6 tips for traveling on a budget

Time to get away

Travel is one of the most enriching experiences. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive. For university students, the cost of travel isn’t something that’s easily saved for with a part-time job. The cost of flights, gas, lodging, and meals add up quickly, so it’s important to be aware of all of the costs associated with traveling. However, there are also plenty of affordable travel ideas that are much more realistic on a university student’s budget.

For one, camping is a great destination, or lodging alternative. There are also ways to find cheaper flight deals to fly where you want to go. Road trips are much more cost effective than flying, and bringing friends can help with costs. Not only that, but traveling is a lot cheaper when you’re doing it to study or for work. And just remember, you don’t have to travel far to have an amazing travel experience.

1. Camp out

Grabbing a tent, some camping food, outdoor supplies, and heading out for a camping adventure is an enriching travel experience in itself. The big perk is that you can probably do this relatively close to home, making it even more affordable. Try looking into a national park near you, or wildlife areas near water to find great camping locations. Go to a location that you’ve never been, get some friends together, and spend the weekend roughing it in the wilderness.

Research some easy camping recipes, bring some s’mores, and sit around the fire telling stories. Instead of spending a lot of money on cocktails and eating out, you’ll spend a small portion of money on cheaper drinks and food items. Camping is also a great budget-friendly alternative to hotel or Airbnb lodging even if it’s not your final destination.

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2. Find cheap flights

If you’re looking to travel a little farther away from home and you need to take a flight, don’t settle for the first flight you see. There are plenty of ways to find cheap flights if you’re willing to do the legwork.

  • Set up an alert: If you know when you want to fly and where, you can set up a Google alert to tell you when flight prices go up and down, making it possible for you to snag the cheapest one you see.
  • Work the system: There are plenty of ways to work the system and find error fares, sales, and cheap options. Be aware, they do require more work to find them.
  • Be flexible: Being flexible with dates, locations, and times will allow you to find the absolute cheapest ticket. Fly on unpopular days and times and you’ll find the cheapest flights.
  • Fly direct: Picking a location that has direct flight options will be cheaper than flying to a location that requires connections.
  • Avoid the extras: Traveling on a budget means avoiding any extra costs. Pack light to avoid baggage fees, bring snacks to avoid paying for food, and don’t pay extra for better seating.

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3. Go on a road trip

Road trips are great because the journey is half of the fun. You and your friends can jump in a car, load up the snacks, and make a playlist for your drive. Not only that, but you can travel to many different destinations along the way instead of just one. Whether you choose to stay close or travel a number of hours away, you can make a few stops along your journey and turn it into an even bigger adventure. You can choose to camp, stay in a hotel, or rent an Airbnb for your lodging. You might travel to the beach, for a concert, or just to see the world’s biggest ketchup bottle. No matter what, your road trip will be filled with fun and ridiculous memories for everyone.

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4. Bring friends

It might seem more expensive to bring more people along on a trip, but in many cases it’ll help to have more people funding your experience. More people means more wallets helping to pay for gas, lodging, food, and activities. Talk to some friends and make a plan for what everyone can afford and plan your trip that way. Travel is so important for young people, and many university students find that it’s just too hard to afford it. This is why a group vacation can be beneficial for everyone. The opposite is probably true for air travel because flight costs don’t normally change due to more people traveling, but lodging and driving costs will be significantly cheaper with more friends willing to help pay.

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5. Work or study abroad

Travel doesn’t just have to be a vacation, it can also double as an experience for your schooling or your future career. Look into study abroad programs with your university to see if there are opportunities for travel in your field of study. This can be a cheaper option because you’ll live with a host family or on a campus, and you’ll be fully immersed in the culture of a new location in a way you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. You can also look into volunteer or internship programs available in your field of study. For instance, nurses travel and work abroad all the time, so there tends to be programs for nurses and nursing students to travel while getting paid.

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6. Stay close to home

No matter how you choose to travel, it’s going to be more affordable to travel close to home. Flights will be direct, and you won’t need as much gas if you’re driving. Traveling is an amazing experience, and you don’t have to travel far away or to a popular tourist destination to enjoy your travel experience. In fact, sometimes it’s even more special to find a location that isn’t saturated with tourism. Find a small town close to you, hike a nearby mountain, or find a unique destination in your state you’ve never been to. This way you’ll get to travel, it’ll be more affordable, and you’ll be going somewhere unique.

Not everyone can easily afford travel — especially university students. Travel for young people is a great way to stretch your wings, gain new experiences, and see more of the world that isn’t right outside your front door. Fortunately, travel is more about new experiences than it is about fancy destinations and boujee accommodations. Affordable travel is possible if you’re willing to rough it, do the legwork, take the road less traveled, bring some friends, travel for school, or stay close to home.

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