Traveling is one of the most exhilarating experiences in life, and for many college students it’s almost a rite of passage. The stereotype of the young American traveling around Europe for the summer with a large backpack is a stereotype for a reason. College is the perfect time to travel when you’re not tied down to work, family, or other obligations. On the other hand, in our uncertain world with uncertain job prospects and uncertain futures, today’s students are increasingly trying to travel in a more frugal way. Here are some tips for having a grand backpacking adventure on the cheap.

Plan Ahead and Do Your Research

Doing research on the place you’re headed to is imperative for any traveler. You need to know the language if that’s a barrier, and you’ll want to know a little about the culture. There are also a myriad of websites with information about traveling to specific locations that can help. Guidebooks are an invaluable resource, and completely free if you use your library! Read the experiences of other travelers: only they can tell the coolest cheap cafes and how to purchase train tickets for the best price. Compare shop for different events and lodging to see how you can get a better price. Riding the bus around town will probably be a lot better than taking taxis and will probably be safer in the long run.

Fly Carry-On Only

Although it might be tempting to bring all your clothes plus the kitchen sink with you, it really is best to pack light when possible. Flying carry-on only can save a lot of money (and time) by not paying extra baggage fees. You’ll likely be happy you didn’t choose to drag around a large suitcase with you! You can also find cheap ways to wash clothing at hostels and in cities if you need to have more pairs than you packed.

Shop at Local Grocery Stores

Shopping at grocery stores in foreign countries can be a fun and interesting experience, and is a great way to be frugal by not eating out for every meal. Buy local cheese, fruit, bread, and have yourself a picnic. Challenge yourself by learning to cook some of the local foods with other travelers. Street food is also great for eating cheaply!

Use Your Hostel’s Resources and Network with Other Travelers

Whether you want to go barhopping or on a guided trip into the mountains, talk to the people who run your hostel. They can often hook you up with deals for clubs, bus tours, bike rentals, and all sorts of traveler-friendly accommodations. Additionally, talk to other travelers and see where they’re going/eating/staying for more money-saving and fun.

Be Flexible

Allow yourself to be open to all kinds of options and don’t be afraid to change your plans if need be. Traveling is about experiencing new things so don’t restrict yourself and you’re more likely to save money on your trip.

Traveling can be very expensive, but doesn’t have to be. Use these tips to help plan an amazing adventure abroad that even a college student can afford.

About the Author:

Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.