How to Travel Cheaply as a Student

Two Parts:Planning Your TravelGoing on the Trip

A huge misconception is that traveling is super expensive, absolutely unaffordable... "extra"...etc. It doesn't have to be so. As a student, you can travel economically and prioritize what's important to you.

Part 1
Planning Your Travel

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    Know why the cost is worth it. Traveling allows for self discovery in the most organic way, especially when you're alone. You allow yourself to explore who you are when no one else is there to define you and familiar settings are not present to constrict you. Don't ever let anybody tell you that "You're doing too much" when you want to experience new things. It's your life, your world. See it. Make it better.
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    Prioritize. If seeing the world is important to you, understand that it is possible. Then make up your mind that you will plan to do what it takes to make it happen; make a budget, save your cash, and get the basics that you need sorted out to make it happen.
    • You may not be able to travel to every country you want to see, but you can pick the one or ones at the top of your list. Likewise, you may not be able to stay in luxury hotels or resorts, but in most cities, you can find comfortable and safe accommodation for a reasonable price. Make some sacrifices, while prioritizing the parts that really matter to you, and you'll be able to afford travel more easily.
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    Research your flight and travel package options. There are a range of websites online to find good deals; some great student organizations offer discounted travel, including Student Universe and the Student Travel Association. Compare these deals with regular online travel deal websites, too, to make sure you get the best package you can.
    • It often helps to compare costs at different times of year, too. If you have the option of traveling during different seasons, picking the off-season can drastically lower your prices.
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    Choose the hostel over the resort. For those who are unfamiliar with youth hostels, they are not scary. They're very similar to a clean college dorm experience. Most importantly they are safe and cheap! They usually offer free breakfast in the morning, maps, discounts on big things to do, a kitchen and dishes for you to use, a fridge to keep leftovers, a microwave to warm them up, and keys and locks for your things, with secured entry into the building!
    • Hostels also provide the opportunity to meet the most interesting young people: mostly college students backpacking through the country on some crazy adventure. Everyone is always super nice and eager to get your story and your name on Facebook.
    • Hostels are very common in Europe and other areas of the world; although less common in the US, they still exist there too.
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    Apply for an International Student Identification Card (ISIC). This program offers discounts to more than 33,000 locations in 103 countries. It also provides an insurance plan, a mobile phone and calling card communications package, and an emergency help line. It's just good to have.

Part 2
Going on the Trip

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    Use the metro services. After you get to your destination you can rely on the metro, buses and hop-on/hop-off tours to get you around the city. You'll most likely be walking more than normal so as long as you have comfortable shoes you'll enjoy the climb! If you're going to do multiple cities, many of the student travel sites offer cheap flights and train passes to hop from country to country within a region, too.
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    Eat cheaply. Buy snacks from the market when you get there to hold you over throughout the day. We've already said breakfast was most likely included in your boarding situation. Grab a sandwich or a pizza for lunch and sit down and eat a nice dinner.
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    Investigate phone and Internet options. It's likely that you'll want to stay in touch with people from home - and those you meet along the way! Different countries have different options for temporary cell phone services, so investigate the local options. It's quite likely you'll be able to buy a cheap phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card option; if not, you can certainly buy a calling card that gives affordable rates for calling internationally.
    • Beware of using pay phones that take credit cards; many of these have very high rates that aren't clearly listed at the time of calling.
    • Find free WiFi where you can. Many phones now allow messaging or even calling over WiFi, and certainly having an internet connection can allow you to send emails and check in with people via social media. Find out whether your hostel offers free or cheap wi-fi options, and search for local cafes, restaurants, libraries, and public spaces that offer free or affordable WiFi.
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    Use some essential apps. There are a range of apps that can help when you're traveling abroad.
    • Pocket Earth is great for trying to navigate through narrow winding streets. It shows you exactly where you are and you don't need to be connected to wifi. This does what Siri can't.
    • Duolingo is helpful for learning the basics of a local language. Do a lesson a night. It's free, set up like a game and you'll learn fast.
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    Be open to new experiences. This kind of big trip may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you; even if you travel again later one, there are likely not to be too many chances to tour in the "footloose and fancy free" manner of a student. So be open to meeting new people, trying new foods, and going on adventures - just pick your tours and experiences smartly to stay within budget and stay safe.
    • Allowing yourself to be spontaneous is great, but also keep in mind that a little planning can go a long way in making sure you make the most of the trip without going over budget. Go where the spirit of adventure takes you, but also keep an eye on your bank balance and itinerary to make sure you're not veering way off course.
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    Stay safe. Nothing adds to the cost of a trip like having your possessions stolen or losing your luggage and being out of pocket for your tickets, passes, reservations, and so on. Get travel insurance if possible, to help cover any losses in an emergency, and regardless be sure to keep your possessions safe.
    • Use lockers and safes where they're provided in hostels and train stations or airports.
    • Keep your passport, tickets, and money in a hidden travel pouch close to your body and under your clothing, rather than hanging out in a back pocket or backpack.
    • Just as you would in your own country, beware of how you deal with others, especially if alcohol is involved. Your safety is paramount; while you don't want to miss out on great opportunities to meet interesting people and have fun, you also don't want to be reckless. Let someone you trust know who you're with and where you're going, and stay in contact as regularly as possible.
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    Travel on! There is thrill in the unknown.


  • Put luggage tags on your bags. Tagging your belongings with at least some identifying information can help the airline or other transport providers find them if they're misplaced in transit, and may even help you get items returned to you if they're lost or stolen.


  • Know the local laws. The laws for drinking, drug use, and sexual activity vary a lot from country to country and region to region. Be sure you have at least some idea what the local expectations are, both socially and legally, before you arrive at your destination.

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Categories: Reduce Travel Cost