Blundering About on a Budget: A Guide to Cheap Travel for Students

Graffiti depicting animals on their way to various named locations on a train.
Jacob Edwards

Wondering how to make your maintenance loan stretch that little bit further, and still ‘find yourself’ abroad? Jacob has all the tips and tricks you need…

You may have noticed that, following the dreaded pandemic, flights to and from abroad have lowered so significantly that a weekend getaway could cost you less than staying in England for the same duration. With websites like Google Flights and Skyscanner, leaving immediately for Nepal to live life as a goat has never been easier.

As soon as restrictions were lifted enough to travel, I was booking holidays left, right and centre

Having been limited to mere national trips throughout childhood and early adulthood, it is safe to say that as soon as I got my mitts on a passport, my eyes lit up (and so did Nationwide’s for that matter). During lockdown, my wanderlust had been consigned purely to my imagination, where I would consider daily whether fleeing to the jungle and setting up shop there was a worthwhile life goal.

As soon as restrictions were lifted enough to travel, I was booking holidays left, right and centre. Luckily for the sake of my overdraft, the flights cost so little that it barely made a dent in my accounts. 

The summer just gone by especially displayed my excessive carbon footprint-riddled obsession with travel – in the course of just one month, I totalled three return flights to Germany!

An intricate germanic building with a thin and tall hedge in the foreground.

The most significant purpose of these flights was to reunite with the friends I had made in my first year of university here who are German themselves, and dotted all over the country. Conveniently, they were all kind enough to host me in every city I went to across Germany. 

I flew from Stansted each time but to different airports in Germany. However, not only was the most costly return flight for me during that period a measly £15, but also throughout this summer Germany introduced their greatest gift to humankind: the “€9-Ticket”. This was a transportation ticket that was valid for a month and entitled you to unlimited bus, train (limited to the slower Regionalbahn service), tram and ferry public transport across the entirety of Germany.

Travelling on a budget is not for the faint hearted

Germany is not the only country offering such initiatives, which helps combat not only stagnated post-pandemic tourism, but also the cost of living crisis as well as the ever-present effects of climate change. The Spanish government even made commuter routes on the Renfe network completely free. So the issue that remains for the broke, adventurous student is how to find the cheapest flights and accommodation for your destination.

It is worth noting that travelling on a budget is not for the faint-hearted. You will have to slum it, and you will often feel like a little rat in a dumpster, but it is the romanticism in between that makes it worthwhile. 

A cafe with outside terrace in Germany on a sunny day

The best way to find cheap flights is to decide where you are going, then use the graphs on Google Flights to see the days where they are cheapest, then check those dates on Skyscanner and it will find the cheapest airline. The cheapest days will often be weekdays, so don’t go too mad during the semester.

Before booking the flights, check the availability of accommodation, either through mooching off friends like me, or using sites like Hostelworld and to find the cheapest hostels. Otherwise, it is worth checking AirBnB and local hotels, because it is likely that wherever you are headed will be nowhere near as expensive as the UK.

Also, do not forget that there are more options than flying. If you’re thinking of visiting Europe but are mindful of your environmental impact, the Eurostar is worth checking. Their standard single ticket is £39, but they often do deals at certain points in the year lower than that. Happy travelling!

Jacob Edwards

Featured image courtesy of Jacob Edwards. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Jacob Edwards. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to these images.

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