Traveling on a Budget Survival Guide for Students

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

motel sign

Oh, the places to see!

It’s summertime and, if you’re like me, the wanderlust has begun to kick in. With school out, many of us want to spend our summers experiencing new places, trying new things (exotic foods, perhaps skydiving?), and making the most of our break from exams and obligations. However, traveling can be costly, especially when you’re on a budget. Airfare alone can break the bank, but there’s also hotels, food, transportation, attractions, etc. to consider.

As students, we are often on fixed incomes. Tuition, books, and rent are where we see most of our money going. It’s hard to go on trips when you don’t have the extra funds enabling you to do so. But don’t fret; there are tips and tricks to tackling these financial obstacles. Bring on the summer adventures!

Flying hacks
If you plan on flying to summer getaway destination there are several tips you can follow to ensure you get the best deal and most for you money.

Rewards cards: Mr. Money Mustache recommends the Travelocity Amex card, which gives 2% back on all purchases and 6% back on travel. This is a great option for those who do, or plan to, travel often because with your travel purchases you are accumulating rewards that will save you money on future airfare, thus letting you get the most for your money.

Package Deals: A great way to save money when booking flights is to find a package deal. Package deals can include round-trip flights, hotel, and attractions. When you book this all together, you will often get a discount and end up paying less in the long run than you would have had you booked each thing separately. Good sites to check out for package deals are:

Knowing When to Buy: The trick to finding cheap airfare is knowing what day/ days to look on. states that the overall best time to look for and book flights are on Tuesday’s at 3 pm. However, any time during the middle of the week is likely to give you the best results. Don’t look for and book flights on the weekends!
Baggage: Make sure to know the baggage weight requirements/ number of free checked bags whichever airline you’re flying with allows. For example, Southwest allows each flyer to have one free checked bag, as well as a carry on. Frontier, on the other hand, charges $25 per each checked bag under 50 pounds. Over 50 pounds, the price goes up. Make sure you’re familiar with the policy and plan accordingly. If you’re flying with a company that charges to check your bags try fitting everything in a carry on. Most airlines allow for backpacks and other smaller bags as free carry ons, so take advantage of that!



Driving Hacks (A.K.A road trips)
Save on gas: A great way to save on gas when driving long distances is to make sure to fill up outside the city areas. Gas prices are always hiked up in the city, so get your gas on the outskirts of town. Another great option for saving on gas prices is by downloading the GasBuddy app at The GasBuddy app allows you to find the cheapest gas prices near you as well as letting you search for gas station locations. The app also features ways in which you are able to complete challenges and earn points that can be used toward purchases.

Know Where to Go: Some of the best areas to road trip are national parks! They usually have an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle and all its passengers or $12 per person entering by foot. However, some of these parks, for example the Grand Canyon, have free entrance days throughout the year. If you wish to, you can plan your trip around those days! These parks are a great way to experience something new and breathtaking. Some of the suggested best parks are Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park. Another option, if you’re in the California area, is to take a drive up or down the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the historically most beautiful drives one can take in the U.S., driving the PCH can be a great vacation get away option. Some suggested stops along the way are Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, and Garrapata State Park.

Hotel Hacks

Airbnb: Airbnb is a great option when looking for alternatives to staying in a hotel. The site allows you the option of unique accommodations such as apartments, houses, and even castles. People put their homes on the site and it is often a good way to find a much cheaper option than staying in a hotel.

Hostelworld: This is app is a geo-tagged directory of 25,000 listings for budget hotels, available right at your fingertips. The app also provides access to over 3.5million user reviews, ensuring you know what to expect from each hotel.

Continental breakfast: A perfect way to save money on meals, try finding a hotel that offers a continental breakfast. This will be included with the price of the room and therefore, you can save money on meals. Growing up, my mom always made sure wherever we stayed offered a continental breakfast that way we could eat a large breakfast and not have to eat again until dinner, ultimately saving money on two meals.

Refrigerators: Make sure your hotel room has a refrigerator. That way you can buy food from the grocery store and save money on eating out!


A way to save money on an exciting summer adventure is through Staycations. By finding some awesome locations in your own state that you can visit you eliminate the need for purchasing airfare and allow you the ability to experience exciting sites or activities within driving distance. For Colorado, some AMAZING Staycation ideas are:
-Mesa Verde
-Garden of the Gods
-Estes Park
-Glenwood Hot Springs
-Denver Aquarium
-Cripple Creek Railroad
-Seven Falls

Travel Apps That Will Save You

Timeout features a list of The World’s 50 Best Travel Apps. These apps are some of the best resources to utilize when traveling.
I picked out the best money saving apps on this list, which include:

  • XE Currency
  • WorldMate
  • AAParking
  • TripAdvisor
  • PinPin ATM Finder
  • Foodspotting

When it comes to traveling, finding the best deals is essential. Traveling on a budget can be particularly difficult, but it’s by no means impossible. The key is to PLAN AHEAD! Planning ahead allows you to remain organized which better prepares you to plan and manage your money. Familiarize yourself with the area you’re traveling to, be prepared and have an idea of some of the activities you want to do once at the location, and ask the locals for tips on where to eat, what to see, etc. Follow these tricks and you’re sure to have a great trip and not go bankrupt in the process.

Good luck and happy traveling!

route 66

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20 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

by Yuchen Wu, Student Blogger

Amusement Park Ride


Working aside, people may have already planned what they want to do for this summer. If you still don’t have any plans yet and don’t have much money, here are some 20 ideas that won’t bust your budget:

1. Plant some flowers in your garden.

2. Use YouTube for karaoke.

3. Have a movie marathon with close friends.

4. Visit a county or state fair.

5. Take a photo every day for a summer or a year.

  • Here is an app that can remind you to take a photo every day. If you need inspirations, check out a list of photo-a-day here.

6. Visit a museum on a free day.

7. Wash your car at home.

8. Listen to a podcast.

9. Go on a bike ride.

10. Go hiking.

11. Read a book.

12. Practice yoga at home.

13. Go camping in your backyard.

14. Visit your family or friends.

15. Dance in the rain.

  • Bonus points if you do it where your neighbors can see you.

16. Play with your pet.

17. Meditate.

  • Find free meditation music online.

18. Gaze at the stars.

  • Check this link for the next meteor shower.

19. Write a journal or finally start a novel.

20. Stay in touch with a friend or loved one with a handwritten letter.

Check out and for more ideas!

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