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How to Travel the World on a College Budget

How to Travel the World on a College Budget

Traveling is a great way to keep yourself going during the hard grueling semester’s work. But having the money to finance your travelling desires is truly the only thing in your way from dropping everything and leaving! Here are a list of very helpful, uncommon tips that will help you get away much faster on a college budget.

Ways to fund travel

Credit Cards

Using credit cards to travel overseas can be very risky; especially if you do not have the means and a solid plan to pay back the expenses that you will incur. The good thing about using a credit card to help you travel overseas is that some of them (please do your research before applying to any credit card company) come with currency exchange, so when you arrive in a new country it will exchange your currency for you rather than you having to go through the trouble of doing it yourself. You can also go to a neighboring country that uses the same currency, but has a better exchange rate, so you get more of their money for less of yours (keep that in mind)!

When using a credit card to travel out of the country, make sure that it can be used worldwide (check with the issuer). You could also look into a student credit card, which sometimes have better benefits for college students.

Just keep in mind that being irresponsible with credit cards will put you further into debt than the student loans you might be using for your education.

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Being financially literate will help you save money

Check with your bank to see what the ATM fees and debit/credit card usage policies are overseas. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and won’t feel blindsided if you come home owing a lot more money than you originally anticipated. Look into as many possible avenues as you can in regards to worldwide credit cards, student credit cards (that can be used worldwide), and programs such as the two below that can help you save money.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The ISIC gives you access to student discounts on flights, museums, and attractions. You can save much more money by investing in this card rather than not. It doesn’t make anything free for you, but it does make certain things more affordable with the discounts that it gives you access to. You can visit their website for further information.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

By becoming a part of WWOOF you’ll have access to jobs across the world, and will be accommodated on your journey to a certain extent. For all intents and purposes, at least WWOOF provides a place for you to stay. It is essentially like volunteer work. You do not get paid to help on the farm, but room and board are provided. Each membership costs $30 USD per year and needs to be renewed annually. You can read more from their FAQ at their website.

Where Should You Stay?

Hostel instead of a Hotel

Hostels are much cheaper and they can be found in various locations. There are hostels outside of the cities you’re visiting so it’s more cost-efficient, and hostels that are within the city limits which rival hotels. Most hotels are inside city limits and the prices are higher because of that reason. The important things to remember with hostels are as follows:

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  • Hostels may charge for using their laptops/tablets/computers–so make sure you bring your own.
  • Drinks are cheaper at your own hostel
  • Use services like www.hostelworld.com or www.hostelbookers.com to find your hostel destination.
  • Never tell your hostel when you’ll be arriving. If you arrive late they will give up your room and you won’t be able to get your deposit returned to you.
  • Always bring a padlock (or two).

Getting There: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

How to get there is important, every bit as important as keeping money in your wallet. Stay frugal, open-minded and choose your means wisely. Search for flights on lesser-known airlines. When you get to your destination, say if you’re going to a place such as Europe with a great train system, take the trains.

What to do when you get there

Follow the Deals

When you’re traveling with only your college budget in mind and not so much your destination, it makes it easier to stick to following the deals.

Your best bet is to schedule your trips outside of major tourists’ months, when the prices drop. If you get off the main streets and avoid the major attractions, you’re sure to find cheaper prices and more of an authentic “local” experience.

Buy food in bulk and cook for yourself, if possible

This will lower the expenses on buying food at restaurants by a great deal! If you’re staying at a hostel, most of them provide kitchens for this reason alone.

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Talk on FaceTime and stay on Wi-Fi instead of using your minutes overseas

Overseas plans for each carrier are different, so you definitely want to check with your phone provider before leaving the country. Otherwise you may come home to a bunch of phone bills you weren’t expecting.

Search local tipping laws before you hand out extra cash to your bartender/waiter

It’s commonplace here in the states to tip a minimum of 15%, but that same rule doesn’t apply in most places overseas. As long as you look it up and find out for certain, you won’t feel bad leaving without tipping at all or as much as you normally would.

Look for free opportunities

Instead of looking for that club to go out to, or spending money at museums or galleries, you can save yourself money by going swimming in the ocean for free, read a book on a beach for free, or find the parks in the area and spend your day there. You can also hide away in a historic library

Packing: How to cut down on cost

Packing light is your best bet. You can avoid fees for extra bags this way and, if you’re backpacking, you won’t kill yourself with all the additional, unnecessary baggage.

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Packing light is also beneficial because you’ll be able to chase down and catch that bus rather than stand around waiting for a taxi. Pack lightweight, wrinkle-free or wash-and-wear pants, shirts, and travel jackets so that you can roll them up and save space. If you’re going for studies overseas then don’t take the hardcover books, find the paperback or electronic version.

Staying for an extended period of time?

Find local work to help immerse yourself in the culture and earn some extra money. If you go WWOOFing then you won’t be paid for working on the farm, but you may have access to other working opportunities in the area. If you do both you’ll get the exposure to two different working lifestyles overseas, additional language exposure, and you’ll have an asset that’ll help you stay financially afloat while you’re there.

Getting around overseas

You are better off renting a bike than paying for a tour

You can lose yourself in the city and learn so much more about it rather than having to pay out of pocket to be guided around to all of the major sights to see.

Be sure that you’re using public transportation instead of taxis

Taxis are great conveniences and luxuries at times, but the wallet doesn’t like them that much. Public transportation is pretty well developed in the other countries, especially Europe, the UK and major Asian countries.

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Jessica Millis

An experienced writer, editor and educator who shares about tips on effective learning.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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