Being a college student essentially means that you are broke and may or may not have eaten ramen noodles for dinner every night this week (no judgment). Nevertheless, you should still be able to travel without compromising. Check out some of our tips to help you have the most epic trip without having to make sacrifices.
Tips to Vacation for Cheap:
1. See the sights for free (or as close to free as possible).
The reason most young people actively travel abroad is to see a part of the world they’ve never seen before, while also actively taking in the local culture. Of course, tourism is an industry that doesn’t always come cheap, but spending a ton of money on visiting a famous church or a ton of museums doesn’t have to nickel and dime you.
Seeing the sights for free is now entirely possible, thanks to activities like free walking tours. Walking around a new city, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to get to know its distinct areas and attractions. While these walks don’t necessarily allow you to take your time in each place or go inside for free admission, it’s still a great way to get a grasp of a new place, while taking in the culture and learning a ton of history that you may not have learned otherwise. Travel bundles and day passes are also a great way to spend time to take everything in without having to splurge every last cent on every day of your vacation.
2. Always utilize public transportation.
Depending on where you go, cabs are not always your friend. If you’re venturing off somewhere that is a notorious destination for tourists or students, chances are that the cab drivers are well aware of that fact, too and will most likely want to take advantage by charging you a bit more than they would natives of that place. Growing up in New York City, using public transit is in my nature.
With every new city I explore I always make sure (or more like insist) that my travel companions and I use buses, trams, trains and subways to get around. Most of the time, public transportation is reliable, convenient, safe and way cheaper than it would be to take a car or cab, especially in big cities where the native population uses such services as a part of their daily routine. From what I’ve seen, public transit in many places of the world is clean too, with some stations and platforms acting as museum galleries and exhibitions. How cool is that! Of course, that being said, it is important to be mindful of the times and areas that you access public transit. Always be aware and never do anything that’ll compensate your safety.
3. Eat where the locals go and not where the tourists do.
Thanks to Google reviews, Yelp, Instagram Places and TripAdvisor, finding somewhere to eat is easier than ever. However, when looking at these apps and websites, many of the best rated restaurants listed at the top of the list are also the most expensive. It isn’t impossible to find authentic, quality food at an affordable price, though. Here’s when taking a chance and risking the ‘aesthetics’ of a restaurant come into play. You’d be surprised at how many delicious finds are located within small little shacks, with others not even listed or found online. It’s almost as if the locals want to keep these hidden gems their own little secrets, which is truly the best way to come about finding them. Just ask!
4. Buy from the local supermarket and cook your own meals.
Going off from #3, if going out to eat every night isn’t something you’re into or not in your price range, cooking your own meals is definitely the best (and cheapest) option. It’s so interesting exploring a local supermarket and finding ingredients native to that place to cook for yourself. Many hotels don’t have kitchens, but AirBnB’s and hostels definitely do, so why not take advantage of that service. And if you’re craving something that isn’t a popular food choice in the country or city you’re in, what better way to satisfy that craving by taking on the challenge of preparing it yourself? It’ll always be a unique adventure on your taste buds regardless of where you are.
5. Use your student discount everywhere.
I miss being a student for many reasons, but one high on that list is the wonderful world of the student discount. I never knew how amazing having a student ID could be. The opportunities and activities seem to multiply with it. Not only does it give you special entrance and access to things like the local libraries and discounted commuter fares, but it also provides opportunities to enter certain galleries or exhibitions at museums, shops, and even movie theaters for a fraction of the price. With StudentUniverse flights, you don’t even need an ID to get the discount, just an active student email address at an accredited college or university!
Traveling the world doesn’t mean you have to give up partaking in activities that you do back home. The world really does try to cater to students and us youths. Who knew a piece of plastic with your name, face and birth date could work wonders? Even if a student price or discount isn’t advertised, pull it out and see what it could do for you. You’d be amazed at the doors that could open. And to let you in on a little secret, I always carry my old student ID around at home and abroad, even though I graduated last year. You never know!
6. Forget about going shopping.
It’s very easy to spend a frivolous amount of money in Paris or Milan. Why? Because these cities, among many others, are known for their shopping. Every time I venture to a fashion capital of the world, as much as I want to splurge, I convince myself to resist. It’s very difficult, but I remind myself that there are so many better opportunities and instances to spend my money. Always remember to spend what you have on experiences rather than material items.
You may be thinking, “well what about souvenirs?” That one’s tricky because I personally never leave a place without buying a postcard or little token to remember it by. But when it comes to buying for the whole family, think about whether the person will fully appreciate it and then narrow it down to a few gifts. They won’t disown you if you don’t buy them another mug, I guarantee it.
7. Skip out on that last drink.
A huge part of understanding another culture is taking time to explore its social scene. After all, a place is its people. This can be done in a few ways, but as young adults, it goes without saying that many of these scenes manifest themselves through parties, social gatherings, having conversations and sipping on drinks. Though this isn’t always the case and is very dependent on what culture or what people you’re surrounded by, sometimes it is easier to spark up a conversation with someone random if you’re at a bar and have some liquid courage in you.
Having a few drinks is totally okay, but you may find your wallet drained by the end of the night. It’s important to be involved in these environments if you’re interested in meeting new people and making new friends, but remember, partying can also be splurging. There are other ways to meet people that are definitely cheaper than nights out on the town. Find alternatives: go to a biergarten, visit a wine festival, have a picnic and bring your own supplies. And if all else fails, get a beer. I hear it’s cheaper than water in some places.
Don’t want to stress about having to plan a vacation for cheap and stay under budget? Check out these vacation planning strategies that will save you money and your sanity. If you love the thrill of a new adventure, try taking the road less traveled and vacationing at one of these unknown destinations that will wow you.