Get savvy when it comes to travel, tips from a College Student.
By Crystal Myers, Marshall University
While travel is at the top of all my to-do lists, being a full-time student tends to get in the way.
With 15 hours of class and 20 hours at a part-time job on top of homework and extra- curriculars, finding the time to get away is no easy feat.
So when that much-needed three-day weekend finally comes around, the last thing I want to do is be forced to turn down a few days of beach-lounging or the chance to explore a new city.
But lets face it, college is expensive. So I’ve had no choice but to become somewhat savvy when it comes to travel and I’m here to share some helpful hints for the biggest of bank-breakers.
GAS – This tends to be my biggest traveling woe. With fuel prices skyrocketing, filling up your car for a trip can be a deal breaker. While splitting a tank amongst friends does help, I suggest checking into other forms of transportation. Figure out your options. I recently utilized Megabus for the first time. I was super impressed with the quality of the bus and the tickets can be as low as a dollar. Plus, road trip games are a lot more fun when no one has to worry about driving.
AIR FARE – Going overseas? Or even across the country? Some destinations are just impossible to drive to and flight prices can be outrageous, so try and ease the pain by turning to the Internet. There are dozens of sites that will help you compare prices, utilize them. Also, in my (one) experience, I’ve found it is best to buy tickets as early as possible. Trust me, waiting till last minute can cost you a couple hundred extra. Also, never pay to check a bag. Use your carry-on space for all it’s worth. I’ve seen blogs describing how to pack a week’s worth of clothing into a carry on, get to Googling.
HOTEL– As with flights, there are websites to aid in the hotel search. However, I’ve become the go-to hotel booker among my friends and that’s not the route I take. It turns out, many hotels, especially local ones aren’t listed on these sites. Instead, use Google Maps. Zoom into the place where you plan on staying and see what it has to offer. Find some hotel names and find their individual websites. This has always saved me a bit of cash.
ATTRACTIONS – So you’ve gotten to your location and you’ve checked into your affordable hotel. Now is not the time waste away your saving on attractions. First, check into what can be done for free. Museums, parks, monuments, nearly every city has something to see that won’t cost you a dime. If you exhaust these options, sites like Groupon are usually pretty good for snagging a deal. Also remember, lots of places will give discounts for students, be sure to ask!
FOOD– I have a hard time with this one because so many places have unique looking restaurants that tend to pull me in. You must stay strong! The best way to save some money is to purchase food from a local grocery store. Instead of eating out for every meal, settle for just dinner. If you’re feeling real frugal, decide on just a few days when the group should eat out. The other nights take turns pairing up and making a dish for your friends.
So whether you have a day or a week to get away, I encourage you to take every chance you can to explore. Enjoy this time when your student loan payments are deferred, but use these tactics to save a little while traveling. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too!
What are your favorite money saving tips? I’d love to hear them. Let us know below!