Travel is one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences for a student. It is oftentimes the best form of education as it equips the student with knowledge and experiences that are not taught in lecture halls and classrooms. It opens up students’ minds to different cultures and people and broadens their awareness and knowledge of global issues. However, being a student (especially in the United States) can be incredibly costly, and very little funds are left for things such as travel. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there for student travel on a budget. Here are our favorite resources for cheap student travel, including cheap flights, cheap student tours, cheap travel insurance, and student travel programs.
Needless to say, students are not the most wealthy people. As such, countless tourist attractions and destinations offer discounts to students so that students may still have the opportunity to experience the same attractions and tours as others. If you’re a student and want to take advantage of the student discounts at local attractions, make sure you do your research online first to determine whether the attraction you’re visiting offers student prices for admission. Many times, the person behind the ticket counter will not automatically recognize that you’re a student and will not offer you the discounted price – thus it is your responsibility to acknowledge the fact that you’re a student, show your student ID, and ask for the discounted rate. Do this for admissions to museums, train and bus passes, and most importantly, plane tickets. Websites such as Student Universe and STA Travel specifically target students and allow students exclusive access to the cheapest prices.
In addition to discounts offered by official tourism companies, there are countless other apps and websites that can be used to find coupons and discounts. A couple of more well-known apps include Groupon and LivingSocial, but also look for lesser known local apps. Keep in mind that the local apps are more likely to give you the best deals because businesses are more willing to offer discounts if they know the audience is not as wide. For example, I use an app called Hooked in Ann Arbor which offers various discounts to restaurants for a short period of time. Apps like Hooked can definitely be found in other cities too, so do your research and learn about the local apps before embarking on your trip!
Being a student teaches you to be okay with less than prime circumstances. From late night ramen, to the obnoxious drunk person screaming in your dorm hall at 4 AM, to the mysterious substances served in dining halls, students are best equipped to handle all kinds of uncomfortable situations. Use this to your advantage! Not everyone is willing to book a flight that leaves at 3 AM with 40 hour layovers in three different destinations. However, as a student, capitalize on this opportunity and think back to the time you pulled an all-nighter to study for finals. It’s not that much different, and travel is much more rewarding!
As a student, you are probably also more accustomed to living in a hostel setting since you most likely share a room with a roommate at school anyway, so having a few extra roommates is not a big deal. Living in a hostel will save an unbelievable amount of money, and there are even youth hostels that target specifically students and other young people. However, if you are able to pull together a group of friends, and you are willing to spend a bit more than you otherwise would on a hostel, you can find gorgeous homes to stay in for very affordable prices (as low as $20/night). House rentals can save you so much money and help free up your budget for other things like food, drinks, and going out on excursions with your friends.
STUDENT TRAVEL COMPANIES
There are a number of travel companies that offer special travel discounts through competitions and raffles that are only available to students. Sometimes, these student travel companies or travel programs will even offer to pay the full cost of the trip. A great starting point is to look into different travel programs offered by your school or by businesses with upper level management affiliated with your school. Through your school’s connections, you may be able to find summer programs and internships to apply to that could potentially give you a free trip to an awesome destination. For example, I will be spending the summer in Berlin because I was able to obtain a paid internship through my school.
If your school does not have a big network of international opportunities, or if none of the programs offered by your school is a good fit, you can always turn to the internet for similar programs – and trust me, you will find many. One such program is the Kalu Yala program in Panama, which allows students to contribute to creating a completely self-sustainable community. If you google virtually any place in the world, there will probably be an opportunity there that fits your interests and funds your trip if accepted to the program.
STUDENT TRAVEL PROGRAMS
When I went to Europe this past summer, I purchased something called the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). I’d never heard of it before but had been recommended it by
some people as a good and affordable form of student travel insurance. After purchasing it, I realized that there are lots of discounts offered by various businesses to students with the card. In fact, after I went back to Toronto, I found that there were even companies there that offered discounts to ISIC holders. Other companies that offer cheap travel insurance for students include STA Travel, World Nomads, International Medical Group, and Seven Corners.
Other programs, such as those that teach the languages of the countries that you will be travelling to, are also available to students. These are, of course, super beneficial so that you can learn some basics before venturing out into an unfamiliar country.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND STUDY ABROAD THROUGH SCHOOL
Many schools offer students study abroad opportunities at little to no additional cost of regular tuition. Studying abroad is an incredibly rewarding opportunity and is essentially a free trip if it costs the same as attending school on campus. Some schools even offer students scholarships or financial aid to travel to different countries. I believe this is because schools believe in the power of travel and cultural immersion, so they are usually more willing to send students on trips they believe will give their students stronger desires to positively impact the world.
In addition to providing a resource guide of tips and tricks for cheap student travel, I hope this article was able to inspire students to take advantage of their youth and travel. It’s easy to put off travelling until tomorrow, or until after graduation, or until you’ve had your first job, or until retirement, but many things are best enjoyed during youth. It is important to not look back one day and realize that all of the opportunities in front of you were missed or shoved aside because you’ll never be able to go back in time and have a second chance at experiencing everything you missed.
What are some of your favorite resources for cheap student travel? Are there any apps or websites that you use locally for cheap living? Share them in the comments below so everyone can see and benefit from your tips!
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Hi, I’m Hope, and I’m the little sister in the sister duo. I just finished my junior (third) year at the University of Michigan School of Information and have an insatiable desire to travel. I blog about budget travel for students, my spontaneous adventures, and occasionally an outburst about global politics as it relates to travel.