Every student’s dream is to travel around Europe and be immersed in the culture, food, landscape and even the night life. Studying at the University of Pécs means you will be in the heart of Europe. Travelling does not have to be lavish and expensive. In fact, in many cases I saved money whilst travelling. Too good to be true? Here’s how...
Travel during off-peak seasons
Normally from March-May and September-November are the off-peak seasons and travel tickets as well as accommodation will be lower than other times throughout the year. Another advantage is that there will not be a huge influx of tourists so you can actually enjoy yourself without the queues and people getting in the way of your photographs.
Hit the road
Yes, flying is quick and easy but what better way to discover the true essence of Europe than by driving through the landscapes. Buses are a great way to do this. ‘Flixbus’ has connections to basically anywhere in Europe so it’s not much of a hassle. There is a ‘Flixbus’ app which makes booking easy. If you want to go shorter distances, there is ‘BlaBlaCar’ which is a ride sharing application where you can get a ride with someone who is already going the same direction as you. Trains are also useful; however, the destinations are quite limited so be sure to check that out before you travel. Hitting the road allows you to take all those essentials you need whilst travelling without having to worry about the weight or the contents as people do on airplanes. However, if you do want to travel by plane, be sure to check the budget airlines such as ‘Ryanair’ and ‘Wizzair’, as sometimes they have great deals!
Use public transport
When you are in another country, the best way to get around is to use their local public transport. It’s tempting to just get a taxi which will take you directly to where you want to go, but taxi drivers can hike the prices especially when they know you are a tourist. It can be daring trying out the public transport for the first time but that is what we travel for right? To learn and to immerse ourselves into the unknown.
Hostels over Hotels
Student hostels are the most budget friendly options when travelling abroad and they’re also a great way to meet fellow student travellers. Hostels are great because most of them even plan activities and bar crawls which you can just tag along to. It creates a sense of community and some of my best friends I’ve met whilst travelling were from hostels. Sure, hostels are not for everyone. Some people need their privacy more than others. If you look on ‘Booking.com’ you will find great deals on both hostels and hotels, so you can stick within your budget whilst having your privacy at the same time. Another great option is ‘Airbnb’. This is especially good if you’re traveling in a group as it can be cheaper. What if you plan to spend no money at all on accommodation? ‘Couchsurfing’ allows you to stay on people’s couches without spending a single Euro! All it takes is a simple sign up and account creation and you’re ready to go. There’s something for everyone!
Cook your own meals
We all love to treat ourselves to a cheeky take away here and there. But these can really add up especially when you’re traveling. An effective way to stay within your budget is to eat out once a day and prepare the rest of your meals yourself. And when you do eat out, look for specials, they are everywhere! Hostels have kitchens with basic appliances which can go a long way for your budget. Finding hostels with free breakfast can also save you some Euros. Eating like a local from the markets and the supermarkets completely adds to the experience of travelling.
Visit the cheaper European cities
Not all European cities are created equal. What I learnt is that the Eastern European cities are cheaper that the Western European ones. Here are some of the cheapest European cities that will take your money further: Budapest, Prague, Bucharest, Zagreb, Belgrade, Warsaw, Kraków, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Porto and Bratislava just to name a few.
One of the best ways to travel on a budget is to volunteer. Normally volunteering helps you to make a difference and at the same time you can get accommodation and food for free. This is the best way to visit cities/ towns where you want to stay for more than a week. ‘Workaway’ and ‘AIESEC’ are both great websites where you can find hosts and apply for volunteering roles depending on your skills.
Not everything costs money
Having fun doesn’t always have to come at the expense of money. All cities have a list of free things to do so make sure to check those out. Most of them give student discounts or let students enter for free with their student cards, so make sure to bring yours! Some examples of possible free activities include:
· Art galleries
· Walking tours
· Street Concerts
· Monument seeing
· Cathedrals and churches
· A day at the beach
Travelling is one of the best things one can do for themselves. In fact, it’s a long-time investment. So, no matter how big or small your budget, know that your money is not going to waste. I want to encourage those who think that travelling is for the privilege, to step out of that mindset and be creative. The best experiences I’ve had whilst traveling was on a budget. But be warned, it is addictive!
Written by Samantha Foster
International Student Ambassador from South Africa
University of Pécs, Faculty of Engineering and IT