If you are a college student and anything like me, you may have an itch to have fun, travel and see the world. I feel like the world is at my feet and I cannot wait to explore exotic places and new cultures in different continents during my time off in between schoolwork. One off the greatest ways to do this is to study abroad and travel while you’re there. I have a very limited budget and this requires me to get creative so I can fit some much-desired traveling into my schedule. With some planning and preparation, you may be surprised to discover just how affordable it can be to travel to Europe and other exciting places on a strict budget!
Don’t Go Overboard with Your Luggage
I know it is tempting to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you travel overseas for a study abroad semester, but if you travel while you’re there with just one bag, you’ll find this can help to lighten your financial load during your trip. Having said that, you need to have a durable pack that can compress and be placed in a small locker for safekeeping. The less you travel with, the less you have to worry about losing and replacing; plus, most planes and trains make you pay extra for larger, heavier baggage. Also, when you are staying at a hostel or a shared room, you won’t have to worry about paying extra money for storage space for your luggage.
Since you are searching for ways to travel on a limited budget, shared rooms, boarding rooms and hostels should be the types of places you end up staying. When it comes to packing your bags, be sure to pack good walking shoes, all of your necessary ID documents, select personal hygiene items (remember you cannot carry liquids on planes), a rain coat (nobody likes to be soaked) and just two or three pairs of comfortable dri-fit clothing. I say dri-fit specifically because it is lightweight, breathable and dries very quickly. If you need to wash your clothes in a sink, you won’t want to be wet for two days. If you pack these items, then your trip will be more comfortable and affordable.
Making the Money Stretch
Because I do not have a lot of money to travel with, it is imperative that I learn how to make my money stretch as far as possible. With a little research, I was able to discover that I could use a credit card to help me instead of taking out loans every time I want to hop on a plane.
Research is key for this to work properly. Certain credit card companies offer special rewards for students and travelers. This is what I chose to do and it is one of the best things you can do to afford traveling overseas without going into huge amounts of debt. I spoke with a company, did some research and got their one of their best student credit cards. This allowed me to make several purchases (plane, train pass and hostels) without paying anything until after I returned home and found a summer job. Then, I was able to make a few monthly payments.
You can also save some money and apply for jobs overseas to help pay your way as you go, but then you need to apply for a work Visa and stay in one country the whole time. I found this to be a really effective way for me to afford meals and to reduce the amount of money I charged to my credit card for one trip, but I usually stick to the credit card because then I can travel and not have to worry about working, studying and traveling while I’m overseas.
Find the Cheapest Overnight Rates
If you’re studying abroad, then you will have a place to sleep and relax and when you aren’t studying, why not spend your time traveling? If you’re going to be overseas, you should take the opportunity to visit surrounding cities and towns. There are several cost efficient ways to do this but hostel living is the best.
I previously mentioned staying at hostels; after a few rough nights at low-end hostels, I found a website that helps you research hostels before you book a trip. I would highly recommend any traveler use this site before venturing off into a small town in another country. If you are not sure how hostels work, you will be delighted to discover they are very reasonably priced and you can (at most hostels) check in at any time of the day or night. Not only is this convenient and inexpensive, but staying at hostels also gives you a great opportunity to meet other traveling college students. You can share information with each other about the best places to eat and the best clubs to visit. You can also ask if there are any jobs you can work at while you are visiting the town. Many jobs in clubs, bistros and bakeries are available for traveling college students who need to earn a few extra bucks to pay their way. I was once offered a bartending job and my boss paid me and fed me! What a great two-for-one deal that was!
The best way to save money while traveling as a college student is to be flexible with your schedule, be sure to plan ahead and research the best cities, pubs and hostels. It may also be possible to save money by finding others to travel with so you can obtain group discounts for traveling fees.
KC Owens is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.
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