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Would you love to travel but you struggle to figure out how to do it on a budget and with a busy schedule? Here are my best tips on how to travel in university! Let’s get started!
A little bit about me: I was born and raised in Switzerland, but studied abroad in the US for a year in High School and again in college. Now I am approaching my last year of university in the United Kingdom, and have been to 21 countries so far.
I always travel on a student budget!
Here are my best tips on how to plan your travels, find cheap flights, and save money for travel.
1. How to plan a budget trip
There are two ways I plan my trips. Let’s start with the first one, which is to find a trip for a break, where I know I am free for a specific length of time and want to go on a vacation or weekend trip.
Traveling on Breaks/Weekends
This is how I plan this type of trip:
- Go on Skyscanner and select the time frame you want to go away for
- Make a spreadsheet with your favorite locations, including the flight times, price, hotel price and link, entry restrictions (if applicable), and your rating from 1-10
- Look up cheap hotels in the location using Booking.com or Airbnb depending if you travel with a small or big group of people
- Update the spreadsheet as you go
- Remove all locations that have a rating below your chosen number. For me, if I have 3 above 8 then I don’t even consider the other locations for that trip
- Book your flight and hotel/hostel/apartment
Traveling during the Week
This type of trip is the other one I mentioned. If you live in Europe, you might have heard of Ryanair’s $7 flight deals to specific locations, and these flights are usually not on weekends.
If you’re on a budget, this way of traveling can be amazing, however, it also requires you to be more flexible regarding your schedule.
So, if you have a few days during the week where you don’t have many classes, or not required attendance classes, this is a great option for how to travel in university.
This is how I plan this kind of trip:
- Go to Ryanair, Easyjet, or simply Skyscanner and go onto their deals page/click ‘anywhere’ in the search bar
- Choose the cheapest location
- Make a spreadsheet with your best options, including entry restrictions and living cost in the country (if flights to Iceland are $10 it does not necessarily mean it’s a budget trip because other costs in Iceland are going to be higher proportionately)
- Book your flight and book the hotel/hostel/apartment based on the flight dates
Of course, you can also travel by train and bus if you don’t want to go as far! These ways of transport my vary in price but can be very cheap as well.
2. How to find cheap flights
This depends on where you live and where you want to go. If the distance is less than 6 hours, I definitely recommend taking buses and trains, especially because they’re so much better for the environment.
I personally use Skyscanner for all of my flights because I like how easy it is to navigate and I like their deals!
You have 2 options when booking through Skyscanner:
1. Look for plane tickets to a specific destination on Skyscanner to find the best deal.
2. Or go to Skyscanner and pick “worldwide”, select the time frame you want to go on vacation for, and look for the cheapest country/destination!
Now, it will suggest you the cheapest plane tickets in your time frame to the cheapest destinations!!
I once did the same thing and found plane tickets to London for like $55. Another time, my boyfriend flew to visit me (we are in a long distance relationship) and his return ticket was $9.95 lol.
PS: I always try to use websites that compensate for CO2 from my flights. The money is supporting climate positive projects, which I think is necessary if you fly a lot! Here is the website I use.
2. Finding cheap hotels for students
If you’re going on a trip you’ve gotta stay somewhere! So for this category in how to travel in university are hotels and hostels.
Personally, I always check booking.com for deals and cheap hotels.
The great thing about being in college is that there are so many students from different countries, so if you’re friends with people from all over the world, you virtually never need to pay for a hotel!
Other ideas for cheap accommodations include:
- Airbnb (these are more expensive, but if your destination is cheap, such as Bali, Airbnb’s are cheap too!
- Couchsurf (but be careful with this one!)
- Stay at hostels (they really aren’t bad!!)
- Camp or rent a van you can sleep in
3. Transportation on a budget
Like I said, I prefer busses or trains rather than planes because of the reduced carbon footprint, however I do fly a lot because I used to study in the US and my home was in Switzerland, meaning there is no other option than flying. (Unless I wanted to sail for several weeks lol).
BUSSES: Whenever I wanna take a bus within Europe, I use FlixBus, since they are VERY affordable and cover hundreds of cities all over the continent.
TRAINS: For a train trip, I can recommend Eurail/Interrail! They offer train passes for selected countries, as well as the whole of Europe, making it super easy to take trains everywhere when traveling.
FLIGHTS: Like I said, for flights I use Skyscanner. With that being said, the cheapest airlines in Europe are EasyJet and Ryanair, but you can get good deals with others too
GENERAL GETTING AROUND: If you’re looking for ways to get around a city on a budget, I got you too! You can:
- Rent bikes (some accommodations have bikes to use for free)
- Use public transport (many cities have discounted passes if you buy for more than a day, especially with a student ID you can get some good discounts)
- Walk! If your destination is reachable by foot, just walk there! That way, you can also explore the area and get some fresh air.
- Take your own car – if you’re driving someplace, just use your car to get around. Taking multiple people and splitting the cost is also useful
4. Planning a Budget Trip
Here are the steps for how to travel in university. I follow these when planning any trip with my college budget:
- Set a budget – This is the first step! I need to know how much money I have available to be able to pick the location and duration of the trip
- Look at the cheapest transportation options – is there a cheap bus or flight to Miami? Go for it.
- Find the cheapest hotel or accommodation in the location you chose
- Remove those 2 costs from your budget and figure out how much you have left
- Plan your length of stay and local activities based on that
- Find ways to save on your trip too, for example with student discounts
How to save money while traveling as a student
No matter how budget-friendly a trip is, you still need money for it. There are definitely cheaper and more expensive places to travel to, but depending on your budget, you can definitely make a good itinerary.
Let’s talk a little bit about how to travel in university with a student budget. These are things you can do to save money for a trip:
- Use Swagbucks for cashback and doing surveys – Swagbucks is a great site where you can get cash back for shopping through their website. So whatever you want to buy, try to do it through them.
- If you are further interested in saving money and budgeting, check out this post I wrote with tips for budgeting correctly.
- Use your student ID to get discounts! It never hurts to ask
- Cook yourself instead of eating out
- Don’t buy tons of stuff, one souvenir is enough!
- Do your research in what’s worth visiting in a location. There are some great travel bloggers who share local things to see and do, which are often cheaper than touristy things
- The Ultimate Budgeting Guide For College
- 8 Ways to Save Money for Summer
- How To Use A Budget Planner In College
That was it with this post about how to travel in university! Budget travel as a college student can be hard sometimes, but I hope these tips helped you and you have a great trip!