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Cheap Ways To Get Ready For Your Semester Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 3/11/17 11:44 AM

ILP Thailand

Raise your hand if you want your hard earned travel money to go to things like buying luggage….No one? Makes sense — I’m pretty sure no one wants to spend more money than they need to just to get ready for your semester abroad. If you wanna save some cash, keep reading. 


Getting ready for your semester abroad means a lot of things (like taking that dreamy Instagram passport picture and researching what breakfast is like in Russia — stuff like that) oh, and packing. By the way, we have loads of tips on fundraising to help you raise money for your semester of adventure and a few more tips to help you out: 

Check out this free guide on how to save even more on your semester with ILP!

Since saving money before you leave means more money for cool souvenirs,  it’s always a good idea to see how you can pack for cheap:

  • Thrift Shop! 
  • Buy in Bulk 
  • Borrow Luggage 
  • Get Cheap Passport Photos 

Thrift Shop! 

Channel your inner Macklemore and get what you need for life in Haiti at thrift shops. I mean, you probably won’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe just for your semester but you may need a couple things...so get them at a discount. I knew it got chilly in China but didn’t want to pack my really nice coat just for a few weeks of cold (it was very hot and humid the rest of the semester) so I got a winter coat and boots for $8 by checking out the local thrift shops. My sister did the same thing before living in Thailand with ILP and got running shorts and tank tops for $0.50 each! Start shopping early so you can visit a few different stores over a couple of months to find what you need.

I also donated my thrift store clothes at the end of my semester which left tons of room for all my souvenirs - Don’t forget to check out these cheap souvenirs for friends and family!

ILP China

Buy in Bulk 

Here’s a travel tip: Bring travel sized versions of everything. Even though you are going to be living in Europe for a semester, you will not want  to cart around a full bottle of shampoo on vacations. So instead of buying cute little travel sized versions of face wash, shampoo, sunscreen, conditioner, shower gel, etc, just get a set of cheap 3 oz bottles and fill them up yourself. Now you have a bottle shampoo to last you the whole semester and a tiny bottle to bring on your weekend trips around Mexico.

ILP Dominican Republic

Borrow Luggage 

Luggage is an expensive but necessary thing to buy before traveling…right? But unless all your traveling friends and family are traveling all the time, you may be able to borrow their luggage for a semester. Talk with people you know have been on some fabulous vacation and see if they’ll lend you a suitcase or two. This also works for things like adapters — Unless you want to travel the world frequently (if you do, buy your own suitcases and adapters because it will be worth it in the long run) you can save a lot by borrowing some of the more expensive purchases that come with travel.

ILP Russia

Get Cheap Passport Pictures 

You can’t borrow a passport and they can get pricey, but you can get the required photos as cheap as possible. We’ve got a whole blog post telling you where to get those pesky photos for the cheapest price. 

ILP Thailand

Another way to save money is by cancelling some of your subscriptions before you go. Save even more by cancelling a couple months before you actually leave to teach English with International Language Programs.

We’ve got schools in 10 countries, offer discounts and even let past volunteers travel for practically free as a head teacher. Come poke around our blog about saving money and let us know if you have any questions — click that button to talk to someone whose been in your shoes before and can help you out!

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Topics: Semester Preparation, Saving Money

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.

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