Category: Affordable Travel (page 1 of 3)

A Guide to Budget Travel in South Africa

Traveling South Africa on a budget means experiencing burning sunrises, mountains that will swallow you whole, and the most powerful animals in the world…all on the cheap!  Is South Africa cheap to visit? Well, it depends. It turns out that you can actually see and experience a LOT while traveling South Africa on a budget. Don’t let your finances stop you!

Cape Town, South Africa

Pay less than $5 for conservation and hike Table Mountain in Cape Town!

To name a few of the many activities you’ll want to count on in your South Africa travel cost, here are the basics: surfing, wine tasting, experiencing safaris, shark diving, dancing till morning on Long Street, and hiking beautiful mountains.

There are endless activities, sights, adrenaline rushes, views, and so much to experience when traveling South Africa on a budget. Most of what South Africa is known for is its natural beauty, which is, of course, free! To complement this, logistical travel costs can be extremely cheap depending on your preference.

Is South Africa cheap to visit?

Yes, budget travel in South Africa is possible! You’ll find many unique resources catered towards affordable travel. Traveling South Africa on a budget is easy and you can do and see things that you might not have been able to afford in other places.

For example, when traveling to pricier destinations like Europe, simple expenses feel like unwarranted indulgences. However, in South Africa, you can choose what you want to indulge in because basic expenses are affordable. If you want to budget more on food or accommodation, there are plenty of options. This means you can spend more on activities or experiences.

[Related: How Much Does a Gap Year Cost?]

Traveling South Africa on a budget 

South Africa

When you budget travel to South Africa, you can stay longer and experience more!

1. Where should I go?

South Africa is a travel-friendly country with a famous route located down the coast that hits many of the country’s beautiful offerings called the Garden Route.

The Garden Route is well-known to locals and foreigners for its beautiful sites and activities. It’s 300km and can be traveled from anywhere between four to 14 days. Keep in mind that the more time you have, the more you can see and experience!

Along the Garden Route, some of the most popular destinations include:

  • Hermanus
  • Mossel Bay
  • Oudtshoorn
  • Plettenberg Bay
  • Stormsriver/Tsitsikamma
  • Addo National Elephant Park.

This might seem like quite a few destinations and you might be thinking, how is South Africa cheap to visit? But these destinations are close together and this is a typical. The Garden Route is made for staying, experiencing, then packing up and moving to the next city. This is so well-known that there are tons of resources and itineraries for how to conquer the route. In fact, South Africa is probably one of the very few countries where you can afford bouncing from city to city. 

2. What can I do?

Check out any of the following activities if you’re on a shoestring budget, and you’ll find surprisingly affordable options (but DON’T sacrifice your safety just to save a few $$$!):

  • Shark cage diving in Hermanus
  • Surfing in Mossel Bay
  • Exploring caves and ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn
  • Hiking, whale watching, snorkeling, canopy tours, and diving with seals in Plettenberg Bay, Monkeyland, and Birds of Eden
  • Kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, bungee jumping in Tsitsikamma National Park located in Stormsriver
  • Take a safari in Addo national elephant park and see hundreds of elephants in the wild along with other animals—including lions if you’re lucky
mary alice haas south africa elephant safari

Budget travel to South Africa is unique because you can save easily and choose what you indulge on!

3. How should I get around?

  • By car. The best way to travel the garden route is by car. Renting a car with a few friends is cheap and the most efficient way to complete the Garden Route. You will maximize your time and get to choose where you want to go and how much time you want to spend at each stop. 
  • By bus. The Bazz Bus caters to those traveling all throughout South Africa and specifically Garden Route travelers. It’s definitely worth looking into if you can’t afford to rent a car or are solo traveling and want a cheap option. It’s a hop on/hop off bus that is linked to hundreds of accommodation options throughout South Africa and in cities along the Garden Route. 
  • By hostel. The Garden Route is known for its unique hostels. Because this route is popular in South Africa, hostels are catered towards the convenience of Garden Route travelers. They’re also themed, have diverse excursion options, and offer affordable and delicious food. Staying at hostels is part of the Garden Route experience and you can find the cheapest accommodation by lodging in hostels along the way.

4. What other costs are there to consider?

Depending on if you’re volunteering, studying, interning, working, or adventure traveling, costs to consider will obviously vary. However, traveling the Garden Route is an affordable and crucial trip that you should consider no matter what reason brings you to South Africa. 

Addo Elephant National Park

A safari in Addo Elephant National Park costs nothing but a $6 entrance fee.

Other South Africa travel costs to consider, especially along the Garden Route, are entrance fees, the cost for excursions, and other small expenses.

Here are a few examples of the prices of each: 

  • The entrance fee to both Monkeyland and Birds of Eden is 360 rand, which is about $11 for each sanctuary 
  • The entrance fee for Etosha National Park is around $6
  • Tsitsikamma’s entrance fee is $15; hiking is free but other excursions like kayaking to explore the deep pools and caves is $40

Other small fees to keep in mind:

  • Car fees for entering national parks 
  • Cash withdrawal fees 
  • Tipping in restaurants is 10-15%, and don’t forget about tipping car guards, petrol employees, and caretakers at your accommodation

[Related: How to Save Money for Travel as a Student]

Defer your South Africa trip cost with FMT

If traveling in South Africa isn’t within your budget, you can also fundraise for your trip expenses using FundMyTravel. FMT was started to give travelers an individual platform for raising money to travel. You can budget for your trip, incentivize donors to contribute, and request offline support. It’s a great resource to fundraise for your next trip! 

If you’re interested in volunteering in South Africa, FundMyTravel is used by many travelers to share more about a particular nonprofit or line of volunteer work. This allows potential donors to learn more about what they’re donating to and it helps them understand more personally the cause that they’re contributing to.

Go see South Africa on a budget!

South Africa

With the amount South Africa has to offer, you won’t feel like you’re budgeting. Besides—the best travel experiences are free!

When traveling through South Africa, sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you can’t see as much or won’t have comfortable accommodation. Traveling is encouraged locally and internationally, so staying in hostels, eating in more affordable locations, and doing as much as possible is a part of the Garden Route culture!

