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How to Travel on a Student Budget Like a Pro

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Are you looking to travel on a student budget but aren’t sure how, yet you see all these IG influencers do it? Especially since the pandemic, a rise in the number of online students has increased opportunities to travel. Nonetheless, traveling on a student budget can seem like a daunting task, but with the right planning and resources, it’s possible to have an unforgettable experience without breaking the bank. 

In this guide, I’ll show you a ton of tips and tricks with pointers on how to get around, where to stay or eat, and enjoy life-changing adventures.

Traveling on a Student Budget

You have the flexibility, but are missing the cash – are you still supposed to just stick to Ramen & Co? I don’t think so! As a long-time student I’ve learned that the key is to go about it the right way. Whether you’re planning a road trip, backpacking adventure, or international excursion, these tips will help you. 

Want to go on a solo trip but have too much anxiety surrounding it? Check out my guide for solo travel anxiety!

How To Budget as a Student

The first step in student budget travel is, of course, making a budget – how else would you know how much you can spend without ending up homeless when you get back? Generally, budgeting involves creating a plan for your income and expenses and sticking to it. 

Here are the steps to budget as a student:Graduate student travel budget blog graphic

  • Calculate your income – First step is to determine how much money you make each month (part-time job, financial aid, scholarships, spicy accounting, and literally everything)
  • Track your expenses – the most tedious part is to track your expenses. Start with your constant ones that rarely change, then move onto the variable ones like food
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Car payments/parking tickets/bus tickets
    • Insurances 
  • Categorize your spending – Get a better overview by dividing your spending into categories such as:
    • Housing
    • Transportation
    • Food
    • Entertainment
  • Set financial goals – This will help you stay on top of your budget with something to work towards, here are some must-have financial goals:
    • Personal ones like buying a car
    • Traveling
      • Monthly road trips
      • International trips 
      • Cruises

Try to stay as flexible as possible within your budget as that will help you actually stick to it. 

List of Ways to Track Your Budget

There’s countless ways to track your budget and it’ll take some trial and error to find something that works for you.

Here are some of my favorite ways (and well, popular ones):

5 Helpful Student Budget Apps to Help You Travel on a Budget

There’s countless apps to track your budget, however, I’ve liked these ones the most and use Mint religiously. 

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Travel Budget Apps

If you’re also looking for an app specifically for travel related budgeting, consider TravelSpend: Travel Budget App. So far, this has been my favorite tool compared to all the other ones. 

Sure, you can stick to your normal budget app, however, for me it’s been easier to keep them separate and add it at the very end to my normal budget app as one expense. 

Get First Dibs on Travel Deals

Getting first dibs on travel deals is going to be another no-brainer once you’ve learned about it. Many of the cheap travel deals happen because of:

  • Dramatic price drops
  • Last minute deals
  • Mistake fares

This may require a little more work on your end to stay on top of things, however, it’s definitely rewarding. 

Where to find Travel Deals For Flights

Have you thought about traveling to Puerto Rico? It’s very affordable! Check the Top 10 Hidden Gems to See in San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Here Are The Best Travel Deal Newsletters to Subscribe ToGraduate student travel budget the least amount of money but the most amount of time blog graphic

Sure, there’s a ton and every traveler will have their personal favorite – however, these seem to be the most popular ones when it comes to newsletters,

Subscribe to my favorite travel deals websites here:

  • Scott’s Cheap Flights: Scott’s Cheap Flights is a popular newsletter that sends out flight deals, error fairs, and last minute deals to subscribers. They offer both free and premium versions of their newsletter.
  • The Flight Deal: The Flight Deal is another popular newsletter that sends out flight deals from the United States to destinations around the world.
  • Secret Flying: Secret Flying is a newsletter that sends out flight deals from all around the world. They also offer a section for error fares, which are flights that are significantly cheaper than they should be due to an error in pricing.
  • Airfarewatchdog: Airfarewatchdog is a newsletter that sends out flight deals from all airlines, including budget airlines. They also offer hotel deals and other travel tips.
  • Travelzoo: Travelzoo is a newsletter that sends out travel deals on flights, hotels, cruises, and more. They also offer a Top 20 newsletter that features the best deals of the week.

When to Travel 

When you travel will make a major difference in how much you’ll pay in either acommodation or flight.

For example, the cheapest flights to Europe will usually be around major American Holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Memorial day, while at the same time in-lands flights will be the most expensive around that time. 

