Although there are a lot of awesome scholarship opportunities available for studying abroad, we’re all students and mostly likely find ourselves on some sort of budget. Throughout my first month here in Hyderabad, India I have learned some extremely valuable lessons about money and budgeting.
Here are my best seven tips for having fun while traveling on a budget:
1. Have a Budget to Begin With
First of all, know what you’re aiming to spend for the semester. You’d be surprised at how many students begin their semester abroad without considering how much they want to spend. This can be detrimental if you are on a tight budget because your expenditures can add up really fast.
2. Start SLOW!
Speaking of things adding up really fast, this can be especially true when you first arrive to your university abroad. Everything is going to be so new and exciting and you’re going to want to experience everything! While this adventurous spirit and curiosity is great, don’t forget that you’re here for the whole semester! There is no reason to cram everything into your first two weekends. When you rush through all of these experiences, you’ll inevitably become both tired and broke. I promise you’ll enjoy your time more if you spread out these activities!
3. Know What You’re Willing to Spend
Okay, this one depends a little more on your study abroad location, but in general, know what kind of money you’re willing to spend on an item. For example, if you’re going to a market and you see a pair of pants you like, price it out in your head and decide how much you think the pants are worth before you go speak to the shop owner. Be respectful, but if you’re able to do a little bargaining, it can definitely be worth it!
4. Don’t Fall to Tourist Traps
Sometimes bargaining is not an option though. In these situations, it is still important to notice where you are purchasing your souvenirs from. Throughout your program, your AIFS Resident Directors are sure to organize fun outings for you in which you may visit some of the more touristy spots. These are really cool opportunities, but things tend to be overpriced in these areas, plus you’ll feel better about your purchases if you know you are supporting a local culture!
5. Learn to Say “No”
This rule is so important! Often times, people will target international visitors and will try to persuade you into buying their trinkets, but if you don’t want it, then say no! Don’t let them talk you into a purchase you don’t want. Furthermore, learn how to say no to your peers as well. When you establish your budget, stick to it. It’s okay not to go out to dinner every night, even if those around you are.
6. Spend on Experiences, Not Objects
This may be more of a personal preference, but I really think you will appreciate the experiences you have more than you will the plastic elephant you buy at the market. I found it helpful to sit down at the beginning of my semester and plan out all of the trips I wanted to take for the remainder of my time abroad. Not only did this ensure that I was getting the best prices on flights, but it also helped me see what money I had left after I confirmed I was seeing all the cities and sites that I wanted to see.
7. But Still Enjoy Yourself.
Finally, still remember that you’re abroad! Don’t make a budget that is too restrictive and allow yourself a little wiggle room if you can. I’m not talking anything major, but if you go a little over budget, don’t beat yourself up too bad. This is still a once of a lifetime experience and you don’t want to regret not taking any opportunities!