Whether you’re studying, interning, adventuring, working, or volunteering, you’ll be able to experience multiple cities, excursions, and beautiful nature economically. South Africa has so much to offer that can be seen and done while sticking to a budget.

Visit FundMyTravel and Create Your Campaign NOW!

This article was written by Mary Alice Haas. Mary Alice graduated in May 2019 with a bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in women’s studies. She spent five months in South Africa attending Stellenbosch University while working as a digital communications intern for University Studies Abroad Consortium. Shortly after, she left for Bengaluru, India where she spent four months attending Christ University studying women’s issues. She currently lives in Tacloban, Philippines working as a content marketing intern for

How Much Does a Gap Year Cost?

How much does a gap year cost? That’s an essential question to answer before you leave for yours! Figure out the cost of a gap year, and then get planning. ☆ One of everyone’s biggest dreams is to travel the world, and a gap year seems to be the most popular and affordable way to make this dream come true.

“But won’t it cost me an arm and a leg?” you might ask. The answer to that question depends on what you envision yourself doing on your gap year, what your destination is, the type of gap year you’d be doing, and other travel preferences you might have. So, our answer? It depends.

woman wearing backpack in wilderness

When determining the average gap year cost, don’t forget to factor in your trusty backpack!

See, traveling the world does not have to be expensive if you know how to plan it well. So let’s just decide right now that spreadsheets are your new best friend, because we’ve broken down for you the expenses of how much you’ll need to spend to make your dream come true.

Your travel plan will determine your cost of a gap year

The first thing you need to decide on is if you’d like to go on your gap year with a certain program, or if you want to take this one into your own hands. If you decide to spend your gap year with a program, your budget should first start with the program fee. Check out everything that is included in the program fee already, such as how many countries you will hit, the duration, amenities, or extra activities. From here on, what you’ll factor into your spreadsheet could be quite small.

But if you’re determined to give this a try on your own, let’s start first with deciding where exactly you want to go…and be smart about it! If your tour sounds something like Germany-Japan-New Zealand-and whatever other country, it may be very hard to accomplish for cheap. Stick to a destination that allows you to travel easily and affordably between countries, and where the cost of living is not so high. For example Southeast Asia is a very popular destination for those on a tight budget.  

How much does the average gap year cost?

It’s time to bring out your laptop and your spreadsheet, because we’re about to break the average cost of a gap year down for you. Keep in mind that these costs are what you have to account for if you’re planning your own trip, or if your program fee covers only the bare bones (make sure you touch base with a program advisor before you get too ahead of yourself). So…how much does the average gap year cost?

1. Airfare

Flights between countries are likely to be the highest expense in your budget during your gap year. Consider purchasing yourself a multi-destination ticket, which can cover many stops for one price. It’s not only cheaper than booking each flight individually, but it is also much faster and convenient to have one ticket for all stops. Asia is one of the most budget-friendly destinations, with tickets that cost around $650 for a trip like Home – Sri Lanka – Bangkok – Singapore – Home (depending on where home is). Not bad, eh?

view of airplane wing over clouds

Your gap year is gonna be overseas, right? Then you’re gonna need to find yourself a good deal on airfare.

2. Visas

Depending on the countries you are going to travel to, you may or may not need a visa. If you’re going to Europe, the duration of your visa is a set 90-days for all 26 countries that are part of the Schengen accord. Usually the cost for visa depends on the type of visa you are getting and it can vary from $25 all the way up to $150. If you’re spending your gap year with a program, make sure you check if visa fees are included in the program fee. To make sure you get all the information you need about visas, check out GoAbroad’s resource for visas & passports, and do your research thoroughly. 

3. Accommodation

You’ll have to sleep somewhere, and there will be countries you will be sleeping in longer than others. Depending on which countries those are, prices can vary widely, from as little as $7 per night for a hostel room in Bangkok, to as high as $30 per night in London. If you happen to have friends in some of the countries you are visiting, you might be able to crash with them for a night or two and save some $$$. 

Nowadays there are more options for accommodation than ever before. Check out couchsurfing, hostels, room shares, homestays, Airbnbs, and hotels. Ensure that you have laid out a good plan for where to lay your head at night. Don’t simply wing it unless you want to run the risk of spending the night in a 24-hour McDonald’s eating McFlurries. Have at least a rough idea of your options and if something better or cheaper presents itself along the way, good for you. If not, at least you’re not wandering on the streets at night! 

4. Food

You gotta eat, right? And chances are that your accommodation does not come with breakfast, lunch, and dinner included. Pretty much like everything else, how much you’ll have to budget for food highly depends on your destination. For example, in Thailand you can eat an entire meal with drinks for about $3, while in Australia you will have to shell out at least $10 just for the meal. But if there is one thing that most countries have in common, it’s local markets. Cook a lot at home, or hit the local food markets where you can sometimes get three days’ worth of food under $5. The most budget-friendly countries when it comes to food are in Southeast Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. 

5. Transportation

You’re abroad, in a new country, and you can’t just sit in one place. You gotta more around, see as much as you can at the lowest price you can find. Remember that this cost is not included in the airplane costs. This is your transportation within the country, or even between them. If you can take a quick bus ride to a neighboring country, then go for it. Just remember that it will chip at your budget. You need to account for every train, bus, cab, or Uber ride. Use public transportation and share rides to keep the transportation budget on the low side. You can cut even more on those costs if you are into bike riding or walking to your sightseeing destinations.

people on tuk tuk in thailand

Public transportation will not only help shave off your total cost of a gap year—it will also lead to some crazy adventures!

6. Insurance and vaccinations 

If you’re going on a gap year, you definitely need travel insurance. You might have your own health insurance in your own country, but with travel insurance you will be covered overseas, in multiple countries, for the entire length of your travel. Some policies even cover certain extreme sports, such as skydiving and bungee jumping. Policies vary in cost and what they offer, so make sure you know what you are covered for. Prices for gap year travel insurance start around $40 per week, and the prices go up from there depending on the length of your travel. 

