Let’s face it, we’re all completely broke. Whether we realize it or not, our financial abilities as college students are limited, but that shouldn’t stop us from living out our youth to the fullest.
Everyone wants to see what the world has to offer and experience new opportunities through travel, we simply don’t always have the means to. I firmly believe we shouldn’t let financial constraints keep us from living out our youth, so I compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you travel and create your own cultural conscientiousness.
1. Save the moola
Saving is a pain, but the instant gratification we get from impulsively buying something at the mall is nothing compared to the rush of seeing something bonkers for the first time. I remember when I first arrived in London and saw Big Ben for the first time, glistening in the sun while the double decker red buses passed with gaping tourists snapping pictures. It was something I never thought I would see in person, and yet, there I was. That’s the kind of happiness that money can buy…you just have to save it.
My saving tactics are as follows: come up with a budget, stick to said budget. I have three part time jobs and I split up the income from all three to make sure I cover all my needs and still have some for the bank. Job one covers food and other basic necessities, job two goes towards school expense, and job three goes into savings. If you know where all your money is supposed to go, it makes it harder to splurge on nonessentials.
Anyone who has traveled knows that a decent chunk of your money goes towards a place to stay (which is ridiculous since you spend most of your time out exploring, not inside a hotel).
A free alternative to this is to stay with family or friends. Now, they may not live in Paris or London, but you’d be surprised at the adventures you can have in just another state or city. Adventure is everywhere, not just in the exotic cities in Europe.
If you are planning on going abroad and don’t have friends or family across the pond, AirBnB is a great alternative. They are usually way less expensive than hotels, and give you your own space to spread out. Many even come with a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals, saving you money on food.
If you’re going abroad with a group and don’t plan on staying inside a whole bunch, than you may want to look into youth hostels.
Like everything, there are good and bad ones. Hostels usually only provide you with a bed and a communal kitchen, bathroom and sometimes a living room. If you go with a larger group you can rent out all the beds in a room so you’re staying with people you know in the same room.
Although the space is tight and not always the most comfy, the price makes up for it at only $15 to $45 per person, per night.
3. Amusement over
Not every trip has to be going around the world, fun weekend trips and short road trips can provide just as much fun. Especially with fall coming up, there are plenty of places all over the state that have corn mazes, apple and pumpkin picking and Oktoberfest. There are hidden gems all over the country just waiting for you to discover.
Usually when we think of travel we think of taking long plane rides to expensive European, eating at five star restaurants and staying in lavish hotels. We often forget that we have pretty neato neighbors to the north. Canada isn’t just a place for middle aged men to go fishing, it offers a sweet night life, medieval architecture, magical museums, and some of the best and inexpensive restaurants in the world.
If you’re itching for some culture shock, the province of Quebec operates en français, which makes navigation very difficult unless you’re fluent in French. The architecture in these cities is also hundreds of years old; it’s the closest you can get to medieval architecture without going to Europe.
4. The travel part of travel
Flights are the most expensive part, and often the least enjoyable part of travel. That’s why you have to plan ahead, book flights well in advance, and plan to leave and come back on a weekday when flights aren’t in the highest demand. Compare travel websites and use sites that will find the cheapest flight, like secretflying.com.
When traveling on a budget, it’s important to book flights for when the tourist season is over. Everything, not just flight prices, will skyrocket during the summer months.
The other part of transportation comes when you arrive at your destination. Get familiar with the public transportation systems, especially in larger cities, because they can save you a lot of money.
5. Studying, interning,
and volunteering abroad
As college students we actually have a unique opportunity to couple our studies with traveling.
Even though it costs quite a bit, the money spent towards travel studies or studying abroad is actually way less than if you were to just pack up and go. Other alternatives are volunteering or mission trip opportunities, which you can do through private organizations like churches or non-profits.
You can also do your traveling while getting internship experience. ISA (International Studies Abroad) offers internships coupled with studies abroad so you can travel, intern, and study all in one semester or less. Not only is it a great resume builder, but you can travel the world while you do it.