Traveling on a student budget

By Sara Syed

Are you a college student living on a budget that wants to travel and see the world? Students have to live within their means. As college students we are told to make the most out of the experience. When traveling, the journey can be the destination.

Most of a student’s time is devoted to school, social life, and studying, and we have little time left over to work and save money for a huge, elaborate getaway. The truth is, you do not really need as much money as you think to have an elaborate, unforgettable vacation. One of my favorite ways to travel is by taking a cruise. As strange as this may seem, cruises are surprisingly inexpensive for what they offer! I recently just took a week-long cruise that travelled from Florida to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Mexico for around $350 total! Cruises can also include everything that you need to have a great time including all-you-can-eat food, a room to sleep in, music, nightclubs, activities, contests, game shows, magic shows, new friends, and more.

Oftentimes, the majority of costs when travelling comes from food and board; however, when you find a good deal on a cruise, everything is all-inclusive.  What’s better is that a week before our cruise left, we went on and found the EXACT same cruise for only $199!  Cruise lines drop cruise prices significantly 20 days before departure in order to sell empty rooms.  Can you imagine, $199 to see 4 countries and not have to worry about food or where you are going to sleep?!

Also, you may be asking, “well what about getting to Florida?”  Timing is everything.  Know the busy seasons, know the inexpensive seasons.  We left the Monday after finals ended this past semester and got a flight through JetBlue from Pittsburg, Pa. to Florida for only $89 each way.  (Tips for flying:  cheapest days to fly are generally Tuesdays and Wednesdays around 3 p.m.)  If flying is not an option or you want to travel during a busy season, try driving to the nearest cruise port!  There are cruise ports all along the east coast where you can find just as good of deals!  Cruises leave out of Boston, Baltimore, New York, and South Carolina.  However, the price to park your car at the cruise port is as much as the cheap airplane ticket we found.

Best advice: know when to travel.  Travel a week or two before expected holidays; travel during off-months like February-early, May and September-early December.  For students, I recommend travelling the first week we get out of school for summer and for winter break because younger children still have school so families are travelling, therefore demand is lower.

Also just look around, search for the best deals!  I have found to be a blessing.  Not only do I typically find the cheapest airfare on cheapoair, but they sometimes offer REBATES.  I recently just got a $50 rebate check for a plane ticket costing only $130 that I purchased through their site.  Look for deals!  Know whether airlines are charging for carry-on bags, pack your own food in your bags, stay with friends, stay in hostels, get a rental car instead of constantly paying for taxis.  There are great deals to be experienced and many lands to be seen!

Also, find cheap places to travel and spend a lot of time there!  For example, places such as Costa Rica, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Burma, Nicaragua, Panama (In Central America, not Florida) Vietnam, etc. are incredibly cheap once you arrive.  Hotels in Costa Rica averaged between $10-20 per night for nice hotels.  The most we paid was $25 for a beach-front hotel right on the ocean in Montezuma and $30 for a hotel in one of their busier cities, La Fortuna.  Also, look for hotels offering breakfast to save you a trip and a few extra bucks.  Getting to these places is where most of the costs comes in; again, just be conscious of when you are travelling.  My cousin got a one-way ticket to India for less than $500 during the first week of November and is staying there for practically nothing currently. Plan ahead, be smart, everyone can do this.

Finally, find opportunities to travel within organizations.  For example, serveAkron is taking UA students for an Alternative Spring Break this semester; students pay about $300 for a weeklong, all-inclusive volunteer trip.  Alternative Spring Break offers students the chance to travel while still doing something good.

If you have any questions about travelling or want more tips please feel free to email me at [email protected].