How to make your dollar stretch abroad

International travel has a hefty price tag, so it’s important to cut back on spending wherever possible. Be a thrifty traveler and make your dollar stretch while you’re interning abroad in order to get the most out of your experience. Check out these useful and simple tips on how to save money traveling abroad:


1. Use cash

It’s harder to keep track of your daily spending when you’re swiping a credit or debit card every time. By using cash you’re able to physically see how quickly you’re going through your week’s money. If you take out a certain amount of money each week, you’ll be extra careful not to spend too much too fast in order to last throughout the week.


2. Budget, budget, budget

Plan out how much you’ll allow yourself to spend each week and then actually stick to your budget! Make room in your weekly budget for trips, museums, food, transportation and a tiny bit for shopping. If you overspend in one category, make sure you make cuts in another.


3. Avoid touristy areas

Touristy sections of every city are comfortable because they are intended for foreigners, but they are also generally twice as expensive as the rest of the city. Avoid eating dinner or shopping in these areas in order to avoid high prices and make your dollar stretch.


4. Coordinate when to spend money out and when to eat at home

Cooking at home or preparing a lunch and bringing it to work will seriously cut down on costs. Eating out all of the time is expensive and really adds up. It takes a little more work, but cooking some meals will make your dollar stretch a lot further.


how to save money traveling


5. Bring a water bottle

If you take a water bottle with you wherever you go you’ll never have to waste money on buying a drink or water. You’ll also drink more water and stay hydrated so it’s a win win!


6. Price shop for cheap travel

When planning day or weekend trips, do a little homework on transportation costs and lodging. See whether buses, planes or trains are the most economical option for travel. Also, consider hostels or sharing an AirBnB instead of paying for a hotel.


7. Go to the supermarket instead of the corner store

The gas station or corner store that’s most convenient also likely has considerably higher prices than the supermarket. Take the extra minutes necessary to make a grocery list and go shopping in order to pay the lowest prices for your food.


8. Walk and take public transportation unless a cab is absolutely necessary

Walking is both the healthier and cheaper option to get around the city. You also get to know the city better than people who take taxis all the time. If walking isn’t an option, take public transportation. Podcasts or a book will make the experience more pleasurable.


how to save money traveling


9. Drink water

Ask for tap water when you eat out at restaurants. It’s healthier and the cheapest drink option on the menu.


10. Equip yourself with snacks

If you’re off sightseeing with your friends, you may not need to pay to eat out and have a big lunch or dinner. If you buy plenty of healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, sandwiches and crackers, you may be able to bypass a big, expensive meal at a restaurant and instead enjoy a tasty picnic at the park.


11. Don’t buy anything you don’t need

Try to eliminate all extra spending while you’re abroad. There’s no need to go on a shopping spree – invest in your experiences instead. Take pictures instead of buying souvenirs.


12. Take advantage of parks and plazas

Sometimes the best part of a city is the part that is completely free. Make sure to see as many parks and plazas wherever you’re staying. It’s likely where the locals are spending their free time too (meanwhile, not spending a dime)!


13. Check out free museum hours

Most museums have a few hours each week when entrance is completely free. If you’re trying to save, it may be a good idea to plan on going to the museums during these times.


Now that you know how to save money traveling, apply now and boost your career with an international internship!


Photo 1. based on Save Money, by 401(K) 2012, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on cooking, by Damian, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Metro, by Chris Brown, CC-by-2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth 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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