By: Contributor On: April 20, 2021 In: Study Abroad, Travel, Volunteering Comments: 0

Now that vaccines have made people less hesitant to travel, you might be among the many chomping at the bit to board a plane and travel the world again. However, if the pandemic left your wallet a little light, you may be wondering how you can travel abroad on a budget.

While the current economic portrait has changed, what hasn’t is that you can always find a way to explore if you are willing to get a little creative.

Here are eight unique ways to go abroad on a budget.

1. Take a Summer Class

If spending an entire semester in a foreign country is out of reach, consider just taking one summer class.

Talk to your student advisor about available opportunities as an alternative study abroad option. You may even be able to take a lighter course load the following year depending on the credits you earn while abroad.

Another option? Look into even briefer single-class enrollment during winter break. While you might not relish being away from your family over the holidays, the compact three-week session can save you considerable cash.

2. Explore Humanitarian Options

You don’t need a strong religious faith to join a mission-based travel adventure for far less money than you’d pay retail.

Today, you can find nondenominational organizations that offer humanitarian trips. Participate in a wide range of activities from cleaning up after natural disasters to distributing food to impoverished regions.

For example, one out of three people in India lives in slums, subsisting on less than $2 a day and going without basic services like running water. Your work could help build suitable housing or provide much-needed nourishment.

If you do belong to a church or religious organization, don’t overlook that resource. Many congregations hold fundraisers to take overseas missions. You might be able to travel for free, with the help of your community.

3. Investigate Semester Break Internships

It’s an unfortunate fact of life — you’ll eventually need to leave the halls of academia and get a “real” job. If you’re interested in going abroad on a budget, why not investigate summer break internships?

Not only will an internship abroad help you see the world on the cheaper, it could also result in future full-time job opportunities and looks great on a resume.

If you already work with a multinational organization, talk to your supervisor about your interest in opportunities available overseas. Your other option is speaking with your academic advisor, who can also connect you with potential openings abroad.

4. Become an Au Pair

What is an au pair? It’s similar to a nanny, but you become a much more integral part of your host family’s household than a babysitter. Many such professionals live with their young charges, receive meals from their host family, and are included in family occasions like vacations.

If you hope to go this route, it helps if you already have a degree or are working toward one. In addition to diaper duty, household chores and managing mealtimes, you’ll also help older children with their studies. Many families seek professionals who can double as a tutor.

5. Work for Room and Board

If you spent your entire life stateside, you might think all travel requires either a tent, a camper, or a pricey hotel room. While they are rare in the United States, hostels offer convenient and inexpensive lodging all over Europe.

The kicker? You share a room and facilities with other backpackers and fellow travelers. You won’t enjoy much privacy, but who goes to Europe to sit in a hotel room, anyway?

There’s one more advantage to hostel living besides the chance to meet lifelong friends from all over the world.

Many hostels operate on small budgets. Therefore, if you can do basic physical labor and make some calls in advance, you could arrange to trade your handy skills for room and board gratis.

Identify establishments that fit the vibe you seek and work to take advantage of this unique way to go abroad on a budget.

6. Teach English Abroad

English reigns supreme as the most widely spoken language, topping even Mandarin Chinese in terms of sheer volume of speakers. Therefore, you have a decided advantage over those who don’t consider it their first language.

Government agencies and individual companies and schools often give preference to native speakers when making hiring decisions — your verbal and written skills could become your passport. A quick Google search reveals no shortage of organizations that will help you fulfill your goal.

It helps to get your TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language) certification — many such agencies will assist you through this process. You can travel to any country for a set period of time to participate in an English teaching program. 

While you may need to pay upfront fees, you can recoup your investment by teaching in a country with low living costs and banking your salary. What’s more, your employer or teaching program will often provide room and board.

7. Participate in a Home Exchange

If you don’t know anyone in your desired destination, you can explore the world of home exchanges and trade your lodging here in the US for another exchange member’s digs overseas. (Just like in The Holiday!)

Not only does this kind of exchange eliminate housing costs, but it’s also a great way to create a lifelong friendship. Before your trip, you can exchange information on social media, including things like must-see tourist attractions and the best local restaurants.

8. Try Backpacking or Road Tripping

Backpacking is one of the most well-known ways to travel abroad on a budget. You might experience longer lines when you walk across the border, but you shouldn’t have any problems as long as you gather all required documentation in advance.

If you have a bigger budget — or a generous family member with one to loan — consider traveling around in an RV.

Tip: If you’re heading south into Mexico beyond the Sonoran free zone, you’ll need a temporary importation permit.

NEXUS cards work for those who frequently travel between the US and Canada, although a passport allows greater flexibility to go elsewhere.

Consider These Unique Ways to Go Abroad on a Budget

If you are like many, you can’t wait to satisfy your travel thirst after a year spent at home indoors. Consider these unique ways to go abroad on a budget and fulfill your dream of traveling the world.


About Ginger Abbot: Ginger Abbot writes on a variety of educational topics, including international study and career planning. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief for the learning publication Classrooms, where you can read more of her work.

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