How many of you believe it’s just too expensive to travel while still in college?
I bet a large majority of you would raise your hands. This widespread agreement is likely due to many current (and past) college students suffering from financially-crippling amounts of student loan debt.
This results from the way we look at debt. If we choose to let it take over, it will. But there are ways to learn to live with it, while still enjoying life – as it should be enjoyed in our younger years.
As Adrian Harper, a recent college graduate and young business owner, stated in this interview:
I needed to manage my life the way I managed my business…If I could save a dollar here and a dollar there for my company, I should also do that for myself.
These words are inspiring for any recent college graduate, and this same mindset can be applied when travelling with the baggage of student loans. It reinforces the fact that you can travel with debt.
Many of us have found opportunities to travel while still making the necessary monthly payments; you just need to strategize your trips. In fact, in spite of my own student loan debts, I travel and tour with my band – Stepbrothers – every few months.
Thus, it can be done – but how? I’ll tell you. Here are four cost-efficient ways to help you travel, regardless of your financial status.
1. Travel Economically
Most of us can agree on the importance of living frugally. Yet, many of us never think to apply this to our travels. It is important to find frugal opportunities to travel. This may include utilizing travel points, such as airfare miles, to gain low-cost travel opportunities; or even scouring the internet to find coupons, or time-sensitive discounts. Applying this ethic towards planning your trips can earn you significant payoffs in savings.
Be Flexible with your Travel Dates
Often times, there are certain dates throughout a year where airfare and accommodations are significantly cheaper than others. If you’re traveling just for the hell of it, then it is possible to save hundreds of dollars on your trip by simply clicking around a few dates and comparing prices.
Take Advantage of Existing or New Memberships
In today’s world, many businesses and services offer tons of rewards for their customers. Look into the services you are currently using to find membership discount opportunities. Credit card companies or stores like Costco generally offer all sorts of cheap travel opportunities for their customers.
2. Live on a Budget (But Don’t Short Yourself)
Most of us already live on a budget. But many people’s thought process behind living frugally is to simply cut everything out of their lives. This can lead to a depressing and unhealthy lifestyle. Don’t gamble your lifelong happiness away for the opportunity to save money now.
Instead, find opportunities to save, while living the way you want to. Doing so can open opportunities for you to not only continue your student loan payments, but to set aside what I call a “Get me the hell out of town” fund – allowing you to have the necessary funds to travel at the drop of a dime.
Plan your Spending
This can boil down to many aspects of our adult lives and involves a great deal of planning. For instance, when creating a grocery list, write down only exactly what you need until payday. This can go for nearly all of our spending. Don’t shop blindly. Know exactly what you need, and buy only that.
Did you see a shirt you absolutely must have? Great! Now you have something to save towards for next payday.
3. Group Your Student Loans into Your Normal Bills
For those new to the student loan world, this can be hard to grasp. But much like rent, car payments, and insurance, a student loan is just another bill. Accepting this with a positive mindset significantly reduces the fear associated with student loan debt. While it is important to be responsible with these bills, don’t put your entire 20s on hold in order to pay them off.
Student loan payments exist for one main reason: so that individuals have the ability to chip away at them over time. They don’t exist to completely hinder our ability to enjoy our life.
You just graduated! Live a little!
Learn How to Budget Bills
While this may be easier said than done, it can be done. For example, I know exactly how much money I need each month to cover all my bills way ahead of time. This allows me to break down how much money I have left to spend.
From there, I decide how much I can allow myself to spend on fun each day, and put the rest (generally around 10% of each pay check) into savings. I then use these savings to travel and enjoy myself.
4. Find a Side Job
Finding a side job can really benefit our ability to travel, and the best part is that, in today’s world, young people have the ability to offer our skills on our own terms. Skill-based opportunities are becoming increasingly sought-after, and many of these opportunities hold the ability to travel within them!
Thus, having a side job is a fantastic opportunity for us to save, in order to travel and tackle our student loans. If you were already surviving with your current job, then a second job will, in theory, generate large amounts of money that you won’t have to put towards bills – although it is wise to use a bit of this extra cash towards your student loan payments.
Utilize Your Skills
If you have a hobby, why not get paid for it? Are you a photographer? Do you love to write? There is always a need for wedding photographers, or travel bloggers – and honestly, these are great gigs to have.
A good friend of mine is a travel blogger who literally gets paid to travel – writing reviews of local businesses in the area. While this may be a rare opportunity, these options do exist. You only need to find it.
In short, it’s possible to travel while paying off student loans. It’s just a matter of planning ahead of time, and being wise with the way you spend and save money. In the words of the great Shia LaBeouf:
“Don’t let your dreams be dreams”.