Best Ways to Travel as a College Student
Yes…We Can Travel, Too
Many of us (especially as college students) really feel the pressure to “get out and be successful in the real world.” Unfortunately, our anxiety from this often prevents us from seeing the “real world” that we’re being propelled into at such a high speed.
This article outlines a few ways to see the world now instead of waiting until after we graduate and have other responsibilities… we can travel, too.
1. Channel your Inner Minimalist
One major money saver (and lifestyle choice) is to pack only necessities. I mean, unless you’re in a unique situation, how much do you really need? By only traveling with a carry-on bag, you can save money and time not having to check the bag, risk losing it, or wait at baggage claim. My 60L pack has been enough every time, and I wouldn’t want to travel any other way.
There’s something special about living out of one bag with only your necessities. Believe it or not, you don’t need half the things you think you do.
2. Go On the Classic Road Trip
I know, I know — this is a cliché suggestion in an “affordable travel” post. But, with the price of airline tickets exceeding that of gas prices by by so much, road trips are actually the perfect way to satisfy your travel craving on a time crunch and budget. Pick a long weekend, prepare a playlist, pack in the car, and take off. It takes less effort and prep than you may think.
For more details and resources, check out How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip from my blog, if you’d like!
3. Short-Term Study Abroad Opportunities
Short-term study abroad programs are becoming more and more popular in many universities. If you’re not quite ready to commit a whole semester abroad, short-term programs (that span are 1–3 weeks on spring and summer breaks) are a great alternative! Typically, the university helps students offset the costs of travel (i.e. food, airfare, housing) through an existing study abroad fund. Plus, you can obtain scholarships for the remaining costs with a little bit of work on applications. I’ve loved my two experiences traveling this way (and I’m not out of money yet).
4. Long-Term Study Abroad Opportunities
If you are ready to dive into another culture completely, then please go for it. As someone preparing for this myself, gathering information from your school website and study abroad coordinator can really help; it’s not too overwhelming. Obviously, you can research the area around the university that you’re interested in for housing, public transportation, and languages spoken before you decide on a place…but it’s extremely feasible. Oftentimes, there are even scholarships and reimbursements available to offset some of your costs. The key is research and preparation (i.e. avoid the study abroad companies that gouge the hell out of you).
5. There are Alternatives to a Taxi
While Taxi cabs in bustling cities are uber convenient (pun intended), there are more affordable alternatives of transportation. Uber.com is a thriving company that provides quick, affordable service from local drivers through a mobile app.
Also, buses, subways, and trains can all be great options (depending on where you are traveling). While it may take a little longer — or a lot longer — to arrive at your destination, you can compromise on luxury and efficiency to keep your budget on track (pun intended again).
6. Save On Housing
One main reason that travel becomes so expensive is the cost of housing/hotels while you’re away. However, there are resources that will save your life. The site airbnb.com is a great way to travel on a budget. By simply typing in the city you want to stay, you can browse apartments/lofts/reviews from other travelers about their experience at that certain place. (Youth hostels are also a viable option and a great way to meet fellow travelers, I just haven’t done that yet).
Another way that I like to save money is to travel to places where my family members live around the country. A flight there becomes a lot more affordable when they have a car, house, and meal waiting for you, am I right? Plus, you get to catch up with your loved ones. It’s a win-win.
7. Save Money on Airfare
Sometimes certain airlines run specials that get you from point A to point B within your budget. Yes, that’s actually possible. Try to do a little research into any smaller commercial airports close by. Even if you have to drive a little longer to get to the airport, the hundreds you can save is well worth it.
Two airlines that I’ve come across with extremely good deals are RyanAir and WOW Air. I’ve not actually flown with these myself (this is not an endorsement yet, I promise) , but I plan to use them soon because of the fantastic prices. Why yes, I’ll catch a plane from Spain to Greece for 15 Euro.
As a fellow college traveler, these have been the best ways for me to see as much of this beautiful world as I can. Thank you for reading, and I hope these tips inspire you to get out there and do the same.