How to Travel as A College Student

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Travel as a college student

I love traveling. Many people have heard me say that travel is my “anti-drug.” That’s the truth. There is nothing better than visiting someplace different and enjoying a new city. When I graduated high school and went to college, I vowed to travel whenever possible.

Looking back at my college years, I successfully did that. As an undergrad, I visited several cities, such as Miami, NYC, Las Vegas, and Nashville. People would ask me, “Aren’t college students supposed to be broke?” In today’s post, I discuss different ways to travel as a college student. It’s going to be easier than you thought. Participating in illegal activities was not one of them! Cheap student travel can happen.

Travel as a College Student

Stay With Friends or Family

The 1st way to travel as a college student was to stay with family or friends. On some of the trips that I went on, I stayed with friends. I was there if they had an extra couch or decent floor space. I easily saved a couple of hundred dollars by doing that. It took the stress out of trying to find a hotel or other lodging place.

Use Some of Your Student Refund

We’re up to number three on the list of how to travel as a college student. I will be the first to say I never purchased a car or expensive clothes with my student refund. However, I did use some of my refund for a few trips. There may be better decisions than this, especially if your refund is student loan money. You will eventually have to pay back. Just keeping it real, some of my refund was from student loans. I don’t regret using it to travel at all. It allowed me to see other cities besides Atlanta and Savannah. My comfort zone expanded because of that. I’m sure the same will happen to you. Just spend your refund sparingly.

Work a PT Job

I worked a part-time job during the majority of my college days. At one of my jobs, I was a busser at a restaurant. I made GREAT money there. After I had paid a couple of bills I had each month, I saved a decent amount for travel. A couple of road trips and fraternity conferences were paid for with that money. The crazy thing was that I didn’t get a car until the summer before my senior year. I found several ways to get to that job before then.

Travel as a Group

The most common way I saved money was to travel with a group. There were numerous road trips where 4-5 of us would pile into someone’s car and split the gas and hotel charges. If we knew someone that lived in the city that we were visiting, we would save even more money by just having to pay for gas. Numerous road trips cost less than $60 per person because of this strategy.

If you’re going to do group travel, make sure that you and the people you’re traveling with are on one accord. Out of all the group trips I’ve been on, I only had one that started badly. To keep it short, I will say that I had to book a room at another hotel to keep people from potentially fighting. Most of the group came with me, while three stayed at the original hotel. Once we separated from them, the trip turned out great.

Study Abroad Program

 Studying abroad is an excellent way for college students to gain new experiences, meet new people, and travel the world. By participating in a study abroad program, you can earn a global perspective on your studies in college, experience new cultures and lifestyles, and develop valuable skills that will help you in your career.

The way it works is that you apply for a study abroad program through your college or university. The application may be required to include letters of recommendation from faculty members, an essay describing why you want to participate in the program, and a statement of financial resources. Once accepted into the program, you will typically work with a study abroad advisor who will help you with your travel details, such as the logistics of flights and accommodations.


Backpacking your way through another country is a great way to see the sights and experience new cultures firsthand. One of the benefits is that you will have more freedom to explore on your own and decide where to go and what to do, depending on your interests and preferences. There are many ways to backpack – from backpacking across Europe using the Eurail pass to taking a tour of national parks in the United States to trekking through a remote country on foot.

Remember that you will need to be flexible and adaptable to travel on a backpacker’s budget. You may need to stay in inexpensive hostels or guesthouses or camp outdoors in a tent. If you plan to go backpacking on your own, you should have some basic survival skills, such as knowing how to read a map, set up camp, and find your way in the wilderness.


Hostels are another popular way for college students to travel affordably. These accommodations typically offer rooms where you share a bathroom with other guests or dorm-style accommodations with bunk beds. There are common areas where you can hang out, meet fellow travelers, or even work on your laptop.

Although there are many benefits to staying in hostels, such as low cost and social opportunities, it is essential to research before you book a room. For example, consider the hostel’s location and whether it is safe for women travelers. Also, find out what amenities are offered – for example, many hostels will have a shared kitchen where you can cook your own meals.

Exchange Progam

Another popular way for college students to travel is through an exchange program. This program allows you to study at a foreign university while paying your regular tuition at your home university. There are typically exchange programs through student organizations or universities themselves.

If you decide to participate in an exchange program, you will need to work with your college or university to get approved for the program. You will typically need to pass a test of your language skills, provide a statement of financial resources, and meet other requirements depending on the program.

Volunteer Abroad

If you have a strong interest in volunteering abroad, many organizations can help you find volunteer opportunities. These types of programs may take place in foreign countries for periods of a week or longer.

When you volunteer abroad, you typically work with local organizations and communities to help with various projects. For example, you may help to construct houses, teach English in schools, mentor children, or work on agricultural projects.

