Summer is not over yet, folks! There’s still time to travel before the semester starts, but you might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have the money to go anywhere!”. Fear not, because in this article I give you useful tips and tricks on travelling on a budget that will definitely help you out next time you plan a trip on a tight budget. We’re all university students after all – in our shared money struggles experiences – so in this article I’ve got you covered with practical tips when deciding to travel on a budget.
1) Plan your budget (properly)!
What do I mean by budgeting ‘properly’? For starters it’s important to know how much you can afford to spend in total. For example, 90 euros for a 3-day trip to Berlin will leave you with 30 euros per day (excluding transport and accommodation). Identify the total amount of money you have and how much you’d realistically be able to spend in a day to find the number of days you can go on your trip. Even a day trip can be super fun, so spending the night somewhere is not entirely necessary. Many people I’ve spoken to at Jacobs have gone on day trips to Amsterdam and had a blast, so it’s entirely doable if you set your mind to it – and cheaper than booking accommodation!
2) Make use of your semester ticket:
I completely regret not using my semester ticket as much as I should’ve in my two years here, but it is seriously one of the most useful means of travelling on a budget. Jacobs’ semester ticket grants you free transport to and within a large radius of German towns – even outside of Bremen. Provided you are only travelling on a regional train (the slower, less cool ones) and not the fast-speed ICE trains, you can get to your destination for free.
A good place to go to would be Hamburg, and you can even visit Amsterdam by taking the regional train from Bremen Hauptbahnhof (the main station) to Osnabrück, and another to Hengelo – all for free. From Hengelo you can go to Amsterdam Central for about €25. The total time for this trip should take you around 7 hours.
If, however, you were to use the regular train to get there without your semester ticket, you would still usually have to make two changes and pay upwards of €60. The total travel time would be around 5 hours.
Ultimately, if you’re travelling on a budget, you should be prepared to go the extra mile (literally!). I’ve travelled on very tight budget before, and it can be so fun despite the many efforts you’ll have to make, especially when trying to save money on transportation. In my opinion, the payoff is incredibly worth it.
3) Make use of cheap or free accommodation:
If you have a friend in a city you’d like to travel to, ask them if you can stay at theirs! Most often than not, they’ll be happy to have you over for a few nights for free. Besides, it’s always worth asking – even if they say no, it’s better to know the outcome than to wonder what it could’ve been. It’s always polite to offer to pay a little for the time you’d be spending, no matter how hospitable or close to you the person is. Where I come from, we’d never accept money from friends who ask to stay over but we always offer to pay something if we’re the ones asking them.
A customary practice we usually do in my culture is to give the host something – whether it be making them dinner or giving them a small gift to thank them! I love this custom of generosity because it doesn’t require much money but really tells them you’re grateful for their hospitality.
Budget hotels or renting a room or apartment (on AirBnB, for example), is also a great way to save money. The good thing about renting a room or apartment is that instead of buying food from restaurants you can make your own! Food prices across most of Europe are very expensive, so it’s certainly a tip to keep in mind when choosing travel accommodation.
4) Travel during off-peak seasons or during weekdays:
Travelling during off-peak seasons or weekdays will not only save you money because there are usually more discount offers available during these times, but it might also be more enjoyable for you because places will be less crowded, less chaotic, and easier to navigate. Plus, there’s always the added benefit of going places where not many people are around to truly enjoy the environment and experience around you!
5) Book in advance:
Although you can get discount offers during off-peak times, if you do happen to be travelling during peak season or if you don’t want to rely on possible deals, then booking your accommodation and/or flight much earlier will save you so much more money than booking it last-minute.
I’m sure many of us international students have had to deal with booking flights before coming to Germany, and some of us (myself included) have had to book our flights way earlier in advance to save on expensive flight ticket costs.
I hope these tips have been useful to you! I absolutely love travelling even though I don’t do it as often as I should, being at Jacobs opens many opportunities for travelling, whether you’ve got a large or small budget. With our semester ticket, the option to buy cheap flight tickets from airlines like RyanAir, and probably knowing many people across Europe who’d be happy to have us crash their place for a couple nights, we should really make the most out of our university experience. Good luck with your next trip – I wish you the safest (and most fun) travels!