Thinking about traveling as a student can be quite daunting – not only do you have quite a lot of responsibilities for uni and not a lot of free time on your hands, but on top of that – almost no money to start with.
I know the struggle, I’ve been there. I’ve had a few points in time when I can vividly remember only having about €3-€4 on my account for a whole week until my next small paycheck (which was going to be about €400 at the time). As you can imagine, these €400 wouldn’t last me for too long either. Especially if you’re someone like me, who cannot stay in one place for too long and wants to travel constantly.
Let me give you some background on my story…
A few years ago I moved all by myself from Bulgaria to Austria to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Vienna.
There were some good and some not so good things that came with this. The bad news was that Austria was double, if not triple as expensive as what I was used to and what my parents were making. And I had to quickly find a job, just because I couldn’t allow my mom to send me almost her whole salary so I could pay for my rent and food here.
The good news was that I moved to a place with a much higher standard of living, meaning that finding even a part-time job would be a great start.
Fast forward, 4 years later, I recently finished my bachelor’s degree (yayy, finally!).
About a year ago I had this idea that after my graduation I wanted to go traveling very far, for at least a few months. And I was on a mission to save up as much money as possible to make this wish come true.
Here we are today, 1 year and quite a bit of savings later.
Currently none of us are able to travel. But hey, let’s hope things go back to normal soon and we’re all able to visit those places we’ve dreamt of visiting.
Until then, now is the time for you to save up as much as possible for your future trips.
If you haven’t seen my blog post on why Bulgaria should be your first travel destination after lockdown – give it a read. I can assure you you won’t need much money for that one!
I will share with you exactly how I managed to save up quite a bit in a relatively short amount of time.
Before deciding to dedicate all of my savings to one big trip, I would apply the same ‘method’ of saving up throughout the whole duration of my studies and I was able to travel at least once every 1 or 2 months, depending on how stressful it was at university. I would visit at least 5 countries a year and take quite a few trips whenever I could.
So let’s get into the juicy details…
First of all, I would like to point out that living and working in a country with a high standard of living is a huge privilege. If I had stayed in Bulgaria and worked there instead, I would have probably been able to save up less than half of this amount.
The country you are currently working in plays a huge role, so please keep this in mind. However, I am sure you can still make it work, especially if you are motivated enough!
After this needed disclaimer, I’d like to share the most important things I did in order to save up that much money for traveling as a student.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL AS A STUDENT
1. I diversified my income.
There was not a point in time in the past 4 years that I have had only one job. As a matter of fact, at one point I had 4 part-time jobs at once.
I did everything possible and took pretty much every opportunity to make a few more euros. During this period I was a waitress at a few places, I did babysitting, worked at a logistics company, did some promotion work and more.
I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is to have at least a few streams of income. I do realize this might be difficult or impossible in some cases, but if you could somehow make it work – go for it.
For example, if you’re a native English speaker you can teach English online at convenient hours for you. I am not a native speaker, otherwise I would have probably jumped on that bandwagon long ago.
The opportunities to make money are endless and the more you put in the work – the better.
2. I spent as little as possible.
I almost never went shopping. If I did, it would be like 2-3 times a year and I wouldn’t splurge on anything. I’d only focus on buying the essentials and I’d try to get neutral pieces that matched easily with all of my other clothes. This way I didn’t feel the need to even go shopping or get new clothes.
I was also trying to be very smart with my groceries. I planned my meals ahead and made grocery lists every time I went to the store, just so I could buy only the most necessary things.
Overall, I just stopped buying things I don’t need. I do not own that much clothing for a girl and life is so much easier this way. It helps me to travel light as well.
3. I didn’t go travelling for over 6 months
This was actually unheard for me. I am known for always being on the go, always looking for new adventures and places to visit.
But i knew that if I wanted to make my dream come true and travel overseas for at least a few months, I had to make the sacrifice of not traveling anywhere for quite a while.
It was quite weird getting asked “When is your next trip” and answering “I don’t have anything planned” for months on end!
