Male tourist holding map in his hand

Traveling on a Student Budget: Affordable Ways To Explore New Places During College Breaks

Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you can’t cure that travel bug you have. While you’re in college, many breaks are available, and you should jump at these rare opportunities to explore the world while you have the time. However, you’re always budget-conscious as a student, which will dictate where you can go. But don’t let that hamper the possibilities to travel, as even on the strictest budget, you can still explore a significant portion of the world.

Think of it as a mix of an adventure and a challenge. With some planning ahead of time and some open-minded thinking, you’ll be surprised how much you can stretch any finances you have. Plus, you’ll create memories that will be with you for a lifetime and help give you a new perspective on life.

Deciding on where to go

You have to start thinking outside the peak season and going off the beaten track. Going to popular destinations, or directly to them, may seem like a safe bet, but it will quickly become extremely overpriced. For example, if you’re thinking of a European destination, then you want to consider going to smaller towns and lesser-known places that will fuel your sense of exploration.

You may want to think about going regionally and exploring your own country, too. There’s so much to do and see within the US and the neighboring countries. You can explore a deep and rich culture in the south with Mexico and Central America. Or you can get lost in the beauty and nature of British Columbia from our northern neighbors.

Going back to why you should journey during the off-season, it’ll be less busy, and there will be heavy discounts at the same time. You may still be able to enjoy a prime destination but without the crazy hustle and bustle. That means you get low travel and no crowds.

While the ticket price may seem higher than expected, you may also want to consider low-cost countries. Once you can get yourself to regions such as Southeast Asia, you’ll quickly see how far your dollar can go, and you’ll be able to go on adventures exploring multiple countries at once. There’s a trade-off, but broadening your horizons can be well worth it.

Start understanding your accommodation options

You might want to eliminate the word hotel from your vocabulary completely, and if so, your happy place will be a hostel. These social hubs give you the basic amenities needed for a clean place to sleep and leave your items while you go out and explore what’s around you. There are communal kitchens for longer-term stays and common areas to help you find and socialize with fellow adventurers.

It’s a great place to wind down, share stories, and get some more local recommendations when you’re on the ground. You’d be surprised how much you can save on accommodation with hostels. Especially in lower-cost countries, you can even find some where it’s only a few dollars per day to stay there.

Other alternatives are homestays, especially if you find yourself traveling with a group. This is what it was like before Airbnb gained a name. You’ll stay at someone’s home, and typically, they will also live there and provide services to make your stay much more enjoyable.

You can also go completely local and go on couch surfing sites where people who have a small space for free to allow you to rest are ready to host you. Of course, while couch surfing is free, there’s no harm in offering a meal or two to cook or buy for your hosts while you are there!

You can also go completely off the path and go camping to rest and relax. Sleeping under the stars means you’ll have to carry everything yourself, but there’s usually no cost. It’s also another social hub, as there are designated campgrounds where you can put up your tent and spend the night.

All of these will come at a fraction of the cost of what a hotel is going to cost you. Remember what your adventure is about. It’s about getting out there and exploring, not going to a fancy hotel and spending your whole time there.

Embrace your transportation methods

When you arrive at your destination, travel like a local. Trains, buses, and bikes will get you where you need to go. That includes long distances if you’re looking to travel to other cities or countries. There’s no need for expensive flights, and you’ll be able to embrace more of the travel experience. If you have a group, consider a road trip style and rent a vehicle to cut costs as well. You’ll naturally enjoy this slower way of travel and be able to see some hidden gems along the way.

Eat like a local

Food costs can be one of the largest drains on you financially when you travel, and that’s because it’s part of the tourism industry. You want to try to eat like a local when possible and see what they eat. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy a new part of traveling and not break any budget. When you get a hostel kitchen, that’ll also help you make simple, low-cost dishes to fuel you up and get you back out there. Plus, cooking while traveling can be yet another great way to meet new people!

Remember to have fun and have an open mind!

There are plenty of things to do and see for low to no cost on your travels. Exploring local museums or simply walking through cities, you will absorb everything around you. You will be able to recharge and even forget about those exams you just took or the fact that you have to head back if you go for a more nature-fueled journey as well. Just remember, the worst decision you can make is not trying to travel when it’s possible.