling within your host country (or even continent!) and experiencing its culture. We understand that as an international student you maybe on a budget and this is no reason why you’d need to miss out on traveling! To help you along, we have put together some basic tips to help you explore the world without spending a fortune!
The first thing is, of course, your transportation cost. Whether you are taking a plane, train or car, it can be one of the largest expenses. If you plan on flying, try comparing your flights on multiple websites to find the lowest price. Some discount airlines serve a specific region so it is important to know your airlines and compare this to aggregate airline searches. Some discount airlines include Ryan Air and Easy Jet in Europe as well as Air Asia and Tiger Airways in Asia. You can also try searching for cheap student airfares on the InternationalStudent.com travel center where there are specific discounts for international students. Also, depending on where you are located, consider taking a train (instead of plane) as they can be much less expensive. Once you are in a city, it may also be cost effective to consider what kind of public transportation is available to you. Taking taxis, for example, can be expensive, but taking the bus or subway can potentially save you money.
The next consideration is where to spend the night! You have many options from hotels, to hostels to couchsurfing, check out our blog about alternative places to stay while traveling for additional helpful hints. What’s more, consider traveling during the off-season since many accommodations have two prices: high season and low season. When there are not as many tourists, you’ll find that many rates are lower. Also, consider staying on the outskirts of your main attraction area, the extra bit of time you need to commute may save you money and even give you the opportunity to stay in nicer accommodations!
Additionally, don’t forget about saving money when withdrawing or exchanging your money! When you’re traveling abroad and need to exchange money, there are exchange booths at the airport where you can get the local currency. Often times you will get one of the worst exchange rates by doing that. Instead, exchange your money before you leave or withdraw directly from an ATM if you are already in your host country (keep in mind that you may incur an additional ATM fee).
Not to be left out, the phrase “pack light and pack right” can also save you money. Know the climate where you are traveling to and pack accordingly. Packing light can save you money on all the luggage fee the airlines may charge you. Packing right also means that you will not need to buy things later on (i.e., rain jackets or sweater)
Lastly, consider getting an international student ID card. You can get discount on many museums and attractions in major tourist cities around the world along with some discounts on the occasional services.
This is a guest blog post that originally appeared on the International Student Insurance blog on September 7th 2011