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8 ways to travel more while in college

The college years are often an ideal time for travel — you are young, and you are not yet tied down to a job or family obligations. Here are 8 creative tips to travel more as a college student on a shoestring budget.


Dec 13, 2023


tips to travel more as a college student

Most college students are on tight budgets. The costs of tuition, fees, books, and room and board just seem to eat up most of the money they have, even with grants and loans.

Given this, travel seems almost out of the question. Who can afford transportation and lodging costs on top of all of the other expenses?

And yet, the college years are often an ideal time for travel — you are young, and you are not yet tied down to a job or family obligations. Additionally, you are much more willing to put up with inconveniences and less-than-high-end transport and accommodation.

The good news is that there are affordable ways to travel. First of all, there are many breathtaking but still budget-friendly destinations that students can afford.

However, if you want to get a bit creative and think "outside the box", we suggest using one of the following tips.

8 tips to travel more as a college student

1. Take a summer job with a vacationing family in need of child care

2. Travel to foreign countries during their off-seasons

3. Jobs on cruise ships

4. Jobs at resorts

5. Saving and budgeting for end-of semester jaunts

6. Get a side gig for extra money

7. Travel cheap with a purpose

8. Going the traditional route


1. Take a summer job with a vacationing family in need of child care

Many families look for college students to come along with them on vacations, to entertain and care for their young kids. While this has traditionally been a job for females, more and more males are now getting in on this gig. 

This is by far the cheapest way to see new places because all of your travel and lodging expenses are paid for. Furthermore, you'll earn some spending money, and most families give their "nannies" some free time during the trips.

If you work this right, you might actually get a summer trip or two throughout your four years of college. A pretty great deal, actually!

2. Travel to foreign countries during their off-seasons

Peak tourist seasons in Europe are late spring, summer, and a bit in the early fall. Going in the winter means great savings on airfares and hotels. Although you'll experience colder temperatures, the places you visit will also be far less crowded with tourists. 

Youth hostels stay open year-round and will save you even more!

Find travel inspiration with The best ideas for a gap year abroad.

3. Jobs on cruise ships

Once this COVID-19 mess is finally over, cruise lines will get back to business as usual. Summer is their peak season, and while this summer may be a blowout, many lines are already booking cruises for 2021.

Most cruise lines use employment agencies to fill their openings, and if you are not afraid of some unskilled labor-intensive jobs, you might just fit the bill — housekeeping, bussing and washing dishes, deck and pool cleaning, etc. 

Prepare for very long workdays, but you will have some time when the ship docks at various places along its way!

4. Jobs at resorts

Working at a resort is a great way to explore more of your own country on a budget. If you want to land a job at a resort, you'll have to be aggressive in your job search because these are very popular summer jobs for college students. 

If you can land a resort job in a different part of the country during each of your summer breaks, you can easily earn some spending for side trips on your days off.

5. Saving and budgeting for end-of semester jaunts

One major life skill that you need to begin to develop in college is budgeting. It will serve you well throughout your life. And getting control of your money and your money mindset can make travel actually happen. 

If you really want to travel, then you need to be willing to do the hard budgeting work to make it happen. This means far fewer pizza and beer nights with friends; it means cooking your own meals and shopping at discount stores or resale shops; it means riding a bicycle and using public transportation instead of driving a car.

We can usually find the money to do the things we are really motivated to do, so examine your level of motivation and start to become a real scrooge. When semester break comes along, you just may have the money for that trip.

6. Get a side gig for extra money

What salable skill or talent do you have? Can you repair computers? Are you a great writer? Can you tutor a certain subject? And, if not, how about cleaning dorm rooms or doing laundry? 

The reason gigs are better than a typical part-time job is two-fold. You can generally set your own hours of work, and you get paid in cash (my apologies to the IRS) — no taxes and social security payments coming out a paycheck. Stash that cash and enjoy a trip every so often.

For ways to make money while traveling, check out this blog!

7. Travel cheap with a purpose

If you have an interest in improving the world, there are a lot of international organizations looking for volunteers in underdeveloped nations. Consider taking a year off and becoming a volunteer. 

The benefits of volunteering are huge. First, you are serving a cause that is close to your heart; second, you are experiencing other cultures; third, it's a great way to include (and leverage) travel on your resume.

If you're looking to make a difference in the lives of others around the world, you can bet that Worldpackers has got you covered! Worldpackers supports educational, social, and environmental work in foreign countries. What better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to live like a local while helping a good cause? 

Worldpackers exchange programs offer a wide array of volunteer activities that you can exchange for accommodation and meals. You can browse through the list of experiences by country, host type, skills needed, length of stay, and trip style to find a volunteer program that suits your skills best.

With work exchange, social impact, and eco-programs available in over 100 countries, it may be difficult to select just one!

Your experience as a volunteer will be far different from that of a tourist, but the rewards will be great, as you will more immersed in local culture. 

8. Going the traditional route

There are student exchange programs and even internships, of course. But be mindful that, while these will give you amazing experiences, they can end up being very competitive and costly — even with partial grants. 

If you choose to go this route, do lots of research on all of the available programs before you sign on the dotted line!

How to travel the world while in college

In the end..

Life becomes busy and full of responsibility once college ends. There's no other time in your life that you will be this young, this free and flexible, and this willing to take some risk.

Don't let the opportunity to travel pass you by — use these eight tips and get out there!

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