If you are doing a tour in Africa, it is highly recommended that you vaccinate yourself before your travels. Anti malarial tablets are essential, and make sure to bring the proper type of clothing with you (like long sleeves and trousers) in order to avoid mosquito bites. It’s also a good idea to do research ahead of time and see if there are any other health concerns concentrated in your destination, such as rabies or Dengue, so that you can take the proper precautions. Don’t forget to pack essential medications that you’re taking, as they may not be available in your destination.

7. Gear 

Invest in a good backpack of about 60L — you want to travel light and with essentials. If it’s something you can find where you’re going, get it when you arrive to save on luggage space. For instance, any toiletries can be bought when you arrive and may be cheaper. Bring travel adapters if you need any, an external charging battery for your phone, a travel towel (it will come in handy in places that may not have any), an international phone plan (you can’t always find WiFi) and a comfortable pair of shoes. Your feet will be very grateful.

8. Activities 

Last but not least, budget for all the tours and activities that you want to do during your gap year. Add every ticket or entrance fee for museums, galleries, concerts or events, getting a diving certification, buying souvenirs, visiting national parks, and so on. Usually, once you arrive in a new country you end up wanting to do more, or maybe other things than you initially planned for, so having a little bit more money than what you budgeted is always a good idea! 

Affordable places to take your gap year

It all sounds good and nifty, eh? But still don’t know where to start with your destination? Here are some of the most affordable-yet-mesmerizing places you should consider for your gap year!

1. Thailand 

view of had yuan beach in thailand

The beautiful beaches of Thailand are surprisingly affordable.

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for gappers on a tight budget, with its incredible temples, beautiful beaches, jungles, cheap lifestyle, delicious food, and amazing sky bars. And you can experience everything! You can easily find accommodation for $2 per night, or if you want a night of luxury, it will cost you about $20.

The food at the local food markets, and street food in general, is a lot cheaper and even tastier than what you get at some high quality fancy restaurant. Transportation is also incredibly cheap and you can take the bus and train to explore the entire country. Or even better, get yourself that “around the world” ticket and jump over to Singapore, Cambodia, or Indonesia. A whole year might seem like a lot of time, but you don’t know how fast that goes by when you’re enjoying yourself.

2. Mexico

Mexico and Central America in general have incredibly affordable destinations that makes everyone’s gap year an unforgettable experience. Hotel prices start as low as $2 per night, and there is delicious street food at every turn you take, so you never have to worry about going hungry.

Activities, such as diving in Honduras, are known to be some of the cheapest in the world, and if you spend most of your days at the beach your budget can easily be kept in check. Mexico itself has enough activities and wonderful places to offer that can keep you busy throughout the entire year, but you should definitely make quick jumps to Belize, Honduras, or Nicaragua. See how you can fit them in your budget, because it would be a shame to miss.

3. South Africa

If you truly dream of a unique and memorable gap year, experiencing South Africa can be a rewarding experience. Discover the home of the most magnificent wildlife that offers the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino), breathtaking wildland with incredible safaris, parks and reserves, ancient culture and traditions that the people still proudly practice, and unique activities such as surfing, jungle trekking, safari rides, and even shark diving.

Things like food and accommodation are very affordable in South Africa, especially if you shop at the local markets for meats, vegetables, and fruits, and their transportation system is one of the most inexpensive in the world. Let’s put it like this — the cost of living in South Africa is at least 50% cheaper than the majority of major cities in the world. How does that sound for a gap year?

4. Vietnam

Also on the list as one of the most popular yet affordable places for your gap year is Vietnam. Spend a thrilling year in Vietnam motorbiking, kitesurfing, discovering ancient temples, exploring the world’s most spectacular cave system in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, relaxing on the beach, or hiking through the countryside.

At the end of the day, grab yourself a freshly tapped beer from the local vendors for as little as 10 cents in Hanoi, and eat something different every day from the myriad of street food choices. To top if all off, you can get yourself a nicely-sized, modern room for as little as $7 per night. Don’t care much about the room, because you only need it to sleep and are spending most of your days out and about? Then sleep in a hostel for $2 and spend the rest of your money on more amazing activities.

golden bridge in da nang, vietnam

You’ll have plenty to see AND eat on the cheap in Vietnam.

The cost of a gap year will buy you an unforgettable 365 days

How much does a gap year cost? Hopefully not as much as you were originally imagining! We’ve broken down what you should take into consideration when you’re figuring out the cost of a gap year, and what a gap year program includes. At the end of your spreadsheet, you might come to an amount in the thousands — an average gap year cost being about $5000 — but if you put it into perspective with how much you’re spending at home for an entire year, you’ll quickly figure out that it is not nearly as expensive.

The cost of a gap year involves paying less than half the rent, and less for food and activities, all while you’re learning new life skills, immersing yourself in new cultures and languages, and learning more about yourself as a person as you step out of your comfort zone, pushing your limits and setting yourself on a path to success. 

You don’t have to rush into your decision, but sitting down for a few minutes and doing some math will be time well spent. This is a life-changing decision and you need to make sure you are prepared for what you’re signing yourself up to! Ready for an amazing way to spend an unforgettable 365 days of your life?

Begin Your Campaign Today to Fund Your Gap Year!

luciana dinuThis article was written by Lucy Dinu. Lucy is an entrepreneur and world traveler—plus writer by day, and reader by night. Born and raised in Romania, Lucy has lived in three different countries and, together with her husband, has traveled to over 20. She strongly believes in personal development, speaks five languages (with a sixth in progress!) and is passionate about everything that puts a smile on people’s faces. Through her unique traveling stories, Lucy aims to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world.

How to Start a New Life Abroad (with No Money)

If you’re wondering how to go abroad with no money, check out our advice below! ☆ Let’s face it, no matter who you voted for in 2016, the last few years have been tough on us all. Being from the good ole’ U.S. of A. is still marked by a certain exceptionalism, but it probably doesn’t inspire quite so much resounding self-assurance nor so many feelings of righteousness as it did for generations past.

new york city traffic at rush hour

Also, rush hour just really starts to grind your gears, doesn’t it?

