How to Travel as a Broke and Busy Student

Whenever I tell my friends I’m leaving for a trip, I’m always met with the same response: “Wish I could go…” Maybe they’re just trying to humor me, but I have noticed a trend of people in their early twenties saying they can’t travel because they don’t have enough money or time. These friends would like to travel, but they believe school, money, and time constraints hold them back. I am here to tell you how wrong that is!

Since I started college, I have been to countless states and cities across the country and the entire coast of California. From the Grand Tetons and Yosemite, to Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, I have climbed giant cliffs, swam in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and hiked through both deserts and forests. I have driven cars, flown in airplanes, and taken the Megabus.

I say none of this to brag or put homebodies down because there is nothing wrong with staying home. I’m simply trying to help you stop making excuses if traveling is something you are interested in. I am not wealthy. My parents didn’t help me out. I did it on my own. And you can, too.

Are You Really Tied Down?

During college, you are pretty much the opposite of tied down. Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have a full-time job? Chances are, you can’t check any of these boxes. Most of you work part-time jobs, and can easily ask off work. And if you can’t get off work to TRAVEL THE COUNTRY, then quit. There. I said it. Quit your silly part-time job, and find another one when you return. It’s really that simple, because if you don’t travel now you probably never will. Your part-time job at Jimmy Johns is not worth missing all of the experiences you’ll have, sights you’ll see, and people you’ll meet. You have the rest of your entire life to work. And what full-time job gives you as many days off as your university? Use your school breaks to your advantage!

Save Money!

You do have money- all you have to do is save that money. Whenever I decide I want to travel, I make a plan. I decide when I want to go, how I will get there, and how many days I will be there. I look at how expensive the destination is, and this decides how long I need to save and how much I need to save from each paycheck. I usually stay away from hotels, as they are unnecessary expensive. I love Airbnb because it is cheaper and having a local around saves you a lot of time and energy deciding on what to do. Hostels and camping are also great options, and can sometimes be even cheaper than Airbnb. All you have to do is book in advance. Remember, traveling while you’re in college is going to require a bit of “roughing it” so don’t expect the Four Seasons.

Save your money and plan wisely. That brunch might sound great now, but if it cuts into your travel fund, skip it. And when you finally arrive, don’t spend all of your money eating out at restaurants. Budget a certain amount of money you can spend each day on the trip, and stick to that budget.

Find a Fun Travel Partner (Not Required)

Your travel partner does not have to be your significant other, and you can even get together a whole group. Having a travel partner allows you to drive less, and see more. It’s also helpful because both of you can split the cost of rooms, gas, and food. We even built out the back of my husband’s Honda Element and have used his car as a kind of mini-camper, which helped us save on lodging costs. Whatever it takes, a travel partner will help you to enjoy things you might not have noticed, and of course, you are less of a target for criminals to take advantage of you.

Just Go

Quit fantasizing about traveling. Stop being envious of Instagram feeds showing you places you can’t go. If you plan accordingly, save money, and aren’t afraid to go somewhere you’ve never been, you can easily travel. Once you graduate and start your career, it will only become harder to get away. Satisfy your wanderlust now while you have the chance. It’s all worth it. Just go.

-Morgan Hodge

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