How to Travel on a Budget Interning in Europe

by Kaitlin Powers

If you are a college student, or young professional and want to travel abroad, you are likely on a pretty tight budget. And unfortunately, not all internships are paid. These concerns usually result in pushing the trip back to some point in the future when you have more money. But that won’t get rid of your desire to travel now and some point can easily become never. By following these easy travel tips, you can begin to plan a vacation or international internship right away and have an amazing experience abroad without spending money you don’t have.

Girl holding a plane ticket and passport
Book your plane tickets early to avail discounts.

Tip #1: Book the Plane Ticket Early

International plane tickets are pretty pricey, typically ranging from $1,000 to over $2,000. To get the best deal on airfare, set up price alerts with leading travel websites including Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz. They will email alerts any time airline tickets to the selected destination are discounted, which could save a lot of money. It is especially effective if your travel dates are flexible.

Once abroad, like in Europe, check websites for European airlines such as RyanAir that have inexpensive flights within Europe. Plane tickets will likely be a major expense for the trip, so any money saved on the flight is money to spend on other parts of the trip. Interning abroad is a trip all its own, but it also a great opportunity for supplemental travel.

Tip #2: Look for Alternate Accommodations

A trip to Europe is usually a pretty big deal. Some travelers save and plan for months or years for the chance to explore new countries and cultures. So it’s unlikely that a lot of time will be spent in a hotel. During your internship in Europe, you will likely have more permanent housing arrangements, but use these ideas when exploring outside of your host city.

Save a lot of money by spending nights in hostels, which can range from dorm-style rooms with several bunk beds, to private rooms with a few single beds. Websites like hostelworld.com provide lists of hostels and reviews of each one so you know what to expect and can shop around.

Airbnb is another way to find accommodations abroad that is cost-effective. Similar to couchsurfing, Airbnb gives travelers a chance to stay in a room with a local family or host.  Rent a room in a house or apartment for less money than staying in a hotel, and the locals can often times recommend places to eat or sights to see in their city. Hostels and Airbnb offer the best of both worlds: save money and still have a nice place to sleep.

Specials menu

Tip #3: Eat from the Menu of the Day

Many restaurants in Europe have a menu of the day, which typically includes an appetizer, entrée, and beverage for a low set price. For example, in Spain you can order a breakfast of café con leche (coffee with milk), orange juice, and a ham and cheese croissant for only a few Euros. For lunch in France, diners can order a salad and piece of quiche for an appetizer, a piece of steak, and potatoes for an entrée, and a glass of wine for around 10 euros. By choosing to eat off of the menu of the day, you will still get a great selection of foods but for less money. Also, be careful about buying beverages. A small bottle of coca-cola can cost over three euros so ask for water from the tap instead.

Tip #4: Tell the World You’re Coming!

It is truly surprising how small the world is and how many little connections can be found in different places. Whether it be a classmate from elementary school, a distant relative, or a friend of a friend, odds are good that you will find an acquaintance in a country you are interested in traveling to. People are typically very generous, whether they offer a place to stay, an invitation to dinner, or share their knowledge by suggesting interesting places to visit, they will be a wonderful and free resource. Post statuses about travel plans on Facebook, Twitter, or other forms of social media and ask people if they know of anyone in the places you want to visit. Then watch the connections flow in at no cost.

Interning abroad on a budget is not impossible, and will still offer the same amazing experiences traveling abroad can, and more. All it takes is a little planning ahead and some travel budget tips like these to make your internship abroad happen!