How Can I Afford All This Traveling?

1. Make it a priority.

Like anything you really want, you need to decide that traveling during your study abroad experience is a top priority. Research costs of travel and make a savings goal before you leave. List ways you’ll cut back spending and make extra cash.


2. Save before you study abroad.

Know where you want to go—make a list, look up photos online, read wikitravel and Lonely Planet guides. Check out which trips you want to plan independently and which ones to bring in the experts for, like a Global Citizens Travel trip to anywhere from Spain to Slovakia. With daily visual reminders and lots of research, keep in mind how cool it will be to take advantage of your time abroad to travel the world.

With your goals in mind, it’ll be easier to cut extra spending before you go. Skip the daily Starbucks, new clothes, or even the booze-y, expensive spring break trip. It’s amazing how cheap off-peak international travel to places like Morocco and even China. can be compared to an overpriced, peak-week spring break trip to the Caribbean, Florida or Cancun.

Use every opportunity to put aside some savings. Got stuff you don’t need anymore? Old textbooks, clothes, an old iPod you never use? Sell it. Get a part-time job. Ask for cash for your birthday or during the holidays for your “travel fund.”


3. Save while you study abroad.

A lot of cash gets drained every time you eat out, shop for souvenirs, and party. Consider hitting up a grocery store or farmer’s market and packing a lunch every once in a while. Have cereal or fruit ready for breakfast. Pregame before you go out. Take public transportation or walk to and from class—you’ll get a better feel for your study abroad location on the ground than from the backseat of a taxi. And some exercise isn’t a bad idea if you’re regularly devouring French baguettes or tasty Italian pizzas!

You may also consider working while abroad. This can be before, during or after your semester. Maybe take an extra semester off school to au pair, WWOOF, or work at a hostel to save money and travel on weekends.


4. Save when making travel plans.

Making your way to the next country over doesn’t have to empty your bank account. Discount airlines, advanced planning (as well as last minute deals), long-distance buses, cheap trains, even, if you’re up for it and find something safe, catching city-to-city carpools, all help cut costs. Use public transport to get to the airport—discount airlines often fly out of a separate airport, so plan ahead of time.


5. Save while you travel.

Some countries may have cheap restaurant food (ask the locals for a good, cheap option), but you can also get a sense of the culture from the locals’ perspective by picking up groceries or farmer’s market treats and having a picnic. Take public transportation and skip the taxis. Stay in a hostel instead of a hotel and make friends with other travelers—having a group to travel with can cut costs on group tours and outings. Pregame in the hostel with a shared bottle of local liquor (like arak in Israel or ouzo in Greece) before you go out at night. Send postcards instead of buying souvenirs for all your friends back home.

At the same time, know that this might be your only chance to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. After cutting costs in all the ways listed above, don’t be afraid to spend on those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Chill out on a glacier in Iceland, stay up all night partying in one of Ibiza’s famous clubs, and learn to kitesurf in Poland! Global Citizens Travel can help you organize these trips and more, for yourself or in a private group. Reward yourself for all your hard work saving up by choosing those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.


Katie Simon is the director of community engagement for Global Citizens Travel. She’s been to 63 countries on 5 continents and looks forward to traveling to the 100+ more! If you have questions for Katie, you can reach her at

A Global Citizen’s Log: Sleeping on the Great Wall of China

Last week I spent a night doing what few can ever say they’ve done: sleeping on the Great Wall of China.

Following a journey from Shanghai to Beijing, one highlight was stopping at the Silk Market for an opportunity to bargain-shop. Haggling for prices was quite the experience, and the money spent was well worth the fun. Another highlight was our visit to the Imperial Palace and Forbidden City. The part about China that really gets me is its age as a country. We were humbled by the sights of buildings that were twice as old as the United States, and signified a culture whose history far preceded even that.

