Travelling on a budget in Spain as a university student

With good planning you can travel around Spain even on a tight student budget. Photo source.
Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept
With good planning you can travel around Spain even on a tight student budget. Photo source.
Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept

Your time studying abroad should not be spent only getting familiar with the classrooms and the library, but also exploring your destination country and its culture. Studies abroad offer you a unique opportunity to get to know the host country, and you should take full advantage of it. So, once you have settled in Valencia, why don’t you test out our excellent connections to the rest of Spain by hopping on a bus or a train and spending a weekend elsewhere, seeing more of the country?

Of course, the first thing that might stop you is the issue of money. You are already on a tight student budget, and a trip across the country doesn’t seem too smart a thing to do when you are budgeting to afford basic necessities. Your budget should not discourage you from enjoying your time abroad, however, as traveling on a budget is in fact easier than you might think.

Don’t let this opportunity go to waste. Just follow these tips on traveling on a budget, start planning, and you will be on your adventure across Spain in no time!

Plan ahead

Spontaneous trips can be nice, but if you plan ahead you will have easier time figuring out your budget and also saving up some money. Take a look at the calendar: when are you planning to travel? Avoid busy tourist season as prices will be higher then. Sometimes you can’t avoid it, however, especially so if you want to travel to a specific city during their local fiesta — just know that you will be spending more money as everybody else will be traveling there, too.

  • You can save money by booking your tickets and accommodation in advance: don’t wait until the last minute, as prices will most likely hike up!
  • Make a budget for your trip and stick to it. By making a list of the expected costs you can avoid many surprises. List all your big and small expenses and see where you can save — maybe you cannot bargain over your train ticket, but you might find a cheaper option for accommodation.
  • Do some research and see if there are offers or free entrance to sights on certain dates and plan your itinerary accordingly.

Choose your destination wisely

The capital city Madrid and Barcelona with its stunning architecture are both must-see for everybody visiting Spain. They are also some of the most expensive cities in the country. Consider making a trip to Seville or Granada which are cheaper and have about the same cost of living as Valencia. Of course, each city has its expensive touristy side, and the more expensive cities have also affordable options. So you don’t have to necessarily shy away from Madrid and Barcelona: just spend some more time looking for the cheaper options.

  • To avoid overpriced tourist traps and to have a more authentic experience do a bit of research beforehand or ask the locals for recommendations. If your destination is a student city, find out where the local students go — they should know what is affordable.
  • Take your student card with you to get discounts on tickets, accommodation, entrance fees, and so on.

How to get there cheap

Traveling by plane is fast and will save time, but it’s usually also the most expensive option: trains and buses are friendlier for your budget. From Valencia you have good connections by both train and bus to many cities, and you can also choose between high speed and slower connections.

  • Which one do you prefer: getting to your destination faster and having more time for exploring, or arriving later and saving money? High speed trains and express buses are generally more expensive than their slower counterparts, but they can also save you more time at the destination — something to take into consideration especially if you are traveling just for a weekend.

Another good and affordable option is to try services like BlaBlaCar which allow you to share your long distance car ride with others going to the same city, sharing travel costs and enjoying the social aspect of travel.

Choose a hostel — or couch-surf

Hostels are cheaper than hotels and you should be able to find them in every city: you can also save money by choosing one that is a bit further from the city centre. Hostels usually provide all the basics you will need, but be sure to check if you will be charged extra for a towel or breakfast. Dorm rooms with the most people are usually the cheapest option, so if you are a light sleeper be sure to pack a pair of earplugs with you!

  • If you are staying at a hostel, take full advantage of their offerings. Many hostels organize tours, dinners, pub crawls, and other social activities, and they are often free or cost very little.
  • Going out to eat for every meal can get expensive. You can save on food expenses by buying groceries and preparing some of your meals at the hostel kitchen.

If you enjoy the social side of things and want to meet locals, Couchsurfing is a good option for you: through this service you will meet people willing to host travelers at their home. Often your host will also be happy to give you local’s tips, or even show you around the city. Couchsurfing hosts don’t charge their guests and are generous to open their home for you, so be polite.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.
The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona.

International travel from Valencia

If you are interested in traveling beyond Spain during your stay at Valencia, it is also easy and fairly affordable to do.

Travelling by train is a cheap and easy way to explore Europe. European residents can obtain the Interrail pass, while the Eurail pass is for people coming from elsewhere. With these passes you can travel around Europe by train for one month, seeing as much of the continent as you want. Did you know that Valencia was chosen as the Interrail destination of the year in 2016?

Another option is to travel by plane. From the Valencia Airport there are several connections to many destinations in Europe offered by low-cost airlines: check all the available connections here!

  • Save money by packing light: when traveling by plane it’s better to only have a carry on as checked baggage costs extra with many low-cost airlines. And be sure to check if your airline charges extra for seat reservations and other services!


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