I recently returned from a five-day trip to New York City and spent under $400 (including airfare). According to CBS, NYC is the most expensive city in America, which means you can guess that spending under $400 was no easy task.
Traveling is expensive and being a college student on a budget is hard. With Christmas break just around the corner and summer break quickly approaching you may be wondering if you can actually afford to take a plane ride somewhere around America without completely emptying your savings account.
It is possible and here are some tips to help you save money when traveling:
1. Be smart when it comes to purchasing your tickets
The biggest chunk of your spending will most likely be your airfare. Some hacks to finding the cheapest flights include:
· Booking 49 days in advance (7 weeks) and on a Tuesday: this is known as the sweet spot for most airlines.
· Flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday and either very early or very late because most people don’t want to fly then.
· Following airlines on social media: before buying your ticket considering follow some airlines on social media to see if they offer any insider deals or promotions
Use flight comparison websites such as travelsupermarket, skyscanner and Google Flights and flight brokers such as Travelocity, Expedia, Goibibo and Opodo to find the best deals.
2. Stay with a friend
This will save you so much money in the long run. You would be surprised at just how willing a friend or an acquaintance would be to let you crash in their family room for a few days (3 days is the suggested length of stay). Just remember to keep your space clean and be a good houseguest.
This was the only way I could make my trip to NYC work. I was able to crash with a friend in her apartment that was only ten minutes from Time Square and it was a life saver!
3. Prioritize your spending
Sometimes paying $30 for a tourist attraction really isn’t worth it in the end. Sometimes buying a muffin to go with your coffee in the morning also isn’t worth it. It is up to you to decide what you choose to spend your money on.
When I went to NYC, I did not spend any money on tourist attractions but limited my spending to food, small gifts, and transportation.
Remember to also look for those free attractions and events happening in the area you are visiting.
4. Take public transportation
Taking public transportation will not only save on gas, rental car expenses, and time but it also is really fun to do! You don’t often take public transportation so why not try it out for a week or so?
5. Eat local
Often times when you eat local, you will be rewarded with better quality food and lower prices. Stay off the tourist path and find those hole in the walls.
6. Use cash
Not only will you save in additional fees but you are able to see your money in front of you which allows you to budget better.
Whether you are planning a trip to New York City or some other destination, remember that traveling on a college budget is possible. Happy travels!