As the afternoon drew to a close, we headed for the wall, about a 3 hours’ drive outside the city of Beijing. We arrived at a small village, enjoyed a delicious dinner, and prepared for the hike and compaing ahead. Hiked up to the wall at about 9 PM, the temperature was already below freezing and only getting colder. We were each geared up in about 15 articles of clothing to keep warm! We hiked vertically past a village, up into the mountains, on trails partly covered in snow. Midway through the journey, our tour guide stopped us and told us to turn off our flashlights and look up. Never have I ever seen so many stars in the night sky. Easily one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen, a photograph could not have done it justice. It was at this point I knew the biting cold, even the numbness in my feet, was worth the experience.

Following a chilly night (to say the least), we woke up for a sunrise hike. I begrudgingly left my sleeping bag to find a nice dusting of snow had covered all of our gear overnight! Finishing breakfast and taking our first steps of the morning, it appeared we were the only people on the wall as far as we could see. We hiked up the mountains and found ourselves witnessing a beautiful, breathtaking view of the sunrise.

Hiking and camping the Great Wall is one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. Something I can’t wait to tell my kids about one day. A sacrifice of comfort and sleep for something worth much more, I’m grateful we all stuck through it together. It was a perfect trip and a memory I’ll never forget.

Katie Norton is a sophomore at Chapman University , studying communication and sociology. She’s currently studying abroad on the SEMESTER AT SEA® program and traveled on GCT’s CHN02 trip in February 2012.

A Closer Look at Spring 2013, Part I: Japan, China, Vietnam

With the launch of our new website this week comes the launch of our set of Spring 2013 trips! This, without question, is the widest range of unique trips we’ve put together for any given semester. Let’s dive a little deeper into why we chose to plan the itineraries as we did. In the first part of this three-part series, we’ll take a look at what we have planned in Asia.


Students, for good reason, traditionally have their eyes set on seeing Tokyo and Kyoto when visiting Japan. On top of that, others ideally want to see Mt. Fuji and the surrounding area but find it difficult to coordinate all three in a short span. We’ve been able to schedule transfers that allow students to spend 2 nights in Tokyo, 1 night in the Mt. Fuji area and 1 night in Kyoto—in our opinion a perfect end-to-end itinerary for a country that can be tough to navigate. We’ve also included a couple of cultural experiences famous to Japan—the final day of one of the largest sumo wrestling tournaments of the year and time spent learning how to make sushi from the best. Plenty of free time, access to nightlife and 5 cities in 5 days… Japan done right!


Working with our partners abroad, The China Guide, we are able to offer a unique and intimate experience at the wall that has continued to be one of our most popular trips. Almost all students visiting China want to make their way to Beijing and the Great Wall and our trip does just that, while also allowing time to enjoy the nightlife and sights of the surrounding area. GCT has students covered in what is always one of our most famous authentic experiences.

The unfortunate timing of this itinerary over the Chinese New Year has caused prices to be a little higher than normal for China this semester. Also, we are encouraging students to book this trip as soon as possible to guarantee space on the trip. Students who wait ’til the last few weeks to plan their time in China will likely find train and plane tickets between Beijing to Hong Kong wildly expensive or even completely sold out! Traveling at this time of the year in China is like traveling the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S…. but with 1.5 billion people. So don’t wait too long!


Our trip to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay has been hands down our most popular trip over the past couple of years. Affordable, tons of free time, amazing food, and jaw dropping scenery are just some of the reasons we have consistently attracted large groups. Since all the “junkboats” hold between 16-24 students each, this trip also offers a great chance for students to gather a group of friends they’ve made over the semester and travel through Ha Long Bay’s islets together. Kayaking, swimming, exploring caves—it’s easy to see why this has been named one of the “natural wonders of the world.” A can’t-miss experience if you’re traveling to Vietnam!

Don’t see what you’re looking for in these itineraries? Dates don’t work for you? Want to plan something for just yourself and a few friends? Shoot us an email and we’ll work to customize something that fits exactly what you had in mind.