Trips for College Students with a Small Budget


It’s no secret that college can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find ways to explore the world. Traveling is an incredible way to learn about other cultures and yourself, but budgets can often get in the way of making this a reality. However, there are trips for college students that don’t have to break the bank. Knowing how to travel as a college student can quite literally open up a whole new world!


Let’s take a look at some countries where budget-friendly travel is easy to do. Additionally, we will share some tips and tricks on how to save money along your journey.



Travel on a student budget in Thailand

Photo by Mg Cthu on Unsplash



Budget-Friendly Destinations

Want some sand and sea? Looking for some city magic or views of nature? These destinations have it all. Take your pick from these affordable and memorable places:


1. Thailand


Often regarded as one of the most affordable places in the world to travel, Thailand is an enriched culture with a lot to offer. From scenic beach islands to nature-filled hikes to bustling cities, Thailand has something for everyone.


It’s possible to find accommodation for as little as $3 a night. According to nomadic travelers, you can live comfortably on a budget of $30-35 a day. This will afford you a shared room, street food, drinks, local transportation, and even some organized tours.


Internal flights are relatively affordable, which means you can see a lot of Thailand without hurting your budget.


Additionally, like most countries that have local markets, you can try your hand at bargaining. Before you take to it, be sure to check in with a local about what prices are to be expected so that you have an accurate reference point.



2. Guatemala


For those who love nature, Coban, Guatemala is an affordable paradise. For example, you can explore Las Victorias National Park and take in the beauty of waterfalls and caves.


Although Guatemala’s internal destinations are quite spread out, Coban is a diverse city with a lot of nature to explore.


An additional benefit of being in a location that is more focused on nature than urbanity is that you will undoubtedly spend less money per day.



3. Hungary


When it comes to Europe, it’s common to hear all about France, Spain, and Italy, for example. But, if you go slightly off the beaten path, you can discover the gem of Budapest, Hungary.


Technically two cities, Buda and Pest, the destination boasts affordable hotels and cheap public transportation. With the low cost of living and travel, Budapest is a bustling city filled with the energy of young travelers. For a social scene, consider staying at a hostel to both save money and easily make new friends.



4. Indonesia


A popular island in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is known as a cheap travel destination. Some estimate that you can get by on a budget of as little as $44 a day.


Indonesia is the fourth most populated place in the world. Yet, with over 18,000 islands, only about one third are inhabited. Once you land, you can find affordable ways to travel around the islands via ferry as planes are more expensive.


When you think of Indonesia, you probably think of Bali — the most popular destination. However, you can visit inland destinations and take in the breathtaking and expansive sights of the rainforest all around the scenic country. Plus, if you enjoy scuba diving, this is the place to do it!



5. Kos, Greece


It’s safe to say that overall, not all islands in Greece are known to be budget-friendly. Heading to densely populated tourist islands like Mykonos and Santorini will cost top dollar, but there are less busy islands within the beautiful country that are conducive to a student traveling on a budget.


Although slightly more pricey than other destinations on this list, you can experience Kos, Greece on roughly $60 a day. Located near the Turkish coast, Kos has beautiful sandy beaches and 14th century ruins. Also, be sure to take a trip to Paradise Beach to enjoy water sports.



6. Vietnam


Your wallet will thank you when you take a trip to Vietnam. Vietnam is a bustling and rapidly growing country that has a lot to offer the student traveller.


This is a big and important tip — when you travel to Vietnam, arrive with an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) as many museums, cinemas, hospitals, and more offer student discounts with this card as proof.


In Vietnam, it’s customary to bargain down by using body language, so try to learn a few tips and tricks before landing.


Additionally, it borders Laos and Cambodia, which are two other inexpensive travel destinations, so you can make your trip into a trio!



7. Backpacking in South America


Many people take to the continent of South America to backpack around the diverse and inviting countries. The countries all have something different to offer, but Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia tend to be cheaper than Argentina, Chile and Brazil, for example.


When traveling to South America, remain cognizant of your surroundings because, like in any country, some places are more dangerous than others. According to nomads who have traveled across South America plenty of times, you can backpack around for roughly $35 a day, or about $1,000 a month.



Budget-friendly hostel accommodation

Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash



Budget-Friendly Tips and Tricks

Regardless of where you choose to travel, the choice is yours for how little or how much you want to spend. There are various ways to ensure that you can chip away at daily costs by following these simple tips and tricks:


1. Stay at hostels or couch-surf:


Rather than booking hotels or even an Airbnb, consider staying in shared dormitories at hostels. Hostels are a fraction of the cost compared to hotels, and they offer an easy way to make new friends from around the world. Hostels also generally provide you with kitchens so that you can cook your own food (see next point), and group activities that are discounted. If a hostel isn’t your style, you can also find ways to couchsurf — which literally means that you stay on the couch (or maybe a bed) inside a gracious stranger’s home.



2. Cook your own food:


Meals can add up. If you choose to dine at fancy restaurants, you will definitely be spending more money per day. Instead, you can eat street food (in places where it’s deemed safe to do so) or cook for yourself. When you stay in a hostel or Airbnb, this is a more promising reality. Make simple breakfasts and pack lunches and snacks like sandwiches, nuts, dried fruit, and granola bars for when you are on the go.



3. Travel lightly:


This is important to avoid extra baggage fees. Baggage fees add up quickly. This is especially true if you choose an island destination and have multiple flights. Instead of paying for heavy suitcases, consider traveling with just a backpack. Or, if you can manage for a short trip, use just a carry on. A good way to save space in your luggage and be able to keep all your clothes organized is to use packing cubes.



4. Travel off-season:


Every country has its high tourist season. They generally follow the summer months within the region. If you want to book cheaper tickets, consider flying in the off-season. Not only will flights be cheaper, but the accommodation and destinations within the country will also have eased on their high prices.



5. Avoid tourist traps:


It’s true of most places that the coastline draws tourists. As such, there is often what are called “tourist traps.” These are overly priced restaurants, coffee shops, and stores that mark up their prices because of their high foot traffic. Consider talking to locals, performing research, and wandering off the beaten path to save some money.



6. Book early and privately:


Flight websites cache your searches. This means that they know when you are looking to travel to a particular destination. As such, the pricing will continuously change due to demand. Before you make your final booking, clear your browser’s cache/history or search in an incognito browser window. According to, the best window to book a flight in advance is three weeks to four months in advance.



7. Work and travel:


A good option for traveling on a budget is to pick up a work exchange in the destination country or freelance jobs from your home country that you can do from your laptop. That way, you can make some money while you travel. Some hostels will provide you with a work/accommodation trade. For example, you can work as a bartender or receptionist at a hostel in exchange for a free place to sleep.



Ready, Set, Jet

As a student, you have time off from school and are in the perfect situation (time-wise) to go abroad. However, it’s normal that finances can be a constraint. But it doesn’t have to stop you!


By following these tips and choosing to venture to cheap places to travel as a college student, you can make your traveling abroad dreams come true.


Lastly, you may want to consider attending an affordable, online university like the University of the People. This will allow you to study from anywhere in the world on your own time. In this way, you can work abroad and study abroad, based on your own schedule! Plus, our university is tuition-free, so you can put your money towards traveling expenses instead of tuition.


Bon voyage!




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