Summer is an ideal time to travel as a college student—school is out, and your responsibilities and obligations are far fewer in number. But, you might find that your budget is holding you back from taking that trip you’ve been dreaming about since the start of spring semester. Whether you’re daydreaming about traveling domestically or hopping the pond for an international adventure, there are shortcuts and secrets for stretching your budget to make it happen.


Use multiple travel websites.
You might think one travel website is giving you a good deal, but after you book, you might see that same flight for cheaper somewhere else. Before you book, check as many travel booking engines as you possibly can. Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline are all good places to start when looking for airfare and hotels.

If you’re a Chrome user, use the incognito browser when you search for plane tickets. Some airline ticket sites might up their prices if you visit them multiple times, but they can’t if they don’t recognize you.

Change your departure airport.

If you find that the prices leaving your closest airport are a bit inflated, try moving your departure location to a different airport. You may have to travel a bit further to get to another airport, but prices can vary drastically when you are coming and going from various airports. Some European or international airlines might fly into one airport and not the other, so changing your departure airport might open up prices for these other airlines as well.

Avoid traditional hotels.
Hotels are often on the more expensive end when it comes to lodging options. Whether you are staying domestic or going international, there are other options for cheaper lodging. Services like AirBnB and CouchSurfing allow you to crash with locals or rent out rooms or full apartments. Hostels are also a great option, especially when traveling abroad. These options are not only cheaper, but will help you meet new people while you travel.

Travel light.

Checked baggage often comes at a cost when traveling on airplanes. Some airlines charge upwards of $25-$50 per checked bag, while some others even charge for your carry-on items if they are larger than a specified size. Do thorough research on your chosen airline carrier, and try to pack lightly. If you can, take only a carry-on sized bag to avoid checked baggage fees.

Be flexible.
Sometimes airlines overbook flights, and will ask passengers at the gate to forfeit their seats for a later flight option. In exchange, the airline will offer a free upgrade, or even a travel voucher that you can use towards a future ticket purchase. These vouchers are often valid for at least a full year from date of issuance. If you can be more flexible with your travel plans, volunteer to give up your seat if prompted at the gate. You’ll be glad later when you get to take another trip for super cheap, or even free.

Bring a buddy.
Bringing a travel buddy can often help you cut the costs by splitting them with someone else. For example, if you are renting a car for a cross-country road trip, you can bring a friend to split the cost of the car, gas, lodging, and even food.

Hopefully with these tips, your budget might be feeling a bit more travel-friendly. For other suggestions, check out our article on How to Travel Abroad on a Budget.