Budgeting tips – Exchange and Travels in Europe

Hamish Kelly
Exchange to Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
Semester 2, 2015

Money, money, money! – I can safely assume that this is a subject relevant to most exchange students as their time abroad comes to an end.  In this blog, I will offer some personal insights into how I’ve managed my money this trip in Europe specifically – including some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Additionally I will shed some light on some ways to make your dollar go that bit further and best maximise your experience!

 

The best way to manage money abroad is to write a budget – having a paln and STICKING TO IT! One of the biggest errors I made during my time abroad was not implementing and following a budget.  While a rigid plan seems in direct opposition to the spontaneous nature of travel – I think this is particularly important if you plan on doing some exploration prior to exchange. During my 3 months of travel prior to exchange I did not think twice about the money I spent on food and entertainment! While spur of the moment events and expenses do arise (and are all part of the thrill of travelling) – keeping to a planned budget will certainly give you more money to play with once you finally arrive at your exchange destination. When writing a budget, overestimating your expenses slightly is key. This will allow some breathing space if unexpected costs arise such as getting sick or deciding at the last minute to catch that ferry to Finland! Fellow ACU student Tom Hedditch have both found ourselves living off 60 Euro’s a week – which has forced us to be more creative with how we spend our money on a day to day basis.

 

Another positive money saving strategy is share meals and host dinner parties with larger groups of students! Over the last few weeks I have invited to a number of international food nights where exchange students bring a dish of a particular theme or of their home country. Cooking in bulk is not only a great way to economise and save money, but has been one of the best ways to meet other students in the exchange program! Last night my Polish friends hosted an international food night – with delicacies from across the globe. These parties/nights have definitely been one of the highlights of my exchange.

 

If you’re keen on travelling around Europe and outside your home exchange country, planning ahead is crucial. Personally, I think that backpacking around Europe prior or after exchange is the most economical if you are wanting to go to a number of different countries. When travelling before/after exchange it is easy to catch cheap modes of transport (buses are generally your best bet!) between countries – this is instead of catching a flight or bus to another country every weekend! I have spoken to a number of students who have travelled extensively during the exchange semester. Most have found this approach quite costly, and more importantly have not been able to spend enough time to truly appreciate their travel destinations! However, if you have the money to explore other countries on your weekends (hopefully long-weekends if the time-table gods look down on you favourably!) there is still plenty of time.

 

While the subject of money can often be mundane and seemingly grim– I hope these tips will ultimately make for a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience.