These days, from the weak dollar to the outrageous airfares, traveling abroad may seem out of the question. We beg to differ! There are many ways you can travel that are budget-friendly. We’ve gathered together some of our favorite cheap travel tips to help you make your trip a reality!
Apartment vs. Homestay
In nearly all of our locations lodging with a family is offered, including anywhere from 1-3 meals per day. This option is perfect if you really plan to use the meals, as the lodging itself is much less expensive than a hotel plus eating out three times per day. However, for those who know they will be traveling, exploring or simply enjoying the nightlife, an apartment or residence option may optimize your cash flow. These usually are less expensive than the homestay because they offer no meals, but there will be kitchen facilities on-site to cook your own meals. In order to get the most from this option, you must be disciplined about shopping and cooking for yourself or you won’t save much.
Consider the Cost-of-Living
Sure, you may have gotten an excellent deal on that flight to Tokyo, but make sure you do your research on exchange rates and daily expenses. Little things such as train fare, snacks, souvenirs, activities, taxi rides and others can really add up, especially if they cost more than what you’re used to. Remember, large cities almost always have a higher cost-of-living than their smaller counterparts. You can usually avoid tourist traps and get a better cultural immersion by selecting an out of the way destination!
Flight and In-country Transportation
Check other airports within 100 miles of your home for your departure. Driving an extra hour could save you hundreds of dollars on your outbound flight.
Fly to a major city and take public transportation to your destination. It may take a little longer but you can usually save a considerable amount compared with flying into a smaller airport.
Remember that travel is generally much cheaper from the US if your dates fall between September 15th and April 15th (excluding holidays). Also, it may work to your advantage to fly mid-week and pay for a few extra nights of lodging. Do the math!
On the same vein, pack light! Airlines are charging for extra or overweight luggage. Check with us, but most locations offer laundry service or laundromats around town.
Take public transportation or walk instead of taking taxis. Again, the little things add up. Yes, the $2 taxi ride may seem incredibly cheap compared to your last trip to New York, but the 60-cent bus ride will be kinder to your wallet. That said, remember your surroundings. We recommend that you do not take public transportation by yourself or after dark if it feels unsafe. When in doubt, check with the school staff or your host family.
Don’t Combine Too Many Locations
Pick a base and take day trips to nearby areas of interest. We find that it’s better to think of one place as ‘home’ and get to know it really well. You can always schedule time before or after your program to visit a major attraction, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Galapagos Islands. If you switch schools every other week you may end up buying additional books, paying a lot to transport you and your luggage and your learning may be disrupted.
Travel in a Group to Save
If you’re thinking about our SALUD or Volunteer programs, get your friends to come along! Mini-groups of 3 or more save 10% and then you can split cab fares and guidebook costs.
Visa and Entrance Fees
AmeriSpan does not arrange your visa. While deciding on a location, check with your local embassy (www.embassyworld.com) or a recently-printed guidebook to see if you need a visa and if there is an airport departure tax.
Check to see if the school you’re considering offers a specialized program for sports, culture or excursion packages. This way, you know exactly what you’re going to pay for that trip to Arenal volcano and can budget for it. Remember: Free time is nice, but too much free time can be expensive!
Live Like a Local
Don’t go to the big flashy club or restaurant in the center square. Check with your host family or school staff and get a local’s recommendation. You’ll likely get a more authentic experience for a portion of the price. Bring a classmate and try out your language skills on the true townspeople in a tiny café or chat them up in a tourist-free bar.
Specials, Contests, Blogging and More
There are lots of great opportunities to save on selected programs, earn rebates through regular of video-blogging and win free programs through our contests. Check out all the options here: Specials and Contests
Consult an Expert
AmeriSpan staffers have been there! We’d be happy to talk you through your options for which city to choose and how to get the most out of your travel dollar. Don’t forget to check out our August "Top 15 List" - "Top 15 Locations for the Best Bang for Your Buck!"