They keep saying the economy is working for Americans, but you’re not feeling the trickle down. You barely have time to pick your jaw up off the floor and wipe the tears from your eyes before another racist comment or an image of a child in a cage has it happening all over again. And it’s hard to believe it took the Commander in Chief to make Millennials understand the importance of proper spelling on social media.

All these shiny, happy feelings about “America”—or at least the Trump-led portion of this massive continent—have certainly inspired a lot of threats to decamp to Canada where our uber-polite neighbors to the north will shower us in healthcare, maple syrup, and handsome heads of government. Still, few have put their money where their disapproving mouths are. Will you be one of the brave ones? 

Can I start a new life abroad with no money?

Let’s be real. The realest. This is not going to be an easy task. Figuring out how to leave America with no money is going to take a lot of hard work, determination, patience, creativity, resilience. You may have to seriously cut back on some greater and lesser luxuries to which you’ve become accustomed (read: your bespoke, off-menu espresso drink habit your parents are always on your case about).

overhead shot of lattes and cold brew

Yes, you might have to give up coffee if you want to start a new life abroad with no money. This is your sign to get that barista’s number NOW.

We’re not saying it can’t be done. It certainly can. This country was populated by plenty of people who were once in the same boat (no pun intended). But be realistic and be prepared to play the long game, because this may take a little while.

How to move to another country with no money

Step 1: Figure out where you’re going.

The first step of how to start a life abroad with no money is to decide where you’re headed. Pretty much everything else—your budget, your visa requirements, your employment options, the wardrobe you’ll pack—will all be determined in large part by this choice, so set your intention early and keep your eye on the prize.

How to choose? Consider the cost of getting where you’re going and the cost of living when you arrive. Not only does the exchange rate favor your USD more in Mexico than it does in New Zealand, but it is also a whole lot cheaper to fly to the former than it is to fly to the latter. Money is, of course, not the only object. Consider choosing some place you’ve been before for a more realistic picture of what your new life will be like.

You might also want to consider your language skills and/or your sense of adventure and how those will impact your sense of belonging and employability abroad. Do you have any friends or family abroad who you could count on as a support network in a pinch? Working backwards from these goals will help you stay focused while you figure out how to go abroad with no money.

[Related: How to Save Money for a Trip in 4 Months]

Step 2: Put in on your calendar.

What’s a realistic timeline for your departure? Is there a graduation date approaching? Do you need time to save money? Will you wait until your current lease runs out so you don’t have to pay any cancellation fees? How long will it take you to process the necessary paperwork and sell everything you don’t need to take with you? Are there any important milestones on the horizon for your loved ones that you absolutely can’t miss?

Ask yourself these questions to help put an end date on your time here in the land of the Cheeto-in-Chief. Give yourself enough time to get your life in order, but not so much time that you make it easy to get cold feet. 

Step 3: Set aside some dough.

With the countdown to your new life started, you’ll want to be prepared financially. Pay down any lingering debt. Get serious about saving that cash-money so that you have the start-up funds you’ll need to find a place to live, buy some basics for your new casa, and some left over for some wholesome fun.

You’re going to want to make new friends! Be realistic about just how comfortable (or not) you are with where you’re living while you get yourself established in your new hometown. Plan generously for how much time it could take you to find a steady stream of income to support yourself once you touch down in your new locale.

We know it’s not fun, but now’s a good time to cut back on some of your extravagances and guilty pleasures. Not only will this help you save some money to prepare for your move, it will also help you adjust to living lean, which you’ll probably have to do for at least a little while.

Step 4: Consider how you will eventually make money.

woman holding fan of money in front of her face

You’ll have to support yourself eventually, unless you’re okay with watching your savings drain down to 0.

Sooner or later, the path to how to start a new life abroad with no money is going to lead to…making money. How will you do it? Options abound for teaching abroad, au pairing, and the hospitality industry, but you can certainly find jobs in any field that is your specialty if you’re patient and determined.

If you’re aiming for a destination where it’s hard to get a work visa, consider options for working remotely instead. And remember, not all wages are created equal. Australia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and France have the highest minimum wages for hourly work in the world. Switzerland, Canada, and the Nordic countries offer excellent public health care.

Be realistic about what you want and need out of your new life abroad and what that will cost you. What are you willing to sacrifice? We hate to reduce your bold, adventurous move to a bottom line, but trust us. If you start planning now for your overseas career move, you’re less likely to feel desperate when your start-up funds get low.

Step 5: Commit. 

You’ve put in the forethought. You’ve started your preparations. Eventually, you’ll feel like you’re reaching the point of no return. Go with it. Moves this big can generate a lot of uncertainty, but constant self-doubt is no way to start a new life abroad with no money. You got this.

wayne’s world thumbs up

Party on, my dude. (Within budget, of course.)

Step 6: Now tell everyone you know.

Seriously. All the people. Ease your loved ones into the idea of you living far away. Put out your feelers for advice, connections, and support that they may be able to offer out of the kindness of their U.S.-politics-loathing hearts once they know your intentions. Let them hold you gently accountable to your plan, so that when you have those brief moments of panic and ask yourself. “Am I doing the right thing?” you’ll have someone there to remind you of the answer.

Step 7: Make sure you’re on the up and up.

The trick to how to leave America with no money is to make sure that wherever you go, they won’t send you back to the U.S.A. until you’re ready. Inform yourself about the processes, procedures, and costs associated with establishing and maintaining legal status in your country of choice. Make sure your passport won’t need to be renewed for a while. Find out if you need a visa before you leave.

Or can you enter as a tourist and file to change your status later? Do you need a job lined up to sponsor your visa, or can you go on your own? Take copies of pertinent documents that may be required when you file for your status in your new country: birth certificate, marriage license, social security card, vaccination records, passport, drivers’ license, diplomas and professional licenses, proof of employment or documentation for your small business/self-employment.

Consider getting them legalized in advance with an apostille. The costs in time and money of handling these things after you arrive could really mess with your mood, if not your plans, so it’s better to think ahead.

[Related: What is Crowdfunding for Travel? How Does it Work?]

Step 8: Get cultured.

