The world seems enormous until you get on a plane and experience it for yourself. When you get out there and start exploring, your perceptions of culture and people are changed through your experiences. You can’t put a price tag on that!
The trick, whether you’re a college student or just looking to stay on a tight budget, is preparation. Where are you going and what should you expect?
Compare Currency Values
Checking the BIG MAC Index before choosing your destination is very important; it’s been a large determinant of my destinations and travel budgets. The index compares various prices in dollars for a Big Mac in different countries. For example, plane tickets on Ryan Air from Paris to Oslo were only €9 each way; after taxes it came to about $22 each way. The price seemed too good to be true and after checking the Big Mac index, my suspicions were confirmed. Norway has the highest Big Mac index in the world! The average price for a Big Mac in the United States is about $4.56, but in Oslo it costs $7.51! Traveling is fun, but budgeting for a country that’s overvalued by about 64.7% is difficult. The Big Mac index will help you properly budget for any country you visit by showing you how over- or undervalued their prices are compared to the United States.
Find Your Transportation
Another trick is carpooling; it’s half the price of a train and you might even get lucky and ride to the Mediterranean in an Audi A6, like me. A great carpool site is BlaBlaCar.com. The price is almost always half the cost of a train. The site works by sending phone notifications and using codes to pay the driver. You pay for your ride on the site and receive a code to give to the driver upon arrival at your destination, which in turn dispenses your payment into their account.
Buses are a form of less expensive travel as well as some airlines. EasyJet and Ryan Air offer low-cost fares; I took a plane from Venice to Frankfurt for €9!
Combining your transportation with your accommodation plans can save a lot as well. Europe has sleeping trains that do just that! The trains are equipped with beds and showers, offering you the amenities of staying in a moving hotel. Using a sleeping train is great if you plan on doing day trips in a bunch of different countries and traveling to the next destination overnight.
Pay for It
Even if you have everything else figured out, you still have to face one of the hardest questions for any traveler, cash or credit?
Sometimes cards aren’t accepted, and cash is the better choice. Check with your bank, they may have partnerships with banks near your travel destination, allowing you to withdraw money at a better rate and with minimal to no fees. Certain credit card companies also offer 0% international fees.
Traveling is a great experience and with strategic planning, the world is at your fingertips!
Do you have any tips for traveling on a budget? Share in the comments below!