Have you ever dreamed of sipping wine under the Eiffel Tower, riding on a Vespa through the Italian coastline or dancing the night away in a Spanish discoteca? Whatever your European dreams may be, they are not as far out of reach as you may think.
Booking your ticket
It’s cheapest to book your ticket on the weekend and depart the U.S. on either a Tuesday or Wednesday, according to data from Kayak. As a college student, you can’t go wrong with StudentUniverse.com. Out of every site that I have researched, Student Universe has consistently offered the cheapest flights. Last year I flew from the U.S. to Ireland round trip for around $900 through the site.
Once you’ve selected a booking site, select your departure and destination airports. I suggest comparing nearby airports’ prices as well. If you don’t have a specific preference on where you fly in to, it might be significantly cheaper to fly into cities that offer more budgeted flights. From personal experience, I’ve noticed that it is quite cheaper to fly into Dublin rather than London. Plus, once you’re in Europe, you can fly with cheap airlines such as RyanAir or EasyJet to get to your main destination. It is usually around $30 to fly from Dublin to London, for instance. Play around with the website until you find the best price point for your budget.
Where to stay
One great thing about Europe is that there are hostels everywhere. Why spend hundreds of dollars a night for a hotel when you can stay in a hostel for as little as eight dollars a night in some cities? Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be spending much time in that hotel anyway. Being in Europe is too magnificent of an experience to waste time being cooped up in a fancy hotel the whole time.
Plus, if you stay in a hostel, you’ll meet incredible people from all around the world. Some of my favorite memories from traveling have come from staying in hostels. My friend and I stayed in a hostel in Malaga, Spain for a week this past summer. By staying in a hostel, we were able to have a group of people to go out with, and it was great way for us to learn more about other cultures. I highly recommend this route.
Another option would be to get a job while you’re abroad. Websites like workaway.info offer jobs all across the globe. Most job opportunities provide accommodation (sometimes even food) in exchange for labor. I have personal experience with this as I worked in a Spanish hostel through this site.
I’ve noticed some hosts will even pay you a small amount each week. With these work away jobs, there are many things you could be doing. There are many hosts that would like help repairing things around their homes or need assistance on a farm. However, the most viable option for college students who want to be in a city is definitely a position working in a hostel or bed and breakfast as a desk assistant or maid.
Also, most work away hosts keep in mind that you want to travel and experience the city in which you’re staying. Therefore, they will usually only work you a few hours a day and give you the weekends off.
Lastly, most of us know at least one person who lives or is studying in Europe; contact them! You never know; they may welcome you into their home. In my case, my family on my dad’s side is from the United Kingdom, so to make it even cheaper for myself, I was able to stay with my grandmother in Scotland who, not only provided me with a roof over my head, but three meals a day and lots and lots of shortbread cookies.
These are just a few of the tips I have, but the most expensive part of your trip will be your plane ticket. Everything else could be inexpensive if you take my advice as well as do lots of research on your destinations. Get to saving and fulfill your European dreams this summer. It will be worth every single penny.