guest post: KC Owens on budget travel tips for college students

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As much as I love towing a silver home on wheels on many of my adventures, sometimes I get nostalgic about the "backpacking days" of my younger days. My post on my minimal packing trip to Denmark inspired college student, KC Owens to email me about doing a guest post on his tips for traveling light. May I kindly introduce, KC Owens and his guest post:


How Budget Minded College Students Can Save Big Bucks on International Travel

College can be an incredibly stressful experience for students. Sometimes it seems like the assignments, studying and tests never stop. Enjoying yourself is essential if you're going to survive your time in school, but the lack of money enjoyed by most college students means that options are limited. Personally, I save money and make the most of my time with international travel on school breaks. Every chance I receive, I have adventures around the world without breaking the bank. Some people are amazed that I can afford to do this, but it's actually very easy. Here's a look at how I do it.

Items to Bring

When you're packing for extended trips to forgotten corners of the globe, it can be hard to choose what to bring and what to leave behind. The truth is that when you're living out of a backpack, you're going to have to rough it at least a little. Personally, I prefer to bring less stuff and enjoy the added mobility it gives me. There’s nothing worse than paying for extra baggage fees at the airport or train station so carrying one, small pack can save you some cash.

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You'll want to make sure you bring clothes appropriate to the climate or climates you'll be visiting. Good rain gear is essential if you're planning to hike or spend much time outdoors. Out of everything I pack, an ID wallet may be the most important. Thieves will have a harder time separating you from your passport, credit card and cash if you secure it inside a zipped fanny pack or pants pocket. I would recommend storing everything valuable in one of these and keeping it with you at all times. If you lose your passport, you can still get home by contacting the nearest embassy and explaining your situation; it may take a lot of paperwork, but you’ll get home.

Oswiecim, Poland

Paying for Your Travels

Traveling around the globe is bound to be expensive for anyone, let alone a college student. The fact is that while I might not have enough cash lying around to use on backpacking trips, I definitely have the option of borrowing to pay for travel. A travelers’ credit card makes this a breeze, and it's also safer than carrying cash because most pickpockets really only want cash and cameras. It’s also more convenient because it saves on currency exchanges when you’re moving from place to place.

However, not all cards are of equal value. Some cards are significantly more expensive than others, so it pays to do some research on student travel cards. These are designed for college-aged folks and they're not usually too strict when it comes to requirements. With this card in your pocket, you'll be free to concentrate on the experience of being in a strange land. You can pay back the costs over time later, when you'll have more time to work and pay off your bills. This is what I’ve done and it’s been great because I don’t need to wait until I have enough money up front.

View from Edinburgh Castle

Saving Money on Lodging

Accommodations can drain your budget quickly if you aren't careful about where you stay during your travels. To stretch my money as far as possible, I look for low-cost, high-value hostels in areas I'm considering. In fact, I use a phone app called Hostelworld to plan stays throughout my journey. It can be a real challenge finding affordable hostels in small cities, so it pays to start researching early. If you don't find one early enough, you could end up sleeping in a bus station (been there, done that).

There are a few qualities that make certain hostels preferable to others. The ability to check in 24 hours a day is essential because if you were to show up at late at night at a hostel without 24-hour check in, you'd be homeless for the night. Wi-Fi is another valuable option offered by more hostels nowadays. By connecting to the hostel's Wi-Fi signal through your laptop, you can update your social media profiles and send emails to friends and family to let them know how much fun you're having on your travels. Many hostels also offer student discounts so be sure to bring your ID to save some extra cash on food and drinks!

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

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