Traveling abroad is a must before graduation. You are young, have limited responsibilities and since you’ve likely been living in a dorm for awhile — hostel accommodations shouldn’t be a problem. The world is your oyster, especially when there are so many student travel discounts and services out there. So go on, plan your adventure with these five tips:
Travel During the “Shoulder” Season
The shoulder season is the period between a destination’s peak season (think Cancun in March) and it’s low season (Sweden in January). In other words, it’s the sweet spot when the weather is mild, hotels are inexpensive and the tourists haven’t arrived yet so you have a better chance at a more authentic experience.
I’ve taken advantage of the shoulder season on many occasions and have had great luck. I went to the Greek islands in late March and enjoyed sunny, 75 degree days and serene, crowd-free beaches. I also caught the end of rainy season in Costa Rica and paid about 50% less on hotel rooms when compared to peak season and despite the name “rainy season,” most days were dry.
So think of alternative options for your spring, summer and winter breaks. Instead of Cabo for spring break, how about Barcelona? Sun, mild temps, sangria, Antoni Gaudi, bars that stay open all night…sounds good to me.
Don’t Pay Full Price for Airfare
Being under 25 might mean you pay more in car insurance, but fortunately you’ll pay less for flights. Services like StudentUniverse provide travel discounts exclusively for students attending a degree granting college or those between the ages of 18-25. StudentUniverse negotiates the discount on student flights directly with the airlines and the tickets are refundable, whereas regular airfare is not.
These special fares are now available directly on Fly.com, but only when you search from an IP address hosted by your university. When using Fly.com for your flight search, you’ll instantly see the savings StudentUniverse provides when compared with other online travel agents and airline websites.
Sleep on the Cheap
You could go down the traditional route and search for hotels on Expedia, Orbitz, etc. but you’ll likely spend a ton and won’t have as much fun. You’ll have a much better story to tell if you find a funky hostel where you’re likely to meet other young, international travelers. Again, StudentUniverse is a good site for exploring hostels worldwide (I could find private rooms in central Barcelona for $20 a night). Other sites to scan are hostelworld.com, hostels.com and europeanhostels.com.
If you’re looking to live like a local, consider searching Tripping.com for a short term apartment or a private room in someone’s apartment or home. You’re likely to get off-the-beaten-path travel tips and some hosts will cook you breakfast and even offer a lift from the airport.
Book Tours and Sightseeing in Advance
Part of the fun in traveling is leaving your itinerary open to partake in spontaneous adventures. However, if you are visiting Rome — at some point you’ll probably make it over to the Colosseum. Avoid long lines for tickets and save a little cash by booking discounted sightseeing tours in advance. GetYourGuide.com is a good resource for this. The site offers more than 15,000 tours and activities worldwide.
Get The Most For Your Dollar
Consider traveling to places where the dollar is strong, enabling you stretch your budget a bit further. Have a destination in mind? First check out the currency exchange rate on XE.com. For example, in Argentina — one U.S. dollar will get you nearly five Argentinian pesos (as of the time this article was written). I visited Buenos Aires a few years ago when the exchange rate was similar and lived it up — I drank malbec wine, dined at upscale Argentinian steakhouses and watched tango all for a fraction of what you’d expect to pay.
Other destinations to get more bang for your buck — Thailand, Mexico, India and Turkey.
Featured Image: Hikers with Backpacks (Shutterstock.com)