Travel Advice

Top Tips on Balancing School & Travel

You may think it’s impossible to travel while you’re a student. I mean, you’re likely drowning in student loans and eating ramen noodles for three meals a day. Although travel may not be attainable for every student there are definitely ways to make it work. In fact, with the amount of reading weeks, spring breaks, summers off and other holidays you get as a student this could really be the best time for you to travel. Who knows when you’ll have that much time off again or if you ever will.

I chatted with a few students who currently make travel a priority in their lives (on top of getting good grades of course). Here are their biggest tips…

My biggest tip on how to travel while being a full-time student on a budget is pretty simple: you’ll have, as in every other aspect of adult life, to network. Let me explain myself. In the past two years and a half at university, I noticed that one of the most expensive parts of traveling was definitely accommodations: while plane and even train ticket costs vary and are often on sale, apartments or even hostels stick to a determinate price that won’t change decisively from a season to another. Therefore, to cut expenses it’s fundamental to try and travel to places where you know some friends or relatives that can host you for some nights. If you’re European, that’s pretty easy, since more and more students leave for a semester or two abroad thanks to the Erasmus program. Of course, this may not be useful advice for shy or introvert people who may feel they’re a burden when asking to be hosted for a little while, but isn’t travel all about testing one’s own limits and going out of one’s comfort zone?

As for actually finding time to travel between an exam, a deadline and lessons, that’s where it becomes a little trickier and on-point organization kicks in. It’s fundamental to plan every exam you can in advance and to know which study weekends you can “sacrifice” to explore the world, so take a couple of hours and a planner and make some magic!

– Viola Serena Stefanello, Travel Diplomacy

Balancing school with work, travel, and life can be crazy! I am not only an IT professional, but a professional student to say the least. Allow me to tell you my story. I am that girl who put herself through undergrad while working full-time… I am that girl who went back to get an MBA while working in a demanding job… I am also that girl who is well over 40 and writing a dissertation to get my doctoral degree.

So, let’s talk about that.

What you don’t know is that I quit my job to travel and live life to the fullest for three years and that’s when I decided to go back to school. But, first things first. Going back to school could not impede my travel! After searching and researching, I found a hybrid accredited program that enabled me to do the coursework 100% online. The best part is that the program gave me the opportunity to travel. Did someone say travel? I am in! The key to balancing travel with school is to be aware of how you work best. I remember going on a ski trip when I had a major assignment due. Yes, I was at the ski resort watching others ski while I was typing a paper. But, being in that resort gave me enough inspiration to continue on with the assignment knowing that the sooner I finished the faster I could have fun. Another tip is to get involved in your schoolwork. There are many times I just do not want to write and I procrastinate. I find that when I relate my schoolwork to why I personally want this degree, I get motivated to keep going.

Balancing school with travel can be an exciting adventure in itself. Just plan accordingly and enjoy the journey!

– Angela Petitt, Sabbatical Scapes

Get a notebook and save your receipts so you can see how much money you’re spending every month. I found that writing “coffee” multiple times a month made me realize that I just need to bring my own instead of buying it as much as I do. I save over $40 a month doing this. Even though it’s small, I can put that in my travel fund instead of spending it every month.

I also use my credit card as my main source of payment so I can rack up those air miles. If you’re living on your own, use your credit card to pay your rent every month. At my old apartment, I was paying almost $700 a month- that’s 35 air miles. I tend to shop by air miles at the liquor store as well. I choose my wine by points, instead of price. Although I might spend a couple dollars more than normal, I’m now that much closer to buying a plane ticket.

Another trick is to do automatic deposits from my chequing to savings account so that I can’t spend my entire paycheque on little things, instead of my trip. I keep enough money in my chequing to pay rent, groceries, bills, and have a little spending money for the month. Everything else goes into my trip fund.

– Deni Verklan, The Full-Time Tourist

Over the years time set aside for traveling has become more difficult to come by, especially being in my third year of medical school. However frequently (or infrequently) I am able to get away I always follow a set of specific guidelines so I’m not busting my wife and I’s rather small travel budget. First of all, I know many people suggest flexibility when it comes to budget traveling, and they’re not wrong – being flexible is a huge part of it. But a lot of people (including students) can’t be flexible. I, for one, have very specific days off each year and those days are what I have to plan around. For me, one of the biggest things I can recommend is opening an airline credit card that is focused on your needs. Yes – credit cards can be scary, however if you pay off your balance every month you shouldn’t have any issues. Here are some reasons why airline credit cards are the bomb.

1. Many of them offer awesome sign-up bonuses. For example, my American Airlines card offered me 60,000 points to sign up. That’s enough to cover quite a few flights for free.

2. Bigger airlines allow you to use points with their partner airlines. Say you want to go to Japan, Japan Airlines is partnered with American Airlines so you can use the points interchangeably.

However, there can be disadvantages too. Take note that most travel credit cards have annual fees. But some offer rewards in exchange. My Southwest Credit Card has an annual fee of $99 but they also give me 6,000 anniversary points every year which is worth more than $99. Over the past five years I’ve had eight free flights from just my Southwest card. With my wife having one too, we’ve doubled that. Overall, credit card rewards are perfect for those trying to budget travel while in school and on a limited schedule.

– Logan Page, Pages of Travel

How do/did you make travel work as a student? Share your tips below in the comments!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Angela Petitt
    February 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks for the feature! Great article and tips!

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