Between finals, getting your tuition payment in and figuring out what you’re doing with your life, no one is going to argue that a college student's life is easy! When school lets up for even a moment, you can feel an intense urge to escape and that’s where cheap travel comes in. The truth is that while expensive vacations to the tropical paradises are nice, your vacation can be amazing without that high price tag. Here’s what you need to know about taking a cheap vacation as a college student:
What to Wear
The clothes that you bring add weight to your baggage and if you are backpacking, then the less weight, the better. That being said, the last thing that you want is to be caught without clothes for your trip! Make sure everything you pack is lightweight and can be layered. Choose clothing that can dry quickly – I have found that dri fit clothes are the best. If you need to wash a shirt in the hostel sink, this will be a huge benefit.
If you are heading off to Europe, you'll find that the dress code is very important. For guys, this means at least a golf shirt and nice shoes to a club. For girls, consider a light dress. Nice shoes are important if you want to go out and experience the nightlife in Europe (yes, I have been asked to leave clubs because I had sneakers on). Now this does not mean that a backpacker should be wearing nice, expensive clothes, but they should be versatile. Also, remember that you might be heading to places with unpredictable weather. Look for a light rain poncho that you can stuff into an envelope-sized carrying case when you are not wearing it (umbrellas are too bulky and heavy). No one wants to be in London during a quick rainstorm and then have to walk around all day soaking wet!
Where to Sleep
When you are on the road and looking to save cash, hostels can be your best friends. These are places that allow you to spend, on average, less than forty dollars per night, and in many cases they are just as comfortable as the hotels. When you are planning your trip, look for hostels that allow you to check in at all hours, have lockers to securely hold your things, and offer discounts to college students. I would also suggest that you search for one that has free Wi-Fi, meal plans and is not in the center of town because they will always be more expensive. Instead, try to stay outside the city limits and your wallet will take less of a beating. These hostels are all about keeping your costs down and they can help you save big bucks while spending a night in a place you always dreamed of venturing off to.
How to Carry It All
When you’re on the go, you will find that you want something that you can carry hands-free. Even a rolling piece of luggage is going to slow you down when you are traveling. No one wants to be the obvious tourist who carries a rolling suitcase, laptop case and a side bag while touring a museum. Instead, pick up a lightweight backpack that will keep you equipped with all the things that you bring along. I bought mine from Amazon; it cost me less than forty dollars and has held up through some pretty wild adventures! It might seem like a little bit of overkill, but remember to choose backpacks which have locks or which can be locked. This will ensure that you can avoid issues with most pickpocketers.
To avoid devastating pickpockets, I would recommend that you buy a small, zippered pouch to place your essentials (passport, license, credit cards, etc.) and place that in a zipped pants pocket so you are as safe as can be while abroad. Remember that you need to carry your luggage with you wherever you go, whether you are on a bus, a train or a plane, so think small and think lightweight! You do not want to ship it through and have it lost in transit. Plus, most forms of transportation all free carry-ons! Consider what your options are when it comes to traveling cheap; it's a lot easier than you might think!
How to Pay for It All
The finances are the first step you should consider before flying across the world. When you want to get away from it all, how do you get the capital to make it happen? While you might be someone who is feeling pretty frugal, this is the time to get a credit card. Get a low interest credit card and take it on the road with you. This is how I finance my trips. I did some research and found a student credit card that allowed me to repay the bank once I returned home from my vacation. Use it to pick up small amounts of cash, and pay it off as soon as you can. Be willing to do this kind of “borrowing” for an experience that you cannot beat. Just make sure that you know how to use one safely, and do not abuse it! I suggest using cards because most places in the world will accept a common brand; you won’t be carrying massive amounts of cash on you (this is dangerous in foreign countries!) and finally, your card will automatically consider the currency exchange rates when the bill comes through and make your life much easier!
Kyle Owens is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. His favorite countries to visit include: Scotland, Poland and Switzerland. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about