I was so used to spending a few hundred euros every now and then on a trip, but I was trying to hold onto every single cent.
4. I was cooking at home and in bulk
To be honest, I was never one to go out and spend my money on restaurants and cafes anyways.
But while trying to save up for my big trip, I legit didn’t go almost anywhere.
I know, it might sound extreme, but that’s how dedicated I was.
So what I did instead was I was cooking at home a few times a week and I was bringing my own food at work. This way I also didn’t have to spend on getting lunch there, as it can be quite expensive.
5. I tried selling some stuff
Not gonna lie, this didn’t work all that well for me. I only managed to sell a few things.
But it is still a great way to minimize your belongings while making some money.
I would certainly recommend reducing the amount of stuff you own and selling some unused items if possible.
This way you will even be less tempted to be buying anything else.
6. I shop at second-hand shops
I am generally not a huge fan of big popular clothing brands that have taken over the market. I am not going to mention any names but you know what I am talking about.
It is much better for your pocket AND for the environment to look for things at second-hand shops.
Once I found a shirt I had previously seen at the “original” store for €15 and guess how much it was at the second-hand shop? It was only €1.50!
Last winter I got myself a warm winter coat for just €35. One that would cost me more than €100 at a normal store.
You can find absolute gems in second-hand shops, so definitely give them a try!
P.S. A big part of the clothing you see me wearing in my Instagram photos is actually from second-hand shops. 😉
7. I had a separate savings account
Every month, as soon as I got my paycheck, I would instantly put as much of my income as possible into the savings account. I would leave only the bare minimum I needed to live normally and everything else I would put away as if it never existed.
Other small things that contributed bit by bit:
8. No university fees
I know that university in many countries is VERY expensive. I deem it only fair to mention that I am not in any student debt. Universities in Austria cost almost nothing, so this is a huge plus.
9. I don’t drink coffee
Many people love enjoying their takeaway coffee every day. Here in Vienna, this usually costs around €3-€4 per cup of coffee. Imagine, in a year this accumulates to €1000 – €1500. Even if you weren’t getting a coffee every single day, it is still a lot of money.
I am glad I don’t like the taste of coffee and don’t drink it altogether.
If you do, though, I’d most certainly recommend preparing it at home and bringing it with you in a reusable cup.
10. I don’t own a car
Vienna is a very well connected city and you don’t really need a car to get around. I do pay a semester ticket for the public transport, but this costs me way less than if I were to own my own vehicle.
11. Whenever I go out at night, I wouldn’t drink much
This is a personal choice we all make for ourselves. Personally, I am not one to drink excessively, and I’d always limit myself to maximum 2 drinks when going out. Not only are drinks here expensive, but I also find it unreasonable to spend that much on alcohol.
12. I don’t buy much makeup
I know the temptation of wanting to try a new color of lipstick or get a new mascara. I used to be like that for some time.
However, for the past years I have cut down my ‘makeup collection’ to the absolute minimum – I only own one piece of all the most necessary things I use on a daily basis and that’s it. I restock whenever a product runs out, but other than that, I am not interested in getting any more makeup. It only stacks up and often you can’t even use everything up that you bought.
13. I was tracking my expenses and putting everything I could towards my dream
Last but not least, I’d write down and track my monthly expenses. I would then see things that were not really necessities to be spending on and tried cutting back on those as well.
I was so dedicated to making my dream trip come true that I would literally put everything possible towards it.
I know that all of this might sound a bit overwhelming and quite extreme at times, but to be honest.. Once I set myself the goal of saving up at least a few thousand euros to travel, the motivation was unreal.
I cannot even believe I managed to save up that much, but once you set your mind to something, you can resist any temptations.
My biggest advice to you would be the following: see where your money goes and figure out what you can live without, then cut back on it. We often buy way too many things we don’t need, without ever realizing.
Try living a bit more minimalistically, try spending a bit less and making a bit more.
Working and studying at the same time can be hard, but at least we don’t have any bigger responsibilities yet.
Whatever we set our minds to, we can achieve!