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Traveling on a Budget: College Student Edition

May 11, 2023

Most college students, such as myself, long for the opportunity to see the world. Fantasizing about traveling to different continents and learning about other cultures. Sadly, we tend to push those thoughts aside, leaving them to become nothing but a dream, a fantasy that may seem possible in another life. There seem to be certain things that keep us from even trying. These two factors are the balancing of classes, most importantly, money.

Do or don't:

Time is precious. As students, we know this is nothing but the truth. As we enter and continue to move along in our adult lives, we learn more and more about our responsibilities. We all have one thing in common, to get that degree and graduate. Though the thought of only living once resides in our mind. Yet, we need to put in the work and manage our time in order to get to that degree. We need to make sure we get those assignments in on time, start studying for that exam two weeks ahead of time, get to practice on time, and assure that we are taking care of ourselves. There doesn't seem to be any time for something as glorious as traveling. Or is there?

Money, money, money. It seems to be the key to it all. Once again, we are now adults. This means that we are now responsible for how we manage our income and end up deciding where it goes. Maybe we pay for tuition ourselves or maybe have some help. Maybe we have a job and have groceries, gas, hygiene products, and insurance to pay for. We may feel that we can barely handle money as it is. How on earth are we supposed to afford something like traveling? 

Impossible? I think not: 

After all, we are college students. What could be better than killing two birds with one stone? Numerous universities have study abroad opportunities that will allow us to not only continue studying but to get to see and live in a different part of the world for a semester. Students’ biggest fear is not being able to afford it either way. Most universities and study abroad programs tend to work with our financial aid. They tend to assist us in seeing the difference we would have to pay. What most students are oblivious to is that most of the time we would pay less to study abroad, than we pay to study at our current university. Depending on the program, we may be able to earn more credits for classes we take abroad! This seems like a win, win, win! Make sure to check with your universities programs and how they may be able to assist you! 


Now, there are other options that could get you to see the world. One of them is volunteering during our summer or spring break. There are programs that offer discounted travel opportunities with groups. This is an amazing method to not only give back, get to meet new people, but once again, see the world on a budget. Volunteering abroad is amazing to see the various perspectives of different cultures, and help us develop new skills that may be of assistance to us in the future. We are able to take on a challenge and build on lasting connections. Most importantly you would be doing something for others, not disrupting your degree path, and traveling on a budget. 

Travel Efficiently 

Last but not least, traveling efficiently. In this method, discounts, sales, Airbnb, and Groupon will be our best friends. If we decide to travel with a friend, we need to make sure that we both have the same, if not similar priorities. Booking trips ahead of time will guarantee to save us more money than booking last minute. When traveling, we have to travel light and avoid any fees possible. This includes extra baggage fees. In addition, purchasing from street vendors will not only be cheaper than dining at restaurants but will allow us to be able to get to know the country on a deeper level. Doing your research on and using public transportation is another way to make your dollar stretch. Either way, before traveling and doing research on the place we are going, it is always best to set a day-to-day realistic budget. A budget that includes daily meals, transportation, souvenirs, and anything else you may want to spend money on. The most important thing is that we stick to this budget and attempt to make our money last.

These are just some of the many ways college students such as you and I are able to travel. Before we even consider traveling, we need to make sure we are somewhat financially stable.. In addition, we could also save up by adding a section to our budgeting plan. The main goal is to use our money efficiently and make sure to manage where it goes. Even something such as traveling is able to be done with the right budgeting plan.

About the Author:

Juliana Torres

Bobcat Financial Coach

Juliana is currently a second-year majoring in Management and Business Economics at the University of California, Merced. Read more about her here!


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