Student finance: planning holidays on a budget

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Student finance: planning holidays on a budget

Once your exams are done and dusted at the end of the summer semester, it’s time for a little downtime and to forget about your course for a while. Who could blame you? There’s no looming deadlines or last-minute revision to do. It’s just you, all your friends and a couple of months off.

To reward yourself for your hard work, you might want to go on holiday: you could go partying in sun doused Croatia or even head further afield to rugged South America where you can climb Machu Picchu and explore the Andes Mountains.

If you want to stay closer to home, there’s the option of spending a couple of weeks interrailing around historic Europe discovering the world’s prettiest cities. However, if you want to do those things or something similar, you’ll need to save up some funds. That means being a little frugal. To do that, it’s important to budget during the school term so that you can feed your wanderlust and explore the world when school’s out. 

Here’s a few ways you can budget and save up to fund your travelling expeditions:

Keep an eye on what you’re spending

This one applies to your student life in general. Always try to keep tabs on the money you spend on food and drink, while you should always be on the lookout for bargains that will stop you from spending over the odds.

Use your student card wisely, and now could also be the time for you to get yourself a supermarket loyalty card - not only will you save money but the rewards could surprise you!

If you’ve got a part time job, set aside a certain amount each payday that will go towards travel or even spending money when you get there.

Try not to eat out on a regular basis. Instead, cook your own meals from scratch using fresh produce. It’s cheaper to bulk buy foods to eat and to plan your meals over the week than to buy a meal deal every lunch time. It’s boring but you’ll have more money for that refreshing Pina Colada come July!

Know when to book

Research by travel comparison website Skyscanner suggests that the best time book a flight is five weeks before the travel date, meaning the customers who are booking their flights as early as possible are missing out on discounts, even though they might consider booking early to be the ticket to a cheaper deal.

Keep an eye on prices. Flight prices tend to fluctuate, so if you see a journey for what you consider to be a cheap price, you might want to wait before you get your debit card out to see if it falls even further.

Use comparison websites

We’ve already mentioned Skyscanner which is a great way of discovering the cheapest flights to your chosen destination however, if you are still considering where you want to travel to, Google Flights is your best bet.

There’s an excellent feature called ‘explore destinations’, which once you’ve inputted the dates you want to travel (either one way or return) and your maximum budget, will bring up a map of the world and all the airports you can fly to. Use the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button and random destinations that you might never have considered before will be highlighted.

Pay for your trip in instalments

If you’ve got plans but are lacking money, you should stagger your payments over the course of the year. Organise your trip early and work out how much money you need for each part of the holiday, whether that’s tickets to a festival, accommodation or spending money for the holiday itself.

If music's your thing, consider this: many festivals around the world now accept deposits on tickets so don't need to pay for your whole trip in one go.

For example, Love International Festival (originally called the Garden Festival), which take place over consecutive weeks a in the idyllic Croatian coastal town of Tisno, accepts 50% down payments on tickets early in the year as long as you pay the rest by a certain deadline a few months down the line.

Many other festivals do the same thing which means you won’t leaving yourself short by spending £150 upwards on a ticket in one go.

Travel with a trusted expedition organiser

At Pure Student Living we’re fans of The Adventurists, a company that deals in crazy travels that in their words: “Make the world less boring”. They run all manner of thrilling trips such as the Rickshaw Run and Ngalawa Cup, which are long-distance rallies that pit teams against other as they hurtle across continents from city to city in ramshackle vehicles.

It’s just one of many specialised travel companies, alongside others such as STA Travel, that will help you organise trips of a lifetime in all corners of the globe. If it’s a unique expedition you’re after, it’s certainly worth checking out one of these types of websites; they’re full of great ideas and best of all, will do all the hard work (i.e. the organising) for you - it’s just up to you to budget and hand over the cash!