Travel can be expensive, especially when you’re a student. But hopping on a plane and jetting off to appease your wanderlust doesn’t have to be a pipe dream just because you’re in school. In fact, traveling as a student can be easier – and cheaper – than you might think. With the right tools and travel hacks, getting to that beach bar in Bali, or finally getting to eat a croissant in a Paris café, is totally doable.
Going to University and studying to become the next Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or Barack Obama is a great time in your life. You get to flee the nest and experience life as an independent young adult. Being an independent adult comes with new responsibilities, like managing your own time, sticking to deadlines, getting a job on the side to fund your student life, and saving money to #treatyoself every now and again.
The responsibility of being independent can be a challenging task for us all to master in our young adulthood. It is something that we need to learn if we want to enjoy our time care free and do the things we set our sights on—like traveling the world! Whether you’re a student traveling while on break or you’re heading out for a semester abroad, here are a few easy ways to stretch your student travel dollar.
Do your research
Before you start mentally packing your backpack, take the time to do some preliminary research, which can help you save money right off the bat. Start with looking into destinations that are going to give you the most bang for your travel buck. While you might be really into swooshing down the slopes in the Swiss Alps this winter, you can likely take your travel dollars a lot further somewhere in Southeast Asia or Central America. You might also want to consider doing some research into the cheapest times to fly to the destinations on your must-visit list.
Start by being flexible about where you travel. For example, consider the type of trip you want to take instead of the specific destination. Want to hit the beach? Look at multiple beachy destinations before setting your sites on one in particular. You should also be as flexible as possible with travel dates, since flight prices can vary significantly depending on when you travel.
Get a part time job
It’s amazing how satisfying it feels when you earn your own money. You can do with it what you please. Having a part time jobs helps you become disciplined and develops great habits for success. The more money you earn the sooner your piggy bank for travel fills up too and the more traveling you can do. Tutoring can be a great way to earn some extra pocket money for your trip and help others ace their exams.
Putting in a few shifts at your local is another great way to save for travel as a student. The benefit of this is you also get to hang out with your mates and tell them the funny events that happened the night before. You can feel proud of yourself that you got to enjoy a night out without spending a cent, helping you to reach your goal of saving for travel sooner. Which brings us nicely onto the next point…
Keep track of your spending
It might not be the most exciting job, but keeping track of your finances is the best way to make sure you don’t overspend and land yourself in trouble.
As a starting point, you could create a spreadsheet showing your income from student loans, scholarships and bursaries, parents and any part-time job you have, and note down regular outgoings such as your rent and mobile phone contract. You’ll then be able to see exactly how much you have available to spend each month.
Sticking to your limits has never been easier, now you can check your balance at any time using your mobile banking app. If you do go overboard, the interest-free overdraft offered with the majority of student bank accounts will help tide you over.
Try not to spend too much of your student loan once it comes in – as tempting as it may seem, you don’t want to be left penniless for the rest of term.
Don’t overpay for transport
Most universities are either city-based with excellent public transport links, or campus-based with everything you need on your doorstep. You probably won’t require a car while studying, which will save you a lot of cash.
If you plan on taking the train regularly – whether you’re visiting parents or friends at other universities – make sure you buy a 16-25 railcard. Costing £30 for one year or £70 for three years, this will give you a third off all rail fares. Combined with cheap advance tickets, the card will soon pay for itself in the savings you make.
More locally, buses remain one of the cheapest ways to get around town. Check whether there are any student discounts or weekly/monthly passes available on services you use regularly.
Use student offers when socializing
Socializing is an important part of any new student’s life, but you don’t have to spend a small fortune just to have a good time. Going out to a nightclub can be expensive, so take full advantage of student offers, where drinks are cheap and entry is often free.
Your student union bar will also offer cheap drinks, as well as food and special events, and is an ideal place to start your evening before a big night out. They may even offer their own money saving tips for students, providing a list of local shops and venues that offer good student deals.
Be sure to keep an eye out for any freebies and special student offers advertised at local restaurants, cinemas and high street shops. Finally, when you do go out, remember to save money on your electricity bill by turning off lights, unplugging phone/laptop chargers and turning off the TV.
Focusing on a monthly goal rather than a Titanic-sinking total sum helps stay motivated while saving. Then find just one or two things to do every day that move you towards your goal: say no to an impulse buy, take on an extra shift at work, spend an hour finding a cheaper phone contract. Like most things in life, saving for your travels is much easier if you take it in small, easy steps!