Start familiarizing yourself with the place you’re headed. Read books and newspapers from the region. Watch TV and movies. Listen to music. The interwebs have made this so much easier to do than it was in the days of the pilgrims. You don’t have to fly blind! Prepping yourself for the culture shock that awaits and developing a repertoire of cultural references that you’ll share with your adopted compatriots will help you make friends, sell yourself and your skills appropriately in job interviews, and feel at home sooner.

Step 9: Start your self-care routine now.

Despite all your great preparations and bright-eyed optimism, there will be days where navigating how to start a new life abroad with no money will get you down. Before you’re in the thick of it, start thinking about what makes you feel good when you’re tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, or homesick. Build your toolbox for self-soothing and reframing tough situations. Bonus points for identifying self-care that costs little to nothing since your budget may be a bit tight at first, and you don’t want to choose activities that add to the stress later.

woman journaling with a coffee cup

Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re abroad—it may be a stressful journey.

Keep a journal about your experience. Practice mindfulness. Go for a walk outdoors and take deep breaths. Save your ex-roomie’s Netflix password on your browser so you can binge-watch Queer Eye when you need a reminder of the brighter side of the new Americana. Calling home can help, too, but don’t rely on this too much. If you’re not present in your new environment, you’ll never figure out how to move to another country with no money and stay there to make a real go of it.

Step 10: Create a FundMyTravel Account.

There are plenty of sympathetic, like-minded gringos out there who will be happy to help you out. Start a FundMyTravel account and tell your story. Every little bit will help to get you closer to your goal while also giving hope to those of us whose brains have been too numbed by the 24-hour news cycle to figure out how to leave America with no money ourselves.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems…so good thing you don’t have any!

toy airplane on a globe

If you’re determined to start a new life abroad with no money, you can make it happen!

Or, if Pac is more your speed: even though you’re fed up, you gotta keep your head up! 

Take that frustration and turn it into focus. Since you began thinking about how to start a new life abroad with no money, you’ve probably also realized that this is not for the faint of heart. Then again, neither is waking up to the latest non-headline ripped from an ill-informed, ill-composed tweet. But with a bit of careful planning and a whole lot of gumption, it can be done. So get to it! (And don’t forget to apply for your absentee ballot before the 2020 deadline.)

Make a FundMyTravel Account Now…So You Can GTF Outta Here

amelia dietrichThis article was written by Amelia Dietrich. Amelia’s day job keeps her busy helping study abroad professionals grow and improve their professional practice in order to help college students have safe, high-quality educational experiences abroad. When work travel isn’t enough, Latin America is her destination of choice thanks to a past life as a Spanish teacher and bilingualism researcher.


9 Money-Saving Ways to Travel with Student Debt

Wondering how to pay student loans while abroad? Is that even possible? We’ve got the 411 for wanderlusting recent grads who want to travel with student debt! ☆ The young and restless world-traveling dreamers who are freshly coming out of college with a diploma in one hand and a student loan in the other can now take a deep breath. Paying off student debt while living abroad is not a dream anymore! Say whaaaat?

students is graduation caps sitting in graduation ceremony

The student debt represented in this photo probably equates close to a million dollars.

There has never been a time with a greater need for expat students and international employees than now, when the world has opened its borders (for the most part). If your level of English is close to native and you have a diploma, we guarantee that you can find a job pretty much anywhere you want in the world. Can you picture yourself paying off debt while living abroad? Yes you can!

At home, it usually goes that after you finish college and get a job, you start paying off your debt. The process is practically the same abroad as well. Except that it is, well, abroad, and your life is not your ordinary life anymore. A few things may change, like your lifestyle, your salary, your expenses, and of course your daily routine, but isn’t that exactly what you are looking for?

You’re probably here because you’re looking for a change of scenery, and a way to pay off your debt but still travel to your heart’s content. Wanna know how? Keep on reading, friend! You’re about to learn how to travel with student debt.

Is paying student loans while living abroad possible?

Although a student loan should not really be looked at as a “loan” but instead as an investment in one’s self and their career, at the end of the day it’s still a burden that thousands of people have to deal with. It’s a burden that makes a lot of people put their travel dreams on hold until they pay their debt off, and then they can start enjoying life.

Naturally, people look for loopholes—a way you can make both happen, and you don’t have to wait until you’re debt free or too old to travel the world. So…is paying off debt while living abroad possible?

hand holding up rolled american 20 dollar bill

Ugh…every little bit helps when paying off debt while living abroad (we guess).

The answer to that question is a definite YES! But (there’s always a but), there is a certain amount of planning involved to make this possible. Before you jump into something and create more debt, make sure your plan is tight, and you are prepared for anything. If you are still living at home with your parents, paying rent in another country might not be a feasible option for you, and the thought of moving to a whole new country is scary. But we are here to put your worries at ease.

[How to Save Money for Travel as a Student]

Paying off debt while living abroad requires planning

First and foremost, start by taking a hard look at the amount that you owe, re-evaluate your loans, maybe even consolidate them, and know exactly what amount you have to pay towards it every month. From this point on, your loan will be treated like any other monthly bill, meaning that whatever you budget for, this should always be on your expenses list. 

Be smart with your budget and your choices. When you look for accommodation, keep in mind that living outside major cities (rather than downtown) is more affordable. Check for public transportation and connections, get a bike, share rent, hit the local food markets more often, and do free outdoor activities. In other words, be creative at having fun!

You might not be living a glamorous life, but you will be living the most fulfilling life—and you’ll be able to see than principal balance steadily declining. Instead of going out to eat, cook at home and save your money for a trip in your new home country. You can even search for different ways to make some extra travel money, like freelance work or tutoring English to local children. 

And perhaps your debt won’t get paid in full by the time you head back home (that happens and it’s okay!), but by the end of your adventure, a significant part of it will have been paid off and you’ll have had some of the best memories and significant experiences of your life.

Who knows, you could be one of those people who are so much happier in their new host country that they just decide to stay even after they’ve paid off their loan. Either way, we see it as a win-win situation.

