Seven smart steps to holidaying on a student budget


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The Independent Online

Every student entertains the idea of jetting off to sun and fun with their mates in the summer. But as loans dry up, there’s only so much cash to hand to fund such an expedition. Here are some useful tips to help enjoy your own happy budget holiday:

Think outside the box

There are destinations not commonly travelled to that are very cheap, and you’d be surprised at what you’d find. The Baltic States are a personal favourite – you can get a full package there for around 200 euros, and they’re lovely, with great cities, nightlife and even beaches. Very underrated as a travel destination – just look at Tallinn in Estonia for a gorgeous medieval city with a beach that wouldn’t be out of place in the Mediterranean, or Riga inLatvia for dozens of great nights out.

Be smart

If you do take a cheap holiday to a Greek or Spanish island, as many are tempted to, plan far in advance. While you might not spend that much getting there or on hotels, you’ll find that the clubs are extortionate, and the amount you’ll spend on alcohol will be something you never thought possible. Not only that, but thieves and pickpockets abound – there are plenty of cases where a student will have his wallet nicked on the first night.

Find a package provider

You don’t have to sort everything out yourself. Companies often provide packages for groups that are extremely cheap per person. You can pick up a weekend break to Amsterdam, for example, for around £135pp, with accommodation and food (or at least some food) included. There are dozens to choose from that offer hundreds of destinations, any time of the year – so have a google and find out.

Planes, trains and automobiles

You don’t have to fly to your destination. Coaches may be longer, but can be so much cheaper. If you’re only heading to France, Germany or the Low Countries, it won’t take a tremendous amount of time, and the money you’ll save will be worth it. In the same vein, if you’re on a trip across France rather than just to one place, you can get a ferry across from Portsmouth or Dover for cheap, pick up a rental car, and enjoy a bit more freedom.

But don’t be afraid to fly budget

If you are flying, there’s nothing wrong with going for a budget airline. You just have to be smart in avoiding the hidden costs. For a weekend break, if you’re capable of packing everything you need into one rucksack, you can have it as your carry on, meaning you won’t have to pay for luggage storage. If you don’t mind being separated from your group (which for a short flight shouldn’t be the end of the world), you can get a flight for around £30. There’s even talk of Ryanair operating £20 flights to the USA – although these will be drenched in hidden costs.

Time to travel

Prices soar during holiday season. But as a student your schedule is different to most other people. Rather than going away during school half term or summer breaks, why not try and nab a cheaper holiday when the school kids are in school? Prices will be lower, and you’ll be a lot more free to enjoy things the way you want to, not surrounded by irritating teenagers.

Save and budget

If you’re planning a big holiday away, start saving. Putting a bit of money aside each week, no matter how small, will pile up and leave you with a handsome amount of spending money for your trip. Though it is always a challenge for a student to put money aside, as budgets are always stretched, it is a wise thing to do, and good practice for later life. Budgeting a holiday is a good idea too – limiting the amount you can spend each day will ensure you don’t run out by the end of the trip. Don’t forget money for the journey from the airport or station either! Take into consideration all costs you may incur and ensure you can cover all of them. Try to avoid using your mobile phone too much – but make sure you have it, just in case you need to make an emergency withdrawal from the bank of mum and dad.

Even in today’s climate it is still more than possible to have a great holiday on a student budget. It just requires a little bit of extra thinking and planning.