If you find yourself in NYC and are looking for some study spots on the upper east side, check these super cute coffee shops out!

Take Advantage of Travel Rewards

While most individuals have learnt to get credit cards with cash back, travel incentives aren’t even on the radar for a lot of students and other people when planning a trip. But what if I told you that you are leaving miles and money on the table because you don’t have the correct cards? 

These are a few of my go-tos for always having with me (some have quite pricey yearly fees, so frequent travelers only).

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

If you love to travel and want to earn rewards for your spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve are both excellent credit card options. However, they differ in their benefits:

Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • $95 annual fee
  • Sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 2x points on travel and dining
  • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

scrapbooking ink flower blog travelChase Sapphire Reserve:

  • $650 annual fee
  • Sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Airport lounge access
  • 3x points on travel and dining
  • 1x point on all other purchases
  • Points worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Personally, I have the more expensive Chasse Sapphire Reserve and if you travel a lot, it’s so worth it. The amount of money I save just by being able to collect a higher emount of miles and transferring them to partners is astonishing. 

Amex Platinum

The amex platinum is another one of my favorite credit cards, despite the high annual fee of $695 – check the benefits here: 

  • Earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com
  • Earn 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
  • $200 annual airline fee credit for incidental charges like baggage fees and in-flight refreshments
  • $200 annual Uber credit ($15 per month and an additional $20 in December) for U.S. rides and Uber Eats orders
  • Access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide through the Global Lounge Collection, including Priority Pass Select, Centurion Lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs (enrollment required)
  • Up to $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees
  • Hotel elite status at Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts program benefits, including room upgrades, late check-out, and daily breakfast for two
  • Concierge services for travel, dining, and entertainment reservations
  • Exclusive access to events and experiences through the American Express Experiences program
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Personalized travel planning services through the Platinum Travel Service
  • Comprehensive travel insurance and roadside assistance

As you can see, the American Express Platinum card offers a wide range of perks and benefits, making it an excellent choice for frequent travelers who want to make the most of their spending.

Have you considered visiting Guatemala? It’s very affordable and just beautiful! Check my Antigua, Guatemala Guide here!

Chase Business Ink

This gem is one of the business cards that will give you back SO much more than you think – especially as they often offer 0% interest rate for the first year. 

  • No annual fee for the first year, and a reasonable annual fee after that ($95)
  • Earn travel miles for every dollar spent with the Chase Business Ink card
  • Redeem travel miles to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and more
  • Save money on personal and business travel expenses
  • Travel insurance, lounge access, and concierge services included
  • Accumulate miles quickly and easily by using the Chase Business Ink card for everyday expenses
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud protection and purchase protection included
  • Access to exclusive events and experiences
  • Free employee cards with customizable spending limits
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as the account remains open and in good standing

Overall, the Chase Business Ink rewards program offers a wide range of benefits for business owners who want to save money on travel and earn rewards for everyday expenses. 

Best part: If you snack the sign-up bonus (click here!) you can easily transfer it to your other chase sapphire card!

Money will come back but time won't student budget travel blog graphicFinal Thoughts on How to Travel On a Student Budget

Traveling on a student budget can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By following the tips and tricks mentioned in this article, such as booking in advance, traveling off-season, and being flexible with your itinerary, taking advantage of travel credit cards and miles – you can explore new places and create unforgettable memories without breaking the bank. 

Plus, with budget accommodations and loyalty programs, you can save even more money without sacrificing comfort or style. So don’t let your budget hold you back from seeing the world – embrace the challenge and get creative with your travel plans. With a bit of determination and a whole lot of wanderlust, you can create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.





P.S. Love going on vacation but it’s super stressful? Check out How To Self-Care While Traveling: Tips For Stress-Free Travel.

I may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay, it helps me keep the blog up :) Listed prices are accurate as of time of publication.

Anna is a traveler, blogger, and entrepreneur who can’t keep herself still. She’s always on the move, whether working hard on a new passion project or exploring a new city as a part-time digital nomad. Dare to keep up? Check out The Tatted Nomad for everything digital nomad, social media marketing, mental health, and travel (and to see her latest addition, Novah, her service dog and travel companion). As a psychotherapist (to be) she also offers insights about your mental health related questions – anything you see that isn’t covered but you have questions about? Let her know!

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