I’m going to break tradition a little bit. In the past, I’ve talked about saving money while studying in London.
But having now spent time abroad, I’ve found one thing worth a few of your hard-earned dollars: traveling.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Aside from the obvious career benefits that come with spending time in a foreign country, there are a ton of reasons why traveling is so important.
As technology becomes more and more advanced, the world becomes a much smaller place. Fifty years ago, you probably would never be able to talk to somebody in China if you lived in the U.S. Now, with telecommunications tools like Skype, you can make that happen in under 5 minutes.
Our society is rapidly becoming a global one, and I’m sure you’ve heard at least one professor talk to you about the importance of having a “global mindset.” In a nutshell, all that really means is being conscious of other cultures and ways of thinking when you go about you day-to-day life. What better way to build that than by spending time abroad?
And on a slightly less serious note, it’s a lot of fun. I mean, when else in your lifetime are you going to get the chance to carouse around the world with minimal commitments holding you back? My guess is never.
HOW TO TRAVEL SMART
That being said, I’m not advocating for you to spend your life savings scouring the globe. Like all investments, there’s a line between outrageous overspending and cautious contribution.
That’s a lot easier said than done considering traveling ain’t cheap. You’ve got to buy plane tickets, train tickets, book hostels, pay for food, and avoid all of those pesky tourist traps dying to ensnare you.
But if you’re money savvy and have the right tools, you can still reap all of the benefits of traveling without harvesting (sorry, had to do it) your entire bank account in the process.
WAYS TO SAVE
If you plan on flying outside the borders of ‘Murica anytime soon, Skyscanner.net should become your new best friend. Just plug in your destination and it’ll generate hundreds of flights to and from, ranking the cheapest package the highest.
And although it may be tempting to pass on that Ryanair flight with a 5-hour layover in some unheard of place, don’t do it. You’re flying on a budget; the comfort of the trip is secondary to the price.
For your accommodations, check out Hostel World. It’s kind of like Expedia for hostels and can get you a place to stay for very little cash. Same rules apply as above; an 18-person dorm is probably not your ideal living situation, but for $20 for 3 nights, you can make it work. My one caveat here is to make sure that wherever you’re planning on staying is safe. If a few extra dollars can prevent you from ending up in Quentin Tarantino’s interpretation of Euro-travel, please give them up.
I’m not just making these resources up either! After I (hopefully) survive the disaster that is my academic work, I’ll be doing a 10-day tour of Amsterdam, Belgium, and Paris. Current cost of the trip: (excluding hostels in Belgium and Paris) less than $100!
Any money-saving travel tips for Mike’s upcoming adventure? Share them in the comments.