Travel lovers take note: you don’t have to be rich to see the world. Even the poor college student, getting by on loans and bad summer jobs can make all their travel dreams come true. All it takes is some solid planning and good decision-making when you’re on the road. As a student, your life is all about experiences, so the first thing you need to do is be willing to put aside all you know about how to travel. But if your goal is to go farther and spend more time on the road than ever before, you have to approach the process with an eye towards spending as little money as possible. That doesn’t mean you can only do the all-inclusive vacations at boring tourist spots. You can still seek out the farthest corners of the earth. Here’s how even the poorest college student can successfully plan and enjoy their travels.
Although the impromptu trip is quite romantic, it is also the most expensive way to go about things. If you’re determined to see the world, start your planning well in advance. You need the most amount of time to save up for your trip that you can possible get, so even six months in advance isn’t too much. Once you’ve landed on a date for your travel adventure, you’ve got to figure out how to afford it. Start out by keeping a firm hand on your expenses. Understand what you absolutely need to spend, and try to minimize unnecessary expenditures. The best method is to keep track of absolutely everything, and then determine where you can cut back. One way to keep honest is to open up an additional bank account as your travel fund. Don’t use a standard checking account, but try to find one that makes withdrawing money a bit more difficult. That way you won’t be temped to dip in if times are tight. Set up an automatic transfer from your regular account, whatever amount you can afford to put aside on a weekly basis. Even $20 a week can go far with enough time and an account with a decent interest rate.
Once you’ve saved up whatever you can, it’s time to hit the road. But the choices you make while traveling will decide how long you can afford to stay out there. That doesn’t mean you should hitchhike or stay in dangerous areas, but there are plenty of ways you can cut costs and stay safe. Any college student used to the dorm life should consider staying in hostels over hotels. Most hostels outside of the U.S. are incredibly cheap, around $30 a night for a bed, and will also allow you to connect with other people traveling on the cheap who will share ideas and pointers with you. Some hostels even have kitchens, so you can save on your food bill. If you’ve got a bit more flexibility, you can splurge for a private room at a hostel, and it will still be cheaper than most hotels and motels.
While you are visiting that distant land, try to follow the example of the locals. People that live there every day generally make inexpensive choices; it’s the tourists who spend money like it’s going out of style. Use public transportation instead of renting a car and taking a taxi, and you’ll dramatically extend your trip. And check out the street food that the locals eat. It’s always cheap, generally filling, and oftentimes is as good as what’s being sold in restaurants. And if you stumble upon a destination that you absolutely love, you can try to extend your trip with a working holiday visa. Depending on the country, this will allow you to stick around for as much as 18 months. You’ll have to get a job, but you’ll truly get to see the country as the locals do, and will certainly live inexpensively. That might be a great option either between high school and college, or after college and before you go back to school to earn your MBA in health management.