Studying abroad is one of the best experiences that anyone can have, but it’s also a challenging one, especially when it comes to managing your money. Budgeting can be hard because you’re in a new place and everything is so exciting and you can sometimes get carried away and start buying a lot of things. What I found to be most important in budgeting is determining what matters most to you and prioritize that in your budget. For instance, this can mean traveling, food, or shopping. Picking one that is most important to you will help you determine how to plan your budget.
For traveling, a good tip for saving money is planning earlier in advance when tickets are cheaper. Planning last minute trips can be fun and spontaneous, but they can also turn out to be really expensive. A good way to find cheap airline tickets is to go into a private browser on Chrome and check the website SkyScanner. Additionally, going in the offseason will make tickets cheaper too. For example, going to Greece in September will be much more expensive than going in November. Traveling within your host country is can be a little more budget friendly too, which a lot of people forget about. Also, cheap airlines make their money by nickeling and diming you. They have very strict weight requirements and will make you pay for your check-on so be mindful of what you pack. Chances are you only really need two to three outfits, so don’t overpack or you will pay for it, literally!
Hostels are also a great option that is budget-friendly and a great way to meet people while traveling. Also, determine what you want out of your trip. Would you rather go to nice places to eat, go shopping, or do tours. All of these activities can get expensive, so identifying one that you want to prioritize is important to saving money. For tours and activities, you can also get student discounts in some countries so always ask and bring your student ID from the school you are attending abroad just in case. Lastly, travel with like-minded people to you who have similar goals. It can get complicated if a couple of people in the group want to go to a fancy restaurant for dinner while you would have rather gone to a museum. Being on the same page as your traveling mates is important in allocating your budget.
While living in your host country cooking for yourself in your apartment is a great option to save money. The markets and grocery stores are all reasonably priced and will have some of the best quality ingredients you’ll ever find. If your worried about not being able to experience the country’s food because you’re always cooking, eat out on the weekends and pick places that you want to try. Lastly, If you’d rather experience the food and shopping, maybe only take a few trips throughout the semester. Or if you’d rather travel and do activities, don’t eat out as much or buy a lot of momentos and such. You just have to find out what you want to prioritize during your study abroad experience and tailor your budget to that and make some small sacrifices.
Sophia was a fall 2018 Florence student from Saint Mary’s College of California.