The 9 Stages of Traveling On A College Budget

“Travel is the one thing you can buy that makes you richer”.

Ah, of course. So many of us consider ourselves “wanderlusts,” but our budgets often don’t support our undying desire to see the world. Chances are, being a college student or recent grad, our funds don’t necessarily match the lifestyle we really want to live.

However,  if you budget your money right, the trip of your dreams could be a lot more realistic than you think. You may have to make some sacrifices along the way, but you don’t have to eat like queen or sleep in 5 star hotels to make a trip worth your time. Just be prepared to be a bit uncomfortable at points.

Good thing you have me here, though. I’ve broken it down for you; sharing what you really need to expect when traveling on a college budget.

1st stage:  So, you decide you need to get away – but then you remember to look at your bank account balance.

2nd stage: You search endlessly for a flight you can afford, and pretty much any destination will do. Travel websites such as Kayak, Expedia, and Google Flights become your new BFF.

3rd stage:  You realize that hotels are, well, expensive! Like, first-born child expensive. So you turn to other options, like couchsurfing with your weird relatives or staying in a stranger’s spare bedroom via Airbnb.

4th stage: If you’ve been successful in the above ventures, then congratulations! You’re ready to embark on your budget friendly vacation. However, the adventure is only just beginning.

When you arrive, you quickly come to the understanding that on this trip, you will either eat or you will participate in local tourist activities – but you won’t be doing both. Do you go to this museum, or do you eat lunch today? Decisions, decisions.

5th stage: You rapidly become an expert in the public transportation system of your chosen destination. Or, you will wander around looking confused as you try to find the next bus stop (and yes, the person you walked by four times is laughing at you).

6th stage: If bussing isn’t an option, you get even more creative with your transportation methods. A three-mile walk sounds doable. You begin to evaluate how badly you want to go somewhere, based solely on how much the Uber or Lyft would cost. If none of these are an option…well, you probably don’t want to go there that badly anyway.

7th stage: Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you wander around state parks/nature walks/scenic viewpoints, and you hated every minute of it? You now live for those. Three hours wandering around with phenomenal views for free?! Yes please! Sorry for the years of complaining, mom and dad.

Sadly, vacations have to end eventually. As you sit in the airport debating the merits of just not getting on the plane, you realize that hey – you did it! You went on vacation without completely bankrupting yourself, and there’s a lot to take away from that accomplishment.

8th stage: So maybe you had to skimp on the room service, or your meals, or seeing everything you wanted to see. But that’s okay! Instead, you got to get lost somewhere you’ve never been, experience the unique qualities of local bus patrons at night, and spend hours walking just to take in the view. And budget or not, that’s what traveling is all about.

9th stage: Cheers to being back to reality and being totally broke again. You made it!


Featured image via Julia Volk on Pexels


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