5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

You’re investing a great deal of time, energy, and money preparing for your study abroad journey – and it seems that the list of things to do and buy still is endless. But it doesn’t have to be that way – and it doesn’t have to cost that much. By organizing your efforts – and finding ways to save money – you’ll head into your study abroad experience with a bit more cash – the more to spend to explore the area where you’re living, head out on weekend trips, and find new locations for your living passions (cafes? Ziplining? Bookstores and libraries? Photography? History? What do you love to do most?).

5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad

Here are 5 ways to save money during study abroad – so you can do more fun stuff – more travel, good food, and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Let’s start with the way you can save money the most:


Finding a good price for flights shouldn’t be so hard. You spend hours searching, and then find one, and think about it, and then it’s gone. And it isn’t hard – if you know how to find great fares. My go-to is JustFly. It’s a flight aggregate service, like orbitz and kayak, but offers a best purchase guarantee, incorporates price adjustments, finds fantastic deals – and has high marks from both reviewers and customers. The prices won’t change while you’re checking out (that’s such a rude thing to see, especially when you’re a student and every penny matters), and it’s fast and easy.

Here’s how it works:
Put in your departure and arrival locations and dates. JustFly searches for you. And, if you’re like me and need more coffee, when you come back with a fresh mug, you’ll see a popup screen that not only offers you an option to find out when prices drop, but also a phone number to call if you need assistance.

Why call? I love speaking with people – they know their job, and will help you find the best flights at the lowest prices. I always thank them for their help, while mentally thinking of ways to spend the money I saved - on macarons, crepes, and art. What? Sorry, I was a bit distracted...

Options: the search gives you a heads up for a lower price on alternate dates, as well as listing most popular flights, shortest time, and lowest price. THANK YOU. More time at that café in Paris, and then browsing for books along the Seine, before your study abroad program officially starts.  

Fly anywhere. 

Choose the flights you want, and pick your seats, and pay – and then check back on your reservation a few days before traveling to make sure all is ok and no changes have been made, which often happens with airlines. 

TIP: Always get a frequent flyer account with any airline you’re flying – before you book your flights. It’s free and very easy and quick to sign up. Put that ID number in when you make your reservation on JustFly. It’ll help with any problems you may encounter with flight changes, delays, etc. – and build rewards (including free trips!).
5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad


Travel Insurance

While you might think this is unnecessary, or costs too much, there are many reasons to purchase this - the biggest of which is that, if you need help, your insurance will have cost you so much less than any resulting bill without having it. Whether it is medevac, medical expenses, flight cancellation, lost belongings/luggage, or another travel problem, travel insurance is a must for covering this. Your study abroad program might require it, but even if they don’t, be wise and save money by getting the best travel insurance possible for your needs. If you never need it, consider yourself lucky!
5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad
Flickr cc: superba_


Take a cooking class

While in country, take a cooking class from a local. This will save you money in a variety of ways. You’ll learn a new skill and recipe. You’ll make friends, and learn something important to that culture from a local. You can now make that meal when you’re back home, as a gift to your loved ones (I always prefer to spend my money on experiences over things – so your gift to them is a home-cooked meal from a country that is now a big part of your life). And, if you’re staying in an apartment or a place with a kitchen during study abroad, you can save money on your meals by cooking local foods – often more inexpensive than cooking foods you’re used to making at home, because the ingredients are easily available – and spending less money eating out. If you do eat out, ask locals where they eat - it'll be cheaper and more authentic than touristy restaurants.
5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad
Flickr cc: salvadonica


Utilize free wifi

You probably don’t need a phone, so suspend your phone & bill while you’re out of the country. This means you won’t be able to use it (obviously), but before you think I’m crazy, there are many options in-country for you. You can use the free wifi to skype with your family and friends. You can get a free or inexpensive mobile phone in your new area, if you absolutely must have a phone, and purchase minutes on a sim card.     
5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad


Find the free & discounts    

There are free events everywhere. It might be a concert in the park, or an outdoor play, or music at lunch hour at a local cathedral. There might be coupons on websites, or in weekly flyers in your mailbox.

Get the ISIC – international student ID card – and save money on travel, admissions, activities, events, and more. Even if an attraction or museum is not listed, you can show this as proof, if there are student discounts.

If you can’t walk to places, and must take public transportation, see if they have monthly discount passes. Many cities have bikes for rent – if you use them for under 30 minutes, it’s free. Depending on where you want to go, this can be a free way for you to get around town, providing there are bike stations where you depart from and where you want to go. There might be a megabus option for you when you’re traveling out of town – do your research and find the most inexpensive way to travel (and if you sleep on the bus or train, you save hotel or hostel costs), so that your money can go much further.
5 Ways to Save Money During Study Abroad


Do you have any tips to add? How have you saved money while traveling?