To those college students bitten by the travel-bug and stricken with wanderlust, the only thing standing in our way is money. You would have already been to the top of the eiffel tower or explored the temples of Angkor if it weren’t for the question of means. Maybe you have already read tons of travel blogs on how to travel on a budget, but just can’t seem to make it work for you.
As a college student suffering from insatiable wanderlust, I am no stranger to discount travel sites and the travel advice offered by various bloggers.
Each time I embark on a new adventure, sharing photos and anecdotes along the way, I am bombarded with questions. How am I, a broke student, able to afford travel?
To answer this question I will be sharing my very best budget travel tips.
- Travel With a Group
Booking a group tour may seem crazy expensive when you look at the cost, but tour companies are often able to get discounts for excursions you would not be privy to on your own. So while the upfront cost may seem like a lot, the reality is that you would be spending much more for the same experience on your own. I especially recommend traveling with an agency if your are a novice adventurer.
Two agencies come to mind when speaking of group travel:
Rustic Pathways is an amazing travel agency that offers not only leisure tours but also volunteer trips. One of the great things about Rustic Pathways is that they offer scholarships! In highschool I received a scholarship to volunteer with orphans in Thailand and Cambodia. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I would highly recommend Rustic Pathways to anyone looking to travel and make a difference.
EF College Break
If you are looking to travel with a group, you won’t find a better value for your money than EFCB. One of the greatest things about EF College Break is that they give you the option to pay for your trip in monthly installments. I recently traveled on EFCB’s London, Paris, and Barcelona trip. I booked alone, but made fast friends with all of my tourmates. Another great thing about this tour agency is that you are given a code which gives friends and family $100 off their trip, and credits you $150 every time it is used. Traveling with EFCB was a great experience and I would definitely do it again!
2) Explore Alternative Accommodations
It may seem a little daunting when you look at the cost of booking a hotel, food, and tickets. But thankfully, we now live in the age where saving money on accomodations can all be done at your fingertips.
Stay in a Hostel
You might be little nervous of staying in a hostel, but they can be really fun! You get to meet tons of other travelers, get special discounts on outings, and get to save some money. It’s not like you’ll be spending your days in the room anyways. If you have a Booking.com account, you may be able to get some great discounts on hostels.
If you’re able to travel with a group of friends, Airbnb may be the best option. You can find incredible places to stay from Villas in Italy to treehouses in Bali. If you’re splitting the cost, $300/night might not be too bad for a once in a lifetime experience. The trick is planning in advance, and working out transportation to and from your stay.
2) Use Your Student Discounts
Being a student means you have a student ID, right? Use it! You can use your student ID for discounts in-country as well as for booking your trip abroad.
If you haven’t heard about Studentuniverse, hold onto your hats! Studentuniverse offers discount plane tickets and hotels for students. Often these discounts are half the amount you would usually pay! Be careful though, often the discounts come from being routed through different airports or crazy long layovers. It all depends how far you’re willing to go to save.
Once you’ve booked your ticket abroad, don’t forget to bring your student ID with you. In Europe especially, your ID will save you money on admission to attractions. For example: Entrance to the Tower of London runs about 24 pounds. But with a student ID the admission is lowered to 17 pounds. So make sure to carry your student ID!
3) Plan Ahead
The most important travel budgeting tip I can give is to plan in advance. Those little unexpected costs here and there can really add up. If you are traveling with a group, book as far in advance as possible. If you have the option to pay in installments, this grants you a lower monthly payment. Planning in advance also gives you time to start setting aside spending money and researching any extra costs.
Booking flights in advance is also a great money saving tactic. Generally, 6 weeks before departure is the best time to purchase tickets. Budgeting a certain amount per day will also save you from blowing your bank account as soon as you arrive at your destination.
Traveling as a college student is entirely possible, it just takes a little planning!