13 Budget Travel Tips for College Students

Have a passion for travel but think you can’t afford it? Think again! Although it may not seem possible, travel doesn’t have to be expensive! Since I have been traveling for as long as I can remember, I have learned how to travel on a very small budget and you can too!

Here are my top budget travel tips for college students!

Lake City, Colorado

Choose a Destination Carefully

Spend some time researching affordable destinations and see what locations fit your budget. While major cities around the world will cost you more than $100-200 a day, try heading to South America or Southeast Asia where you could last multiple days off of $100.

Apply for a Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you don’t already have one, you should apply for a travel rewards credit card. By using the card on everyday purchases you will build up points that you can use for free hotels or flights. Every card has different benefits so do some research to find out which card is the best for you.

Know When and How to Book a Flight 

When it comes to booking flights, avoid heading directly to a major airlines website like Delta or American Airlines. The prices are typically much higher than they would be through a third party website like Google Flights. It is much cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday than it is on the weekends so avoid them if possible. Instead of booking roundtrip flights, search for one way flights and it will be cheaper. Budget airlines will be your cheapest option, just make sure to fit everything you can into your carry on to avoid having to pay additional baggage fees. If you are leaning more towards a budget airline, always check to see if there will be any extra fees.

Don’t Pay for Upgrades 

When it comes to booking flights, companies will try and get you to select your seat, upgrade to first class, bring extra bags, board first etc. Be aware that by selecting any of these, it will cost you extra on top of the flight and the taxes.

Stay Somewhere Cheap

Hostels will be your best bet if you want to stay somewhere that is affordable. This is a great way to meet other travelers from around the world as well. Before you book a hostel, check the reviews to make sure it sounds like a good fit for you. Since you’re in college and probably already have a roommate, this would be a fine option that would save you a significant amount of money. Typical hostel prices for Europe run about $15-$45 dollars a night and if you go to Thailand you can live on about $30 a day including where you decide to stay. If you aren’t wanting to stay in a hostel, then cheap hotels are another option. Always read the reviews from the location you would be staying in before you book it! This way you will know what to expect, if its safe and if the location is in a good place for what you are wanting to do on your trip. Couch surfing is another affordable way to sleep for cheap where you can stay with locals.

Find Cheap Places to Eat

Food is typically the most expensive part of traveling for people but it doesn’t have to be! Before you get to the place you’re going, look up and have a list of some cheap places to eat that won’t cost you a ton. Although you probably want to have a true experience eating at a nice local restaurant in France or at an Italian restaurant in Italy, it would be smart to sacrifice a few meals by eating at a chain restaurant. Prices are similar at McDonald’s all around the world so you could have a meal there instead of spending a potential $40 or more at a sit down restaurant in a foreign country.

Be Flexible 

This is actually one of the best parts about being a college student because we are already adjusted to crazy schedules, late nights and cheap food. This is very beneficial to traveling since you are open for more than the average person. All those times you stayed up late studying for finals many nights, booking a late night/early morning flight for much cheaper than a day time flight could be very beneficial to saving money. Indirect flights with long layovers are another great way to save money. They are typically the cheapest flights and if you have a long enough layover you could potentially explore another city before heading to your actual destination. Instead of having a cheap hotel or hostel, getting a group of friends together for a trip could save everyone hundreds of dollars and you could rent an entire Airbnb house for your group! This is a great way to plan those beach/ski trips.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

If you don’t already have an ISIC (International Student Identity Card), apply for one! This card is your proof around the world that you are a full time student. By having your card you will have access to 150,000 discounts and benefits from 133 countries. If you are a U.S. citizen then it also provides you with travel insurance! This card will save you money almost everywhere you go!
study abroad.jpg

Study Abroad 

This has become popular at Universities worldwide and is a great way to learn while traveling the world! There is a range of countries you can go to and even special courses provided for you to learn about the culture abroad. I personally haven’t had a chance to study abroad yet but all my friends who have done it recommend it to everyone. Scholarships are also available for those you who plan to travel abroad.

Download Travel Apps 

Personally during my travels I have come across a bunch of helpful apps that help you travel the world for cheap. Some of my favorites are: Turo – Cheap and affordable car rental from individuals and you can select the time frame you would like to have the car. You can even chose what type of car you’d like! Google Flights – By far my favorite site when it comes to booking flights. You can select a certain destination and it will tell you the price every day for the year to fly to your selected location. There is also an option to search the entire world by your price range. Airbnb – Great option instead of booking a hotel. Entire homes, private rooms in a house, apartments and more all around the world. TravelPirates – If you are looking to book an all inclusive vacation, see mistake fares, group trips, solo trips and more than sign up for notifications from this third party website. Every travel blogger has a different preference on their favorite travel apps so make sure and check out all of them to see which is the best for you!
Resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Get a Job Abroad 

There are so many incredible opportunities for work all around the world. Jobs range in a variety of things but some of my favorite are cruise ships, private yachts/planes, hotels and resorts! The most important thing I learned is that if you work where people vacation, you will make way more than just somewhere in your hometown. This is a great way to meet people and make connections everywhere around the world. One of my favorite jobs that was thousands of miles from home led me to meeting friends in Bulgaria, Malaysia, Romania, Turkey and Russia. You never know who you’re going to meet along the way.


Aside from volunteering being an incredible experience that will leave you with life long memories, you can also stay for free! You will have the chance to stay with a local, learn from them and give back to the community. It makes for a truly unique experience.

Book Cruises Last Minute 

If going on a cruise is on your list of possibilities, research last minute cruises online. The ships are typically desperate to fill every cabin so if you wait till just a few weeks before and manage to find cheap flights to where it would be departing, you can book it for hundreds off of what the normal price may be. I like to watch the 5 to 14 day cruises that typically cost thousands drop down into the low hundreds. The difference is time. If you are okay with booking a trip last minute, then this is a great way to save you a substantial amount of money. I hope these tips helped!
Is there anything you would add to this list? Comment below or contact me! Make sure and share 🙂


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Hi! I'm Liz, a college student who fell in love with traveling and exploring the world. I'm majoring in Park Management and Conservation and found some of my best moments occurred while I grew up hiking among the pines which is where I get my blog name from. There are many types of pine trees that all have their own unique beauty, just like all the places I have been. My goal is to explore the entire world and share my experiences and tips with you all. Click here to read more about me and why I blog.

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