Figuring Out Travel Budgeting When You’re a College Student

I’ll admit it, that title sounds misleading.  Like I, the college student in question, has figured out the secret to budgeting.

I don’t have all the answers.  Actually, I have zero answers.  This post is just me musing about my funds and how I wish I had a secretly rich great uncle or a sugar daddy.  I have looked into both options but neither obviously yielded the results I wanted.

So here’s my situation.  I know it’s #cool to write up posts explicitly stating monthly expenses or “how much I made this month from my totally honest travel blog!!!”, but as of this moment I’m not comfortable telling people exactly how much money I have.  It’s just a thing that was drilled into me as a kid.  Never ask someone how much money they make nor should you ever tell anyone how much you make.  So bear with me here.  Maybe I’ll get over it someday.

I do want to discuss how I’m dividing up my money to see as much as I can with the time I have.  This is a conundrum I think about every day, especially on nights when my flatmates go out to clubs with cover charges and I stay home because those £5 cover fees can add up.  At the end of the semester I’ll do a post on how to live fairly cheap in Glasgow as a student.

So.  Here are all the things I want to do with the babysitting and office job money I’ve saved up over the years.

  • Harry Potter play in London
  • London in general
  • Hay-on-Wye in Wales
  • Dublin (Ryanair flights are real cheap)
  • other places that are fairly cheap to fly to (Berlin, Brussels, Portugal, Poland, ect.)
  • all over Scotland (weekend tours range from £20-£29)
  • try all of the fun restaurants in Glasgow (so many!!!)
  • go out with my friends and drink
  • take Ubers because even though Glasgow is fairly walkable it’s a pain to walk 30 minutes in the rain just to go shopping
  • get a rail card for about 3 weeks of travel in April with my flatmates
  • go to eastern Europe for 10-ish weeks during the summer

There it is.  My ambitious list.

I obviously can’t do everything.  It’s just not plausible right now.  I have to pick and choose and priorities and hope nothing horrible happens to me so I don’t have to pay for that, too.

Here’s my plan for the rest of the semester + the summer and how I’m going to try to afford it.

Ireland

Ireland is so damn close I need to go to Ireland while I’m here.  It’ll be a complete opportunity missed if I don’t.  I have a friend studying abroad in Galway right now, so if money is too tight and I can’t do Dublin hopefully I can visit her!  I must see the Cliffs of Moher.

Do a few more guided tours in Scotland

For under £30, the tours cost about what I’d pay if I did a self-guided day trip anyways.  I might as well do a trip where everything is already planned for me and I’m with someone who actually knows the area.  Whenever I go anywhere I’m always thinking “I wonder what cool history is surrounding me that I just don’t know about”.  I have one booked for Perth Hill next month.

Harry Potter play in London

I bought tickets way back in October 2015 in the off-chance I’d be in Scotland at this time and for once my wishful thinking actually paid off.  My ticket is for right after I turn in a big paper, so I plan on taking the night bus.  Maybe I’ll go see Hay-on-Wye after that, but that all depends on my next point…

France-Spain-Italy railcard for 3-ish weeks in April

Two of my flatmates are getting a Benelux-France-Switzerland-Italy card.  I’ll be at the Harry Potter play in London while they’re in Amsterdam, but I figure I can intersect with them in Paris (or somewhere in France) after the play.  From there they want to go to Switzerland.  Switzerland is a crazy expensive country and I know that I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself while freaking out over the costs, so from France I can diverge and go to Spain.  I have a friend in Barcelona whose couch I can (most likely) crash on, so that’s a cheaper alternative and also a good excuse to see my buddy.  Then, when my friends are done with Switzerland I can meet them in Italy.  From there they want to take a ferry or a flight to Greece, but depending on my funds and final exams I might just a) pray for a cheap Ryanair flight back home or b) hopefully have a day or two left on my rail card to get back to Paris so I can then bus my way back to Glasgow.  Sounds complicated but hey, it just might work.

May????

