“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
As you daydream in microeconomics class, you look outside and see a plane whiz by, surrounded by blue sky. You imagine yourself on that plane, headed to Paris, London, Rwanda—anywhere besides this lifeless classroom. Tragically, the hole in your wallet slashes a hole in your daydream. The only money to your name is the 78 cents of change from dinner last night. That broke college student life should not stop you from pursuing priceless adventures around the world. Do not ignore that adventurous voice in your head.
Find out how to get cheap flights and explore the world around you.
The Internet = Your Best Friend
Find cheap flights for those long trips to Thailand using the one and only: the Internet. New York University junior Paula Zhang uses Google Flights, which shows the cheapest flights during a time period and the cheapest path to get there. “I like to use it because I can find good deals and compare several different flights from several different airlines,” said Zhang.
Also, sign up for email alerts from your favorite airlines. Yes, spam can clog up your inbox during the semester along with the other 101 unread emails. However, you may find an email with “Student Discount Fares” or maybe a promotion during your summer vacation.
You’ll also want to check out Student Universe, which promotes traveling. “The reason we think it is so important to have student discounts [is because] it’s very formative… in [students’ lives] to be exposed to different cultures,” said Danielle Dougan, Public Relations Manager at Student Universe. “Students who travel internationally are resourceful and become more able for employers,” she said. To find cheap trips, submit your student email to verify that you’re a student and scroll through over 88 airline options with student discounts. Along with flights, they offer tours and hotels too. What more could you ask for?
Beyond that, Maura McCarthy of North Carolina State Study Abroad said students and faculty use STA Travel to accommodate financial aid. “When we are advising our students, we would refer them to STA Travel worldwide adventure tours,” McCarthy said. “[STA allows students to] book a down payment… if [the student] wants to reserve a more reasonable flight.” Type in your start and end locations for the Start the Adventure database to scan thousands of flight fares and select the one that best fits your schedule and budget. At the homepage, you can scroll down to see where students all over the world are traveling and follow their footsteps. From Iceland to Japan, STA offers pre-made packages to several locations if you’re looking to get away on a budget.
Check out more web resources for students looking to jet out of town on a budget:
- HITLIST Flights: Hitlist’s straightforward design gets right to the point. Enter your start and end locations to find a cheap flight quickly. If you’re in a major time crunch, this sounds like the site for you. You can even click on a major airport near you to find the most popular flights from that location.
- Lonely Planet: Founded by a couple inspired by their transcontinental trip from London to Australia, Lonely Planet offers multimedia resources to explore your adventure while sitting in front of your computer screen. Why wander around aimlessly when you can check out their videos, travel blogs and suggested top sights?
However, keep in mind that the Internet has some setbacks when finding cheap prices. For instance, there’s this thing called cookies. “Delete cookies when you’re searching for flights because the more you search the same site the more the prices go up,” Zhang said. Yikes—who wants to pay more?
The Earlier, The Better
Whether you fly domestic or international, the prices skyrocket as the date of departure creeps closer and closer (pun intended). Planning ahead saves you from an empty bank account. According to basic economics, you can save a few hundred dollars by looking when flights are not in demand.
Don’t Forget About Scholarships
Scholarships don’t just cover tuition. Your study abroad office might offer scholarships. “[Scholarships from your study abroad office are] something a lot of people [probably] don’t look for,” said George Washington University junior Anna Guiseppe. But did you know she received a scholarship from her study abroad program for travel expenses? Reach out to your study abroad office if they have any scholarships for when you study abroad or for your summer travel plans. Oftentimes, your university partners with independent, nonprofit organizations to expand students’ abroad options. If your university does not offer scholarships for travel expenses, reach out to independent organizations.
Beyond that, CIEE, the U.S.’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad organization, offers grants covering flight fares to students studying abroad through its association. Students should apply to their study abroad program, and then apply separately for a grant. Senior Content Manager of CIEE Jennifer Morneau said, “[CIEE] provide[s] more than $5 million in scholarships each year, in order to help as many students as possible benefit from the life-changing experience of studying abroad.” Paris, Rome or Tokyo, here you come.