A Frugal Student’s Guide to Cheap Travel

A Frugal Student’s Guide to Cheap Travel

Have you dreamed of immersing yourself in exotic cultures and landscapes, but you also are a student who cannot afford the expense? Does it seem unrealistic to board a plane and aim your compass toward adventure without draining your finances in the process?

Between the costs of airfare, excursions, dining and accommodations, travel often seems impossible on a student budget—however, it can be done. So if your wanderlust stretches further than your bank account, here are some effective strategies to minimize the price and maximize the value, so you are free to explore to your heart’s—and wallet’s—content.

Be Flexible with Departure and Return Dates.

If you have the freedom to keep the travel itinerary loose, this can save an exponential amount of money on airfare. Instead of locking yourself into specific dates, take a more flexible approach and broaden your flight search to include various dates within the general time-frame that your schedule permits. To reduce the costs of airfare, Matt Kepnes, who operates the blog Nomadic Matt, notes in an article for Business Insider, that you must be prepared to “inconvenience yourself.” For instance, if you can travel “midweek, early [in the morning] or late at night, or add a few connections, then you will find cheaper flights because most people don’t want to do that,” he explains.

Use Budget Airlines Not Mainstream Carriers.

Chances are, you might not be familiar with names like Jetstar, Scoot, IndiGo and Norwegian, but The Telegraph advises befriending these low-cost carriers, as they offer airline tickets at a fraction of the price you will find at Delta, Emirates or Virgin Atlantic. If you are willing to compromise on added perks such as no weight restrictions for luggage, extra legroom between the seats, in-flight food or beverages, and boarding pass kiosks at the airport, then one of these carriers is substantially more affordable than a mainstream or premium airline. Just remember to print the ticket in advance, come equipped with your own snacks, and adhere to luggage requirements when you pack.

Get Your Travel Budget in Shape.

Besides regular expenses, there's another problem that might appear if you are a student: the need to organize and regulate them. Tons of apps have been developed for you to keep track of money, and the best ones to try include Mint, PayPal Mobile, Slice, and others. Choose the one fitting your needs most—and voila, you are a smart spender traveling on a budget. There are also some resources you can use for making some extra cash to travel as a student: they invite you to help other students write an essay or paper and other assignments, so don't miss your chance to kill two birds with one stone (improve your writing skills and earn a little).

Take Advantage of Global Student Discounts.

Once you book the flight and settle in for takeoff, the next course of action is to curb your spending at the actual destination. From museums and landmarks to guided tours and attractions to restaurants and theatres, there are many entertainment options you will need to budget for. So about a month prior to leaving, make sure to order an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) which is accepted in 120 countries and offers discounts on your admission into a number of local venues. If you are a full-time student over the age of 12 with proof of this status from a school or university, then you are eligible for an ISIC. While there is an initial fee, this card is worth the investment.

Forego the Added Nightly Expense of a Hotel.

Sure, you might feel tempted to splurge on a posh hotel room, but in most cases, this is just not feasible on a student budget which is the precise reason why alternatives such as AirBnB have become so popular. Whether you rent an airstream in Phoenix, Arizona, or a farmhouse in Hvolsvรถllur, Iceland, you can find unique and memorable accommodations on this website at a reasonable price. In addition, many AirBnB hosts allow their guests the freedom to haggle a custom rate with the Special Offer feature. So if you are drawn to a certain property that is out of your price range, in order to secure a transaction, the host is often receptive to a negotiation—unlike the fixed cost of any hotel.

No matter where you dream of traveling next—whether your desired locale is foreign or domestic, the mountains of Tibet or the shores of California—do not assume this wanderlust is too expensive just because you are a student. These tactics make travel more accessible, even for the most budget conscious explorer out there.

So grab your passport, toss a backpack over your shoulder, and then prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. The four corners of this world are beckoning, and now is your time to answer that unforgettable siren call.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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