Don’t fear travel as a broke student

By Kimberly Ngoh, Columnist

A week in the life of a hypothetical University student would probably include 15 or more hours of class, with a similar amount of time spent on studying, part-time work and extracurricular activities or volunteering — all of which exclude commuting, cleaning and cooking. When a break presents itself, it can be tempting to just hibernate. Instead of admitting they slept all week, it’s more likely students will respond with “nothing” when asked about what they did during break.

As broke college students, it is easy to reject the idea of traveling, what with the lack of time and money. However, with careful planning, the opportunity to experience what you normally only get to see in the media is achievable.

Instead of lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram to see pictures of sunny beaches or picturesque northern lights, you could be the one in the photo or behind the camera. Let’s not forget that now, more than ever, is an optimal time to fulfill wanderlust, because there are minimal responsibilities to follow you (unless your professor cruelly schedules a midterm the Monday after break).

These adventures don’t have to be all the way in Madrid or Los Angeles; they could be during a road trip with friends to the nearest state park to hike or a city six hours south. Traveling isn’t as impossible as you may have previously thought.

Looking at the academic calendar in advance to determine when you can get away is key to helping secure cheap flight tickets. Constantly checking flights is not required — you can set up alerts or alternate with friends. Housing shouldn’t be a problem as student hostels and Airbnbs are all over the place now, too, most of which are considerate of a typical college student’s budget. Additionally, Uber, Google Maps and Google search help to figure out public transportation or the easiest way to get from point A to point B.

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On the other hand, plans with friends don’t always work out, but that should not equate to a sleepy break. Don’t be afraid to solo travel; it can be rewarding when you get to call all the shots. From when to wake up to where to go and what to eat, you’re your own boss. You don’t need to compromise on meal choices, nor do you have to give up going to the art museum because your friend finds it “boring.”

The benefits don’t end there; you could end up meeting people you otherwise would not have if your friends had been around to distract you. But of course, it can be daunting. What if you get lonely? What if you get lost? Again, that’s where careful planning plays a part.

The growing number of millennials documenting their passion for travel can readily provide you with information, from the right lodging to specific packing lists to the best time to score yourself cheap flight tickets. You may even find a video on how one makes friends while traveling.

Since traveling is hopefully in your future, you could soon be adding to these resources, too.

Kimberly is a junior in Engineering.

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