9 tips on how to pay student loans while abroad

If you’re still worried and can’t imagine how in God’s name any of this is possible, check out these 10 tips on how to pay student loans while abroad.

person writing in notebook at desk near globe

Get your pen and notebook out, and get started on your plan for paying off debt while living abroad!

1. Get yourself a working holiday visa

One of the best and most popular ways to earn some money while you’re living abroad is through working holidays. You can do seasonal jobs in different countries abroad, like working in a hotel or a resort, as a staff member in a restaurant, or even be part of a crew staff and sail across the globe.

These options give you the chance to live as a local in a new country and become a part of the community, all while you’re earning an income. And if this sounds like bogus advice to you, do yourself a favor a Google the minimum wage in typical WHV countries, like Australia and New Zealand.

Pro tip: Good service brings good tips. Extra cash means extra enjoyment or more down payment towards your loan. If you happen to be working in Europe, you can make beaucoup d’argent from your tips. Check, please!

2. Why not teach abroad?

You’ve just finished college, which means you have a degree in something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, because with a degree and a level of English close to native, you can teach abroad pretty much anywhere you want.

Apply for teaching jobs at universities, public or private schools, language universities and international schools. Even search for companies that hire English teachers for their employees. Some of these jobs might come with accommodation and certain benefits, which will definitely help your budget and reduce your debt immensely.

And it doesn’t have to be English you are teaching (although that’s definitely the most popular choice). You can also teach music, arts, math, or computer science; if your degree is in education, even more doors will open to you, especially in the Middle East.

[7 Tricks to Saving Money While Teaching Abroad]

3. Work remotely #digitalnomad

Isn’t this what everyone is doing or wishing to be doing nowadays? Some actually have the guts to pack their backpack and laptop and travel the world. Start your freelancing career today, because there are countless job opportunities out there for everyone.

Teach English online, become a virtual bookkeeper, write for a few blogs, design someone’s page, or sell cool stuff online. You can be living in a different country every 90 days when your tourist visa expires, all while you’re making payments towards your student loans.

And if you want to pick up and go back home, you can do that anytime you like! You make your own schedule and make your own decisions. Check out websites like Upwork, Rev, and Guru to get you started. 

4. Live a modest lifestyle

Now, in order to be able to live abroad and successfully lower your student loan debt, there are some things you may have to give up, like having a coffee from Starbucks everyday. Consider trying to save more money by shopping at second hand stores sometimes, driving an older car, using more public transportation, walking or cycling, and not eating out every weekend.

These are some of the most common and useful ways you can make living abroad possible and still pay off your student debt. Don’t go imagining a life of abstinence, because this is not what it is. You’re simply choosing to stay in a weekend or two, watch some TV, and relax, in order to have a whole week of adventures. Learn how to live smart and this is a skill that will forever help you in life.

hand holding out two large coins

Does this look like enough for a pumpkin spice latte? NO! Set your budget and stick to it, and you CAN travel with student debt.

5. Choose affordable countries

Choosing the country you will be living in depends on the road you’d like to take to travel with student debt. If you get a good job in, let’s say Spain, that offers certain benefits, then you don’t really have much to worry about.

However, if you’re more of a wild soul, or don’t have the luxury of being offered a generous salary in an expensive European country, then set your sails for more affordable countries, like the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, or Mexico, where the cost of living is very affordable. 

Pro tip: Use exchange rates to your advantage and live the life of your dreams. You’ll be watching your loan decrease while sipping from a coconut and getting ready for your evening yoga classes.

6. Pass on the four-star hotels

Your biggest cost (after your loans) will be that of your accommodation. But if you are smart about it, accommodations abroad don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. First rule: don’t live in the big cities.

Hit outside the city areas, which have just as much to offer as downtown—and probably even some cool hole-in-the-wall places you haven’t heard of. You will have to rely on public transportation, walking, or cycling to get where you want to go. But what better way to explore your host country? 

Second rule: you don’t have to live by yourself. You can easily find people to share rent with, or work as an au pair and live with a host family. An opportunity to interact more with the locals and actually live like one is an exciting opportunity that can’t be overstated.

7. Become an au pair, flight attendant, or drive away

And if you want a job where traveling is your job, you just hit the jackpot!

As an au pair, it would be your job to live with a host family in a different country, adapt to their lifestyle, and watch over their kids. You are involved in their daily activities, you get paid, and there are no bills for you to worry about—besides your student loans back home.

When you drop off a rental car somewhere other than where you picked it up, do you wonder how that car gets back to the original place you got it from? Well, rental companies hire people to drive their cars between different destinations. So if you love driving, cars, money, and have a student loan balance to pay off, you should give this job a try.

Or how about being one of those glamorous flight attendants who gets to jet around the world every single day? If you’re okay with an inconsistent work schedule, the payoff is an occasional weekend in a new country or city you’ve never been to before. Every airline has different standards and routes, so consider getting your feet wet with a domestic airline like Southwest before donning that chic Emirates uniform.

[How to Find Cheap Flights: FundMyTravel’s Inside Scoop]

8. Use FundMy Travel before you go!

You always want to have a safety net, which usually translates into a decent amount of cash to start this journey with. It will take you some time to get ready for this journey, so while you do your research and take care of packing and planning, why not start a campaign with FundMyTravel and raise some money with the help of friends, family, and internet strangers? 

Thousands of people like you have already launched campaigns to achieve their meaningful travel goals. You will be surprised at how much people actually value these campaigns and step up to help other people achieve their dreams. Give it a try—you have absolutely nothing to lose and a whole bunch to gain!

9. Sell your s***

Last (but not least for all the pack rats out there), if you have tons of stuff that you haven’t used in ages, and that you are most definitely not taking abroad with you, why not sell some of it and make some money?

A lot of the things you own are replaceable…so replace everything with items from your travels! Basically, you can sell your old things on websites such as Craigslist, eBay, and Decluttr to create a nest egg for your travels (and to create space in your parents’ basement). Then you can use that money to buy yourself incredible experiences and memories abroad. Now that is money well spent! 

Paying off debt while living abroad is possible… shall we pinch you?

world map with pins

Pictured here: All the places you can go while paying off student loans while living abroad.

