The University Network

How to Travel Cheap in College

With social sites like Instagram and dozens of travel bloggers flooding the web with their experiences, college students are more eager to travel than ever before. But between textbook and tuition expenses, students are struggling to find the funds necessary to finance their dream trip. Fortunately, it’s actually easier to travel cheap than you may think. Thanks to scholarships and companies like Airbnb, there’s no better time to go abroad than during college years.

Here are 10 cheapest ways to travel in college.

cheapest way to travel

1. Travel With EF

EF Ultimate Break is a travel company that offers trips abroad for people, ages 18-28. The great part about traveling with EF is that you don’t have to deal with all of the stresses that typically come with planning a vacation. Each of the company’s trips features a blanket price that includes airfare, hotel, transportation and excursion prices. Your entire itinerary is finalized before you even step on the plane.

With reasonable prices, EF is the perfect company to travel with.

2. Study Abroad

Studying abroad is truly the ideal way for college students to get their taste of international travel. And with so many diverse programs offered around the world, it’s impossible to not find one that best suits you. With study abroad, students get the opportunity to continue their education, while still being able to immerse themselves in a different culture.

Nowadays, educational opportunities like these often scare students off because of the hefty prices that come with studying abroad. Fortunately, sites like FastWeb, the Student & Youth Travel Association and even National Geographic offer scholarships for students looking for assistance in funding their international excursions.

When looking at different study abroad programs, it’s important to compare the things offered within each experience. Look for details on housing, food, tuition and extra excursion prices to ensure that you are involving yourself in a program that’s truly worth the money.

3. Volunteer Abroad

Volunteering abroad is the most rewarding way to travel. While volunteering abroad, you’ll have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself within a community. On top of the incredible relationships that you’ll build with locals of the area, you’ll also be a part of making a positive difference.

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Organizations like the Peace Corps and Projects Abroad are constantly looking for world-changers who are eager to make a difference. By volunteering abroad, you will see the places that you are traveling and working, in a whole new light.

4. Book Cheap Flights

Though this is often easier said than done, it’s not impossible. College students around the world are turning to companies like Secret Flying to book roundtrip airfare at really low prices.

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Aside from just booking through the right company, make sure you also research the best time of the year to travel. This differs with locations, but it will ultimately help to knock some costs off of your flight fare.

5. Prioritize Your Budget

As a college student, it’s easy to lose track of how and where you’re spending your money. Between books, school supplies, sporting events and trying to maintain a social life, students’ budgets are spread thin. If traveling is truly your passion, then commit to it. Discipline yourself to set aside a fair amount of money to use for your dream trip. Skip out on your morning coffee and late-night fast food runs, and prioritize where and how your money is being spent.

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Dave Ramsay, a finance guru, offers a curriculum program that helps train college-aged students on how to manage their money. His program, Foundations in Personal Finance College Edition, is just one of many that will help you practice prioritizing your finances.

6. Memorize the Metro System

One of the most expensive parts of your trip will likely revolve around transportation. Getting around is never cheap, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the location. Although it may seem easier to just call an Uber or a Lyft, avoid this option at all costs. Fares for these can get pretty expensive, depending on where you’re visiting. Take advantage of the metro system within the area. Whether it’s a subway or a city bus, daily/week-long passes are typically more reasonably priced. They also offer you the opportunity to truly live like a local, no matter your destination.

7. Befriend Airbnb and Couchsurfing

Airbnb and Couchsurfing are millennials’ best friends when it comes to traveling cheap. These two companies have truly changed the spectrum of the travel industry. No other group is competing more heavily or more directly with hotel chains, than Airbnb. With so many people offering their services up on the site, users are getting full homes for cheaper than hotel rooms.

Couchsurfing is another great option, but it’s only for the adventure nomad. With this company, you aren’t just staying in someone’s home; you’re staying with someone in their home. This cozy spin on hostels allows travelers to build community with locals, instantly upon their arrival.

Although these are reliable options, make sure that you do your research and read reviews thoroughly. As important as it may be to save money, that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice safety or comfort. Make sure that you have made direct contact with the hosts prior to leaving.

8. Travel With Friends

Traveling with other people is the easiest, and often the most fun solution, to saving money. Plus, who doesn’t want to wander around the world with their best friends? By traveling with other people, you limit unnecessary expenses. Things like cab fares and hotel rates could be cut in half by simply taking a buddy along with you. And if you really want to save money, try splitting meals. It’s insane how much a good, quality meal can cost you — especially when you’re traveling abroad. This brings us to the next tip for saving money: buy groceries and avoid eating out.

9. Limit How Often You Eat Out

As important as it is to experience the culture, you shouldn’t break the bank doing so. Rather than eating out every night, head to the local market or grocery store and purchase some simple yet international food items. This allows you to get a taste of the culture without spending a ridiculous amount of money at a restaurant. And if they’re items that can easily be repackaged, like light snacks, you can take some back home.

If you do choose to stay at a hotel, rather than an Airbnb or hostel, take advantage of the food deals that they offer. Many hotels offer a free, continental breakfast. Even though it’s a simple tactic, it’s one less meal that you have to worry about or spend your money on.

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10. Prioritize Your Travel Budget

Between tours, souvenirs and additional excursions, your trip costs will quickly start to add up. Before you leave, set a budget for your trip — this will help you to determine what you truly want to experience, and what you ultimately want to take away from your trip.

Kyley Warren is a writer, photographer, traveler and lover of life. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism through Arizona State University. Kyley sees creativity as one of the most important things in the world, and she tries to let her work serve as a reflection of that belief. Following her time at ASU, Kyley dreams of becoming a travel writer and working to showcase the world to others through her eyes.