While participating in a volunteer program can be very rewarding, but it is essential to do research before signing up for one. Consider what type of project you would like to work on and ensure that your skills match the program’s needs. Also, find out what training or support will be offered and what steps you need to take to get started.

Stay with frat/sorors

I joined a fraternity during my third year in college. Little did I know how many people I would meet and network with because of that. After I had crossed, my frat brothers and I started going to parties and step-shows at other schools. We began meeting people from all over the country. A lot of them were cool. They would say, “Let me know when you’re coming to my city. You can stay with us”. I can’t remember how often I took people up on their offers. One semester, I went on road trips almost every other weekend. I only remember coming out of the pocket for a hotel room twice. I wrote all that to say that if you are in a frat or sorority, use your network and reach out to people.

Below are some travel resources that I recommend


I’ve been using Expedia since I was in college. This is one of my go-to websites when it comes to travel. They have a lot of hotel deals on their site. You can get last-minute deals and travel packages on their site.


Some days you will be driving longer than others. You may not want to get off the exit or go to a store. Bring a cooler and fill it up with food and snacks. You have no idea how handy this will be for you. Here is an example of a cooler that you can use. It’s only $14 and doesn’t take up much space.


If you want to save money on your lodging, check out VRBO. They have tons of properties on their site. I booked rooms with them in Cuba and Miami. The places were lovely, and I saved money. If you want to try out VRBO for the first time, check out my link here.

Did you travel much as a college student? If you did, how did you make it happen? What other ways do you have for cheap student travel?


  1. The frat house thing is really cool! It seems that would expand the cities you could choose from. No regret! You’re too young for that:) I have a feeling you’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future to go abroad:)

  2. Hi Jason,

    I can see how you were about to become well traveled in college. Staying with people you know when you’re in town is a great way to save money. In some cases it could fund a another trip completely.

    I used to like to do fun things with my refund also. Originally it became unexpected funds so I wanted to make it memorable. I don’t regret it because it didn’t result in me being put in a bad place financially.

    I had family that worked for the airlines and belonged to all these clubs that offered discounts with different companies so that allowed me to be a savvy traveler.


    1. I wish I had family that worked for the airlines. The amount of trips I went on would probably have doubled lol.

  3. I went to Mexico the Summer after my first semester at college and I paid for it in a unique way: playing poker! No joke! For the most part, though, I took shorter trips in college (weekends for the most part) and stayed with friends at other colleges.

    1. That’s pretty cool. I need to learn how to play poker.

  4. These are great tips! I didn’t travel much at all during college but I did study abroad the summer of my junior year in Ireland for a month and it was amazing. I used income from my part-time job, my school and tax refunds and grant money to help fund the trip.

  5. It’s amazing all the ways you can travel on a tight budget. When you are college age, I’m sure it’s all just part of the fun and adventure. 🙂

    1. It definitely was part of the adventure!

  6. I can remember piling about 10 people in the back of the van and then driving for what seemed like forever from Kent State in Ohio to Washington D.C. where we slept on the floor of a church.

  7. Hi Jason. I didn’t begin travelling much until I was married and we both had a good income to fuel our lust for travel. At first we camped, and that was not too expensive, but the older I got, the more I developed a taste for luxury.

    Travel is definitely a way to expand our horizons, discover ourselves and discover new cultures and customs along the way.

  8. I travelled more as a student than I do now! I was young, single and carefree!

    Like you, I like to travel and if I had my way, would do so more often.

    I like tasting new cuisines, meeting new people and waking up in a new environment.

    High on my list;
    San Francisco
    Hong Kong

    1. That’s a good list. All of those cities are on mine.

  9. There are great tips in here, Jason. And like Jacquie said: no regrets. You may still come across the opportunity to study abroad…students aren’t the only ones who get to have fun, right?

    1. I doubt I will be studying abroad, but I will definitely travel abroad soon.

  10. It’s great that you were able to travel as much as you did as a college student. Travelling with others to split costs and staying with family and friends are good ways to keep costs down. And can also be a lot of fun.

  11. I traveled as a college student by working summers in Yellowstone National Park. I even ended up taking a couple of years off to work winters in the Everglades. The road trips in between the two parks definitely stand as some of the best memories of my life.

    1. I love the memories that I have from road trips. I can’t wait to make some more memories.

  12. Jason, I’m glad you were able to travel during your college days. Those days are the last of the really ‘carefree’ days for young people and making the most of them, as you have, is so important. Those memories, and friendships, will see you through some rough patches. And with your interest and determination I’m sure your overseas trip will come. I’ll look forward to reading all about it.

  13. Great tips for traveling. I am on a tight budget, but do no have friends or family which live away. You can always travel nearby, there might be a big wide world, but it is still outside your doorstep.

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