The Case for Travelling as a Student

// Leya De Nil

Travelling is often touted as an unforgettable experience and you get told that those who do not travel are missing out, however the idea of travelling as a student is often overwhelming – from the amount of money it will cost, to the fear of finding yourself in the unknown.

The summer after first year was the first time that I had travelled without the safety blanket of a parent; the responsible adult that kept all your tickets together, that had a larger budget than any student, and had an itinerary that made it possible for me to just follow along. All of a sudden I was that responsible ‘adult’ without a safety blanket to fall back on, and travelling seemed much more daunting than ever before.

The thought of travelling as a student is extremely exciting… at first. Soon, doubt comes creeping in, and you are making lists of everything that can go wrong and everything that you need to plan for. But let me say something that probably many have said to you before – don’t let that fear stop you.

As a student it is easy to make excuses not to travel: lack of money, time, inexperience, or fear. What many often fail to realize is that travelling doesn’t have to be a daunting task, but can serve as an emotional escape – something that is sometimes necessary, especially as a university student.

Over the past year I have been on exchange in London, England, and now I have done my fair share of travelling to both new and old places. Through my trips, and because I was living in a notoriously expensive city, I had to travel on an extremely tight budget. Travelling can be expensive, but I have learned that it doesn’t always have to be. Not only does the cost of a trip depend on the destination, but also on the way you travel. As university students most of us are on a budget; however, don’t let that be the reason you don’t grasp the chance. Yes, flights are not always cheap, but there are many ways to make up that money once you arrive. I have found that many cities provide ways for people on a budget to enjoy themselves just as much, or even more, than those that may not have such a tight budget restraint. Often by looking for ways to save money when travelling you will find yourself stumbling upon local favourites as opposed to tourist destinations, which will ultimately make your experience that much more memorable and authentic. This is not the only trick that I have used over the past year, I would highly recommend to anyone travelling on a student budget to:

  1. Do your research!

Prepare as much as you can, find the free or less expensive things to do wherever you may be travelling; not only will that allow you to get a grasp on the city, but it will also allow you to budget your expenses before you arrive. Research and find the cheapest ways of travelling around or between countries/places– often this will involve an inter-rail, buses or trains and will save you money which will be worth the extra time. Airbnb, groupons, and weekday flight discounts can be your best friend.

  1. Stay Outside the City

This is often cheaper than staying downtown and provides you with a local experience. You will find yourself in an area with locals as opposed to tourists.

  1. Walk

Even when staying a little outside of the city center I would highly recommend walking whenever you can, this  will save you money (and stress) spent on public transport.

  1. Free walking tours

These are an amazing way to see any city and I have never travelled anywhere where they have not been offered.

  1. Bring your UWO student card

As university students we also have the advantage of having student cards, which will become your best friend while travelling. Ask everywhere you go if they have a student discount, because more often than not there will be one – another perk of travelling as a student!

  1. Don’t be afraid to put down the map and get lost.

Often the most memorable experiences I have had while travelling have been those where I put down my phone and just walked. Getting lost is not something to be afraid of and often you will stumble into something, whether it be an entire neighbourhood or merely a single café that the map would have never lead you towards.

Being a student at university is a learning experience, however, the classroom can only teach you so much. Not only is travelling a beneficial learning experience, but you will never have as much free time as is given to you throughout university. Of course classes, volunteering, work and/or internships take up time, but ultimately you have less restrictions now than you will have in the future, so don’t take the ability to travel for granted. I truly believe that travelling has taught me just as much as, if not more than, my university courses and it has overall cost me less. Travelling is in itself an educational experience and one that is far too beneficial to be defined by a price tag.

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