As the end of the term quickly approaches, the exchange is becoming less of something in the abstract and instead something very real that is actually going to happen. I’ve set up my pre-departure session (as those who are going on an exchange should also do) and handed in a lot of paperwork. Then, while going through the International Experience Award Form to apply for awards, I was forced to look at where all the money was coming from to fund this trip.
Well shit. Good question.
Money is pretty much the biggest reason people tend not to travel. I don’t blame anyone for that. Volunteering to go abroad can cost up to four grand, and even just going down to the states for some shopping, while ten times cheaper in comparison, still costs money.
So how do you go about funding travel?
The number one way to fund your travel is by saving up the money yourself. This is kind of obvious, but it is easier said than done.
A great way to save up your own money is to get inventive. One of my favourite things to do, something I’ve done since I was a kid, is to keep some kind of money jar. I had this huge cider bottle as a kid that I would fill up with change and when I finally got to upend it, the amount I had saved was incredible.
If you use a money counter at your bank it can really add up, especially when it’s just change that would have just gotten lost in your pockets anyways. You can also set your bank accounts up to make small transfers ($1-2) each day, or to move money into a dedicated account every time you use your debit card. Selling unwanted stuff on Kijiji is also a great idea.
This is obviously on top of traditional saving methods, but even with small amounts like this it really does add up.
This method works best if you are doing a volunteer trip abroad. Just because the trip isn’t “fun” on paper, you can still put the “fun” in fundraising! If you are going with friends, set up a car wash in the summer or do a bottle drive, because God knows after St. Patricks day there is going to be a <em>lot</em> of bottles in need of recycling.
The University of Waterloo is oftentimes like Smaug, sitting on top of a hoarded gold pile and charring anyone to ash who tries to touch it. Not surprisingly, UW isn’t exactly crazy open-handed towards exchanges. They do have a few awards that allow you access to their gold pile, but more often than not the awards are sponsored through the exchange schools themselves or generous donors.
Awards can really help cut costs of exchanges, volunteer experiences, and oversea placements. Completing the International Experience Award Form that can be found on the UW exchange page can help you access these awards; just be sure to have your finances in order when you do so since they require you to lay out a budget.
In general though, if you can afford a $2 coffee every day, you can afford to travel. If you forgo that daily coffee you’d have $730 by the end of the year, which is more than enough to go on an epic road trip around the states or take the cheap VIA train to British Columbia. Above all, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, put some excitement into your life — no matter your budget — with a bit of travelling.