Many college students are advised to travel at some point during their undergraduate career. Whether it be a study abroad program, a community service trip, or a vacation with close friends, I believe that traveling in any capacity can broaden your perspective and teach you things that you may not get the chance to experience during your time at school. At an age when many of us don’t have our lives quite figured out yet, the experiences I’ve had traveling have provided me opportunities to gain confidence and independence, learn self-reflection, and ultimately be more aware of what is going on in the world around me. Unfortunately, travel is sometimes difficult for students due to limited budgets, busy schedules, or other circumstances, but it is definitely still possible! Here are some tips and advice about traveling as a student that I’ve picked up in my travels thus far:
- Take advantage of study abroad programs and educational opportunities abroad.
I urge any student to look into what their school’s study abroad programs have to offer. These trips are designed for students and are many times more cost effective or easier to schedule while you’re going to school. If a whole semester is difficult to commit to for scheduling or money reasons, consider programs that run during school breaks. Last May I went on a 3 week study abroad trip to South Africa and it was cheaper than going for a semester as well as allowing me to work around the classes that I’m required to take. In addition to college-run programs, there are plenty of reputable third party organizations that run trips geared towards students. Consider trips that may be helpful in advancing your career or education as well. For spring break this semester I went on an alternative break trip to Roatán, Honduras through an organization called World Vets. Being a pre-veterinary student, I was able to volunteer under the supervision of a veterinarian at a wildlife rehabilitation facility to gain skills and experiences with exotic animals that I would not have had the chance to otherwise. This semester I also took a shorter and more inexpensive trip with my sorority to a leadership conference in Nashville, TN where we got to work on our networking, leadership, and professional development skills. Trips like these are more structured and can provide opportunities that a student may not be able to participate in on their own.
- Plan ahead in order to save money and time.
If you’re on a budget, research options for the different aspects of your trip ahead of time. This gives you ample opportunity to explore all of the options and see what would work the best for you. Booking flights or hotels early is often cheaper than waiting until the last minute. Also try looking into alternatives to popular destinations that may be cheaper or traveling domestically instead of internationally. In addition, alternative break volunteer trips are a great way to not only travel on a budget but give back to the community. Ultimately, planning ahead will definitely ensure you’re prepared, but don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and flexible with some parts of your trip!
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone and keep an open mind.
When you’re at home or school you’re generally in your comfort zone, but travel is an opportunity to try new things and gain a broader perspective. Trying new foods, new activities, or meeting new people on your trip can be exciting and help you discover things about yourself. Traveling with friends is also really fun, but I’ve had an amazing time on trips where I didn’t know anyone and was forced to meet new people from many different places. The cultural differences you encounter on your trip may surprise you, but being exposed to different ways of life other than my own has pushed me to be more open minded.
- Commemorate your experiences!
After your travels you’ll likely have memories that you’ll want to cherish. Many people bring home souvenirs, which I would definitely recommend, but my favorite way to remember my travels is to take lots of pictures and to keep a travel journal. Pictures are a great visual representation of your trip that you can also share with others. Journaling, on the other hand, gives you a chance to personally reflect and have a record of your experience from your own perspective that you can refer back to.
Some of the best memories I have from college are from my travels, and I would encourage any student to step outside of their comfort zone and explore what the world has to offer.