I have no idea what I’m doing in the month of May since they don’t release the exam schedule until the end of March (RIP).  I only have one exam (God bless) but it’s in an incredibly hard, 7-American-credit class (God why!?), so my plans will revolve around that one God-forsaken test (how many times can I work God into a post without coming off as sacrilegious?).

Fingers crossed my mom and aunt will visit me at the end of May.  I would love to show them around the city that I love so much.

The Summer

What am I doing this summer?? Who knows.  The goal would be to see as much as I can of eastern Europe from the end of May to the first week of August (or until money runs out) then go back home to chill a bit and start my senior year.  If I wasn’t doing this I could go a little bit harder during the semester, but I want this summer trip to happen more than anything.  I have two routes planned that I need input on:

1)  Fly to Poland (or Berlin), go down to Prague, go east to Ukraine and then work my way down through Bulgaria and Romania.  If I have time left, go to Greece. Fly out of either Greece or Bulgaria to London then fly home.  (I’ve already looked it up; flying from wherever I am to London then home is A LOT cheaper than flying directly home from wherever I am).  With this route I’m pretty close to Istanbul, so technically I could take a train there to fly out.  But with all the political unrest/it being the summer, I’m not sure if this is the safest option.  Also I wouldn’t be able to fly with IcelandAir and have a short stopover in Reykjavik like I would (hopefully) be able to do from London.  (I love how hopeful I am.  As if I’ll actually have enough money left to spend time in Iceland.)  Let me know what you think.

2) Fly to Greece or Bulgaria and work my way up through all the places I mentioned above and either fly back to London if I can find a cheap ticket or just bus my way up there.  This option might be a little more time consuming since I would spend my last few days in transit to London, but might be the cheapest.  Also, I’m a little wary about flying into Greece/visiting Greece at all.  Not because of safety fears or anything like that.  I just know that I’ll love Greece so much (all of that HISTORY I want to scream just thinking about it) I’ll never want to leave.  I need at least a month dedicated to Greece and I can’t manage that this trip.

Please give me your opinions/advice in the comments!


Obviously,  I will not be able to afford all of this.

So what am I doing right now in order to stretch my money as far as I can?

  1. I got a travel credit card.  It’s through Bank of America, one of the worst travel cards out there when it comes to rewards, but I am a college student whose barely had time to build credit so it was the best that I could do.  If I put all of my expenses on that card for the next three months, I’ll definitely hit the minimum spending to get the bonus reward points.  Those points (essentially $200) will be enough to cover my flight to whichever eastern European country and back to London.  So that’s covered.
  2. Buying cheap groceries!!!  In dire circumstances I can get a 50p loaf of bread (frozen bread is your friend), £1 ten slices of cheese, and £1.50 eggs.  That’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a straight WEEK for £3.  Ballin’.
  3. Walk everywhere.  My legs are going to look so damn good after this semester.  It’s a 35 minute walk one way to the good shopping area and if I Ubered that every time I needed to go to Buchanan St I’d be broke in one week.
  4. Go out with friends, but only to #cheap places.  No cover charges, pre-game like hell, buy whatever the £1 deal is and get guys to buy drinks for you.
  5. That’s what I can think of at this moment.

So that’s it.  That’s all I have.

Potential sugar daddies please email me at edgeofitallblog @ gmail.com.  Please put “$$$” as the subject line.


Advice??? Leave it below. What should I do with my spring break and summer?

  • Amber

    Obviously you should come visit me in Morocco. But if not, we will meet somewhere in the middle. I feel the saving money only to realize it’s still not enough for your dream travels. Honestly, I can’t give tips since everything here is so cheap, but I suggest really considering doing things you know you will not have time for when you are older. Some more major cities can be hit when you are older and can stay in fabulous hotels. Eastern Europe is definitely something to do while young.

    • Victoria

      this is true! that’s why I’m definitely skipping places like Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands until I have more money. I also need to come back to the UK when I’m older and richer so I can rent a car.