A Broke Student’s Guide to Traveling Abroad

Which student hasn’t dreamed of traveling abroad? Some dream of spending a summer in South America, teaching in impoverished areas. Others dream of studying a semester abroad in Italy, completing their degree during the week and wine tasting on the weekends. But just like almost everything else in life, these dreams come with a price (and a pretty hefty one might I add).

As a college student you are most likely already in debt and pulling out more loans so you can galavant around Spain won’t sound like a charming idea to your parents.

Here are some ways you can fund your travels abroad:

  1. Crowdfunding

A great way to get started is by setting up a profile on an online crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo, or Fundly. But beware of fees. Most crowdfunding websites take a small percentage from each donation you are receiving, so don’t be surprised when you are ready to cash that check from your donations and a few dollars are missing. Because of this fee, sometimes donors feel more comfortable sending you checks in the mail. You can still give those generous donors some recognition by posting their donation on your GoFundMe account under “Offline Donation”. Make sure that your profile on whichever website you decide to use is unique, fun and truly conveys the mission of your travels.


  1. Scholarships

There is plenty of free money roaming around the Internet through the form of scholarships. For almost any study abroad program, scholarships and grants will be available. Websites like GoOverseas.com, Studyabroad.com, and InternationalScholarships.com have financial aid for studying abroad. Apply for Federal scholarships and grants such as the David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad or the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

  1. Garage Sales

Yes, people still have garage sales. This is the perfect way to get rid of all that extra clutter and make a few bucks at the same time. Go home to the suburbs for a weekend and ask your parents if they want to have a garage sale where all proceeds go to your travel fund. This is also the perfect opportunity for them to cleanse that garage full of your old toys!

  1. Family

Family is always there for you, right? Well then this is the perfect time to ask them for a little help. Send your relatives a letter describing your dreams, how much money you need to raise, and nice sample of your work. You can also host a potluck for friends and family and have a donation jar at the entrance. During the potluck you can have a bake sale as well. Or you can always just give them a call!

A Broke Student's Guide to Traveling Abroad

  1. Sponsors

Try to get your old jobs, internships or even small businesses to sponsor you. In return, you can blog about them, volunteer for them or maybe even send them a picture of you wearing a t-shirt with their logo while standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Helping a student achieve their dreams is great publicity for them.

  1. Work!

In the words of Brittney Spears, you better work! Whether it’s a getting a part-time job (in my case, working extra hours) or mowing someone’s lawn, you need to be saving up on your own. Try to put at least 50% of your paychecks towards your “Make it to ‘Insert Name of Your Destination’ this summer” fund. You can’t expect your entire trip to be solely funded by other people’s hard-earned money.

A Broke Student's Guide to Traveling Abroad

  1. Simply Ask.

Although it might seem like you’re groveling at people’s feet at times, asking for donations is the best way to get money and get the word out there. Put your pride down and do it. You never know who sees potential in you and who wants to help you achieve your dreams. I had co-workers that I haven’t seen in years donate along with the beloved security guard from downstairs. The worst people can do is say no (or ignore your letters completely) and the best they can do is give you some good lovin’ in a check!

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