College students are notoriously short on cash. This is partially due to the many expenses associated with attending school (tuition, books, living expenses, and more) and partially related to an inability to earn much more than minimum wage or work more than a part-time job, what with school taking top priority.
However, during your time in college, you’ll enjoy relative freedom that will not last once you graduate. Without a career or family to tie you down, you have the flexibility to travel when you want (so long as you’re on a break from school).
So how do you reconcile your urge and ability to travel with a limited budget?
Here are a few cost-effective travel options to consider.
There are currently 58 national parks under the mantle of the National Park Service. No matter where you go to school, it’s likely that you’re within driving distance of at least one national park.
The beauty and splendor of our great nation are at your fingertips, often for as little as an entrance fee of $15-30 (unless you wait for fee-free days). If you’re with a tour group, the entrance fee is generally included in the cost of the tour.
Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, climbing, or other outdoor activities, most national parks will deliver in spades. And with low-cost campsites and nearby lodgings, the biggest expense for your trip may be the fuel for your car or the food you pack for your trip.
This is an economical way to have some fun, see some sights, and enjoy a stellar vacation that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Best of all, your college friends on a budget can afford to join you and split the costs.
Depending on where you go to college, you may or may not be in or near a major city. However, there’s bound to be one nearby. London, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are dream travel destinations, but getting there can be extremely expensive.
You’ll find that traveling domestically is a lot cheaper, whether you fly or drive, and there’s plenty to see in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Plus, if you look for youth hostels and other discount travel options, you could see these cities for a pittance.
You don’t necessarily have to travel across an ocean to reach another country. In the U.S., we have Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, not to mention a slew of neighboring island nations and U.S. territories to consider (Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, etc.).
Travel to these areas can be done by plane, train, or automobile (or in some cases boat). However, because the distance is shorter and you have more options than travel to, say, Europe or Asia, you’ll find that visiting neighboring countries is far less expensive.
Even travel to many Central or South American countries can be relatively affordable. So before you set your sights on the Grand Tour of Europe, consider visiting foreign lands that are virtually in your own backyard.
Bodies of Water
Whether you travel to a nearby river or lake for a day trip or you decide you want to spend a few days seaside enjoying the waves, a trip to the sand and surf can feel like an island vacation without the attendant costs.
Just because you’re focused on completing an MBA program doesn’t mean you can’t take a break here and there to squeeze in some travel. If you’ve got your heart set on heading overseas, consider the no-plan method.
Check-in frequently with discount travel sites to see what kinds of deals they have going. You can almost always find specials that offer you deeper-than-normal discounts if you’re not super picky about your destination.
If you’re looking for an adventure, allowing the current deals to dictate your destination could provide you with the fun and affordable travel every college student dreams of.