How to travel and not break the bank! (Advice from a student traveler)

You are a student. You are on a budget. And you want to see the world!

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But it seems impossible because everything is so darn expensive. Fear not; here are some fantastic tips to help you travel frugally and to stretch your dollar.

1) Get a backpackers backpack!

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Why you say?

a) Save on costs: Most airlines, trains and bus companies now only accept 1 piece of luggage (23 kg max) + handbag/smaller backpack (7 kg max). If you take more, you may have to pay for “extra baggage allowance”. So, get a backpack or be stuck with a $150 bill before you board.

b) Comfort & convenience: Carrying a piece of luggage (with wheels) on Italian cobblestone streets is not a good idea. You may trip or fall and injure yourself – thus additional costs. So, get a backpack. Plus, it’s easy to carry it around and you have your hands free to do additional things (such as eating a gelato whilst being lost in a land where no one speaks your language)

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2) Let’s address transportation!

Transportation is the one thing that is going to cost you heaps unless you plan it right.

a) Flights: Book in advance. That is the cheapest trick. However, usewww.kayak.com to compare several airlines & their prices across tons of Internet intermediaries and get the best deal. More so, kayak.com offers “Price Alerts” which tells you if the price for the date you are looking at, has gone up or down. You can set up price alert for the dates that suit you, and then observe the price for few days. Once it comes down, nab the best deal! I’ve saved so much using this tool of theirs. At least $500 by now. Lastly, kayak does not list all of the airlines on their website. So, for the list of low-cost regional airlines, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_low-cost_airlines and then go on the particular airline’s website to see the prices and to book. And then, away you go midst the clouds…

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b) Other essential modes: Trains, buses and ferries are a great alternative to flights and in most cases, much much cheaper. Flights make sense for long-haul travel but you don’t really need to fly from Gaborone, Botswana to Johannesburg, South Africa for $112. You can take a 6-hour scenic bus ride for $32 only. So make an effort to Google trains, buses & ferries. Use Lonely Planet and Trip Advisorto find info and ask questions to fellow travellers and locals if necessary. Plus, do look into discounts. Most of the trains, buses & ferries offer discounts to backpackers/students/seniors and more. There are also long term passes you can get which will help you save heaps such as EU-Rail Pass in Europe, Greyhound bus pass in Australia and more. Make an effort to look into these as well.

c) Taxis & local transit: Only take taxis if public transportation is a nightmare. Most places have a structured public transportation system. So get acquainted with it as soon as you can you can. Use our lovely friend GOOGLE to your advantage 🙂

3) Accommodation:

Travelling is all about meeting new people and creating memories to look back and be proud of. Sitting alone in a hotel room is a sob story. Book a hostel instead. Why?

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a) Mix and mingle: You get to meet interesting people from all over the world. You exchange your experiences, go out in groups (safety check), explore places with other people and accrue tons of Facebook friends. But hostels indeed have an amazing culture that is contagious and you’ll leave feeling enriched in so many ways.

b) Save on MULA: Want to save on money? Stay at hostels. You get a bed & locker space for sure, and breakfast & wi-fi in most cases. The cheapest hostel I ever stayed at was in Windhoek, Namibia for $10 a night and the most expensive hostel I stayed at was in Lancelin, WA (Australia) for $33 a night. Point: Hostels are much cheaper than staying at a motel or a hotel. Plus, hostels usually team up with local suppliers to provide tourism products at an even cheaper rate because of a large interest. So, if you want to save on money and tourist activities, book yourself a hostel!

My personal trick to get the cheapest rate at a hostel: Look up hostels using www.hostels.com, www.hostelworld.com andwww.hostelbookers.com. Find the one whose amenities, price and location I like. Then, go on google to search for that hostel’s website and book it directly from them. The sites listed above are intermediaries and usually are a dollar or two more expensive than the direct pricing. It may not seem much but if you are backpacking for 30 days, you can save $30-$60 by booking directly. What does this mean? A steak dinner at a posh restaurant or up to 6 snorkelling trips around Gili Islands in Indonesia or a ticket to go see Russell Peters perform at an arena. The little frugal tricks do count! Don’t be afraid to look after your wallet 🙂

4) Food

Local food is one of the essential things to try when travelling, but most of us end up at the touristy restaurants where we find comfort of home such as Mac and Cheese. Break the mould and head to a local night market or to a food truck or a food stall by the road. Taste the local flavors, made by locals with love and care. You will end up spending fraction of the money and have an authentic experience. However, do exercise caution. Go where the locals go. And it’s best to be embarrassing in a foreign place, so try away some new things 🙂

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5) ISIC discount card

Many places around the world offer discount via ISIC card – up to 30% or more. So before you go travelling, visit http://trusu.ca/section/27if you are a TRU student. You’ll end up saving huge amounts. Did you know that with an ISIC card in Canada, you can save 30% on Greyhound, 25% on Via Rail, and 4% on WestJet flights? So do consider signing up for ISIC card before you go.

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These are just few fun tips, which will help you see it all without breaking the bank exponentially. So travel light and travel smart 🙂

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Written By: Sarbjit Gill (Tourism Management Student at TRU & Study Abroad Ambassador 2013-2014). Countries lived in: Canada, India, Botswana and Australia. Other countries travelled to: UK, USA, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Thailand and Indonesia. Favourite saying: “Pack a bag and get outta here”.

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