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Cheap Ways To Get Ready For Your Semester Abroad

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

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Raise your hand if you want your hard earned travel money to go to things like buying luggage….No one? Makes sense — If you wanna save some cash, keep reading. 

Getting ready for your semester abroad means a lot of things (like taking that 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
  • Don't Buy The Fancy Stuff  
  • Cancel Subscriptions

Thrift Shop! 

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 $1.50 each! Start shopping early so you can visit a few different stores over a couple of months to find what you need.

Check out local thrift stores. In Utah we have places like Uptown Cheapskate (you can also sell clothes here!) and Desert Industries, but there might be something different near you. There's also lots of options online too — check out Facebook Marketplace and ThredUp.

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 

Buy your personal hygiene products in bulk, and DIY your own travel sized versions. 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. Even though you'll be living in Europe for a whole semester, you will want small, travel sized versions for all of your vacations ... so you need both the full-sized and the travel sized. 

Now you have a bottle shampoo to last you the whole semester and a tiny bottle to bring on your weekend trips around Mexico or beach weekends in the DR. 

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 who have been on some fabulous vacations and see if they’ll lend you a suitcase or two. This also works for things like adapters and converters — 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. 

Don't Buy The Fancy Stuff 

You can also save a ton by not buying name brand; Hydroflask might be the name brand when it comes to insulated water bottles, but you can save quite a bit if you buy the same type of bottle from Modern Summit.  We have a side-by-side comparisons if you're interested. 

Cancel Subscriptions

Are there any subscriptions you can live without for a few months? Maybe $10 a month doesn't sound like much, but that quickly adds up. And hey, $10 could be the price of your train ticket to somewhere amazing like Shanghai for the weekend!

Maybe you cancel your Netflix or Hulu subscription so that you can spend more time exploring instead of watching during your semester abroad. Are you paying for the gym? You won't need that for a few months!

Save even more by cancelling a couple months before you actually leave to teach English with International Language Programs and end up saving quite a bit.

ILP Haiti

We've got more tips to help you get ready to go abroad

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!

 Text Me! I've Got Questions


Topics: Get Ready For Your ILP Trip, Saving Money + Fundraising

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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