5 ways to save money while studying abroad

Shaun Lien/Staff

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Traveling is an opportunity to broaden your perspective and open doors to new worlds. Though moving from one continent to the next would be much easier and cheaper if Pangea still existed, don’t let the cost of travel deter you from enjoying what other countries have to offer. Remember, making the most of your trip doesn’t necessarily mean making the most of your credit limit, and you can use these tips to avoid running up your credit card bill.

Skip the sparkling water

Ask specifically for tap water. A bottle of sparkling San Pellegrino is often the default and preferred choice in Europe, and so is the charge that comes along with it. Specify to your server that you’re comfortable with regular tap water if you’re in a country with safe drinking water. This helps you avoid racking up charges from meals, and the water will refresh you after a long day of sightseeing. Alternatively, consider investing in a water bottle to refill throughout your trip.

Bring your own beer

College students have known about this hack from the start. Alcohol can send restaurant bills through the roof, and a simple cocktail at a hip nightclub will cost you more than your hourly wage. Find the nearest liquor store before your night out and stir up your own drinks. Enjoy your alcohol before you head out for a night on the town to reduce your overall cost when you’re out partying. Also, some restaurants will actually allow you to bring your own bottle of wine as long as you’re planning on dining, so do your research!

Learn the transportation system

You know you’ll never be left stranded without a ride as long as Uber exists. But, learning to ride the public transportation system can save you from hidden fees and surge pricing and help you navigate the city. Take some time to wander around, get lost intentionally and find your way back to where you’re staying to learn your way around. Most established transportation systems provide conjoined deals for aboveground and underground access with easy ways to top up your card. When you’re on the move, try to connect to wifi from local coffee shops or think about investing in a personal hotspot instead of using international phone data.

Count your change

You should become really comfortable with the currency of the country you’re visiting. Learn to identify the coins and bills with confidence, as well as know the conversion rate. You don’t want to end up paying triple the amount for a cup of coffee than you would back home. Do a quick Yelp search to estimate the price range of the area you’re in. Knowing the zone you are in will avoid uncomfortable interactions from unexpected charges and help you budget accordingly. Be vigilant about what your money is worth because this keeps petty theft and pickpockets at bay. Don’t be afraid to take your time to count your change. Opt for physical money instead of a credit card swipe — it’s easy to lose count of how much money you actually spend when you use plastic.

Stick to staples

Cuisine is a huge part of experiencing a country, but it also contributes to one of the largest charges on a credit card bill. Make sure to plan accordingly for long days and buy and pack convenient foods that will last your trip. Grab-and-go fruits, protein bars and yogurt are an easy option for a quick and affordable breakfast. Try planning around your expensive meals. For example, you could opt for a budget-friendly lunch when you know you have fancy dinner reservations. Local farmers’ markets often are hidden gems that provide authentic foods at reasonable prices.

Contact Jasmine Monfared at [email protected].