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Having Fun Overseas Without Breaking the Bank

Let it be known: living abroad is, generally, not something you do when you’re on a money-saving spree. After all – once you get over there, you’re probably not going to have a job, you’ll want to enjoy yourself, and you’ll be unfamiliar with the commercial environment and thus less  savvy when it comes to insider deals and non-tourist prices. All that said, there ARE a few ways that you can conserve the cash you brought overseas while still enjoying what your experience as an international student has to offer.

Eat  In

Yes, eat in. I know that sounds boring, but really – it isn’t. It’s fun! Especially when you include all your new international friends (who are preferably Italian and will return the favor with pasta way more delicious than the prepackaged Mac & Cheese you fixed for them). Because, while eating out is fun and super convenient, you’re paying about quadruple the price for basically the same product – food. Instead, invite some people over and have a communal supper. Cook your breakfast and lunch. Save the money for some experience you can’t replicate at home.

Pre-party

Pre-partying is KEY to not blowing 100 bucks on a night out. Here’s the deal: the price of a beer in any country is infinitely higher when you buy it at a pub than when you buy it from a shop. And a glass of wine? You can buy a bottle of wine at the store for the same price as a glass of wine at the bar. You can really save a lot of money by simply buying your booze at the grocery store and have some friends over to drink it before you go out. Then just buy a few drinks while you’re actually out. And if you really want to save a lot of money – take a flask to the bar and order Cokes all night. Just watch out for the disapproving bartender.

Cut the Discretionary Expenses

I know some of you are addicted to shopping for clothes and shoes and jewelry and generally what some might say are unnecessary additions to your wardrobe, but if you want to save money living abroad, you really should make an effort to cut back on your weekly shopping sprees. I know it’s hard – I know you think you won’t find that pair of shoes in a vintage shop in Paris anywhere else in the whole world – but you will, and besides, you could afford two weeks worth of food with that money. However, if you must spend money on clothes shopping, try to do it in stores that you can’t find where you live. This way, at least you’ll know that you couldn’t have just bought the same item at home, where you’ll have an income.

Do Your Research

Traveling itself – which, hopefully, you’ll be doing a lot of – is one of the most expensive parts of being an international student: you have to pay for a way to get there, you have to pay for a place to sleep (on top of the money you’re already spending on rent), you won’t be able to save money on meals by preparing them, and you might be subject to fees to get into whatever touristic attraction you want to visit. Further, taking all-inclusive tours in which you pay to have someone set up all your transport, lodging and meals often tack on a heavy price for such services. But there’s a way around all this – just do your research. Quick internet searches as simple as “cheapest way to get to Sevilla” or “inexpensive sushi in Lisbon” will turn up many options and will give you a birds-eye view of what the city has to offer. The StudentRoads community section will let you ask questions and connect with people to get tips you will not find elsewhere  – and you are already on our website so that is about as easy as it gets. With a little advance planning you can save a ton of money, find discounts, and party a little less guiltily.

Ask a Local 

Getting chummy with a local is about the best step you can take toward minimizing all those tacked-on expenses reserved only for the tourist class, especially when you don’t speak the language that well when you arrive. All those agencies that offer all-inclusive trips to destinations outside the city for tourists like you? Those are much more expensive than, say, a local rideshare or bus route. And a local really comes in handy grocery shopping at the market – take him or her shopping with you and you’re definitely less apt to blow ten bucks on a wedge of cheese that you hadn’t realized, at the time of purchase, smelled like a pungent pair of dirty socks.

[Top image credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Second image credit: Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Thinkstock]

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