No, it is not a dream! Everything you’ve read is entirely true and there are thousands of people just like you out there doing it right now. You could too! And this is the perfect time to do it. You’ve worked hard to get your degree, and this will only make the experience so much more worth it.

When you get home, not only will you have significantly reduced your debt (if not even paid it off)  but now you’ve also gained an incredible set of skills and experiences that will make your resume shine amongst the others.

You’re set up for success! So, are you willing to be mildly to moderately (to even significantly) uncomfortable for the sake of achieving your travel dreams? Only the adventurous need apply.

Start Your Campaign With FundMyTravel!

This article was written by Lucy Dinu. Lucy is an entrepreneur and world traveler—plus writer by day, and reader by night. Born and raised in Romania, Lucy has lived in three different countries and, together with her husband, has traveled to over 20. She strongly believes in personal development, speaks five languages (with a sixth in progress!) and is passionate about everything that puts a smile on people’s faces. Through her unique traveling stories, Lucy aims to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world.

11 Countries with No Tuition Fees (or Close to It)

If you want to take your degree global, you’ll want to know about countries with no tuition fees. Check them out! ☆ It’s no secret that getting a good quality education can cost an arm and a leg. In fact, student loans are one of the top causes of debt, especially in the United States where university tuition fees average around $35,000 a year!

Countries with no tuition fees

Sitting around in fancy libraries racks up quite the bill.

But earning a top-notch degree doesn’t have to mean spending decades to pay off your loans. If you’re willing to break the mold, there’s a brilliant solution: earn your university degree abroad.

While most write off study abroad experiences to avoid drowning in debt, studying abroad can actually save you money. Do your research and you’ll find there are quite a few countries around the world with no tuition fees.

That’s right, you can quench your wanderlust, have the adventure of a lifetime, and earn a high-quality degree at world-renowned universities – affordably. Say goodbye to student loans, and hello to countries with free university tuition!

Is it too good to be true?

Some say nothing in life comes free. As with any international travel, there will be costs you’ll incur while studying abroad, including flights, visas, and accommodation. Even if you save on tuition, an education abroad still means forking out some hard-earned money.

But countries with no tuition fees for international students are out there waiting for you. You’ll find European countries with free university tuition, especially in the Nordic region, as well as affordable universities spanning from South America to Asia.

By choosing to study in countries with free university tuition, you’ll still come out with less debt and you’ll have a grand adventure while you’re at it!

11 countries with no tuition fees for international students

1. Germany

Countries with no tuition fees

Keep Germany at the top of your list when looking for the cheapest universities for international students.

Oh, Germany: land of hefeweizen, bratwurst, and…free tuition! Germany is one of the most popular countries for international students, and for good reason. It is one of the few countries with no tuition fees for international students, whether you are from the EU or beyond.

While it can be common at some private universities to pay a small administrative fee, this usually includes a discounted public transportation pass, so you save even more. Better yet, Germany has a booming economy, a world-renowned education system, and a plethora of English programs, making it the ideal location for degrees abroad.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: FREE
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Munich, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, Wismar University

2. Norway

Norway has the cheapest universities for international students in the Nordic region and makes the list for countries with no tuition fees. But Norway’s magic does not just lie in the absence of tuition costs. Imagine snowy mountains, deep blue fjords, and the Aurora Borealis to top off the experience of a lifetime!

There’s only one con: Norway is expensive. The cost of living is higher than most other parts of Europe, which means you’ll need a hefty savings account to cover on-the-ground costs. While this may not be a deciding factor for everyone, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind before jumping into a degree program abroad in Norway. 

  • Average tuition cost for international students: FREE
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Bergen, University of Norway

3. Austria

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Austria offers more than views of the Alps, iconic Gothic architecture, and high class living. It also features some of the cheapest universities for international students! While EU citizens study for free, other international students only pay a small fee under $1,000 for the year. That’s over $30,000 in savings compared to your average American university!

Settle yourself in beautiful Vienna to embark on an excellent academic program, and explore museums, go hiking, and feast on schnitzel in your free time. Just double check whether the classes are taught in English or German!

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,000/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Vienna, Vienna University of Technology, Graz University of Technology, University of Innsbruck

4. Hungary

Countries with no tuition fees

Take your studies to Hungary, and enjoy a beautiful blend of low university tuition and low cost of living.

Hungary reflects the classic feeling of “Old Europe” with its historic streets and charming villages. Its folk culture is very much alive, influencing the art, architecture, clothing, and music, making it a hotspot for international travel.

With its low cost of living, Hungary is also at the top of the list of cheapest universities for international students. While it may not be one of the few countries with no tuition fees, the cheap lifestyle outweighs the small fee to study abroad. In the long run, spending just over $1,000 in tuition fees per year may save you money while living in a cheap destination.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,100/year (FREE  if you’re from the EU)
  • Popular universities to attend: Attila Jozsef University, Avicenna International College, Budapest University of Economic Sciences, Central European University

[Need Money to Study Abroad? Ask Your Network]

5. Greece

Greece is magic: picturesque islands nestled into the Mediterranean Sea, crumbly feta with olives, and some of the cheapest universities for international students. Studying in Greece won’t be free (unless you’re from elsewhere in the EU) but tuition costs are still cheap.

Its low cost of living makes it one of the most affordable destinations in Europe – and the constant sunshine only raises the appeal. Whether you want to experience the grungy city life in Athens, the deep history of Thessaloniki, or sunbathe every day after class on the islands, Greece is an excellent destination to earn an education abroad. It rivals countries with free university tuition with its low cost and dreamlike scenery.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$2,400/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Crete, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

6. France

From coastal Marseille to the wine country of Bordeaux, France is spotted with café terraces, warm croissants, and excellent universities. Its world-renowned education system and French charme draw students from around the globe. EU students only pay a registration fee, making it another one of the top countries with free university education, while internationals pay a small annual fee.

