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When many people think of travel, the vision in their minds is lots of dollar signs burning up the moment you hit “confirm purchase” on a plane ticket. The truth is, traveling is a luxury, but it does not have to completely break the bank.

As college students, everything you do is on a budget. Eating out, shopping for clothes or things to decorate your dorm and yes, traveling is up there. There are ways to get around outrageous costs and spending all of your money that could be going towards tuition. Here are a few tips and tricks to navigating going on trips with limited funds.

Places to Stay

When hearing a word like “connections” your first thought could be the people you get to know for job opportunities or a frustrating New York Times word game. In this case, connections can work as friends, family or anyone you know who lives in a different city.

When picking a place to travel to, see if there is anyone you know in the area. It is not embarrassing to reach out to that high school friend who goes to school in Los Angeles if they have a couch you can crash on for a couple of days. Especially when it comes to saving hundreds of dollars not getting a hotel or Airbnb.

Don’t have any friends or family in the area? There are still cheaper options when looking into hostels or hotel rooms. Also sharing a room with a travel partner to split the cost is always an option.

As a last resort, look for an overnight bus to the place you want to go. One less night to spend on a place to sleep as you can safely get some shut-eye on your way to the destination. Kill two birds with one stone.


A large part of traveling for most is getting to try new food or cuisine the destination is known for. While that can be fun, it is really easy to get carried away with how much you are spending on meals.

Some tips for this include making sure to pack snacks you can take on your trip, going on a small grocery trip when you arrive and doing research on which places you want to eat at before you go.

Also if your hotel has free breakfast or coffee, take advantage of that. Even if you are not hungry when you first wake up, snagging a pastry for later is always a good idea.

Getting There

Whether it be planes, trains, automobiles or some other form of transportation, sometimes the most expensive part of the journey is how you take it. You will have to consider some factors of if you want to save money or time.

Many times, plane travel can be cheap if you are willing to sacrifice a direct flight and a nice seat. For some people, saving a hundred dollars is worth having a three-hour layover in Chicago, for others, maybe not. It all depends on the traveler.

The same sentiment goes for train or bus travel. It can be significantly cheaper to travel on the road or tracks, but you will get to your destination a lot slower. Especially if we are talking about domestic travel here in the United States. Just look at the time difference of flying to Austin from Houston rather than driving.

Another way to save money on plane travel at the very least is to pack light. Buying a ticket with a free personal item will end up cutting costs compared to a ticket that complies with a carry-on or checked bag. The lighter you travel, the heavier your wallet will be.

Being A Student

While students have a lower budget than many other travelers, there are also some benefits to the gig. Doing your research beforehand can you show you many places, activities and even some food places that offer a student discount.

When packing, make sure to keep that student ID on you to flash at the local museum and get free admission or some change off of the visit. Even some bus companies offer reduced fares for college students, so make sure you are fully taking advantage of your time in school and applying those discounts.


Finally, once you get to your destination, it is hard to avoid spending money enjoying your time in a new place. There are shows to see, museums to browse and Ubers to take.

Though, on that last one, the biggest tip to take is learning the public transit system in the city you are visiting. You will save so much money using a bus pass or downloading a ticket for the train over paying for a rideshare the entire time. Taking an airport shuttle for $5 is the way to go over a $70 Uber.

While it might be nice and easy to shuck out cash for a guided tour of wherever you are staying, the cheaper route will always be to explore the place by yourself and do your own research. Plus, you won’t be herded like cattle in a group of other tourists.

Make sure to look up if there are any festivals, celebrations, events, farmer’s markets or just happenings going on in whatever town you end up in. Sometimes you stumble over a weekend event and it ends up being the highlight of your trip.

While traveling is never free, it is one of the most enriching things you can do, even as a student. Don’t let your budget stop you from finding ways to see the world.

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