Thursday, 21 April 2016

Visiting Italy on a budget

As students, during the semester we spend the bulk of our time studying or revising lessons we've learnt over the week. But Easter is a time where students get to take a break, pack their bags and get travel around the globe.

This Easter brought me to Italy, in particular Florence and Venice. 


I love to travel - but as a student you're perpetually on a budget whilst trying to find the best accommodation or foods that will keep you full throughout a day of exploring. So I've come up with a few tips for those of you who are keen on making the most of your time in the UK by travelling, at the same time not burning a hole in your pocket!

Tip #1: Find a hostel with good ratings


Photo credits to booking.com

Photo credits to budgetplaces.com

Hostels can be your wallet's best friend. Find one that has good reviews either on reputable travel sites like tripadvisor or booking.com, and see what people have to say. Wow Hostel in Florence was a great place where we met a ton of young adults travelling from America, Asia and Europe. You can choose to stay in a 4, 5 or 6 person dorm or opt for a private room as pictured above. Hostels are great if you are on a budget, enjoy meeting new people and learning more about the country. People can be very friendly and will lend you a helping hand!

Prices are extremely affordable if you book early and opt for having breakfast in the hostel during your stay. You'll find yourself saving a lot more when eating in as compared to finding for a cafe outside. Our breakfast included a huge spread of food - from ham and eggs on toast to pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and fruits for your 1 in 5 a day, I can't say I wasn't a happy camper. this leads me to...

Tip #2: Book early!


I can't stress this enough. If you wish to save, book as early as you can. This goes for flights, hotels, or attractions. In booking early, you can save yourself the trouble of having to queue for hours at an attraction or getting a below average stay at a dodgy looking part of the city. In addition, try to travel during the off-peak season to save even more if you can spare the time.

Tip #3: You don't have to go by the book



Bridge of Sighs, Venice

There's no hard and fast rule when travelling. You don't need to go to every museum, every attraction or every tour that's been raved about online. Choose what you love and do it. It's all about knowing what you want to do that makes your trip fulfilling. Don't like museums, explore the outskirts of the city instead! There's a lot more than what's been raved on travel sites. Have a map in hand, a portable charger for your phone and let your feet take you where they will. You'll find yourself spending a lot less and enjoying your stay a lot more.

Tip #4: However if you do wish to visit attractions....



Then get yourself passes that allow you access for more than 24 hours. That way you won't have to spend half the day queueing to enter a cathedral or to scale up an attraction. We purchased the il grande museo del duomo pass in Florence, which lets you visit 3-4 attractions in the area within a span of 48 hours for 15 euros. In addition you get free wifi for 48 hours if you're in the square (where all the attractions are!)

Tip #5: If you're a student, take advantage of it!

As students, you're given a ton of discounts all over the world. Take advantage of that and ask if the attraction offers a student price. When visiting the Uffizi museum in Venice, art students in the EU get two thirds off the usual price (usual entry price is 16 euros) which was amazing. My friend happened to be an art student so we saved and got to visit the most (in my opinion) art saturated museum in the world! 

It never hurts to ask, so don't stay silent when purchasing tickets at the counter. You may feel like a bit of a cheap skate in perpetually asking for student rates, but your wallet will thank you when you want to indulge in a good meal after.

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These are the top 5 tips I have for students on a budget who love to travel, and I hope this helps anyone who thinks skimping and saving means living in a cardboard box or having to couch surf! You don't have to (but if you love to, by all means do!) but with a bit of research and internet, you won't be breaking the bank.

Love,
Sharmaine (International Student Ambassador for Singapore)



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