Written by Barry Choi
Thursday, March 29th, 2018
Many students dream of travelling the world. Nothing quite beats jumping on a plane and exploring a new destination to give you a break from the books.
Travelling can also be expensive, especially for a student. Transportation, accommodations and sightseeing costs can quickly add up, so should you give up on your travel dream and focus on studies? Not at all! Travel can be done on a budget, and if you're a student, there are quite a few ways to stretch your dollar.
Do a Student Exchange
A great way students can travel on a budget is to take part in a student exchange program that your school may offer.
Every school and program is different, but some offer the opportunity to continue to pay tuition to your school and simply swap places with a student from a host university elsewhere.
Usually, you'll be set up in a residence, but in some cases, you can swap homes with the incoming student and live with their family, while they live with yours. Check with your student association. Even if your school doesn't have a formal exchange program, you could look into Education First or other exchange opportunities to see if you qualify.
Look for Student Discounts
It's incredible how many student discounts are available out there once you start looking. Busabout offers a student discount on many of their trips while Geckos Adventures is catered toward younger travellers on a budget. Greyhound and Amtrak offer student discounts which makes travelling within Canada and the U.S. easy.
In Europe, you can qualify for a youth discount with Eurail as long as you're 27 or under. Keep in mind that many tourist attractions also offer student discounts, so make sure you pick up an International Student Identity Card before you depart.
Studying abroad is technically more expensive since you'll likely be paying for tuition and accommodations, but there are still ways to travel on a budget. Maximize your time abroad by exploring the city and surrounding area where you'll be studying.
If you're in Europe or Asia, sign up for discount carriers' mailing lists so you'll be alerted of any flight deals right away. You can use your weekends to discover new cities. 48 or 72 hours in other cities may not seem very long, but you might want to take advantage of visiting more locations while you're abroad.
Consider Your Travel Dates
Assuming timing doesn't interfere with school, travelling during the off-season can save you a fair amount of money, since flights and accommodations tend to be lower outside of peak travel periods.
An ideal time to travel is right when your school breaks for the summer, which is usually around May. Flights open up during this time of year, and if you can beat the peak months of July and August, you'll miss the tourist rush.
The winter is also a good time to travel, since it's the off-season for many countries. Sure, you won't be visiting the beach or working on your tan, but Christmas markets in Europe can be magical.
Get Creative with Your Accommodations
You don't need to be a student to stay at any of the following accommodations, but they tend to appeal to the younger crowd.
Workaway and HelpX are two organizations that connect people who want to volunteer or work with hosts who are offering accommodations in exchange. If you're looking to stay for free, you could always try couchsurfing.
Hostels are also a great way to save money. You'll have to share a room with a bunch of strangers, but you'll pay way less than hotels. Think of this experience as a way to meet other travellers you can share stories with.
A word of caution: when it comes to accommodations, don't stay somewhere that makes you feel unsafe just so you can save a few bucks.