As I started College, I decided to continue making the world smaller by traveling as much as I could. This has allowed me to visit almost every US state and dozens of countries.
However, many of my school mates were always concerned that travel would affect their tight budgets. I was far from rich. Like many of students today, my parents helped me, but I worked my way through my University years.
So how can a student travel without breaking the bank or making the smallest impact on their budget. Here are 10 tips from my personal travel experiences:
1) Flaunt Your Student Status: Being a student can actually be advantageous when traveling. Your student ID can be helpful in getting some special rates and discounts. Not everyone will accept your school’s ID card as proof, but there is an International Student Identification Card. This card brings with it special rates and discounts for members. It can reduce the prices of entry to museums or attractions.
2) Take Advantage Of Special Student Offers: Some Universities have travel agencies on campus. These agencies offer special travel rates for students only. I once booked a flight at the University travel agency for a third of the price it would have cost me to purchase it on my own. These offers can reduce the price of what can sometimes be the most expensive part of any trip, transportation.
3) Study Abroad: Travel and get credit for it, not a bad concept huh? Almost every college and university offers study abroad programs. These are great travel opportunities. It’s not just the program itself, but the free time they offer for you to travel some more. I had a friend who did a study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. The courses were offered on weekdays, offering her the opportunity to see other parts of Spain on weekends.
4) Take A Summer Job: Summer jobs are almost a requirement for most College students. Why not take that job somewhere else?
5) Take Group Trips: Planning a trip with friends can be fun. It can also make things cheaper! Sharing a room, splitting cab fares or car rental bills, sharing meals, these are all things that can help reduce your costs. It does not have to be a large group. Find yourself a travel buddy or travel buddies you enjoy hanging out with. You will not only cut your costs, you will probably feel safer traveling.
6) Go Backpacking: There, I said it. Backpacking. Not very appealing to some, but it can dramatically reduce your costs. Nightly hotel bills can really add up. If you are backpacking, there are plenty of places to pitch a tent for a lot less than renting a hotel. However, this is not for everyone.
7) Stay At Hostels: If backpacking is not for you, hostels may be an alternative. I know we have all seen the horror films, but my experience in hostels is the total opposite. Using the example of my stay at a hostel in Oxford, England for example. It was a fairly modern building, the quarters were a bit cramped, but let’s face it, you are not traveling to spend hours in a hotel room. We had a community TV and a shared breakfast hall (breakfast was included), which allowed for us to meet other students who were traveling from other countries and build friendships with them, which have lasted many years. The friend I was traveling with has actually visited the other students we met at that hostel in their home countries during a subsequent trip.
8) Pack Meals: Packing meals can be a huge money saver. Visit a deli, buy some sandwich making supplies and pack sandwiches. It is a great way to save money. If you were to eat at a restaurant every meal, you could find yourself spending a lot of money. I used the one restaurant a day plan. I would find a hostel that included breakfast, pack a lunch, and buy dinner at a restaurant. Some trips I even did a restaurant every other day. Buying packs of bottled water is also advisable, as your cost of a single bottle can be just as much as a 12-pack that could last you a week.
9) Make A Budget: Perhaps the most underestimated need, a budget. If you budget yourself right, you will know how much you can spend and if you stick to it, or come in under, you can take another trip sooner rather than later. Calculate how much you will spend on the fixed costs (transportation, lodging, attractions) and set yourself a budget for meals and incidentals.
10) Use A Travel Card: I can never express enough how beneficial travel cards can be. Using travel cards when you travel can yield additional rewards such as free stays, bonus rewards, etc. You also have many expenses as a student. Why not use a rewards card to pay your bills and collect rewards for money you already have to spend? If there are bills you can pay with the credit card (and pay the credit card off monthly) use this to collect rewards. Some cards even offer discounts on travel themselves or special offers to you. For more information on specific cards, please visit our friends at Credit Card Insider. They have great information on different types of cards and useful tips to help you select the right card for you.