If you like to travel, but have only $100 in your pocket, what can you do? Don’t worry, just check out these 10 ways students travel on a tight budget.
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1. House sitting
One of the best aspects to being a student is the opportunity to meet people from many places, whether they are fellow students, teaching assistants, faculty, or visiting experts. At some point, those people will want to go on vacation, and you will too— just not together. One way students travel on $100 or less is by volunteering to house sit for someone. You can score free room and board and use your $100 for other adventures!
2. Pet sitting
Just as people do not like to go on vacation and leave their homes unatended, they also do not like to go on vacation and leave their pets unattended. Unlike houses, however, pets need food, water, and exercise. If you are responsible enough to keep Fido or Fluffy alive while their human companion slips away for a break, it may mean free room and board for you too! Don’t skimp on the walks or the cuddles and you’ll increase your odds of being asked to pet sit again.
3. Couch surfing
Sometimes, you just have to go to where the people are. In this case, people who know you and/or are at least willing to let you spend a night or two on their couch. Most friends won’t let you starve in that situation, so you can consider it both room and board. Be nice though, respect their rules (especially if they say you can only stay a certain number of nights) and try to do something to show your gratitude like taking out the trash or washing the dishes without being asked.
4. Volunteer Organizations
Spend a break or summer vacation with a volunteer organization. It is a great way to see a new land up close and personal while also scoring some global karma points, helping out your fellow man, and gaining potentially valuable work experience. Many programs cover travel and living expenses for the duration of your stay; some even throw in a small stipend! That $100 in your pocket will go a long way to buy treats or necessities for people in the communities you’ll be helping.
5. International Internships
Being an intern for a local company may have career benefits later on, but what about being an intern in a foreign country? Equally useful, but much more interesting! If you can get the company to spring for room and board, who cares how many unpaid coffee runs or dry cleaning stops you have to make?
6. Loyalty rewards programs
The smart and determined ultra-budget traveler will do well to invest the time and energy required to maximize loyalty reward programs. Sign up for all the free ones that come your way, and seek out others through company and promotional websites. Follow the rules and educate yourself on the cheat-codes (loopholes) that exist. The worldwide web is full of tips on just about any program you can think of, and bloggers like Peter Greenberg or Independent Traveler have got the process down to a science— luckily, they are willing to share their insider knowledge. You should also frequent students’ travel blogs as they can also offer extremely valuable information.
7. Carrier promotions
Recently, due to a computer glitch, United Airlines had tickets on sale for $0. Although the mistake was soon remedied, that didn’t stop tons of people from snapping up the freebies. While these occurrences are flukes, airlines often run dirt cheap promotional flights when they start a new route. Smaller, regional carriers are more likely to have these deals. Check their websites often, but don’t stop there. Airlines often announce plans to expand in the business news, if you see a new route is about to open up, be on the lookout for promotional offers.
8. Bike it
Bicycle trips are a great way to expand your horizons for very little money. Take the time to plan out your route, and be sure to know your limitations. If you are a less experienced rider, plan on a shorter, easier trip. Invite a few friends for company and security, if you wish. Make sure someone not going on the trip knows what route you plan to take in case of emergency, or if your cell phone dies, or you cannot get a signal.
9. Park it
The United States has 401 national park areas, covering over 80-million miles in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. 268 of these areas are always free! The rest offer free entrance days throughout the year; check with the national parks website for specific dates. On other days, $80 gets you an America the Beautiful pass which covers entry to over 2,000 federal recreation sites. At sites that charge per vehicle, the passes cover everyone in the car. They cover up to four adults (aged 15 and over) at sites that charge entrance fees per person. Split the cost with three friends and have you’ll still have $80 left over from that $100 in your pocket, along with something to do for the whole year! If you are a student who also happens to be a U.S. military member or dependent (including National Guard and Reserves) these passes are FREE. Rates for camping in the parks are cheap, but fill up on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to call ahead.
10. Carpool it
With gasoline prices at all-time highs, it doesn’t seem like $100 will take you very far in an automobile. Add some friends and do a little planning ahead though, and it is actually a very sensible option for student travel. Let’s say you have 3 friends, each with $100 and 4-seat economy car. With modern hybrids getting upwards of 50 mpg and electric cars with ranges of upwards of 80 miles per charge, you can actually get quite far. The key to this option is not to drive aimlessly. When backpacking, an aimless orientation can lead to pleasant surprises with very little at risk, but when driving, the lack of a specific goal just wastes time and money. Pool your funds for cheap food and accommodations including youth hostels or campsites.
So get up and get going!
Julie Petersen is a young blogger and writer, who features the latest educational and career trends in her writings. At present time she works as a blog editor and writing expert at Essaymama writing agency. You may see her latest publications and contact her via Linkedin or Google+ .