Student Travel on A Budget

I’ve been recently thinking about where I want to go after I graduate and all the places I want to see. One of the issues that may restrict my travel plans is the lack of money I will have after I graduate. There are obviously a few things aside from the beautiful views and the amazing experiences that students need to think about when planning trips and John from Nerdwallet has you covered. Check out the guest blog post below with tips for student travel on a budget and making the most of your time. I might just have to follow some of these tips myself…


If you’re gearing up for a gap year, taking a post-grad vacation, or just looking for a summer getaway, budgeting is probably one of your biggest limiting factors. Having enough money to see and do everything you want while traveling is something that no one wants to worry about, but we all have to. How can you stretch your travel budget? If you’re looking to make the most of your time while travelling, check out these money management tips.

student travel on a budget

  • Plan ahead or buy last minute. There isn’t a single best time to buy tickets or book hotel rooms, but usually the best deals are found by people planning well in advance or by people taking advantage of last-minute deals. Planning ahead gives you plenty of time to shop around and wait for sales to come up. Last-minute planners benefit from the airline’s or hotel’s need to fill as many seats or rooms as possible. As such, they mark down items for last-minute buyers.

  • Bring your own food. Dining out for every meal gets expensive in a hurry. However, you can mitigate these costs in a few ways. If your hotel has a free breakfast, start by taking advantage of that and be sure to fill up for the day ahead. If possible, you can bring your own snacks, or purchase snacks at a local market to avoid the high prices for food at tourist destinations. You can also cook some meals in a hotel room or hostel kitchen. Most hotel rooms will have at least a microwave, which is good for cooking various things. You can also repurpose the coffee pot for cooking noodles or other one-pot meals.

  • Think like a local. When you think like a local, you are in the mindset of not spending tons of money to do everything. You take the public bus or metro because it’s cheaper than taking a taxi everywhere. You look for local, free events like concerts or festivals to attend. Go to parks, walk around, or rent a bike. There are lots of recreational activities that cost little or no money.

  • Look for alternative lodgings. Hotels, while nice, get expensive if you’re on long vacations. Consider staying at a bed and breakfast, which is often cheaper, or even a hostel. If you’re especially adventurous, look into couch surfing; this doubles as a way to meet lots of interesting people. If you don’t mind being outside and travel with a sleeping bag, staying at campsites can also be quite inexpensive.

  • Go to happy hour. Happy hours tend to be a little bit earlier in the evening, in that spot just before people want dinner, but they have very good deals. If you’re hungry, you can get lots of appetizers, and sometimes even meals on the cheap at local happy hours. Oh, and of course, the alcohol is cheaper too.

  • Travel off-season. For gap year or new graduates, delaying travel plans until the off-season can also bring huge savings. The majority of vacationers are traveling during the summer, since that’s when school is out, but that is also the time when things are more expensive. Travelling in the late summer or fall (before the winter holidays) and in the winter from mid-January until spring break can save you a lot of money. Why not avoid the heat by traveling off-season?

  • Scope out free stuff. Many cities have free stuff to do, like a free museum day or a summer concert series. Check out when cities are offering things that interest you and you can plan your trip around free activities, saving you a lot of money on entertainment.

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Don’t let lack of funds bring down your travel plans! By planning ahead and researching low-cost or free activities, you can go where you want without breaking the bank.

John Gower is an analyst for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping students save money with tips on everything from travel to college tuition planning.

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