How to travel as a college student – even with loans

college student traveling backpacker

When it comes to college students and travel, many people don’t think past spring break. However, if your travel dreams include more than beaches jam-packed with a plenty of other students but you feel like you’re limited by a tight budget, you shouldn’t despair. There are plenty of ways you can still hit the road – or the skies – and still have some amazing experiences to remember forever.


You might be wondering how you can think about travel or other frivolities when you’ve already taken out student loans to cover the cost of tuition, books and some of your living expenses. Take a deep breath. The fact is that student loans are a smart, low-interest way to fund your education, and their existence does not mean you cannot spend money on anything else any more than people who are paying off a home mortgage are supposed to avoid vacations for the rest of their lives. What you may want to do is look at where else your money is going. Alcohol and takeout can eat up a good portion of some college students’ budgets. Prioritize your spending and put away a little money every week from a part-time job into a travel fund.

Get a Travel Buddy

Traveling on your own can be an amazing experience, but it can also be a lot costlier than doing it with someone else. While youth hostels are the way to go in much of the world, they’re much less common if you’re traveling domestically. You can save a lot of money on accommodation if you’re with a friend since a double room is often just $10 or $20 more than a single. While this is generally the biggest savings, you should keep an eye out as well for two-for-one deals.

Avoid Restaurant Meals

Food can be one of the pleasures of travel. If you’re going to New Orleans, you’ll want some Creole or Cajun food, and if you find yourself in Kansas City, you should try some of their famous barbecue. However, you can save a lot of money if you pick up most of your meals from the grocery store. Most motels come with a refrigerator or a microwave. For those places that do have don’t miss cuisine you’re dying to try, eat lunch out instead of dinner since it’s usually cheaper, and think about splitting a meal with that travel buddy.

Look for Student Discounts

Student discounts aren’t limited to the college town you’re living in. Restaurants, accommodations, transportation and more might all be cheaper if you show your student ID card. Do some research ahead of time so you know where you’ll be able to save money on your trip.

Look for Internships

Paid internships in interesting places are sure to be competitive, but there’s still no reason why you shouldn’t throw your name in the hat. This can be a great way to build your resume while spending your free time exploring places like New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C. or other great destinations.

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