Traveling on a College Student’s Budget

Picture provided by Katie Buxton

Picture provided by Katie Buxton

The Last Word


You don’t have to break the bank to travel. There are plenty of ways to travel inexpensively, some more obvious than others.

It’s truly important to plan ahead to maximize your money. When looking for flights, be flexible with your dates. Typically, the cheapest day to fly is on Tuesday. I usually research flights on Google in incognito mode on Kiwi, Kayak, StudentUniverse and Priceline. After I’ve looked at flights on these sites, I compare with Google Flights. Once I’ve found the best price, I book directly with the airline. Airlines are now offering basic light fares where you can travel strictly with a carry-on.

This is a great alternative. Additionally, I always create a miles account with the airline as those miles may come in handy to be redeemed later. Also, invest in credit cards that offer travel rewards or have miles programs. My favorite is Bank of America Travel Rewards.

The best way to plan a trip is by reading travel bloggers’ previous itineraries and tailoring it to fit the type of traveler you are. Make sure to research opening times and ticket prices and draft up a budget. Choose where to cut activities to make your money travel further. Stick to your plan, and your budget, even if something amazing presents itself.

Keep in mind that most cities have free walking tours (but remember to tip!) which give a great overview of the city. Simply google “Free Walking Tour” and the name of your city to discover the meeting time and location. If you’d rather do something 100 percent free, Rick Steves Audio Europe app has free, detailed  audio walking tours about the history and culture of the country.

Another app I enjoy is Globe Converter, which can be a lifesaver when you can’t run conversion numbers quickly. I also use Maps.Me for navigation without data. You can easily travel abroad without a phone plan or SIM card, as most places offer free wifi.

Utilize public transportation. Most places in Europe have inexpensive metro and bus systems. Otherwise, you can typically rent a bicycle or scooter for a minimal fee. If you choose to rent a car or motorbike, make sure you get your international license in the United States first!

Lastly, I never stay in a hotel. I also usually don’t go down the hostel or couchsurfing route. Although I’ve heard they are plenty safe, I just don’t feel comfortable. I choose Airbnb. There are two choices: entire place or private room. While it depends on dates and location, it is usually inexpensive. If it’s your first-time using Airbnb, email me, and I can send you a coupon for $40 off.

If this article has made you yearn for your next inexpensive international trip, then I suggest you check out Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Portugal, Thailand and Turkey (not necessarily in that order.) Of course, there are more, but I haven’t made it everywhere yet!

Katie Buxton is a junior studying at MEU in Lebanon.