I travel the world on a student budget and you can too
Be smart with your money and you can go anywhere
Are you looking at your other friends travelling the world instead of applying to uni? Are you getting bored of seeing the same night clubs over your summer holidays and drinking the same drinks? Well, now you can join them on their travels.
I have spent the past two years travelling 12 different countries whilst holding down a part-time job and still being successful at uni. With a lot of drinking on the sideline.
Don't get me wrong, staying in a hostel for the first time can seem scary, but once you get talking to other guys in your room, you soon feel at home. I have made lifelong friends who live in California, New York and Long Island and had some of the most amazing memories.
How to get the money to begin with
The best job to get whilst you're in university is one that pays with tips. It means that you know your wage can cover all bills, whilst your tips pay for your social life and your future endeavours. Trust me as a fellow student, tips are what you live off.
Most of you will go to university with a maintenance loan provided by the government – I left this to cover my rent. Now for all social events try and organise it around local deals. For example, in Liverpool, Barburito have deal on Thursdays where you get a beer and wrap for £5.
So we have the money, now what?
Do it the right way, it will save you a great deal of money. Say if you want to go traveling next summer, the best time to book is Christmas, especially for interrailing. The sooner the better. Interrailing is best for travelling around mainland Europe.
Using the company Eurotravel I went through various places including Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and Vienna. This cost £750 per person, this includes transport and hotels – I would suggest staying in hostels instead, you meet more people and it brings the price down by a considerable amount.
For each country set an amount for spending depending on how much you want to do in each place. For example you may spend the most in Amsterdam, but barely spend anything in Vienna or Prague. It all depends on what you want to get out of each place.
I set an average of about £30-£35 a day. It doesn't sound like much but the food should be local street food and not five star restaurants, so it should go pretty far. Research is key, use trip advisor to look at the local cuisine and cheap eats – see what other people think is great food and worth the money.
When you go through the summer you may worry about how much you you will have when you get back. Well there are plenty of online sites that allow you to make money on the move.
I used companies such Fiverr that allows you to use skills online for strangers for cheap prices but it still helps take away the pressure of not earning any money whilst travelling.
Not quite reaching the budget for interrailing?
That's fine, backpacking is much cheaper as long as you do not scare easily and you're ready to be faced with anything. Whilst backpacking is extremely fun, it isn't really for the light-hearted when you're on a serious budget.
The best way to go backpacking is to not plan a thing. Book the cheapest flights you can to any desired country. Try to pick a city that does not usually attract tourists to keep the prices down. I booked one night in a hostel and then just let fate take over. I made rules on prices, for example I didn't pay more than €25 per night on hostel.
One thing to remember is to not take too much. You may think the 12 tops and four pairs of shoes are necessary but they're honestly not. People do not expect students who go backpacking on a budget to dress glamorously.
When choosing where you want to go, think logically. Most people want to see the south of France and then they see the prices and think again. I stayed in Nice, which is relatively cheap. I got a bus for a euro into Monaco and Cannes and saw their gorgeous beaches.
When going backpacking, think about when you're going to travel. I got the cheapest buses at 1am to save money on a hostel and to get the cheapest prices on the bus. This ultimately meant I did not spend money on hostels and I could go to a new city every day.
The best thing about staying in hostels are the people you meet. I met some of the most interesting people and they gave advice on the best foods and the best places to visit at the cheapest price. They can also gave advice on what not to do and the common mistakes.
What I did wrong and the advice I can give
The thought of travelling can be very exciting and it's easy to get carried away. You have to remember guided tours and excursions are not always necessary. I googled most of the information on historical sites and excursions are never worth the price and with a quick google search I'm sure you could find a cheaper price.
Always think logically about what you can afford on your travels and how it will affect you for when you get home. I always advise to make sure your student overdraft is available in case anything serious happened and you had to pay ridiculous prices to get home safely.
Last but not least, bring an emergency phone no matter what style of travel you're planning. It can be very scary having no phone in a city you know nothing about with no one you know.