Cultural Experience | Resources

9 Things You Forgot to Include in Your Study Abroad Budget

9 Things you forgot to include in your study abroad budget, and how to not overlook or overspend.

Guest Author: Megan Lee

You’ve done it. You’ve convinced your parents to let you study abroad for a summer, semester, or year, and now you’re busy getting caught up in the (much-deserved!) excitement.

While it’s easy to fantasize spending your money on fabulous dinners beside the Eiffel Tower, skydiving over Queenstown, or on regional flights, it’s just as easy to forget a number of things that may eat away your hard earned cash.

But don’t worry. That’s why we’re here. Here are 9 things you forgot to include in your study abroad budget, and how to not overlook or overspend.

1. Internet expenses.

Unless your internet costs are wrapped up in your housing or tuition fees, you should prepare to spend a considerable amount of money on your internet connections. Free wifi isn’t usually available, so you will likely fork out a couple of dollars every time you want to update your Facebook status with your latest adventures.

Depending on how often you prefer to sit inside on your phone, tablet, or laptop versus soaking in your cool surroundings, you’ll want to set aside between $50-$100 to cover these costs.

Budget tip: Use the library or university campus resources whenever possible, as they usually have free wifi!

2. A good pair of walking shoes.

One *responsible* purchase (where you can also splurge on yourself!) is for a nice pair of walking shoes. Keep ‘em comfy and stylish, and don’t sacrifice good quality for a cheap pair from your favorite store. You’ll want to ensure they will withstand the elements (rain, snow, etc) and are long-lasting.

We’d hate for your trusty kicks to fall apart after many strolls on cobblestone streets, urban hikes around your new city, or the long walks home after you miss the late night bus.

Budget tip: Get a pair that transitions from day to night easily. Two for the price of one!

3. Down payments on apartments.

If you’re planning to rent a short-term flat while abroad, be weary that different countries utilize different tenancy systems. You may be asked to pay all of your rent up front, or to put a hefty security deposit down. In China, for instance, you have to give 5 months’ rent for your first payment. Yikes! Your best bet? Research in advance and prepare your housing monies accordingly.

Budget tip: Use the internet or your program advisor to connect with international students living in your destination country early on. Get their feedback on affordable neighborhoods or ways to live cheaply.

4. Pub budget.

In the name of cultural immersion, be sure to budget – in advance – some money to blow at your new neighborhood bar. While we are not advocating for being a drunken mess every night, we are saying there will inevitably be opportunities to learn more about your host country from a bar stool.

Don’t get caught off guard (and penniless) during an intense sports match playing on TV or miss out on a late night trek to the famous biblioteca.

Budget tip: Don’t forget to factor in cab/Lyft/Uber fares.

5. ATM and credit card fees.

These shouldn’t put too big of a dent in your pocketbook, but don’t budget your expenses to the dime and end up getting dinged with fees. Over withdrawal fees are the worst!

Budget tip: Familiarize yourself with your bank policies in advance and plan to withdraw money /  swipe your credit card accordingly. Consider investing in a travel rewards card with a chip!

6. Miscellaneous phone charges.

Your late night texts to your ex-beau back home might end up costing you more than your dignity. Sign up for an international plan or, better yet, leave your phone back home to really challenge yourself to embrace the culture. Imagine how much more you’ll see if you keep your nose out of your Instagram account! Just be sure to suspend your phone account first.

Budget tip: Consider picking up an inexpensive international phone calling card to keep in touch with mom and dad while studying abroad.

7. Replacement budget.

While you might be able to convince others that your stuff is simply running away, we all know better (you scatterbrain, you!). Earmark an extra $50-$100 to quickly replace items of importance that may “magically disappear,” like your rain jacket or camera.

Budget tip: Don’t lose anything and use these funds to treat yourself at the end of your trip instead!

8. Laundry, laundry, laundry.

Expect to shell out upwards of $8-$10 for every load you do while abroad.

Budget tip: Pack enough so you’ll never have to launder! Just kidding. Try air drying to reduce your overall costs, and go halfsies with a friend on detergent expenses.

9. Money for your first weeks back home.

There will be a slew of welcome home festivities and you’ll be dying to finally satisfy your {insert craving here}. Get ahead of the game by saving a buffer of money in advance – then you can come home and treat yourself rather than stress.

Budget tip: If all else fails, it’s extra money to spend while you’re abroad. Extra cheese, please?

There you have it, nine things you forgot to budget for for your study abroad program. Any other surprise expenses that you’ve come across in your world travels?

Megan Lee is a biophilist, Masters student (Go Rams!), and Director of She has a profound appreciation for pizza, penmanship, and bike commuting. Follow her on Twitter @peglegmeg.

9 Things You Forgot to Include In Your Study Abroad Budget

(featured image Sasha Tatham)

College Tourist

26 stories

The College Tourist is an online community for study abroad and student travelers. We believe if College is a time to learn, what better way to learn than by experiencing the world. Sign up for an author's profile and share a story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Like

Submit a Story

We promote all blog articles on our social media sites so stay tuned as we shout out your published work. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Don't have an account?
Sign up for one here.

Products We Love