There’s already 100 things to prepare and think about before you jet off on your year abroad. You need to research your destination, pack, write and check off list after list. So, why not make sure that budgeting isn’t another problem to deal with when you arrive? Get prepared before you leave, and make sure that that student loan stretches as far as possible.
- Make sure that you don’t get ripped off with a bad exchange rate. Take some cash for when you first arrive, but then ensure you can get a good rate on a debit/credit card, or get a very good travel exchange card for the rest of your year abroad.
I found Revolut to be one of the best travel cards for travellers and students on their year abroad; it has amazing exchange rates that are difficult to get anywhere else and everything can easily be controlled from your phone. You can transfer to and from your UK account fee-free via the app and also cancel your card from the app in the unlikely case your card is stolen, avoiding costly calls to banks.
- Opening a local bank account may actually be the best way to get good rates while you are abroad and make that student loan last longer! Investigate if you are eligible to open a bank account as it depends on country-specific laws and visa requirements. The FCO country-specific advice is a good first point of call but also check with the embassy at your destination.
- Travelling is one of the best things about being on your year abroad! It is a fab opportunity to experience the new country you are living in and also meet new people. However, this can sometimes be more expensive than expected and sometimes you may miss out on fab bucket list experiences because you didn’t factor it into your budget. You don’t know if your plans may change or who you may meet – although you might have set plans now, don’t let a strict budget stop you from making spontaneous plans with people you meet. Try and factor a bit of wiggle room you’re your budget before you go so that you can take advantage of those once in a lifetime experiences on your year abroad: helicopter over Grand Canyon in the US, ski in Whistler in Canada, or jet off to Fiji for a week from Australia!
- A part-time job is a great way to make a little extra money while on your year abroad. However, make sure that you are allowed to work on your specific visa. If you are in an EU country then you will be covered under the EU freedom of movement but, if living in a non-EU country, this will vary so ensure you check with the embassy of the country you are living in.
- It’s better to be prepared than hit with unexpected costs. Ensure you budget in for emergency expenses that you may not think of – things may happen that you don’t expect (e.g. potential theft) – and, although you may be covered by the uni travel insurance, it’s necessary to make sure you are prepared for the unexpected. Hopefully, you won’t need to use the emergency money then treat yourself at the end of your year abroad!
Make sure you check out the country-specific travel advice for your year abroad before you jet off for your year of fun. The FCO has a section on money for each of the 225 countries and territories, so have a read through the information on your destination. Click here, then choose the specific country, then click ‘money’.
Written by Fern Davidson-Averill