Published on August 4, 2015

7 ways to avoid going broke during your internship abroad

Here are our top money saving tips for an intern abroad


Go to museums on free days

Many public museums will specify days when you can see exhibits for free or at discounted rates. Make a note of when those discount or free days occur on your calendar so you never have to pay full price. By planning ahead of time you will be able to see more of the city for less.

Estimated weekly savings: US$5 to US$15

Estimated 3-month savings: US$60-US$180


Money saving tips


Find a good international credit or debit card

Shopping around for a debit or credit card that offers a good exchange rate and lets you withdraw internationally for free can really help an intern abroad slash their expenses. Charles Schwab, for example, offers free withdrawals at ATMs internationally for their investor checking clients.

Estimated weekly savings: US$3 to US$6

Estimated 3-month savings: US$36 to US$72


Bring a lunch to work

Instead of eating out during your lunchtime, save money and get to know your colleagues a little better by bringing your lunch and eating in the work lunchroom. If your colleagues eat out a lot, try to pick just one day a week to join them. Lunches are often rushed anyway, so if you’re going to splurge and out you might as well make it dinner.

Estimated weekly savings: US$10 to US$50

Estimated 3-month savings: US$120 to US$600


Money saving tips


Use Skype and WhatsApp instead of international phone plans

There are so many ways to use the internet to contact people around the world, it's a waste of money to buy an international phone plan. All housing accommodations come with Wifi, so family and friends are just a Skype call or WhatsApp message away. Viber and Facebook are also other effective and free communication tools that just rely on an internet connection.

Estimated weekly savings: US$5 to US$15

Estimated 3-month savings: US$60 to US$180


Look for free cultural events

Many cities host community or city cultural events that are free, especially in the spring and summer months. Keep an eye out for these on city events calendars or cultural center websites. Usually these events involve an element of local culture, so it’s a great way to better understand local traditions and save a little cash. Attending these events is also a good way to meet people when you're new to a city.

Estimated weekly savings: US$1 to US$30

Estimated 3-month savings: US$12 to US$360


Money saving tips


Dine in

Instead of planning a night out, invite your friends over and plan a big homemade dinner. Everyone can pitch in a few dollars and help cook. Fixing dinner as a group will be more fun and communal while costing way less than going out for a meal. Even though it can be tempting to eat out all the time while living in a new city, it's better to save that money for day trips or other fun activities.

Estimated weekly savings: US$28 to US$200

Estimated 3-month savings: US$336 to US$2,400


Walk or take public transportation

Splurging on a taxi if there is public transportation available is a waste of money. The bus or metro may not be as pleasant of an experience, but it’s part of living abroad and can be a great opportunity for people watching. Walking to your destination is another good option. It’s healthy and completely free!

Estimated weekly savings: US$5 to US$70

Estimated 3-month savings: US$60 to US$840


Total weekly savings: US$57 to US$386

Estimated total savings over three months: US$684 to US$4,632



Photo 1. based on 3156-Entrada a la Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid), by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on PlanetBox Hello Kitty sandwich Valentine lunch, by Melissa, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Cooking, by Moyan Brenn, CC-by-2.0

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her third year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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