Many students going into college are told that if they can possibly study abroad before they graduate, they should. School-related international travel opportunities are wonderful, but sometimes there isn’t a substitute for venturing off on your own and experiencing the world for yourself. You have the freedom to go wherever you want and can stay much longer than most school-related trips will allow. You will get to see a more authentic side of the countries you are visiting, and you won't be preoccupied with schoolwork during your visit. Sounds great, right? But you're probably wondering how you are going to pay for all this; I know, that used to be me. Of course, there are different answers to this question depending on your personal situation, but no matter how few resources you have, if you put a little forethought into planning your trip, you will be able to afford your very own international adventure.
So, what can you do to afford this amazing journey? For one thing, it's better if you have this idea in your head well in advance. If you decide at the beginning of the school year that you will spend next summer abroad, that gives you nearly a year to save up money by working at the student union, a restaurant or whatever job you can get. It also gives you time to petition your parents and other relatives to help sponsor your trip! Even if you save up and get help, though, you may still find yourself short. What do you do then? Well after doing a little research, I found out that I was qualified for a travel credit card that could help postpone my payments until I could afford to pay them. If you don't have one, find a low-interest card to sign up for as soon as you decide to take your trip; use it sparingly or not at all until it's time to pay for your journey. Then put the major expenses on your card. As long as you pay the minimum payments, and hopefully considerably more than that, you can afford a little debt in order to take a life-changing vacation. This sounds a little extreme, but it worked well for me and my other travel buddies.
If you're still feeling jittery about money, look into getting a work visa so that you can seek employment while you are overseas. This is great if you plan to stay for several months. Check into WWOOF, a network of farms and sustainable households that offer lodging, food and sometimes a stipend in exchange for doing work for their family farm. This can be a great way to get to know people and immerse yourself into another culture. If you tend bar tend in the US, you could do that overseas too; it's a sure-fire way to make some money quickly, and you often can eat bar food free or at a reduced rate, saving grocery costs as well!
Written By: KC Owens, St. Bonaventure University