The abundance of cancelled classes has made the beginning of the semester fly by and somehow, spring break is less than two weeks away. Midterms are the only thing standing in our way of a week off somewhere, hopefully, more exciting than Storrs. If you have a trip planned but are worried about spending too much money while away, read on for tips to travel frugally. Even if you don’t have a vacation planned, these tips may help you realize that one can be within your reach.
Going out for every meal is expensive. Save money by staying in. If your accommodations have a kitchen, you can cook some of your meals or store leftovers from eating out in the fridge. You may think that cooking will prevent you from tasting local cuisine. However, cooking will plunge you in your destination’s culture as you navigate a local grocery store. When I was studying abroad in London, the first few times I went to buy food was a lot of fun. Everything was different. I learned so much about England, from what their popular brands of food are to realizing that they don’t refrigerate their eggs. I was able to try new foods while saving money at the same time. You can also save money by not buying drinks. Pick up a reusable water bottle while you’re shopping, if your location has safe water to drink. Sightseeing all day will make you thirsty and you won’t want to waste money on bottled water.
Feeling brave? Skip the hotel or hostel and stay with locals. Services such as Couchsurf allow travelers to stay with random strangers, free of charge. Personally, I would be weary about staying with strangers but I think the concept is excellent. This is a great opportunity to save money while experiencing life with locals at the same time. What better way to learn about a place than by living directly with its people? You will become immersed in the culture immediately. Learning a new language? Your hosts can also be your teachers. Additionally, they can point you in the right direction regarding things to do and places to see. Who knows? Maybe they will take it upon themselves to show you around their country. You could have your own personal tour guide. Camping is also an alternative to a cheaper trip, providing the weather is warm. Campsite fees are significantly cheaper than a hotel. There are campsites all over the country. You don’t even have to leave your home state. It is a great way to explore nature and be outside. After a weekend in the woods, making campfires and sleeping under the stars, devoid of laptops and TVs, you’ll feel like you truly took a vacation.
You may not like the picture on your UConn ID card, taken during a rainy orientation session, but you’ll appreciate all the discounts it will help you obtain while traveling in the United States. Museums can offer huge savings. For example, students can get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for only $12 with their ID. Adult tickets are $25. Be sure to ask when buying tickets for anything, whether a museum, walking tour, or a show, if a student discount can be applied. You can also buy into a student discount program, such as the Student Advantage Card from Amtrak and Greyhound, offering a 10 percent discount on train fares and a 20 percent discount on bus tickets. By buying the International Student Identity Card, you can get discounts abroad and in the United States. Researching the details of possible discounts will save you a lot of money so you can do even more while traveling.
These are only a few suggestions of how to save money. There are so many other ways to save if you are creative and willing to forgo unnecessary luxuries. Much more will then become attainable. Even when traveling on a budget, you can still experience the culture of your destination. Your wallet doesn’t have to be empty in order for you to have an amazing trip.