Travelling on a budget

University of Leeds
4 min readDec 12, 2022

Travelling can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re travelling to visit family or just to relax and expand your cultural horizons, here are our top tips for travelling on a budget.

Worried about how to manage your money? The University can help you. Check out our links and guides to help keep your finances on track.

Planning your trip

As nice as it’d be, most people don’t have the funds to jet off on a big trip at a moment’s notice. If there’s somewhere you’d particularly like to go, or if you know that your trip home at Christmas is going to hit your bank balance hard, then why not set a budget in advance and plan for it? Turning down that night out or taking that jumper out of your online shopping basket is a little bit easier when you know those funds are going straight to your dream trip.

For more tips on setting a budget, check out our beginner’s guide to budgeting and find out how to stick to your budget.

Air travel

Flight prices can vary massively, and it can be hard to know whether you’re getting a good deal. There are a few tricks you can use to get the most for your money.

Be prepared to be flexible to get the best prices. Flying during the week is often cheaper than flying at the weekend. Websites such as Skyscanner and Momondo can show you the cheapest days to fly, and you can order your search from cheapest to most expensive.

Budget airlines can sound great but those ‘extras’ they charge for can add up. Do you really need to pay extra for a checked bag, or can you wear extra layers on the plane and pack your bag cleverly to squeeze everything you need into a carry on? You can find loads of experienced travellers giving their top packing tips on YouTube and TikTok.

Also, clearing cookies on your browser can help reduce prices as most airline websites monitor to see if you’ve visited in the past and what sort of flights you searched for by using browser cookies. You can clear your cookies by clicking on “Settings” in your browser (usually at the top right), click “Show Advanced Settings”, find the “Privacy” section, and click “Content Settings”, find the “Cookies” section, and click “Delete Cookies”.

If you’re an international student and you require a visa to enter the UK, remember to check visa regulations, make sure all your information is up to date and your visa is still valid. Don’t forget to take with you all the required documentation, such as your passport and visa.

Learn more about visas on the For Students website.

Train travel

Train ticket prices don’t make a lot of sense in the UK. It can sometimes be cheaper to split a journey into a few different tickets for different stations. That would be a lot of admin to figure out on your own, but luckily, you don’t have to! Some websites, like Trainline, will do it automatically when you look up train prices.

A railcard is a brilliant way to save money. There’s a range available, and you might not even realise that you’re eligible for one. Most people know about the 16–25 railcards, but did you know that you can also get one as a mature student? If you’re a member of StudentBeans, you can even save 10% on the price of your railcard.

Buying a train ticket in advance is often much cheaper than doing it on the day. Advanced train tickets are usually released about 12 weeks before the date of travel. And just like flying, if you’re prepared to be flexible, travelling at a different time or on a different date can maximise your savings.

Car travel

Public transport is often cheaper than driving, and better for the planet. However, sometimes only driving will do. Ride share services such as BlaBlaCar mean you can hitch (or offer!) a ride with someone else. This is especially useful over holidays when loads of students are heading back to their family homes.

If you’re lucky enough to have a car of your own, why not post your journey on a lift-sharing website to see if someone will come with you and contribute to petrol costs? You could also ask around on student Facebook groups, like our University of Leeds Current Students group, to see if anyone wants to team up for journeys home.

If you’re flying home for the holidays, why not post on a student Facebook group to see if anyone else is flying at a similar time and wants to share a taxi to the airport? International student communities in particular are a great place to ask.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for securing your next trip at a discount. What are your top tips for travel on a budget? Have you ever secured a bargain so good you had to tell everyone about it? Let us know in the comments!

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