How College Students can Travel on a Dime
Be Frugal When it Comes to Spending Your Money.
Unless you have a trust fund, your adventurous spirit is going to need to find the cheapest way to travel and keep your expenses down while on the go. After all, your college expenses (rent, books and tuition) are already difficult to afford. But there’s no reason that that you can’t see the world while you’re young as long as you can be frugal and practical in how you spend your money. Be willing to go without some luxuries, like the occasional shower or hot meal, and you’re ready to go!
How to afford it
If you have managed to sock away some travel money, good for you. That cash will come in handy along the way, as not everyone can (or will) take credit. But for most of us, traveling on credit is necessary. There are actually some great travel credit cards that are designed just for college students. These cards can be paid back in small increments over long periods of time. Plus, if you live inexpensively along the way it’s really the big-ticket items like plane and train tickets that will be put on your card. Using a credit card is the most effective way I have found to travel. It allows me to get out and see different places and then pay it off when I return home. I would highly recommend doing some research before applying for a card.
Hostels are the young travelers best friend. While there are little to no frills or comforts at hostels, they can be very safe and cheap. Plan on spending the night in a room with several bunk beds and other people. Also, plan to share a bathroom with the whole floor. In some you can get a private room, but that defeats a lot of the purpose and it also costs more. Even in major destination spots like London or Rome you can find hostels for around $40 a night, which is a major step down from a $200 a night hotel room. For the best prices on hostels, stay outside the city.
The other great benefit of hostel living is staying with all sorts of people. Some are just like you and are traveling around the world and experiencing some wild nights. You might get some great cheap tips on other hostels in different cities, or even tips on the best place to wash your load of laundry nearby. If you don’t want to rely on strangers’ advice, there are some great apps for finding hostels near you.
For their price, hostels will have some specific rules you need to follow. You have to be in before they lock up or you will be sleeping on a park bench for the night (been there, done that). Also, they are not a charity and expect you to pay ahead. On the upside, many offer cheaper rates to students, and might also give discounts on food or drink to college kids.
How to Pack?
You can find some really special lightweight packs on the Internet. Everything I bring is weighed. Many travelers invest in high quality equipment that is guaranteed to stay together no matter what you do to it. This isn’t a bad decision, but it is more expensive. The choice is up to you, but remember that a backpacker has to carry all their stuff on them all day, unless they spend the extra cash for a locker at the hostel. It’s better to pack light and have a small bag that can fit onto a bus, train, or with you in your bunk than just expect you can find a locker for all your equipment.