How to Travel on a College Budget

As I put the finishing touches on my college career, I am noticing that some of my peers see traveling as a cost prohibitive activity reserved for a select few. I am not rich, and I travel often. Here is how I manage to do it.

Prioritize

You may want to travel, but until that desire becomes a priority, you will likely not be able to afford it. I have made sure that traveling is at the top of my list. This makes turning down ‘one last round’ or the newest gadget a little easier. This is because I know my money will be better spent on adventures.

Budget

Find out what you would need to spend to travel to various places on you bucket list. You may be pleasantly surprised. I recently purchased a round-trip plane ticket to Costa Rica over the Spring Break peak season (with a weekend in Fort Lauderdale) for $417. That’s slightly more than what a new GoPro costs. I also bought a round-trip ticket to Paris during the Summer Peak season for just $479. The iPhone 7 is $650.

If you are able to plan out a trip in advance you can find some killer deals! Use kayak.com/explore to get an idea of what it would cost to fly anywhere in the world. Another great resource is Scott’s Cheap Flights and check out this great technique used by my friend and mentor Konrad Waliszewski.

Work

College is a blast, but having no money gets old quickly. If you are like me, you have loans and grants that barely cover your school costs. Having a job will allow you to have a bit more freedom. Being busy also helps to keep you from spending your hard earned travel funds. Another trick is to set up a separate bank account that is strictly for traveling. I put a portion of each pay check into that account for safe keeping.

Make Your Intentions Known

If you want to travel, tell everyone! I have been fortunate enough to be taken on trips to China, Alaska, and Barbados. All I did was make my desire to travel known to the right, generous people. Generally, if you have a goal and make it known, people will want to help you reach it.

Other Options

Intern somewhere cool. I spent this past summer working for PepsiCo-Gatorade in Phoenix, Arizona. This allowed my girlfriend and I to visit California, Las Vegas, Yosemite and a bunch more places. It was a serious change of scenery from Michigan. Plus, I got paid to be there!

Studying abroad is an awesome way to travel. While I have not personally done it, I have only heard great things. You go with a group of classmates to some of the world’s most amazing places. Also, there are often grants, scholarships, and financial aid available for those who need it.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

When you decide that travel is a passion and priority, do not compromise on it. Find weekends for short domestic trips and plan international trips far enough in advance that you can clear it with your boss and professors. Save up enough money and be realistic about what you can afford.

Whether it’s a hobby or a lifestyle, traveling is one of the most important ways to develop as a person. If you want to do it, don’t let anything stop you!

Safe travels and have fun!

-Michael J. Flora

 

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