So, how to travel the world as a student… This is a topic I could go on about until the cows come home. When I talk about travelling the world as a student, I generally mean on short trips here and there rather than travelling all the time. Budgeting for long-term travel is a whole other kettle of fish. Since I’ve got a heckuva lot to get through, let’s just jump straight into it!
The most blatantly obvious way to afford to travel as a student, behind relying on the BoD (Bank of Dad), is to just save money. Yes, it sounds boring and generic af but sometimes you gotta work hard to play hard. I recently put together a humongous guide on how to easily and quickly save money for travel which you can download for free today.
Internships are a great way to kill two birds with one stone; you can travel to a new city (or even internationally) and get work experience. Travelling for internships will give you the ability to explore a new city more intimately than if you were just visiting on a short break, and you should get the weekends off to explore further afield.
You will typically have to pay for your flights and accommodation upfront but if you get an internship through your university, they should help you out with the costs. Again I can’t speak for all universities, but Exeter offers regular internships/short study abroad programmes where they pay for your flights, accommodation and all the rest. This doesn’t even seem real, right?! But it is!
From spending your summer volunteering abroad to a weekly shift in a charity shop, volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes. Although I don’t necessarily agree with voluntourism, there’s no denying that volunteering abroad is a great way to see the world and *supposedly* do something good for it as well.
There are many websites you can browse to find summer volunteering placements. I personally haven’t used any of these before (and this list is by no means exhaustive) so you will have to do your own research on what is best…
Workaway: Workaway is one of the best websites to visit to find volunteering, work and cultural exchanges around the world. In return for helping around the house or the garden, helping people practice their English or any kind of other odd jobs, you will receive free accommodation and sometimes payment on top of that.
Worldpackers: Worldpackers offers three main different types of volunteering placements in return for free accommodation: Work Exchange (which is basically the same as what Workaway offers), Social Impact (volunteering in NGOs, schools and social projects) and Eco Programs (helping out in eco-villages, farms and permaculture institutes).
WWOOF: WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. As a WWOOFer, you live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer. You have to pay to get to the farm, but once you are there, everything else is covered!
Projects Abroad: As one of the largest volunteer abroad organisations in the world, Projects Abroad send over 10,000 people abroad each year on a variety of service projects and internships overseas.
Help Exchange (HelpX): HelpX is pretty much the ultimate online directory of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
GVI: GVI offer both volunteer and internship placements abroad from just one week to up to a year, as well as specifically designed youth projects for those under 18.
Go Overseas: Go Overseas offers a wide range of programs abroad including studying abroad, volunteering abroad, teaching abroad, TEFL courses, interning abroad, gap years, high school abroad and language schools. They really have everything!
Volunteering Solutions: Volunteering Solutions is similar to GVI in that it offers both volunteer opportunities perfectly geared towards high school, college and university students, and internships for medical, pre-med, nursing, physiotherapy, dental and journalism students. On top of that, Volunteering Solutions also have 3-4 week Volsol Experience Trips allowing participants to volunteer abroad whilst exploring the country.
International Voluntary Service: International Voluntary Service is recognised by the UN as the UK’s oldest international volunteering organisation and that shows in their numbers: they have over 1000 volunteering opportunities in 80 countries around the world. Although they offer many volunteering opportunities, each is carefully selected. Their aim is to provide the building blocks towards a more peaceful, just and understanding world and to show that volunteering can make a difference.
Grassroots Volunteering: Grassroots Volunteering aims to link people with free and low-cost organisations around the world, and has a serious focus on supporting local businesses and local economies. The site doesn’t offer placements directly but it’s a great search tool to find what you’re looking for.
Hostel Jobs: Fancy working in a hostel? Well, Hostel Jobs is the place to head to. You can find everything from manager positions and internships to simple volunteer positions.
Long holidays allow you to get a job. So why not get a job abroad? These jobs don’t require advanced degrees or a lot of work experience either. Are you going to get some high-paying office job or a super valuable internship? No. Will you get a shitty, low-wage job that will pay all your travel bills? Yes!
Yes, the reality of it will probably remind you of Jay from The Inbetweeners cleaning bar toilets in Australia. But if it means you can travel, so be it. Accept your fate, love… It ain’t all glamorous.
Working Holiday Schemes
Working holiday schemes allow people under the age of 30 to work abroad, making them perfect for students or young backpackers. Most of the countries that offer these programs are English-speaking, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Your visa is typically issued for one year but you won’t need it for that long if you’re just working abroad over summer.
As I said, the jobs you’re gonna be working are probably not going to be too glamorous – you’ll probably become an office assistant, bartender or waiter. The pay won’t be great but it’s enough to live off and you’ll meet lots of new people along the way.
As far as actually getting a job goes, you’ll probably have to fly to the country before you even apply. Lots of companies specialise in placing travellers in work or you can check sites like Gumtree.
Other Places to Find Work Abroad
Go Abroad: Go Abroad is an amazing website to check out to find a wide range of jobs abroad.
BUNAC: Bunac’s slogan is “Working Adventures Worldwide” and that’s exactly what it provides. They can pretty much offer you everything from a two-year working holiday or a six-month internship abroad to a five-week volunteer expedition.
Teach English Abroad
Teaching English is one of the most popular options for people wanting to work overseas which is why I thought it deserved its own category. Jobs are very abundant, the pay is great and the work is relatively easy. You only need to speak English in the classroom, so there’s nothing to worry about in that department.
