Finding ways to travel when you’re a full-time student can be quite a challenge. Luckily, I have found a foolproof way to balance my studies with my passion for travel! Want to know how I do it? Follow the six steps below to start bringing travel into your life on a regular basis!
1. Start Small
When trying to balance traveling with school, start small! If you have a free afternoon or day, go for a mini road trip or check out a part of your town you haven’t been to before – there are likely tons of local gems you’ve been missing out on. If I know that I’m going to have a free afternoon or day, I use the Facebook events feature to look for things happening near me. Once you’ve gotten into the groove of using free time to visit new places, planning trips for farther away will be a breeze!
I currently attend Florida State University, so I spend my free time exploring north Florida. There are tons of state parks, natural springs, quaint towns, and awesome beaches a short drive away. I’m constantly finding new things to do in the time frames I can make work!
2. Make Your Weekends Count
You’d be surprised how much you can fit into a weekend! If you leave as soon as classes are finished on Friday, then you’ll likely have Friday night, the entire Saturday, and most of Sunday to check out a new place. Drive, fly, take a bus, or bike to that place you’ve been thinking of visiting but haven’t gone to yet.
If you live near an airport, then you can easily pack a weekender bag and jet off for the weekend! I love using Momondo to plan weekend trips, as they have an “anywhere” feature you can use if you search by dates. If you’re needing help planning a weekend road trip, check out Roadtrippers! With Roadtrippers, you just type in your start and end destination and they will suggest places to explore along the way.
3. Scheduling is Key
Every student dreads registration, but did you know it can help you work in more travel time? My senior year of undergrad, I began scheduling all my classes for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Why did I do this? So I could have 4-day weekends every weekend. Obviously, the classes you need to take should be prioritized over having long weekends. If you are able to, try scheduling your classes so you are free Monday or Friday (or both!) each week.
Taking an extra-long weekend helps with traveling because you have free days to visit some place new. It also helps your budget out because flying on a weekday is typically cheaper than flying on a weekend. If you’re like me, you’ll use the money saved on flights to save up for a future flight. Need another perk? Taking a day off each week from taking classes gives you that day to worry about anything but school. Your mind will thank you for it, trust me.
4. Take Advantage of Breaks
Breaks are a little gift that the school likes to give students to keep us sane, making them the perfect opportunity to head to that place you’ve been making a Pinterest board for! The schools are even kind enough to plan breaks for mid-March, an opportune time to go international since it isn’t part of peak tourism season. Convenient, right?
I went the international route for Spring Break in 2017 and so regret not doing it earlier! My friend and I managed to spend 7 nights in Barcelona Spain for around $900 each for everything – flights, AirBnb, food, gifts…seriously, everything. I think I would’ve spend $900 just on flight and a room for a week somewhere here in the states!
5. Embrace Your Student ID
Want to know the best thing about that student ID card your school issued you upon arrival? It isn’t that awkward photo of you as a freshmen, it’s that your student ID gets you amazing discounts at all sorts of places! When traveling, your student ID card should be one of the first things you pack, as it can get you discounts on tours, events, and museum entry. In some cases, that little piece of plastic will earn you free admission! Some hotels even offer student rates. In some places, you aren’t required to have your student ID, you just have to be under the age of 25 to get student perks.
Student discounts aren’t always advertised, so I’ve made it a habit to always ask if a place has any. Over the past few years, the student perks have come has a pleasant surprise at home and abroad. I’m already internally mourning losing these perks when I graduate.
6. Study Abroad
If you’re wanting to do something more long-term, then studying abroad might be for you. These days, there is a study abroad program for everything! The best part? You get to become immersed in another culture while working on a degree. You can take classes, participate in internships, and even take guided tours of a number of countries for college credit.
I studied abroad my sophomore year of undergrad in Greece and it was an experience that completely changed my life. In my opinion, every student should try to study abroad at least once in college, whether for short break program, summer study, or a full semester abroad. Talk to the study abroad program at your school to see if studying abroad is for you!
Now that you’ve learned my tricks for balancing travel and school, where will you go first? Let me know in the comments below!