A few generations back it was a rare moment to hear that a student was traveling abroad, but today there are a record number of students traveling abroad all the time. These students travel to places all over the world spending a few months or years at a time in the country they choose. I have learned many things during my time abroad but something that has been very important to me along the way is traveling to places other than the country I am studying in. Most of us have come to the realization that we want to try and experience as many places as we can, who knows if or when we will ever have the opportunity to be abroad like this again. However, traveling is not exactly the cheapest thing to do with your time, especially all of us college students who aren’t rolling in the dough yet. That is where budget travel comes in. It is through budget travel that students are able to spend weekends traveling to as many places as they can, and in certain cases having once in a lifetime experiences, creating memories that will last forever.
The two main parts of budget travel are transportation and accommodation. These take up the majority of the cost for trips and that is why it is essential to find sources of budget travel that offer a realistic price for students.
Transportation is necessary to get anywhere when traveling and there are many modes of transportation to get from place to place. When traveling in a city public transportation is always a beautiful thing for students. Cabs and car services cost a ridiculous amount of money, and although they may be faster it usually is just not worth it. Most cities have a public transportation system consisting of metros, trams, buses, and/or trains. Depending on the type of ticket you buy you can get around a city for a weekend for about $10-15. One cab ride alone can often cost that amount. This public transportation is important but the big transportation issue comes when traveling from place to place.
The main way to travel is by airplane. Flights in the states usually cost a ridiculous amount of money so budget airlines around the world are essential for students. When students can get flights for $50 round trip, it greatly cuts down on the cost of traveling. Finding flights for $50 has its ups and downs though. These are budget airlines so you can expect to get budget services. There are always rules about baggage but on budget airlines these rules are very important. Each person is allowed one carry on; this is including any laptop, purse, or jacket they want to bring with them as well. This may seem normal for many airlines however budget airlines are very strict about it, measuring and weighing each bag before allowing it onboard. If a piece of luggage is oversized then one can expect to pay an exorbitant extra charge to have it checked and put under the plane. Another catch to these budget airlines is the boarding passes. After booking a flight it is essential to print out the boarding pass on your own because arriving to the airport without one means another $50 to have it printed on the spot. Without caution a student could end up paying over $150 for a flight they thought would only cost them $50. Two of the most popular budget airlines are EasyJet and RyanAir. Both of these airlines provide great budget flights throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, making the student travel experience a happy one…who can say they don’t like saving that extra money? Other options are trains and buses. These are usually relatively cheap but can also take up lots of travel time, and in some cases it will take an overnight trip to get someone to their desired destination.
Now to my favorite part of student travel: accommodations. In a few cases one has the luck to know a friend or family member in the place that they are traveling to and can stay with that person, making accommodation free for the entire trip. In most cases this is not an option so some sort of place to stay needs to be found. In rare cases camping is an option but campgrounds are usually on the outskirts of the city and not that much cheaper than a warm, soft bed somewhere else. This is where the incredible world of hostels comes in. Every once and a while there are options for a cheap hotel or a group can try to squeeze five people into a hotel room for two. However, hostels are the true student travel accommodation. They provide so much more than just a place to sleep and can sometimes be the reason a trip is such a great experience. There a countless hostels all over the world, each with their own distinct atmosphere. Hostels are a place for students and travelers to come together. In most hostels one can stay from anywhere between $20-50 a night, such an important price when traveling. A normal hostel experience consists of staying in a dorm style room with 4-10 bunk beds. Each room is equipped with personal storage spaces and each floor has bathrooms and showers for everyone to use. The best part about hostels is their home like feel. A kitchen is available to make your food and there are always living areas for people to just hang out. Hostels provide great amenities for students, whether it is towel rentals or free tours, it is always something useful for someone on a budget. Although these places may not always be the cleanest or most private places to stay, they are essential for students on a budget and provide an unparalleled opportunity to meet and travel with other students from around the world.
There are many different ways for students to find these budget travel options. Sometimes they come from recommendations from friends or fellow travelers that know a great accommodation option. Other times they come from travel companies that create website and books where this information is accessible. HostelWorld.com and Let’s Go are two examples of these types of companies. Easy access to booking transportation and accommodation makes student travel that much more enjoyable. A newer option is booking a whole trip through a student travel company, such as Bus2Alps. By doing this one can make one payment and know that they are set for their entire trip with accommodation, transportation, tours, and in most cases food. These prices may seem a little higher than other student travel options but the time saved planning and researching can sometimes make it worth it.
When students study abroad travel is a huge part of their experience and it is through student travel options such as budget airlines and hostels that turn these incomparable opportunities into reality.