So you’re a student and want to travel. That’s great! After all, chances are you’ll never have this much free time on your hands again, let alone the relative flexibility that comes with studying. You’re old enough to travel without parental supervision and, in most cases, young enough not to have to worry about your own kids yet – shouldering a backpack and leaving real life behind for a little adventure doesn’t really get any easier than this.
Of course, there are those little problems of students notoriously never having much money, or the fact that actually, you should probably be using your free weekends to cram for those finals that people rumor to be nearly impossible to pass….but with a little creativity, excellent time management, and of course our tips, you’ll juggle your studies and extensive travels at the same time like it’s no problem at all!
1 – Learn how to become a pro at time management
If you know how to organize yourself and your workload wisely, you might get several long weekends or even entire weeks off to use for trips and adventuring – one of the many beauties of being a student! Tweak your schedule, take on a few more classes to get some extra breathing space the next semester, skip Netflix for a week or two and get all your work done in advance, or prepare work that you can easily do on the train, bus, or plane – and you’re good to go.
If time management is not really your biggest strength, the internet is there to help: create To-Do lists on Evernote or Remember the Milk, use the many possibilities on Trello to create a weekly schedule or organize tasks for your different classes, get teamwork done on Slack, or check out the countless instructions on how to Bullet Journal to get your entire life in order. Whichever way you do it, simply get organized – and then reap the benefits of being extra productive with a poolside cocktail on a well-deserved weekend trip during the semester.
2 – Use your weekends wisely
Even if you don’t get additional holidays or extra days off, you still have your weekends, so use them! You might not be able to go on a full-on trip to far-away destinations, but there are tons of travel opportunities within an hour or two of any given place that might provide a bit of relaxation between studying.
A good place to start is to check the bus, train, and plane schedules of the nearest transport hubs around you and see where you can go in just a few hours. If you are flexible in terms of where you will end up, you’ll often find cheap deals, as well as undiscovered destinations that you would have never thought of going before! Keep an eye out for special deals, cheap train tickets, or simply ride a bus to villages around your city, have a coffee, read a good book, and wander around streets that would never even be anywhere near your to-see list.
3 – Join university excursions and student trips
Depending on what and where you study, universities often offer special excursions and student trips at a discount. For some fields of study, excursions are usually even encouraged, if not mandatory – geography, biology, or even language majors often require field trips. Other universities have student associations who organize group trips to foreign countries. Either way, keep an open eye for these opportunities or ask your local student advisory board for options – you might be surprised what trips you can do with your university, rather than only in addition to it.
4 – Be creative with your mode of transportation
It doesn’t always have to be the plane – think outside the box when it comes to modes of transportation and you’ll not only be able to save some money, but the transportation might even become the reason you travel in the first place. Try bus rides, trains, use car-sharing services, or hitchhike! Adapt the mode of transportation to the region you are in – when in Europe, why not try Interrail? Or hop on the Trans-Siberian Railway when in Russia?
If you’re looking for a real adventure, take it one step further and rely on your own strength to get from A to B. Pack a few necessities and a tent, grab your bike, and see how far you can pedal, or go on a long-distance hike. Even if you don’t get far, you will have grown from the experiences you’ve made – and I assure you, the feeling of having travelled a certain distance with your own willpower and bodily strength is incredibly addictive.
5 – Prioritize your spending
Between using cheaper modes of transportation, being flexible with the destination you end up in, and using services like Couchsurfing or even AirBnB, you can save a lot of money during your trip so it becomes affordable even for a student budget. But you can also save a little when you are at home – start by prioritizing your spending to create some room for small trips in your budget. Cook at home, skip the second drink, and cut back on unnecessary spending and you’ll soon have enough saved up for a weekend getaway on the cheap.
6 – Do a semester (or year!) abroad
Even better than going on little trips throughout the year – take the opportunity and study a semester or two abroad! There are scholarships to support academic exchanges, many universities and states usually chip in to enable their students and young citizens to go and grow in another country, and you’ll get to experience another culture in a much deeper and more thorough way than you’d ever do on a single trip. Often, it is even possible to use the destination as a starting point for other trips in the region or continent.
7 – Move abroad altogether for your studies
If your wanderlust knows no limits and you are thirsting for a drastic change, maybe you should consider moving abroad altogether for your studies. It’s really more than simply traveling – you will be deeply immersed in another culture, probably learn a new language, and most likely even feel like the foreign country has become your second home by the end of it. Some countries offer degrees for free, which could be another motivating factor to set up tent somewhere else. While moving abroad to complete a degree certainly brings its own challenges, the joy, knowledge, and beautiful experiences you get out of it are worth every bit of homesickness and disorientation you might encounter. A couple of us over here at Travelettes have opted for it and certainly not regretted the choice!
These are just some ways to be able to travel even when you are a student – there are surely hundreds more out there. Are you a student who travels? How do you do it? We would love to hear from you and get inspired, so let us know in the comments!
* Photos via unsplash