It’s the summer holidays and you’re Googling flights to Barcelona. Berlin. Maybe a trip to Bali. 

After all, this is the time to travel. Courses are finished. You may be working part-time, but mostly, you’ve finally got some free time to explore the world. 

As a student, however, you might be wondering how to go travelling on a limited student budget. 

Luckily, there are ways to travel on a budget while still enjoying your experience. So here are seven tips on how to make a travel budget so you can still enjoy that trip you’ve been dreaming of without breaking the bank. ✈️

What to budget for when travelling 

You’ll want to have the following in mind when planning your holiday budget: 

  • Transport - is it cheaper to fly or take the train? Will you take public transport once there, or taxis? 

  • Accommodation - will you stay in a hostel, hotel or Airbnb? Do you have a friend’s couch you can crash on to save some cash?  

  • Food and drink - estimate a daily average spend for food and drink, both eating out and groceries if you plan on preparing food yourself 

  • Sightseeing - many attractions are free, especially for students, but you may also want to set aside a budget for the ones that aren’t

  • Shopping - it’s always tempting to do a bit of shopping when travelling. Give yourself a small shopping budget so you don’t overspend 

  • Emergencies - set aside a chunk of money for any unexpected emergency 

How to create a travel budget

Travelling on a student budget can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to get a clear picture of your finances beforehand, do your research and budget accordingly. 💸

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a travel budget: 

Step 1 - Review your income and expenses

Before you create a travel budget, it's essential to know how much you actually have coming in vs. going out to get a clear picture of your overall finances.  

Start by listing all your monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, transport and other spending. Then, list all the money you have coming in, whether that’s from student loans, family support, part-time work or scholarships and bursaries. 

Step 2- Set your travel goals 

Your travel goals will include:

  • What type of trip you want

  • The places you want to see

  • The length of your trip 

These will help determine how much money you need: for example, a city break might be a bit pricier than a hiking trip. Costs will also depend on how bougie vs. rugged you want to go - couch surfing and hostel-ing will be cheaper, but maybe you’d rather spend a bit more for a private hotel room. 

Consider also whether you want to fly somewhere or take a train abroad: your mode of transport will be a big chunk of your travel costs. 

Whatever your goals, note them down and begin to plan your trip around them. 

Step 3 - Research your destination costs

You’ve figured out the type of summer holiday you want, so now it’s time for the fun part: begin researching your destination… and the costs. 

You can Google average costs for your destination to get a sense of how much things cost there. You’ll want to look up the things listed above - transport costs, how much a meal out will be, sightseeing, etc. 

Sites like Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, and budget travel blogs can offer insights and tips into the average daily expenses in various locations. You can also search on TikTok, where travel bloggers often show the cost of an average day when travelling and small tips for saving. 

Step 4 - Map out how much you need to save 

Based on your destination research, estimate the total cost of your trip. Be sure to account for any additional expenses, such as travel insurance or visa fees. This will help you determine how much you need to save each month in the run-up to the trip. 

If you don’t already have savings, you may need to start small to build up some extra cash for your trip. Work backwards from how much you need to save overall to know how much to set aside monthly. 

If your bank has ‘pots’, you could label one a ‘travel pot’ to give you a goal to work towards. And help prevent the temptation of dipping into it for other spending. 

Complete our Savings pathway to learn more about the basics of savings. 

Step 5 - Plan for emergencies 

You may also want to save for travel emergencies.

You never know what can happen - especially while travelling. Travel insurance can give you some peace of mind when you go abroad but may not cover everything. So you’ll want to be prepared financially just in case. 

This doesn’t need to be a huge chunk of money - consider putting aside two to three days of travel expenses for an emergency. You can learn more about building an emergency fund here.  

Step 6 - Identify areas to cut back

To free up more money for travel, look at ways to cut back on your current daily spending. This could mean having fewer takeaway coffees a week or only going out on weekends instead of weeknights. 

Look for student discounts and deals too, to save when you do spend money. 

It may feel limiting at the time - but remember, this is so you can save up to do something for you. Instead of calling it ‘cutting back’, think of it as working towards a bigger goal. 🏆

Step 7 - Track your spending

Now that you know how to budget while travelling, track your spending closely to make sure you stay on track. 

Use budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses and identify any areas where you may be overspending. And, as always, adjust your budget as you go to stay within your means and maintain progress towards your savings goals.

Need help with staying on track with your spending? Download the free Blackbullion Money Manager app

Top tips for travel budgeting:

Here are some more top tips for how to travel on a student budget: 

Track flights 

You can track flights with Google Flights or Skyscanner

Simply toggle the ‘track flight’ option once you’ve done your search. This is a great way to stay notified if a flight price drops suddenly. 

Pick your timing 

Easter and summer holidays will inevitably be more expensive for travel. 

Obviously that’s often when you’ve got the time off, but can you be flexible about the day and time of travel? Sometimes travelling on a Tuesday, for example, will be cheaper than flying on a Saturday. 

Again, use Google Flights or Skyscanner to compare prices. You can see graphs that’ll show you the cheaper options based on the day. 

flight tracking calendar view

Always compare prices - whether that’s for hotels, hostels, flights or tours. You might think you’re getting a good deal but shop around first. You can compare prices on, Expedia or Kayak to find the best deals. 

Stay in budget accommodation

Look for budget-friendly accommodation options such as hostels or a shared Airbnb, which are often more affordable than hotels. You can also save on food if you have access to a kitchen whereas in a hotel you’ll have to pay for food there or always buy food out. 

Doing a longer trip? You could also look into work exchange programs. These involve working or volunteering at an accommodation in exchange for room and board. 

Be wise about location

It may seem like that Airbnb 40 minutes away from the town centre is much cheaper, but you may end up paying more for transit to do any sightseeing. At the same time, you may not need to be right in the centre of town. 

Sometimes even just a 15-20 minute walk out can save you a lot of money. Try to get the balance right between saving money and not completely inconveniencing yourself. 

Use public transport 

Opt for public transport or walking instead of taxis or rental cars to save money on those costs. Biking or walking is also a great way to see a city - plus, you’ll get some exercise in. 

Most cities have bike rental services. But make sure you know the rules of the road before taking off. 

Eat like a local 

Dining out can be one of the biggest travel costs. And sometimes the most expensive places can also be tourist traps. 

Look for restaurants that are ‘off the beaten track’ or ask around for recommendations. Food stalls and marketplaces can often be cheaper as well. If you have kitchen access, cooking your own food is also a great way to save money. 🧑‍🍳

Watch out for hidden fees 

This is especially important when flying. Some airlines, for example, will only show you baggage charges at the very end. So while something may seem cheaper upfront, it can end up being just as expensive as other options - and less convenient. 

Travelling as a student can be incredibly rewarding with the right planning and budgeting. 

Remember to prioritise experiences that align with your goals and always look for budget-friendly alternatives to make the most of your experiences. 

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