4 Money-Saving Travel Tips for College Students

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 25, 2017

Studying abroad, or traveling in general, is at the top of many college student’s wish lists of things they want to do before they graduate college. Breaks between terms and the lack of a full-time job (for many) means that finding time to travel is much easier, but when college students think of their college student budget, they hesitate to act on their desire to travel in college.

Instead of skipping out on a summer break trip with your friends or a solo backpacking trip because you do not think you can afford it, think the decision out more by considering the following money-saving tips.


1) Book everything in advance

If the trip you are going to take isn’t a spur of the moment thing and you are putting plenty of effort in thoroughly planning it out, you should definitely book everything you can in advance.

Not only does booking everything in advance save you the stress of finding yourself in a situation where you cannot find a place to stay or a way to get where you want to go, but it also eliminates spikes in fees as the vacation day nears. While it is hard to find the “golden window” where an airplane ticket would be the cheapest, buying a ticket somewhere between one month and three and a half months in advance is your best bet.

2) Do not think of hotels as your only option 

Companies like Airbnb have made it surprisingly easy to find temporary living options other than hotels. Picking to rent out someone else’s home has plenty of benefits. It’s often cheaper overall as it is easier to share with multiple people than a hotel room. It often includes plenty of amenities you can’t find in a hotel — a backyard, laundry units with no additional charge, a full kitchen, and much more.

Having a full kitchen in the place you plan to stay while traveling will ultimately save you plenty of money when it comes to your dining budget. Instead of spending an excessive amount of money on eating out to keep you well fed, you can instead save money by cooking your own meals and stretching it out, allowing you more money for your other budgets for shopping, local activities, etc.

3) Make a budget and stick to it (don’t waste money on unnecessary souvenirs)

One of the worst things any traveler can do is fail to make a budget before going on a trip. It is much easier to make a well-planned out budget when you are at home looking at what you can spend than it is making a rush budget when you are already on the trip and wanting to try anything and everything with the amount of money you can actually afford to spend slipping to the back of your mind.

Break your budget down into different categories. Make a transportation budget — how you are getting there and coming back, and an estimation on how much transportation you’ll need once you get there when using cabs and trains. Budget how much you are willing to spend on housing and what you absolutely need in the place you are going to stay and what you can skip out on. Plan out how much money you are going to spend on food — you can splurge every once in a while — but try to eat like a local when you can (cheap street food can save you and your budget).

Shopping while traveling can be the biggest hit to your wallet without a set budget. Don’t spend money on souvenirs that will not see the light of day once you get home. Don’t buy clothes that you could easily find at home. Another thing you should watch out for when shopping is if you can afford to bring it back. If you traveled with your suitcase packed to the brim and/or just barely falling within the weight limit, you most likely will not be able to bring more things back home with you without shelling out more money to ship it separately, get more baggage, or pay more fees.

4) Take advantage of college student discounts

As long as you are traveling with a valid college student ID, you have access to plenty of discounts while traveling. When it comes to transportation, you can often use your student ID to get a discount on bus or train rides — allow more money to go to other travel budgets.

If your travel plans include taking advantage of local attractions, check their pricing to see if they include college student discounts because they often do. Museums have great discounts for college students and some are even free. Aquariums, zoos, and theme parks also offer college student discounts, adding more college student budget-friendly variety to your travel plans.

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