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A Beginners Guide to travelling on a budget

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As summer is approaching, plans for the holidays are being put into motion. However, especially for students, one of the biggest apprehensions attached to travel is the idea of parting with money.

There are always going to be costs associated with travel but student travel is becoming increasingly affordable with many sites advising students on many-saving tips and more and more companies offering youth or student discounts.

So long as you make conscious efforts to reduce your holiday spending, it is still possible to make your ideal holiday a reality without compromising your student loan. With this in mind, here are top eight tips for travelling on a budget.

1. Consider travelling with an interrail pass

It’s normal to feel uneasy over the prospect of forking out a large amount of money on a single pass. However, in the long-run, the benefits of purchasing an interrail pass will save you large sums of money otherwise spent on pricy individual rail or bus tickets.

Interrailing is the perfect option for students planning to embark on longer trips cross-continent or cross-country since the pass gives you unlimited rail travel on days the pass is valid. With a youth-discounted interrail pass, you can freely visit multiple destinations cheaply and quickly. Just make sure to check the official Interrail Rail Planner app, which has an up-to-date schedule of trains covered by your pass and alerts about additional reservation fares.

2. Opt for accommodation with self-catering facilities

Keep your eye out for hostels and B&Bs that offer shared kitchen facilities. This way, you can buy food cheaply in local markets or supermarkets to prepare yourself.

Rather than forking out on restaurants where one meal can cost up to twenty pounds or more in certain destinations, self-catering allows you to eat food you enjoy without worrying about its price-tag. If you’re not keen to commit to fully self-catering, a simple step you can take is to book a hotel room that is equipped with a small fridge, where you can store spreads, milk, and yoghurt to provide your own breakfast and make sandwiches for on-the-road.

Always pack some cutlery and a couple of containers in your luggage: there’s nothing worse than going to eat a bowl of pasta only to realise you've got nothing to eat it with!

3. Be smart about eating out

A holiday isn’t the same without sampling the local cuisine, so there’s no need to entirely boycott eating out.

One trick to spend less when eating out, especially in countries such as Italy and Spain, is to order a salad which will usually be served with free bread, olive oil, and balsamic. Another more obvious hack is to dine at smaller, family-run restaurants and cafes which are more likely to be hidden away in the less-busy parts of the town.

Before you depart, research weekly or daily markets which might pop up in your destination; market stalls often sell fresh food for reasonable prices, which can be eaten in outdoor seating or taken away.

4. Stay realistic

Students are prone to being unrealistic when setting goals for a holiday budget. As ideal as it sounds, ten pounds is usually going to be an unrealistic daily budget, especially in larger, popular cities where prices are high. Setting an unrealistic budget sets you up for failure and may make you feel guilty or angry.

Instead, compromise a realistic daily budget based on average prices in your destination and allow yourself some room to manoeuvre. After all, unexpected costs may crop up on some days.

5. Pre-book wherever possible

This advice goes for accommodation, tickets and events. Booking in advance reaps the benefits of online discounts and ensures that you have plenty of options to choose from. Booking accommodation on the day leaves you more vulnerable to scams and over-priced rooms.

6. Scour the internet for student deals

Many companies offer student discounts. Sites such as Student Universe are designed to direct you to these deals. You may even find discounted flights.

7. Be your own tour guide

It’s not unusual these days to fork out one hundred pounds for a tour guide to show you around a city or historical site. Being your own tour guide is an easy way to reduce your spending on holiday, plus you are more likely to retain information when it is self-taught.

Do your own research in advance and utilise signs or information packs for information. Ask at your hotel or hostel desk for leaflets or guidance from someone who knows the city.

8. Stay in a hostel dorm

Shared hostel dorms are a notoriously cheap option for overnight rest. Though hostel dorm conditions might not always stack up to conditions of hotels or B&Bs, they are a good base for your travels and also make it easier to meet like-minded young people who might have their own tips to share on budget-travel.

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