One of the best bits of being a student? The holidays! (This sounds a bit lazy I know, but all that hard studying deserves a break…)
With the summer vacation, winter break, Easter/spring break and various ‘reading weeks’, there should be plenty of time to jet-set out to a sunny destination – or for adrenalin junkies, perhaps skiing, snowboarding or water sports galore.
Being on a tight student budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a holiday. In fact, it can make things even more fun, challenging you to hunt out the best bargains and live more like a local than a tourist. All you really need is a laugh, a few crazy nights and some time out from studies!
1. Choose a budget destination
These days student budget destinations are certainly not limited to a few predictable places (get some inspiration with our student country guides). Due to a competitive market, many holiday providers are offering better, cheaper packages.
Previously unventured destinations for holidays have opened up – and with prices that suit the student budget. Bulgaria and Turkey are some examples of this, offering culture, history, beaches and the whole shebang.
First, decide on what you really want from the holiday, whether it’s a hot climate, water sports, night life or a cultural experience. Once you’ve identified this, do a bit of research and get comparing.
Tip: You may find flights and accommodation cheap, but don’t forget to look at the cost of eating and local travel before you commit yourself!
2. Stay at youth hostels
Youth hostels are the most obvious option for accommodation on a student budget. Many people have a misconception that these are dirty and not the safest places to stay – but things have changed! You’ll now find many Youth hostels are incredibly clean, modern, comfortable, and still very affordable.
Youth hostels are also a great way to meet other students travelling from different parts of the world, and they often organize tours, nights out and other activities.
Tip: Ask around to see if anyone you know can recommend a place to stay, or look at reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia.
3. Learn the lenguaje
Yes, I’m talking about language – a fairly easy translation in this case! Knowing the language for the country you’re visiting is obviously useful. English may be the modern world’s lingua franca, but if you go to Kefalonia and ask for directions in English, you run the risk of hitting a dead end pretty fast.
Often you can get your point across by using gestures – and you can also ask staff at your accommodation to teach you a few basic words that will get you by. (Probably more reliable than asking ‘friends’ – you may end up engaged to be married instead of getting directions to the town’s best restaurant!)
Tip: Write down a few essential words in case your memory fails you.
4. Enjoy simple but delicious food
Unless you have self-catering accommodation, you’ll have to eat out for most meals. Ask staff at the place you are staying at for advice on the best places around, and if possible do your own research before you arrive. Definitely try new things (fried spider? horse meat?) – sampling local food is a great way to get a real flavor of a place (haha).
Tip: At an island/ coastal location? You should probably be looking at the fish section of the menu!
5. Don't forget about visas
Depending on where you come from, you may need a visa to travel around. Don’t leave this to the last minute, as embassies have different processing times and also celebrate public holidays in their countries which may not correspond to the ones in your country of study.
Travel visas usually require all bookings information, travel insurance, a letter from your university, photographs and bank statements to ensure you have enough money to cover your stay. There’s also a fee for the visa itself.
Tip: Check the relevant embassy’s website for full details, well in advance of your trip.
6. Almost there! Final preparations…
It’s when you start packing that the excitement really sets in. First, make sure you have a bag or suitcase you can carry around easily, without breaking your back in the process.
Everyone always says travel light, which is great if you’re heading to the beach – but not so easy if you’re going hiking in the Alps. So, bear in mind what you’ll realistically need, and check the weather forecast too.
Tip: Generally, you’ll need sun block, an adapter for electronic items, and something a bit smart for nights out or a fancy dinner.
Zooooom – you’re almost there! Just remember while on a student budget to book as early as possible to get the best deals, and ladies don’t forget your straighteners; that frizzy hair you get in humid climates is not a good look.
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