How To Travel On A College Student Budget

Traveling can be daunting. Traveling can be even more daunting when you are on a budget. It can seem impossible and stressful, but with proper planning and budgeting, it is absolutely possible!

My friend and I were complaining a couple weeks ago about it being way too cold where we live and that it would be so nice to go on vacation before school starts again. It started as a joke, but then became something we really wanted to do. After much research and consideration, we were able to travel to Miami for under $400!

Here are some tips on how I managed to get away for under $400.

Are you ready?

Make sure that are financially ready before you consider traveling. No matter how much you plan and budget, you have to expect to spend more money than you budgeted for. There can be expenses you forgot to budget out or unexpected scenarios that require you to spend money.

My friend and I discussed how much we could individually spend on travel, then added together our amounts and made this our budget!

Tip: When budgeting, add $100 more for a “just in case” fund.

Bring a friend!

Bringing a friend or family member not only lessens the costs of travel but adventuring around a new area makes it twice as much fun! Traveling can be a little scary if you’re doing it alone and don’t travel often, so bring a friend. The more the merrier!

Where will you go?

If you decide to bring a friend, discuss some potential places to travel. The cost of the trip will depend on where you go and what season you go in, so keep that in mind! Do some research, decide what you would like to do on the trip, and plan your trip accordingly.

Because my friend and I live in such a cold part of the country, we wanted to travel somewhere warm. We decided to go to an area located around South Beach, Miami.

How will you travel?

There are many options for travel depending on how far you are traveling from where you live. How you travel will affect the costs of transportation! Look into what the cheapest way to travel is. If you drive, consider how much it will cost in gas, how long it will take to get there, hotel stay and snacks for the drive.

If you fly, consider the obvious: the cost of a plane ticket, but also checking luggage and the Uber from the airport to hotel.

These are the most common ways to travel, so make sure you thoroughly think through how much this will cost, even if it is just an estimate.

How do you find a cheap plane ticket?

Do a lot of research! You can google flights, which shows you a list from all airliners. I prefer to use CheapOair. The app is very simple to use and I have found that the tickets are much cheaper. Figure out what day of the week is cheaper to travel. For college students, it would be easier to travel during a break, that way you don’t have to worry about missing class. Some of the cheapest tickets are flights during the week. Plane tickets can change at any point, so keep an eye out for these changes.

My friend and I decided to fly the week before school starts. We stayed in Miami from Monday to Thursday, making our tickets considerably cheap.

TIP: Share a suitcase if you are traveling with a friend and split the cost of a checked bag! If you are only going for one to two days, try and pack light so that you can only bring a carry-on! Cost of checked bags and even carry-on bags vary from airlines to make sure to double check the costs!

Where will you stay?

Discuss where you want to stay: on the beach, in the city, etc. Also, think about whether you would prefer an Airbnb or hotel, this would also depend on how much your budget allows for. There are many options for hotels, so make sure to read the reviews and check out their social media platforms!

Tip: If you plan to stay more than a couple of days, make sure that the hotel has a refrigerator and microwave!

What else?

Some other things to think about when traveling is paying for food. I definitely recommend going out to a well-known restaurant in the area, just for the experience! If you are staying on a budget, make sure to do a little bit of grocery shopping. Buy some essentials to make a couple of different meals. Most hotels offer free breakfast, but make sure to check out these specifics to be able to budget what you will have to spend money on for food.

Try to get a hotel close to the airport (if you plan to fly), so that you are able to get shuttle service to and from the hotel. This allows you not to worry about renting a car or Uber costs!

Try to stick to your budget! It can be challenging to be reasonable with your budget, but remember you can use the “just in case” fund!

Remember: Have fun! Traveling is a wonderful experience, especially doing it with people you love. Planning and budgeting can be a struggle and daunting when you see the numbers, but once you get to where you’re going, it will all be worth it.