There is no one on the face of this planet that can doubt that going to college in the US is expensive. It’s not just the tuition; pricey textbooks, dorm necessities, those two a.m. pizzas are all costly things.
But just because your parents are paying a good sum out of their pockets to give you an education doesn’t mean that you need to stop living and exploring. There is a reason why we have so many breaks in college. You’re meant to do things that you couldn’t do when you were living under your parents’ roof. Take those long weekends or those ten-day breaks to go someplace new! Even if you don’t have the money, there are still ways to travel cheap! Here are five tips and tricks to get around those ridiculous travel costs.
1. Stay Local
This may seem boring, but it works. Not every trip has to be to Europe or Asia. Try starting off by exploring another part of the state or even the neighboring state. Travel costs will definitely be cut down by a lot, and you don’t have the added worry of not knowing how to speak the local language or how to navigate through certain cultural faux pas.
2. Take Buses
Comfort is for rich people. Taking the bus is generally much cheaper than taking the plane or going by car (and it’s much better for the environment!). Jam to your favorite tunes or pick out your favorite TV show and you’re all set! You can even pick out a buddy that you wouldn’t mind sitting next to, sleeping on, or spending 5+ hours with and avoid traveling alone!
So, if you haven’t heard about Megabus yet, you’re in luck! Megabus is an incredibly cheap way to get from point A to point B. Plan ahead and you can even get bus tickets for as low as $1.
3. Go During the Low Seasons
If you have your heart set on going to Madrid or somewhere else exotic, go during the low seasons. Every country has a different low season, but the prices are definitely cheaper compared to the busier seasons. You might have to sacrifice some of the classic activities (going to the beach in the middle of December is not ideal for a tan), but you’ll see a different side of the city that is just as beautiful. Prices can be half as cheap and it can be nice not to be jammed with hordes of other tourists.
This trick may mean not traveling as much during summer, winter and spring break, which can be sad at first. However, think about during sponsored or paid internships during the longer breaks to not only gain experience but travel as well.
4. Look for Cheap Hostels or Free Places to Stay
Pick places to travel to where you have family or friends you can stay with. This way, you don’t have to pay for the ever expensive hotel costs. If you don’t know an unlimited amount of people living in faraway and exotic places, trying using services like Airbnb or Couchsurfing. You may have to actually stay on a couch, but when you’re out experiencing life in a foreign country, you probably shouldn’t be spending so much time sleeping indoors anyway. Your hosts may even take you out or tell you about cool places to go to.
If you’re interested in meeting other young people who are backpacking or traveling, try going for hostels. They usually run pretty cheap (don’t pay more than $25 per day) and the people working there will also tell you about local things to do in the city. Just make sure to look for a place that’s close to city center so that you don’t spend extra money on transportation.
5. Don’t Go to Major Cities
Paris is on almost everyone’s bucket list. Paris is also one of the most expensive places to travel to in Europe. If you’re interested in experiencing French culture, try going to smaller cities or towns like Provence or Marseille. It’s more authentic, it’s cheaper, and the people are generally friendlier. This goes for every major city. Most backpackers or travelers have said that smaller towns are more memorable, just because you get a more unique experience and you aren’t constantly treated like an annoying tourist.
Finding time and money to travel is hard, but definitely worth it. If you ever find yourself with the choice between buying another unnecessary material goods and saving that money for travel, do the latter. In ten years, you won’t remember those five iPhone cases you bought on a whim, but you’ll definitely never forget that trip you took to New York instead!