6 Travel Tips for Broke College Students

6 Travel Tips for Broke College Students

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Since I was little, I’ve had a travel bug. Maybe my mom let me watch too many movies growing up, or I spent too much time looking at the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store. Either way, I’ve always been hooked on this idea of seeing the world.

As I got older, I realized that I could go wherever I wanted — if I could make it happen. So while I have all the drive to go to faraway places, I lack one thing: bottomless pockets to fund it. I realized this problem this past summer when I had the immense privilege to study abroad in London.

All around me, my friends were talking about other places we should travel to while we were abroad. While I had saved some money for traveling, I didn’t realize how many other places I’d want to go to once I got to London. That led me to find the cheapest ways to travel as much as I could while there, which included a plethora of planes, trains, automobiles, and other crazy travel options. Luckily, everyone was also broke college students, so they were up for jumping through any hoops to find the cheapest ways to sightsee. Here are the most helpful tips I’ve learned from my time spent traveling.

1. Google Travel

Regarding finding places I’d like to visit and desired dates, Google Travel is a great home base for planning a trip. The site has multiple tabs for different searches. When I’m in the mood to see the cheapest flights to a weekend getaway, I can click on the “Explore” tab, where I’m shown various trips for different dates from my location. If I want to see specific flights and compare prices for different dates, there’s a tab called “Google Flights.” Google would never forget about the hotels either; hotel prices and dates are comparable through the “Hotel” tab.

Instead of booking with one airline or the other, I often compare prices and dates with Google Travel. It displays things and isn’t overwhelming. Over the past few years, I’ve found almost every flight I’ve booked from the site. It’s great to look at when daydreaming about leaving town, as I can go ahead and plan various weekend getaways.

2. Hotel and Airline Bundles

I know this sounds like a commercial, but I promise it’s not. Hotel and airline bundles can decrease costs and help you earn potential rewards. A lot of hotels partner with airlines to do deals, discounts, and more.

I used bundles over the summer when traveling to Amsterdam for a weekend. Instead of booking my flight and hotel separately, I booked them together through EasyJet Holidays, which is a site under the British-based EasyJet airline. Both of my reservations were discounted and their receipts were placed together, making them more organized.

This isn’t only an EasyJet thing. Delta SkyMiles is now paired with Airbnb, so each dollar you spend booking an Airbnb stay goes toward miles in your SkyMiles account. Those miles can add up and help pay for more flights to cool places.

3. Live Outside Tourist Traps

Now that I’ve talked about how I’d get to my dream destinations (thank you, EasyJet), let’s get into where I’d stay. Another way I’ve saved so much money while traveling is by living outside of tourist areas. An example is Rome. It’s stunning and home to many different neighborhoods, so a lot of people might get sucked into staying right next to the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain. These historic landmarks are beautiful but overwhelming due to foot and car traffic.

Looking at potential living options outside of tourist areas has significantly decreased a trip’s price for me. My friends and I did this back in July when we went to Rome during a break between our first and second sessions in London, and it was one of the best decisions we made. We stayed in an Airbnb closer to the Vatican, tucked away off a street that felt a bit more residential. The neighborhood had some cute cafes and restaurants with a mom-and-pop feel. The location also allowed us to truly explore the city on foot when visiting tourist areas.

4. Pack Lightly

My confession is that I chronically overpack for every trip. If I had it my way, I’d bring a snowsuit to the beach “in case I needed it.” But packing lightly has saved me hundreds of dollars in checked bag fees. This is said in every “budget travel” list ever, but it’s so true.

In the past, I’ve noticed that most airlines will charge for any bag that’s under an airplane seat but isn’t a personal item. Long forgotten are the days of free carry-ons. So I think it’s very possible to pack a lot of things in one personal bag and fit it under a seat. There are a ton of bags on the market that fit these size requirements. I purchased a viral duffel bag off Amazon last December and have successfully packed it for a week’s worth of activities and stored it as a personal item.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Public Transportation

Repeat after me: public transportation is your best friend when traveling. After spending two months in London with the iconic, reliable, and efficient London Underground, I’ve learned that good public transportation should be appreciated and used more. I’ve always been an Uber girl, but in a lot of countries, Uber isn’t available. This dilemma has helped me be more resourceful with public transportation in the cities I visit. Not only can it be a lot cheaper than an Uber, but it also shows you a unique perspective of places. My London experience would not have been the same had I not heard the iconic “Mind the gap!” announcement in the Underground stations every other day.

I find that when I tell people about taking public transportation in foreign cities, they say that they’d hate to get lost on a train in a place where they don’t speak the language. But from my own experience, those little mix-ups help me see parts of areas I’ve never seen before.

6. Roll With The Punches

Even with all these tips, it’s inevitable something will go wrong. I’ve had a bird poop on the only pair of shoes I’ve packed for a trip (I had to buy new ones), I’ve lost my debit card (I found it in a backpack), and I’ve severely miscalculated the length of a layover for a “super cheap flight” (I spent three hours in a completely different city in the middle of the night). That being said, life is all about rolling with the punches. Doing so has helped me budget my financial and mental funds.

I believe traveling shouldn’t be reserved for the extremely wealthy. I’m so lucky to have visited as many places as I have and experienced so many amazing things. Traveling with the tips I outlined above has certainly helped me see the world while not breaking the bank. Bon voyage!

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