This summer, I studied abroad in Prague for two months. While abroad, I traveled to seven other countries in Europe. Here's how I did it...
1. Compare prices of hostels and AirbnbsGiphy
I found while traveling abroad, NO HOTEL gave me as good of a deal as hostels or Airbnbs. If you're traveling with a big group of people, you can usually book a 10 to 12 person hostel for all of you. Hey, it's not the most glamorous but it's kind of like one, big sleepover. If possible, try to have one person book the hostel for all of you together because you will save money on booking fees, key fees, and any other hidden fees. To compare prices of different hostels in the area you'll be staying, I recommend using Hostel World.
In some areas (especially if you're traveling with a group of people), it may be cheaper to book an Airbnb. If you're staying for more than 3-4 days, I would definitely recommend this since most Airbnbs have access to a kitchen and cooking supplies so you can make some of your own meals. Some hosts will even volunteer to take you around the city and show you local spots!
2. Book everything on Google Chrome Incognito browserGiphy
This is EXTREMELY important. If your browser history is filled with visits to the same hotel, train, or plane booking sites, the next time you return to the website, you'll most likely see an increase in prices. If you don't have access to Google Chrome, make sure to clear both your browser history and cookies before booking anything travel related.
3. Prioritize where you want to go each placeGiphy
Before each trip, make (at least) an outline and research everything you want to do. That way, you can budget and make sure you have time for each activity. A mistake I ran into traveling was having a list of things I wanted to do, but not looking into them beforehand so I was shocked whenever I found out that going on the London Eye would cost me $30 and it was a 50-minute walk from my next destination.
4. Buy a phone or date planGiphy
This is especially important if you're traveling for over two weeks. The LAST thing you want to happen is receiving random data or phone charges upon your arrival to the US. So before leaving, research the different phone plans in each country you're visiting. If traveling throughout Europe, I recommend looking into Vodafone or Sprint. Immediately after arriving in Prague, I paid around $100 for a two-month 20 GB data and 2,000-minute calling plan (which is a lot cheaper than any amount you'd pay in international charges to AT&T or Verizon).
5. Try to avoid eating in the main city centerGiphy
I promise that you can find the same food you're looking for within a ten-minute walk from the main city center. When eating in the touristy areas, food prices are usually incredibly inflated. Besides, if you're looking for authentic food, it's going to be extremely Americanized and overpriced than anything you'll find that's a slightly further walk from the main attractions.
6. Pack efficientlyGiphy
This one may sound a little weird, but seriously! The last thing you want is a $75 overweight baggage fee both ways. Avoid bringing extra clothes, shoes, or jewelry- even if it's SUPER cute.
7. Book far in advanceGiphy
This again may seem (very) obvious, but there are some places or things that you wouldn't expect would go up in price when booking last minute. For example, when booking a train ride, hostel, or cab ride from the airport, these prices can inflate pretty drastically if you don't book at least 1.5 weeks in advance. That being said, it's always best to have everything booked before your trip, even if you think it won't matter that much.
8. Don't eat out every mealGiphy
This one may seem obvious, but seriously! It's okay to not have an Instagram-worthy brunch every day. Go grocery shopping for some meals and cook if you have access to a kitchen. Having a picnic with friends in a park is a great way to save money (and also really fun).
9. Use Google FlightsGiphy
On an incognito browser, of course. But seriously, this is the perfect tool if you know you want to go somewhere, but you're not quite sure where. Using this tool, you can put in your departing airport, how long you want to stay, and Google Flights will show you a map of the different prices to various locations. That way if you're deciding between Barcelona or London for a weekend, this will make it an easier choice.
10. Capitalize on specials each place you want to goGiphy
In each place you travel, there are bound to be a plethora of free events, classes, etc. CAPITALIZE ON THAT! Research different events happening in your city beforehand, and who knows, you may have more fun there than doing any paid activity. For activities or other things that cost money, make sure to look into any discounts or specials! For transportation, Go Euro offers different summer and travel passes so you pay a one time fee for traveling by train or bus instead of separate payments. For lodging, many places offer large group discounts or student discounts.