By Brian Handoyo
Calling all adventurous Sauderites out there! Tired of spending your breaks around Vancouver every single year? Want to experience new places, food and culture? Then, what are you waiting for? Take a trip to some exotic destination on your next break from school! Expensive, you say? Well, here are just ten tips out of many for travelling on a student budget:
1. Bring friends: Travelling with a group means splitting expenses, from your hotel room to cabs to food. Though your biggest expense will probably be your flight, you have the chance to save big at your destination by going Dutch with travel buddies. Plus, you will feel much safer going to a new destination with others at your side, not to mention that you will have more fun sharing these experiences with your friends—the more the merrier!
2. Plan ahead: There is not enough emphasis that can be put on this step. Planning your trip ahead is very important in reducing the cost. Many airline tickets are cheaper when you book them ahead of time. Try websites such as Expedia and Hotwire to find the best deals on tickets. Accommodations are also something that you can save money on by planning ahead. It is not worth it to stay in some expensive luxurious hotel if you are going to spend most of your trip travelling around anyway. It is also smart to plan what you are going to do and places you are going to visit on the trip. Save your money on places you really want to see and things you want to do. Then do a little more research on how you can get them for a cheaper price. For example, if you want to see the Great Wall of China, do not take a shuttle bus that is famously used by tourists. Most of the time, they will charge you a much higher price.
3. Transportation: Taking cab rides to places that you want to go can drain your cash fast. Research on local public transportation and if none exists, maybe rent a car.
4. Buy a guide: Sometimes things do not go according to plan and a guide is handy in these situations, especially if you are going to a new destination. It could save you from spending money on places and things that you will not be interested in.
5. Pack lightly: Baggage fees are the worst, especially if you are not expecting them. If you think you have packed lightly, think again. There is always something else you can leave at home. Plus, extra space means more souvenirs that you can take home to family and friends.
6. Load up a currency card: Unlike on a credit card, you can only spend the amount loaded onto a pre-paid currency card, plus family members can add to your travel budget as needed. There are many around, so choose wisely and select those that don’t charge for usage or cash withdrawal, and are protected by a PIN, like MasterCard, my Travel Cash, and Travelex.
7. Learn exchange rates: Familiarize yourself with exchange rates of whatever countries you are visiting to get the best rates when exchanging money. Traveler’s cheques and credit cards can cost you a lot in commission. Bringing a debit card and using local ATMs to withdraw funds is a safer and cheaper option.
8. Invest in an International Student ID Card: Your student status can get you discounts on flights, hotels, transportation and admission to museums, concerts and other attractions. If you are staying in Canada, your university ID should work, but for overseas travel, consider an International Student ID Card, available through Travel CUTS.
9. Couch surf: If you want to further cut your accommodation costs, you can do so with a night on the couch. Try websites such as couchsurfing.org and liaise with thousands of travelers or locals worldwide who are happy to host tourists on their couch for the night.
10. Join student travel groups: Benefits of joining travel groups, such as International Friends and the International Students House Travel Club, are countless. Not only are these trips heavily subsidized, but you can also meet interesting people and participate in guided tours. Look them up online!
So what are you waiting for? Go plan your next exotic trip!