So where should I work? Well, lucky for you, there are so many great places to teach English abroad! Generally speaking, jobs in East Asia are the most common and the best-paying so that’s probably your best bet. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are a good place to start.
The qualifications required to teach English abroad differ all over the place but you will usually need to be a native English speaker, hold a Bachelor’s degree (it doesn’t matter what field it’s in) and have a TEFL/TESOL certificate. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” and there are many places you can get this qualification from, both on and offline. Just google “TEFL” and lots of different online TEFL courses will appear which will typically take you around 6 weeks to complete!
To actually find a job teaching English abroad, head back to the list of websites I recommended before. Teach Abroad is also supposed to be a good place to find jobs.
Work as an Au Pair
Similar to teaching English abroad, working as an Au Pair is super popular so it again deserved its own spot in this post. An Au Pair is a person (male or female) who travels to another country to live with a host family, to experience a new culture and to learn a foreign language. In exchange for accommodation and food, an Au Pair will provide childcare and domestic help. Unlike a nanny, who is a qualified childcare provider, pretty much anyone can be an Au Pair!
I could now recite everything I’ve learnt on the internet about being an au pair but I’ll let someone who’s actually done it talk you through it. This post on How To Become An Au Pair And Travel The World by the lovely Alexis was really insightful and will give you everything you need to know about how to become an Au Pair, what the positives and negatives of being an Au Pair are, and lots of other tips that will help you on your Au Pairing journey!
I’m sure you’ve all heard about my crazy Jailbreak adventure by now. Last February I somehow managed to hitchhike all the way from Devon to Berlin with two of my friends. And I lived to tell the tale (as if that wasn’t blatantly obvious enough!).
This type of travel isn’t completely free as wherever you end up you then have to pay for transport back, but in terms of food, accommodation, etc, you’ll barely spend a penny if you pack everything in advance. You’re not only raising money for a good cause but you also get a mini-adventure out of it too!
While I can’t speak for every university in the UK, Exeter RAG (Raise and Give) holds several charity hitchhiking events every year, including Jailbreak, Hitchhike to Amsterdam and Lost. I better quickly disclaim that I’m not advocating hitchhiking. It is obviously extremely risky. But for the brave or downright stupid (like moi), it was one of the best things I have ever done. Plus it was totally affordable.
If you’re not into jumping into stranger’s vehicles, university’s tend to offer charity treks where you have to raise a large amount of money for charity and climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu.
Make International Friends
University is a place where people from all walks of life are placed in a tiny little area, ready to mingle. Meeting friends from different countries may mean you can visit them during holiday time. A free bed and free tour of a city? Yes, please.
I’m not telling you to force yourself to make friends with people who live abroad just with the hopes of visiting them, but if the opportunity arises it will certainly cut down on your travel expenses.
I haven’t yet ventured into the world of Couchsurfing but if you’re really on a budget, this may be up your street. In short, Couchsurfing is a website that allows you to stay in a stranger’s home for free. Sometimes you get a room, sometimes a couch, sometimes an air mattress, but it’s always free.
Obviously, this all sounds a bit dodgy but if you do your research beforehand and always read reviews you should hopefully be okay. Couchsurfing will not only save you a TON of money but it will also get you off the tourist track and into the local life. Win, win!
Start a Travel Blog
Right, start a travel blog. Before I get any further, I have to clarify that this is not a get rich quick, sent on “free” trips overnight kinda deal. It takes hard work, perseverance and so much bloody time. You’ve gotta want it and you’ve gotta want it bad. And you’ve got to be passionate about writing, photography, video, social media, digital marketing, etc. If you’re not, just don’t bother. It has to first and foremost be your hobby and your passion.
The main way I can afford to travel, asides from my ridiculous saving habits, is this blog. Starting a blog was the best thing I have ever done. It has taken me to so many exciting places around the world, either on complimentary trips or through the money I have earned through my blog. There are many ways to grow and monetize your blog but I would be here for days if I started discussing that. If you’re wondering how the hell you even create a blog, head over to my Ultimate Travel Blogging Resource List to help you get started.
If you’re reading this post you’re probably a student, and if you’re a student you have more free time and the least amount of responsibility than you will ever have right now. Make the most of it and seize every opportunity! I’m not about that “what if” life…
Top Tips for Saving Money While Travelling
- Travel in the mid or low season.
- Stay in an Airbnb or hostel, instead of a hotel. Here is £30 off your first Airbnb booking!
- Don’t travel solo. Bringing a friend/partner will save you a lot of money because you can split the cost of accommodation, etc.
- Don’t pay for public toilets. Go whenever you can when there’s a free toilet (e.g. at a cafe) even if you’re not desperate.
- Pack lightly (or wear all your clothes) to avoid luggage fees.
- Travel by foot or bike instead of using the metro or taxis.
- Do your own tours (or free tours if you must!).
- Avoid hotel breakfasts – while convenient, they’re always pricey!
- Don’t eat out. Go to supermarkets and stock up on food.
- Use your student ID as a student discount card. It will get you free or discounted access to many museums and landmarks around the world.
- Take a water bottle and fill it up when you can. Never pay for water (unless you’re in a country with no clean drinking water!).
So, do you have any tips on how to travel the world as a student? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was sponsored by Uni Baggage but as always all opinions are my own.
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