How I Saved for Travel as a Student

It’s so weird that I’m going off to be a grown-up this year. I’ve been a student my whole like and now I have to be an adult and presumably have to try and figure out taxes and how to use a washing machine. Which sounds dreadful.

As graduation draws ever near, I keep thinking about what I’m going to do next. People are always like “So what are you doing after uni” “oh, i’m going to Australia” “No, I mean after that” “Probably Morocco?” You get the idea. And as a student, the past two years after my first trip galavanting off to Rome, have been filled with mad wanderlust. Like. Fo real. Which as many of my fellow frequent trip-takers know, comes with one repeated question in various forms…

“So… how do you afford all this travel?”

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Making friends in Brussels

Let’s get one thing straight – I come from a privileged background. I’m lucky enough to live in the UK where we have the NHS, I’m lucky enough to come from a middle class background, I’m lucky enough to get to attend university doing what I love, and I know that I’m lucky. I have, however, 100% paid for my travel myself (apart from when I went to Amsterdam and my mum gave me some money towards it instead of a birthday or Christmas present) – as a student.

I know this isn’t going to apply to everyone and that there are people out there who’s loans don’t even cover their rent, but this is just what I did personally. I’m hoping that some people out there will read it and be like “Oh hey, I could do that!” – That’s when I know I’ll have succeeded!

Seljalandsfoss | Maps of Pangea
Seljalandsfoss
  1. Get a job

Sorry!!! It’s the hard truth. “But I don’t want to disrupt my studies!” I hear you cry. These were my very thoughts too, young one. Everyone has different assignments, but even working 1 day a week won’t disrupt you that much – just don’t go crazy. (Like I do every December and promptly have a meltdown on Christmas day). There’s also plenty of resources out there (such as savethestudent.org) that give you tips on how to earn a little extra dough, like taking surveys, or trying out matched betting. I haven’t tried that personally myself (I have NOT got a head for maths) but I know other people have made £££ with it.

Me and my friend at our summer job 2015 aka How I paid for New York and a flat deposit
Me and my friend at our summer job 2015 aka How I paid for New York

2. Sell what you don’t need.

How many of us have those heels we vow we’ll save for a special occasion? Well let’s be honest, you won’t be able to fit them in your carry on. A few weeks ago I headed home for a MEGA clear out of my room… go by this rule: if you haven’t used it in 6 months, get rid of it. Books can go on Amazon, DVDs/Games/Electronics can go to CeX or Magpie, and clothes can go on eBay, ASOS Marketplace, or Depop! You could have a yard sale, pop up your stuff on Facebook (I’m planning on doing this next week because I’ve heard people have the most success on here), or gumtree.

I maintain that there is SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE that will buy whatever it is I want to get rid of (It’s just a case of finding them).

3. Budget like your life depends on it.

I am sooOOOOOoooooo shit at this. Only in the last few weeks have I actually managed to stick to my budget I’ve been trying to implement since September. Work out how much you spend on food, how much your average bills are and throw in a little leeway for fun, then when you’re done…

4. Get it out in CASH and put the change in a money box.

Parting with cash is so much harder than throwing away money on a bit of plastic. Once you have a physical £30 or whatever in your hand, suddenly that £10 top and coffee from Starbucks seems a lot more! Then when you have that odd 50p left over, throw it in a money box. I did this last term and I had £10 in it after 5 weeks (which was a nice little present from past me to future me who couldn’t afford to eat the week before payday lol)

If this won’t work for you, open a savings account (or buy some premium bonds) that’s difficult for you to get money out of. I’ve got some money in premium bonds, which takes like a week to appear in your bank account. Say goodbye to impulse buys!

look at mah cute money box
look at mah cute money box

5. Eat smart and meal prep

Do an online shop from Asda and get the 3kg bag of wholemeal pasta. Get all the non-perishables. Buy chopped tomatoes and baked beans by the tonne. Did you know Sainsbury’s sell cornflakes for 25p? Well, they do, and they ain’t bad.

Once you’ve shopped, prep. Make a HUGE batch of curry/Bolognese/stew and freeze that shit. I’ll usually just chuck a load of veg, coconut milk, chopped tomatoes and flavouring in a pan, and I’ve got a week’s worth of curry. Dream.

Oh, and you CAN eat healthily whilst spending as little money as possible. I eat mostly vegan and I’ve cut out most of my sugar now… and I spent max £20 a week on food.

6. You don’t need that £3 latte!

Think about it: every coffee here is a coffee you could be having in Paris.

The coffee I got yesterday because I'm really bad at taking my own advice.
The coffee I got yesterday because I’m really bad at taking my own advice.

7. You DON’T need the skirt, new shoes or to be on that new trend everyone else is.

Once you stop shopping all the time, the easier it gets to avoid. I haven’t bought clothes in ages and I’ve really found my own style (lots of jeans and striped shirts), which helps avoid fast fashion that ends up stewing in your wardrobe unworn.

8.  And if you really want to buy something, wait at least 3 days.

I usually find something like a cool passport cover or a funky shirt and i’m like “Shit man. I need that in my life. This item would complete me.” Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. So sleep on it and come back in a few days. Do you still want it? (Usually not)

9. If you go out, don’t drink.

I’m really bad at this one too, mainly because my friends at uni always make me feel bad for not drinking. Last week I blew £15 on my budget on drinking and I felt so bad! So I try to either not go out (and do work instead) or I just have a water/coke. (And yes, I’m still really fun)

A photo of me out drinking because I am yet to completely master this one
A photo of me out drinking because I am yet to completely master this one

10. Remember… still have fun!

Despite never really going out (and attempting to kick my coffee shop habit), I still have oodles of fun. I go to the gym, I go for walks around my city/on the beach/through the park, I find free things to do, I go to my friend’s houses and cook for them, we watch TV together, I write songs/paint/write and work on my blog! You don’t need to spend money to have a good time, I promise!

Has anyone else got any tips on how to save for travel?

Student-hood has been a wild ride, but it doesn't all have to be living off noodles. Here are some things I did to save money for travel whilst studying, I hope they give you some ideas to raise funds too!
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Liz Wilson

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