HOW TO TRAVEL DURING COLLEGE: LIFE-CHANGING TRIPS ABROAD ARE MORE DOABLE THAN YOU THINK
Many college students think it’s not possible to travel during your undergraduate studies, but the truth is, there’s probably never a better time for you. You’re young; you’re curious; you’re (maybe) unattached. And seeing the world during some of your most formative years will give you incredible opportunities and insights later on in life.
Being an experienced traveler looks good on a resume (for a career or for grad school). It gives you a sense of independence. It helps you grow as a person. And it’s just plain fun.
Now, I know there are obvious roadblocks to traveling as a college student, namely time and money. While I’m by no means an expert, I still know a few tips and tricks for how to make the adventure of your dream a reality. Here’s how I went to Bali, Indonesia for three weeks without going a cent into debt (or quitting my jobs).
Tip #1: Plan your trip well in advance
I know getting time off is far from easy. It’s even more difficult when you work two jobs, like I do. I managed to get three whole weeks off both jobs simply by giving them plenty of notice and making it non-negotiable. Believe me, if you’re good at your job, people will do favors for you, even if you don’t think they will.
They want you around. And if keeping you around means letting go of you for three weeks, you’d be surprised what your employers will agree to. It never hurts to ask.
Tip #2: Stray from the beaten path
Bali is not exactly remote and, admittedly, is quite a popular tourist destination (though oddly not for Americans). However, even there, things were far less expensive than they would be in, say, Paris or Tokyo, the token “exotic locations” and “dream vacation spots.” Don’t get me wrong, Paris is wonderful, albeit a bit dirty. You should definitely see Paris and Tokyo.
However, I would recommend saving those trips for your adult life, when you are more stable and have the money to spend on a trip like that. Remember, we’re on a strict budget, and Paris the cheap way just isn’t Paris. (And really isn’t that cheap.)
Destinations in southeast Asia or the less popular countries in South America can be much cheaper, and it’s incredibly fun to explore a place you’ve never even heard about. It just might become your new favorite country.
Tip #3: Slum it
Traveling is actually incredibly inexpensive if you’re not afraid to live a little on the wild side. If done right, you can see a myriad of countries for far less than the cost of your initial plane ticket. Plane tickets are expensive; there really is no way around that. But you can still occasionally find killer deals if you constantly watch multiple sites.
Once you have a ticket to your starting destination and a good backpack, however, the world is your oyster. Every hostel we stayed at in Indonesia was less than ten dollars a night, and some of them were even less than five. All of them were clean and nice, and a lot of them were as high quality as any hotel in the states I’ve been to. Plus, you get to meet new people. Just don’t forget to lock up your valuables, to be on the safe side.
Tip #4: Use whatever money you can
I used my tax return to go to Bali, but if you’ve got a change jar that’s been sitting for a while, or a savings account you haven’t touched since high school, or a pile of birthday money you’ve been holding on to, consider letting it go.
School is expensive. So is food, gas, rent and every other necessity in your life. But try quitting some of the non-necessities for just long enough to save up money for an international trip. I promise you, it’s worth it.