How to save a LOT of money while planning your language exchange program!

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The blog Vida de Mochila, brings some tips for those who are planning a language exchange program on a tight budget!

A language exchange program is a fundamental step in the life of many travelers. In addition to learning a new language, you have the opportunity to meet a new culture and foreigners from all over the world. If you still have some doubts, check out the article 5 reasons to do an exchange program.

The truth is when we talk about an exchange program, several people give up on searching or look for alternatives because they only consider the high costs, with reason, as the majority of times it is very expensive in agencies. With that in mind, Richard gives you a multi-step guide that will help you plan, without agencies, and save a lot of money!

First Step – Airplane tickets 

First of all, you need to choose your destination and start looking for airplane tickets. After buying your ticket it is easier to organize yourself to choose your accommodation and travel. If it’s your first exchange, places with more language schools, like big cities, will ease your whole process, so you will want to check it before buying.

How to save on the plane tickets? 

To get a good price, you can use some websites to buy your ticket. I always look for mine through Melhores Destinos. Every day they publish several tickets with promotional prices, if you find dates that are fitting in your schedule, it is time to buy your tickets. In 2016 I found my ticket to Chile for R $ 880.00 (USD 257) with taxes, Cuba for R $ 1600 (USD 467) with taxes and South Africa for R $ 1240 (USD 362) with taxes. Worth checking out daily. Just do not take too long to buy because promotions close with ease. If you have more specific dates or need to stay longer, more than 2 months, I recommend using SkyScanner. In the tool, when you search for the full month in the search, you can see all the dates of round trip with their respective prices, then just choose the ones that fit the two dates and, as we say in Brazil, after that just run for the hug.

Second Step – Find your language course

Once you have your ticket, it is easier to find a language course that fits with your budget. To find your school, the best option is to use the website Courconnect that works as a search engine for language courses abroad. Once on the site, search for the chosen city, the duration of your course and choose the one that most fits your budget. One of the best ways to save on the item that is more likely to be the most expensive on your planning. To save even more, use the code vidademochila at the time of making your purchase, so you will get 10% off any course! Look how wonderful!!


When choosing your course, remember that your development in the language doesn’t depend only on the school, but also on your own efforts and dedication. That is very important!

Third Step – Accommodation. 

Now you have your ticket and course, it’s time to plan your accommodation. There are numerous ways of doing that and save TONS of money. I’ll mention only the options I use, but remember you need an accommodation that adapts to your own lifestyle and travels.


That is definitely the cheapest option for lodging.  Couchsurfing works as a social network for travelers who offer free accommodation in their residences, you will have the opportunity to meet local people, their lifestyle and even maybe a bit of the local culinary. If you become really good friends, it will certainly be a much more real experience than staying in a student house full of foreigners. Remember that staying too long in one house may be unethical, try to change homes at least once a week to meet new people and learn even more about the local culture.


If you are one of those people who like to meet new people all the time, a hostel may be the ideal accomodation for you. If you choose a hostel near your school and opt for a shared room, you will save a lot of money with transportation and accommodation. If you want to save even more, there are plenty hostel willing to exchange accommodation for work, which you can do in your class-free hours and breaks. There are websites that can help you with this process, the most famous is Worldpackers. You can also opt for contacting the hostel directly and try to make the deal, it’s easier than it sounds. Don’t be shy about talking to the people in charge of the hostel.

My Hostel in Cusco, Peru


If you are looking for a bit more comfort, but still thinking about saving up, I recommend using Airbnb and look for a lodging near your school. In there, you can find entire houses, apartments or only a room to rent. Since there are toooons of options, you can always opt for the cheapest one or use the one that fits your profile.

My room using Airbnb in Trinidad, Cuba

Students Residency

In the majority of cases, when you buy an exchange program with an agency, that is one of the options for accommodation. Usually those are residencies exclusively for language students, where you have a great chance of staying with students from the same school. Some have breakfast included, shared room option or single room option. The bad part is the possibility to stay with students from your own country and end up only speaking in your own language. The good side is that this is not mandatory to stay in a student accommodation chosen by the agency, you can always contact your school and find out about other partner residencies, once in contact, you can negotiate directly with the house owner/host and get some type of discount. It’s always worth a try.

Fourth Step – Insurance.

Some people leave the health insurance aside, but I do not recommend it. I’ve had some accidents during my travels and nowadays I do not give up insurance. But do not worry, here too you can save a LOT. If you buy your insurance with an agency prepare to spend an extra buck. But there is a place where you can find more affordable prices. Before traveling, I always try to make my insurance through the site Viagem Ideal it works as a search engine for insurance, here you can find insurance of all types and prices to make your trip more peaceful. Before buying, remember to seek the coverages that you understand as necessary and carefully read between the lines of your contract and what it covers.

 Climbing up the mountains of Machu Picchu, imagine an accident in here!! =PP

After all these steps, you have just about everything you need to learn a new language abroad, making a simple simulation, we can budget a Spanish course in Buenos Aires through this planning. Let’s see how it would look?

Cheap flights to Buenos Aires -> Buenos Aires

Average US $ 700.00 with taxes through Sky Scanner and Best Destinations

Spanish course, 20h per week, duration of 4 weeks.

HiBra School Found on Courconnect: US $ 400,00

Accommodation, staying 2 weeks in a Hostel and 2 weeks opting for Couchsurfing.

Couchsurfing: 0

Hostel Voyage Recoleta: US $ 170,00 in total. Daily US $ 15,00

Health insurance for 4 weeks in Buenos Aires, via an ideal trip

Affinity Insurance: US $ 70,00

Adding the amount paid on all items, you will spend only US $ 1,340 with airfare included. A value far below those practiced by the agencies.

Now that you know the way to the rocks, get organized and start planning your language exchange program. Take advantage also to leave at least a week to travel after the course, nothing better than putting your new knowledge into practice through a good trip! If you liked the tips, be sure to comment and share to your friends and acquaintances.

For more travel tips, follow the Vida de Mochila on Instagram! Hugs!

Richard Oliveira



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Fotografía: Ente de Turismo del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

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