9 Travel Secrets For Broke College Students
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
If you're under the impression that it is IMPOSSIBLE to travel the world while you're still living in dorms, you're wrong. Learning outside the classroom can be invaluable experience that can teach you more than you know. Feeling wanderlust but lacking funds? Check out these nine tips in scoring the best deals towards your next destination.
1. Use travel websites: There are a ton of great resources online that can help alert you when the best deals come around for airline tickets.
StudentUniverse: This website gives special flight deals just to students! It allows you to choose a destination and give flexible times so you can compare the best offer. I found tickets to Dublin through this website that were over $200 cheaper than through the company website!
Scott’s Cheap Flights: Sign up for email alerts to find out special deals on great locations. My friend used this to go on a spontaneous trip to Switzerland for only $300.
Secret Flying: Look up specific destinations and find the best deals, or look through their website to find great deals they’ve already found!
2. Download money saving apps: It is definitely a travel deterrent to have to take a huge chunk of money out of your checking account. Using apps like Qapital and SmartyPig, you can create a separate account to deposit money in just for future travel. They give you a visual way to see how close you’re getting to your travel goal.
3. Know when to buy tickets:
How far in advance: the Airlines Reporting Corporation says that booking flights seven weeks in advance is most likely to get you the best deal. This also gives you enough time to give your professors notice if you’ll be missing any lectures.
When: Booking on Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST. can give you an extra boost in savings, according to a study by FareCompare.com. Also, look for tickets that fly out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
4. Know about your destination:
Avoiding peak season: Although Summer in Paris is a total dream, it can actually be much more expensive during a popular time. This includes flights and your overall experience while you’re there.
What’s a good deal for that location: Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights provides good benchmarks for what would be considered a good deal for flights:
Flights to Africa: $700 or below
Flights to Asia: $550 or below
Flights to Australia: $700 or below
Flights to the Caribbean: $300 or below
Flights to Central America: $300 or below
Flights to Europe: $500 or below
Flights to Hawaii: $400 or below
Flights to South America: $550 or below
5. Travel together: Taking friends or family members with you on your trip not only makes it safer and more enjoyable, it can also cut costs. According to Nico Atienza, a front desk agent at the Travel Hacking Cartel, “the optimal party size tends to work out to be four people.” This means splitting the cost of a hotel room and rental car without having to purchase more than one.
6. Plan out how you’re going to get around: It’s no secret that cabs can be the most expensive way to leave the airport or get to your next tourist spot, but that may be your only option if you don’t plan ahead. Look at your destination’s public transportation before your trip. Purchasing tickets or passes ahead of time can save serious money. Booking through Uber or Lyft is also cheaper. If neither of those are an option for you, book a cab ahead of time to give you a fixed fair and less waiting time. Marriott Bonvoy Traveler has a great list of websites that can help you book ahead of time based on your destination.
7. Look for Cheaper Accommodations:
Airbnb: Airbnb is a perfect resource to finding “homier” accommodations at a cheaper price. You can filter the results by price, availability, whether or not they allow pets, and more. You can also look at the reviews ahead of time to learn more about your host.
Hostels: These are especially worth looking into if you are traveling in a group. Some can even save you money by serving you breakfast! Hostelgeeks.com is a great site to help you find quality and safe hostels around the world.
Couchsurfing.com: Staying on a friend’s couch for free always seems like a good idea. Couchsurfing.com works to connect people all over the world with free, friendly places to stay. You can set up your profile here and you can even set your couch up for future guests! If you’re not comfortable staying with a new friend, you can also volunteer to be a tour guide for your town or meet other people when you’re traveling for a local’s insider view.
8. Eat well, but in your budget: Eating out can be expensive, especially if you’re in a very touristy destination. Bring along granola bars and a water bottle in your backpack to keep your energy up between meals. You can also visit a local grocery store and bring back low maintenance food back to your Airbnb.
9. Be spontaneous: Traveling on a budget does take a lot of planning, but don’t hesitate to take a last-minute vacation if the price is right.
Hotel Tonight gives you insight on great rates for last-minute hotel rooms.
Jetsetter displays flash sales on vacation packages.
Hipmunk lets you in on great flight deals for the upcoming week and weekend.
Overall, the most important thing to know is that it IS possible to have amazing travel experiences even when you're stuck eating ramen on a weekly basis. Saving your money towards a travel goal, planning ahead, and being flexible will open a lot of doors for you.