The last thing you want to do while studying abroad is worry about your budget, and if you’re blowing it or not. My approach to saving money while studying abroad is to live like a local. I travel by foot/public transportation, eat at hole in the walls, and shop at the market. While you're daydreaming of all the gelato or your next weekend trips, try these 8 tips to help stretch your money farther while studying abroad.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats a late dinner and spritz with your friends, but cooking at home can be just as memorable. Some of the best foods I have had in Italy have been made in my very own kitchen, with fresh ingredients purchased from Mercato Centrale. My current obsession is multigrain bread with marmalade, ricotta cheese, honey, and prosciutto; all purchased from the market for only a few euros. So grab a bottle of wine, turn on your favorite playlist, and attempt an authentic Italian recipe in the comfort of your own home.
My roommate making dinner last week.
Good news for art lovers, the state museums of Italy are free on the first Sunday of every month. Go see the most iconic museums in the world without paying a dime.
Every time I take out euros, I wince a little after seeing the exchange rate. Although there are just some things you can’t avoid, like those painful exchange rates, you can be smarter about taking out your money. The more money you take out the lower the rate, so I recommend taking out a few hundred to even a thousand euros at a time, and then designating cash for each week. As we all know, in Italy cash is king, and I have found putting a certain amount of euros in my wallet at the beginning of each week has kept me from overspending.
There are some amazing happy hour deals around town if you just look hard enough. After painting at the Piazza Michelangelo one afternoon, my friends and I stumbled across a restaurant which had spritz, bruschetta, and live music for only 5 euros!
Our new go-to for Aperitivo.
While planning those weekend excursions, book your flights with RyanAir for ridiculously cheap flights. The prices will make traveling to a new country every weekend hard to resist. Additionally, taking a train to Pisa and flying out of the PSA airport will knock off hundreds of euros off of your flights. You can thank me later.
Avoid Tourist Hotspots
As magical as it is to drink coffee and eat a croissant at a cafe in front of the Duomo, I try not to do this too often. The restaurants in the tourist hotspots are always more expensive, and, in my opinion, never as good. You are better off finding a local favorite for dinner with amazing food, at a much lower price.
Take advantage of SAI excursions SAI has great opportunities for travel, cooking, and experiences - all for free! One of my favorite experiences thus far was the San Gimignano day trip. The wine tasting and views were breathtaking. I also attended the leather workshop and was able to make my own leather wallet. I will definitely be attending wine tasting, bookbinding, and pizza making in the weeks to come.
My homemade leather wallet.
Order Pizza to Go
I try not to order a pizza unless I can take it to go. I can never finish the pizza at the restaurant, so instead of wasting the leftovers, I order it to go and have some for the next day.
Groupon has amazing deals for activities you would never expect to find. I use Groupon for cheaper tickets on shows, restaurants, and activities around Florence.
Although I try and be as mindful as I can, I will always prioritize memories over money. I am in Italy, after all. Traveling does not have to be expensive, and if you budget wisely, you can still have the best few months of your life without spending an arm and a leg.