Last year I graduated from MMU and I now work as an intern in the Student Living office. One of the interests I really developed when I was studying was travelling. Because I studied Spanish and Italian, I wanted to practice my language skills and meet as many people as possible, which was my excuse for heading to the airport and off to some amazing new place every time I had a bit of money! Whether your style is a backpacking adventure or a sophisticated city break, you can do these on a student budget if you know how to. During my studies, I travelled to some fascinating places, including Northern Norway, Israel and Morocco, as well as spending a year in Spain and Italy as a part of my course. Here are my top tips in planning a holiday that won’t hurt your bank account, but will still mean you get to experience the best that your destination has to offer.
Yes- it sounds boring but if you really want to get the best out of where you’re going a little bit of research goes a long way. You don’t want to end up spending your hard earned break in somewhere that there is literally nothing to do… Trust me it happens (if you’ve been to Bratislava, you’ll know what I mean) So check out where you’re going and that there’s plenty to keep you occupied when you get there. Trip Advisor is great for finding things to do, and the reviews can help you decide what’s best suited to your interests. A website I like to use is www.atlasobscura.com which shows some really quirky tourist attractions that are slightly off the beaten track.
Thanks to the amazingness of the internet, you can get return flights to some parts of Europe for less than the cost of a train journey to London. There are plenty of websites you can use for flights. Two of my favourites are http://www.skyscanner.net/ and www.drungli.com where you can find cheap flights to exciting destinations all over the world. If the thought of booking flights online is a bit daunting, try getting advice from friends or your local travel agent. STA travel are particularly good to visit, especially if you’re going further afield.
So, you’ve heard all the nightmare stories about staying in hostels – Cockroaches as big as your head? Sharing a room with 20 chronic snorers? Yes- if you’re REALLY unlucky, this might happen but for the most part, hostels are great places to stay. It’s really easy to find somewhere that suits you, and it’s one of the most cost effective ways of traveling. If you want your own room – that’s not a problem either. Plenty of hostels offer private dorms, or single gender if you’d rather not share with the opposite sex. Try looking on www.hostelworld.com , and remember if it’s not for you there are other options. Try Airbnb! If you want to have your own home away from home, Airbnb is the site for you. It offers some unique options, ranging from people’s front rooms, to treehouses, even to castles! Depending on your taste – you can pay about the same amount as an upmarket hostel to get a private room, and a little bit more to have an entire home to yourself in some places.
However you book your holiday, make sure that your accommodation is close to what you’re going to visit – it can put a real dampener on a holiday if you’ve got an amazing apartment, but it’s 20 miles away from the city you thought you were visiting!
Florentine Hostel, Tel Aviv
This is definitely my favourite thing about a new country – the food. Try as much local fare as you can while you’re there, you might find a new favourite dish! Instead of going to flashy restaurants, why not go to a local market, make up a picnic, and have it in a park? If you’re not staying in a hotel, you could do the same thing but eat in your apartment. If you don’t fancy making up your own food, there’s almost always a cheap and tasty option. Street food has been growing in popularity for the last few year in the UK, so why not try it the way it was supposed to be made in it’s home country?!
If you want to have a REALLY cheap holiday, you could consider working while you’re abroad. If you’re reading and understanding this article, you probably already have one of the most desirable skills in the world – fluency in English. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a great way to pay your way through traveling whilst at University – whether it’s at a Summer Camp in mainland Europe, or somewhere further afield like Asia or South America, you can earn whilst exploring a new country and culture. It can sometimes be tricky to know what you’re doing when finding a placement, so check out the British Council who have a range of programmes from teaching English in Japan, India and Thailand over Summer, and year-long assistantships in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
If teaching isn’t your thing, you can always volunteer in hostels, work with animals, or do seasonal hospitality work. Although it’s volunteering, usually your food and board is paid for so it’s still a really cost effective way of holidaying. Check out www.workaway.info to find some amazing placements throughout the world!
ENJOY YOUR TRAVELS!