If the best things in life are free, shouldn’t being broke not be an issue? Well, not exactly. As nice as the sentiment behind that is, let’s be real. You need some cash to do things like go to concerts, have drinks with friends, and travel. Which leads me to my next point—hyped up vacation expectations. How are you supposed to create an epic Instagram feed this summer on a tight budget?
I mean, you could always opt for a staycation to save on travel expenses and hope the weather doesn’t suck, but what if you could have your cake and eat it too? The cake is not a lie here. These four ways to have an incredible summer vacation without putting a huge dent in your wallet are beyond rewarding.
1. Choose upcoming locations
Google “best budget travel destinations” and you’ll get tons of amazing suggestions. Problem is, so will most other people looking to travel on the cheap. Which ends up with you being stuck trying to find a tiny spot on a crowded beach overrun with towels from obnoxious early morning spot-claimers who can’t even be bothered to show up before noon (rant over). If that annoys you too, consider checking out some of the locations that are still (mostly) off the radar of the tourist hordes.
Coastal spots like Herceg Novi, Montenegro, Klaipeda, Lithuania, and Comporta, Portugal are quickly gaining popularity, so getting there before they start trending en masse is a perfect excuse to discover a new spot that wasn’t even on your travel bucket list.
When you get to your destination, make use of the great freebies, like visiting museums and historic sites or just lounging beachside. If you head to Comporta, you might want to make time to visit Lisbon and go on one of the free walking tours (but don’t be stingy—tip your guide). Remember to bring your student ID along and be on the lookout for student discounts wherever you go.
Getting there without breaking your budget is definitely doable if you are flexible and don’t mind bus/train travel to get to and from the airport. Thinking about chilling in Klaipeda this August? You can catch flights from Copenhagen to Kaunas on Ryanair for less than €50 round trip!
2. Spend the summer volunteering
If the thought of simply lounging by a pool doesn’t form part of your #summergoals, how about using the summer to do some good while you travel abroad? There are quite a few sites where you can find volunteer holidays, and Workaway is one of the most popular and best rated among them. It shares opportunities to go on a cultural exchange and help a community by volunteering for a cause you care about.
For €32 a year, you can register your profile and hosts looking for volunteers can contact you if you’re a match, or you can reach out to them directly. Typically, you’ll be expected to work around five hours a day to earn your food and accommodations (depending on the host), which leaves plenty of time to explore your surroundings, get to know the locals, and even experience the party scene.
You’ll have to research your visa requirements and anything else before you embark on your adventure, so be sure to read up on what you’ll need ahead of time. For more, check out www.workaway.info/
3. Plan a road trip
Not only is this an easy way to snap some incredible shots for your stories, but it’s pretty easy to pull off a good road trip with a few essentials. Have a designated driver? And friends willing to split the bill for car rental and gas? If it’s yes to both, you’re halfway there. Now, all you need to do is Google the route, pinning the stops you’d like to hit up so you can book your accommodations in advance.
Apps like Hotel Tonight make finding affordable, last-minute rooms a cinch. Or, if you’re the outdoorsy type, you can camp out in one of the many incredible locations available in Europe (be sure to check out the reviews first). Want to take your pet along? Road trips make taking Fido with you way more manageable and there are plenty of places you can stay with your four-legged friend. And of course, no truly memorable road trip is complete without a soundtrack, so make your playlist ahead of time and get ready to roll out.
4. Make new friends abroad
Hostels can be great for backpackers, as long as there’s somewhere to stash your valuables. Bonus points if you can use a shared kitchen to save money on dining out. There are also some good deals AirBnB depending on the cities you’re interested in and what your housing requirements are. With AirBnB, just renting a room for a few nights is usually not too steep a price to pay for a chance to stay with locals to experience how they live. Be sure to ask your host for advice on the best, budget-friendly spots to eat and shop for essentials.
If you’re comfortable with couchsurfing, it could be a budget-conscious student traveler’s dream. Just be sure to check out your host’s reviews and experience beforehand, or it could end up a nightmare stay. Since staying with a complete stranger can be intimidating, it’s a good idea to follow a few basic safety rules of thumb.
Couchsurfing not your sport? Then how about becoming a pet-sitter this summer? If you’re responsible and like animals, house-sitting is another great way to visit a new city and care for a pet while the owners are on vacation. Nomador has plenty of listings available, and you even get the first three applications on the house.
Now that you have some inspiration on how to have an epic summer holiday on a student budget, get out there and start living it up!
How will you be spending your summer? Let us know in the comments 🙂
Linda is a marketer and former student nomad from New Jersey. Having studied in US, Spain, and Denmark, she’s learned how to thrive in different settings and find her calling as a writer and editor. When she’s not reading up on the latest tech news and productivity hacks, she can be found hanging out with her dog and enjoying all the foodie hotspots in Copenhagen.