Saving Moola for the Teach in Spain Program

Authored by:
Camryn S.

Camryn S.

A couple of weeks ago, before I embarked on my trip to Madrid, I found myself getting a bit preoccupied about money. Was I spending too much money on this trip? What amount of money is a “suitable” amount to be spending for my time here in Spain? I began searching through CIEE blogs, trying to find a post that assured me I wasn’t going crazy. And while I did find a few posts that were incredibly informative, I did not find one that included the following phrase which I personally believe is very, very important:

NO, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS PHRASE. Although I am a major Bob's Burgers fan! However, Teddy may have a point: You DO have to waste (cough cough SPEND) some money to make memories!


I’m not saying you should forget about all of your financial responsibilities and put yourself in thousands of dollars of debt. But what I am saying is that you should not feel bad about spoiling yourself a little while you're on this journey. Your time here is precious and brief, so allow yourself to enjoy it. BUT PLAN FOR YOUR INDULGENCES.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I will lay out some of the expenses you should keep in mind when you are planning your time abroad.

1) The most expensive part of this trip will be your flight to Europe.

Duh. Obviously. From what I’ve gathered, round-trip flights from the United States to Europe cost around $800-$1100. Luckily, with CIEE, you don’t have to worry about any further transportation to commute to your assigned location. They will be there to pick you up from the airport, get you to orientation, and wish you all the best as you ride to your future, temporary home. So just plan for the $800-$1100 for this part of the trip.

2) The second most expensive part is the CIEE program fee.

The program fee for this 3-month adventure is $900. But okay, let’s just consider this for a second: when I was looking at college study-abroad/volunteer programs, the costs ranged from around $15,000-$25,000 for one semester. If you just cringed reading those numbers, I’m with you. However, with CIEE, the $900 program fee covers your iNext health insurance abroad, a 3-month placement with a family (a family who will happily prepare you food everyday), the orientation/transportation/hotel stay for your first few days in Spain, etc. etc. I honestly don’t know where you can get a better deal than that.

3) You need some spending money and some traveling money.

Yes, I saw West Side Story in Madrid. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

This is where the budget for your trip will begin to vary. You may be placed with a family who can afford to take you on a few trips over the course of your stay in Spain, and you may be placed with a family who can’t afford to take you anywhere at all. CLARIFICATION: YOUR HOST FAMILY IS NOT REQUIRED TO TAKE YOU ON ANY TRIPS WHATSOEVER. Host families in this program are VOLUNTEERS, so they don’t have to do anything more than ensure you have what’s necessary to sustain life (not that a family would ever do the bare minimum, as most of the time they really just want to spoil you). So, if you are placed with a host family who wants you to travel with them, and you don’t need to worry AS MUCH about the costs of lodging/transportation/food for these trips, you probably won’t need to worry about allocating a fair amount of money for traveling. HOWEVER, you will NOT KNOW what kind of traveling your host family will want/be able to do with you UNTIL YOU ARE PLACED WITH THEM. Therefore, I recommend the following pieces of advice:

       -If you want to travel frequently, you should budget a fair amount of money for these “side” trips. Traveling around Europe/Spain is fairly cheap, but I would still recommend the following budgets for each aspect of the trip:

                 -Transportation: Depending on where you want to go, you may find yourself having to purchase a cheap round-trip bus ticket for $30 or a round-trip train ticket for $100.

                 -Food: You have to feed and fend for yourself, so if you don’t plan on being in a location where you can cook yourself meals, plan to spend about $7.50-$10.00 per meal.

                 -Lodging: If you are comfortable staying in a hostel (which I highly recommend, as it is a great way to meet people from many different places), you can find cheap spots for about $12-$20 a night. If, however, you prefer staying in a hotel, prices will probably be up around $40-$60 a night.

                 -Outings: To get into museums, some famous cathedrals, tours, etc., be prepared to spend about $6-$8 for each outing. If you choose, however, to simply walk around and people watch (one of my favorite activities here), you may find yourself saving a little bit more (because walking and people watching are free, of course)!

I have been on some amazing trips since I’ve been here in Spain, and the costs of the trips have ranged from around $70-$90 to $240-$260. It all depends on what you want to do, where you want to go, and how much you want to walk!

My German friend and I decided to meet in Santiago and begin the camino! We encountered some amazing humans, stayed at some great hostels, and got to eat some wonderful (and decently priced) food.

I suppose I could propose a relative amount of money you should save for your time here in Spain, but I truly believe what amount you are willing to spend is up to you. And I know that is stupid and probably very unhelpful, but TECHNICALLY you could just pay for your flight and pay the program fee and not spend a single cent more in Spain, which would mean your trip would cost you around $2000. But if you want to go on weekend adventures and spend a little more and drop $50 on a ticket to see West Side Story in Madrid, maybe you should budget around $3000-$4000 for the totality of your trip. Whatever you choose is ENTIRELY ACCEPTABLE. I’m going to say it once more for the people in the back…


Just make sure to plan in advance is you want to spoil yourself abroad.


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