With an increasing number of international students, more university programs are offered in English for both undergrad and graduate students. With some of the cheapest universities for international students, endless program options, and an allure like no other, France can be your haven for affordable education.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$4,000/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Bordeaux, École Polytechnique, Le Mans Université, Université de Montpellier

7. Finland

Finland has always been known as one of the few countries with no tuition fees for international students, but this has recently changed with the addition of small fees for non-EU students. Depending on the desired degree and program, students can expect to pay an annual fee. 

Unlike many other countries abroad, however, Finland’s financial aid and scholarship programs are open to international students, making it a desirable location for study abroad. Keep in mind that as with the other Nordic countries, Finland has some of the cheapest universities for international students, yet the cost of living is high. Is it worth the price to visit the land of clean air, happy people, and the real Santa Claus? We’ll let you decide.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$5,000+/year (FREE if you’re from the EU)
  • Popular universities to attend: Tampere University, University of Oulu, University of Jyväskylä, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, University of Helsinki

 [11 Secrets to Win Scholarships for Going Abroad]

8. Mexico

Countries with no tuition fees

Sunny days, delicious food, and cheap tuition. How about heading to Mexico for your degree?

If you venture outside of Europe, it’s more difficult to find countries with no tuition fees for international students, but you’ll still find cheap destinations. So if you’d prefer Caribbean beaches, spicy cuisine, and a vibrant, Spanish-speaking community, consider studying abroad in Mexico.

If you take time to plan and create a budget for international travel, Mexico offers some of the cheapest universities for international students. Choose between both English and Spanish programs, courses in archaeology or international business, and save money with incredible exchange rates. Each American dollar magically becomes 20 pesos, so you’ll be able to live like a king and study affordably.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$1,600+/year
  • Popular universities to attend: The National Autonomous University of Mexico, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Universidad Iberoamericano

9. Brazil

Craving those South American vibes and want to brush up on your Portuguese? Brazil is another destination with some of the cheapest universities for international students. Similar to Mexico, you won’t find free tuition, but you will find affordable university prices, endless sunshine, and some of the kindest people you’ll meet.

Get lost in the famous Rio de Janeiro or settle into island life in Florianopolis while studying Latin American studies, Portuguese, economics, or health care. In your free time, you can volunteer in underdeveloped communities to boost your CV, play a pickup soccer game with classmates, or sip on caipirinhas on the beach. Whatever you fancy, it will be cheap with affordable living costs throughout the country!

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$2,000/year
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Sao Paulo, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Federal University of ABC

10. China

If you’re looking for countries with no tuition fees for international students in Asia, the options are slim. But affordable living costs make it a top destination to earn an education while saving money on tuition. China features some of the cheapest universities for international students in Asia, and it is the perfect location for students majoring in international business.

The only downside: most courses are taught in Mandarin. If you aren’t fluent, there are not many options for degree programs. On the other hand, if you can speak the language, not only do you have access to some of the cheapest universities for international students, but you’ll also open doors to endless international opportunities.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$3,000/year
  • Popular universities to attend: Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University

11. India

Countries with no tuition fees

India is downright affordable both inside and outside the classroom.

With over 50 big cities and one billion people, India is a colorful destination that will open your eyes and shift your perspective. With rapid economic development, this country has grown into a desirable location for travel and study, but even as it continues to develop the cost of living remains low.

Tuition costs range from only $5,000 annually, but you’ll spend even less than this on food, accommodation, travel, and fun. Whether you want to study at a high-ranking university in New Delhi, or embrace the culture of Chennai and Jaipur, India offers some of the cheapest universities for international students and an opportunity to discover an entirely new world.

  • Average tuition cost for international students: ~$5,000/year
  • Popular universities to attend: University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore

[Using Student Loans to Travel—What You Need to Know]

Other ways to save money while attending universities abroad

Even if you’re lucky enough to study in countries with free university tuition, it’s still important to be money-conscious. You’ll need to save for flights, accommodation, basic living costs, and of course, fun!

Here are some other ways to save money while attending university abroad:

  • Use FundMyTravel to create a nest egg. Before you embark on the journey of a lifetime, why not tell the world about it? Create a fundraising page and share it with family and friends. Tell your story and encourage those you love to donate to a good cause: your education.
  • Buy used textbooks. Even the cheapest universities for international students can put a dent in your wallet when it comes to books. Instead of purchasing brand new course literature, explore ways of getting your hands on used textbooks. Do you know a past student who would be willing to lend or sell you their old books? Does Amazon ship to Hungary? Mexico? India?
  • Get a part-time job. The best way to save money while attending university is always through part-time work. If you can find countries with no tuition fees and student working rights, you’ve hit the jackpot! If not, get a part-time job before you leave to save money you can spend overseas.
  • Stay with a host family. In most destinations, staying with a local host family will be much cheaper than renting your own apartment. Not only can you save money, but host families offer true cultural immersion. You’ll eat local food, experience local customs, and practice your language skills – things you wouldn’t be exposed to by living on your own or with foreign roommates.
  • Take advantage of student discounts. Don’t go anywhere without your student ID! It’s your ticket to discounts on everything from public transportation to restaurants, cinema tickets to museums… and sometimes even flights! While you may only save a few dollars here and there, in the long-run, student discounts can truly save you. 

Countries with no tuition fees are a dream come true

Countries with no tuition fees

Even if you can’t find 100% free tuition, there are tons of countries with universities WAY more affordable in the US.

Don’t waste another minute daydreaming about earning a top-notch education. No matter your financial situation, there is a way to study at a low cost, and sometimes that just means jetting off to the destination of your dreams to study abroad!

Countries with no tuition fees for international students are out there, and all it takes is some research, budgeting, and planning to get you on the right track. Get ready for a grand adventure and higher education, without the debt. It’s never too good to be true!

Subscribe to the FMT Newsletter For More Tips on Affordable Study Abroad

liz gorgaThis article was written by Liz Gorga. Liz is an international traveler, writer, and educator with two home bases: the USA and Australia. She has worked, studied, interned, volunteered, and traveled through more than twenty countries (and counting), and currently resides in sunny Brisbane, Australia. Her life goal is to experience the magic that exists in every inch of the earth, whether she’s hiking in the Himalayan foothills, jumping out of the sky over coral reefs, or devouring a heaping bowl of homemade pasta.

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