Budgeting Abroad

Many students find themselves spending a great deal of money on souvenirs and travel while abroad. Here are some tips to save money and still have a full experience.


Souvenirs will generally be most expensive in tourist-heavy areas. If you want to save some money on souvenirs, travel away from tourist attractions and busy areas to do your shopping. As a bonus, looking for local artisans and creators will ensure that your souvenirs are unique items rather than mass-produced goods. Don’t forget to allow adequate space in your luggage to bring your souvenirs home or you may need to pay for over-sized luggage or additional bags.

Personal Travels

Most study abroad students, especially those in Europe, use the opportunity to travel around their host country and the surrounding area. Travel expenses can be lofty, but there are ways to travel without burning through all of your funding.

Tracking flights to various locations can help you find the best bargains in airfare. However, when looking at flight prices, search in incognito mode (ie. clear your browsing history)—sites will increase their prices if you’re visiting them regularly. Sites to track include Skyscanner, Momondo, and AirFare Watchdog, all of which compile flight information to discover the most affordable flights. If you have some flexibility in when you can travel, check multiple dates to find the most affordable one—the same flights can vary greatly by day. Use a combination of search engines to make sure you’re exploring all of your options and finding the lowest possible costs.

Another way to travel for relatively low costs is to go through a student travel agency. While the availability of these companies will vary by location, research your host city and talk to students who have studied there previously to see if any of these companies depart from your host city. One example of this is Bus2Alps, which coordinates student trips throughout Europe departing from Rome and Florence.

However, there is no requirement saying that you must travel extensively when abroad. While some students like to plan multiple trips or even go to a different country every weekend, your host city will have plenty of activities and interesting corners to explore. Your study abroad experience doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s, and you can have just as full and fulfilling an experience without once getting on a flight to another country. It’s important to learn as much about your host country as possible! Explore local parks, festivals, and museums to find free or low-cost ways to spend a day in your host city. Your experience will be unique, and you’ll learn to live more like a local than a tourist.

Local Cuisine 

Food can become a considerable expense when living abroad, especially if you want to try new restaurants or local treats often. If food costs are getting too high, you may want to plan out your spending more closely—for example, designating one night every week to eat out and eating at home the remainder of time.

It is also important to consider your priorities. If you have a limited supply of money for souvenirs, traveling to other countries, visiting sites in your host city, and eating out, think about which items and experiences are most important to you and will make your experience abroad the best for you. If you focus more on experiences than on physical items, forego a few souvenirs for a trip. If you know you want to buy gifts for friends and family, balance those costs with your other expenses.

Visit this page for a fuller explanation of study-abroad-related financial information. This article also has several helpful tips to save money when traveling abroad—not all of them may apply to studying abroad, but some are very helpful. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact studyabroad@etown.edu or financialaid@etown.edu.

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