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5 totally achievable ways to travel as a student

5 totally achievable ways to travel as a student

Why is there a common misconception that students can’t travel?

I noticed this when I posted how to make travel your career. Many readers excitedly talked about how they would travel more… after they finished studying.

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Oh, Vera. How could you possibly think that travel is not a ‘real option’?

When we travelled through Europe for 3 months last year, Robert was in the middle of getting his Degree in Computer Science. When I travelled to New Zealand for 3 weeks in 2007, I was half way through my Diploma in Graphic Design.

So if we can do it, why does everyone else think they can’t?

Let me bust this myth once and for all – being a student does not mean you can’t travel! Here are 5 totally achievable ways that you can travel as a student.


Sydney Harbour Ferry

1. Gather every cent you can

I know money is hard to come by as a student. I get it, I’ve been there. Living off rice and pasta, foregoing any possible luxury…

It’s tough, but being a student actually puts you in a great position to save money by getting you into the habit of being frugal with absolutely everything.

Some of the major ways of saving a few extra dollars include:

  • Stay with your parents to save on rent. It may not be ideal, but if your parents are willing to have you stay then you will save a buttload of money. I’m temporarily staying at my parents place right now to save some moolah for my next trip!
  • Get a part-time job. It can be hard to find time to work while you’ve got your head buried in books, but a few hours of work here and there can be squeezed in to nearly anyone’s schedule. Working just one day a week at the local coffee shop can make a huge difference to your savings.
  • Use scholarship money or prize money. Robert received at least 2 monetary prizes for being one of the top achievers in his class during his second and third year at university. Guess what it was spent on!

If you’re still worried about how much your travel will cost, check out my post on how to travel the world even when you’re broke.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

2. Make the most of your term breaks

All those breaks you get add up to a lot of time off studying. Term breaks, end of year breaks, even the odd long weekend can be the perfect time to fit in some travel.

Our Europe trip was squeezed in the 3 month gap between Robert’s last exam, and the day he started the new term. It can be done!

3. Study abroad

If you like the idea of long-term travel, pick somewhere you might like to study abroad. There are plenty of universities that accept foreign students. Some of my friends have left Australia to study abroad in USA or Europe, and all of them seem to have had an amazing time.

If you’re already studying – check with your university on which schools they do exchanges with. It will be much easier to transfer schools if you go through an exchange program.

Alternatively you can use a site like Go Abroad to search for opportunities in your desired location.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

4. Do your prac or work experience in other cities

If the course you’re studying includes some prac work or work experience, why not choose to complete it in a different city?

My cousin spent moved from Tasmania to Darwin for a few months to do his prac as a nurse. He was able to explore loads of Australia’s Top End during his time there.

Check with your university on what your options are here. You never know where your studies could take you!

5. TAKE A GAP YEAR

Not all that many people take a gap year here in Australia. Maybe they don’t want to lose momentum with their studies, I’m not sure, but I think taking a year off to travel the world can be so beneficial.

Not only will you become a better person by opening your mind and experiencing different cultures, you’ll probably feel a lot better about knuckling down after your trip. You’ll have more energy for studying, and be a wiser, smarter, person.

Don’t believe me? It’s the real deal – watch this Ted Talk by Tyler Tervooren on How adventure makes you smarter, stronger, and more attractive.

I think that many people use studies as an excuse to put off travel, but it’s entirely within reach. Remember – you don’t have to choose one or the other!


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

18 Responses to “5 totally achievable ways to travel as a student”

  1. Lisa

    I guess it also really depends on what you study… In my university we’re highly encouraged to do internships during summer holidays (which is why they made them 3 months long, so that we can get interesting positions and actually learn how the work is done for real), and it’s quite odd if you haven’t done any internship before the compulsory one during you masters degree… And the same applies for gap years, you have to justify it according to your professional project, and it has to be validated by your cursus responsible – some are cool with it, some are not at all (mine will try everything to make us not take a gap year)
    And as a student, the holidays you get are more or less the same as schools (except before exams, but then you study), so traveling off-season isn’t a option… especially when they count your absences and if you have more than 2/class/semester you just fail the class and have to re-do it!
    Scholarships are great… if you get one! haha the great majority won’t ever have them though :/
    Same for jobs : depends where you live! In Paris (where I am) there’s a LOT of people looking for part/full time jobs and without the odd student timetables (8-10 am, then maybe 14:45-16:45 and 19:15-21:15 on the same day because WHY NOT). This year I had 2 days during which I could have class (like 4x3hrs one week and nothing the next one, super cool for any employer). I’m a welcome agent on events because I can choose when I want to work but they don’t accept people who don’t correspond to certain standards (yeah, that’s discrimination, bc smiling Barbies can’t be fat, have pimples or be short, you know – I hate this job, haven’t done any mission in a while)
    The good thing as my university though is that we HAVE to spend the 3rd year abroad, in an exchange or doing an internship. That’s when people travel (I was in Central America), and what makes us bear the travel-unfriendly studies we do 😉

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You have quite a lot of valuable info on this subject, Lisa!

      The subject you study definitely makes a difference to your options, but that doesn’t necessarily means some options are out of the question. I think the trick is to dig a little deeper into your particular situation and see what you can do. I’m really glad your course has realised the benefits that travel can have for students by including it in your third year of studies!

      Of course scholarships aren’t easy to come by, and jobs can be a pain to work around study schedules, but they’re not out of reach (as you’ve proved with your position as a welcome agent)! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sandra

    In October this year I gonna start my study in Germany and I kind of can’t wait for it to happen. After finishing school last summer I decided to make a gap year in Australia and as I’m still here, I really really enjoy it!! Next month I go to New Zealand and I know that travellinh WILL be an option, when I study. Because – well – the travel bug bit me and I can’t live without ;D

    Reply
  3. Tine

    It is so true! I have travelled 6 countries while studying and is planing to do more and I am still a student for about 2 years (I have almost finished my bachelor). I am lucky to get money from the government while I study like any other Danish students, but I think it might still be doable even if I didn’t get the money. My trips would just be smaller and closer to home 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Wow you Danish folks are lucky! That’s a very good tip about the trips depending on your income, smaller trips close to home are still just as valuable as travel abroad 🙂

      Reply
  4. Marie

    Love this post, I got get it either when students think they can’t travel!
    I’m from Norway, a quite expensive country. I moved to the UK to do my degree, and every chance I get I head off to a new destination on this island. I go back home to work during the summer, and boom my traveling fund is set for another year, haha. I’m also currently on a year abroad in China, making my degree a year longer, but I get to live in China and I’ve been traveling so much over here. I’m loving it. And I’m still on top of my degree.
    So students: GET OUT and travel! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Marie! You are a prime example that travel as a student is totally achievable. The fact that you’ve managed to see both UK and China during your degree is an amazing achievement!

      Reply
  5. Stephanie Rogers

    All my college friends are amazed when I tell them I’m going away once again during my summer holidays and they have labelled me the jetsetter. But in my eyes, it just makes sense! Summer is the one time you’re allowed to do what you want with your time during the academic year. This is a very inspiring article and I hope more students will come across it!

    The Student Traveller

    Reply
  6. Helca

    I’m still high school student and I have already traveled around 60% around Europe and I’m planning to make it 100% before I leave for university (i’m finishing my high school next year)…but then I’m considering taking gap year and move to Italy to work and live there and then go to university abroad…just it’s great to travel as student because usually some trains, buses and etc are cheaper for students, especially here in Europe…so I can afford traveling on my own with a tight budget and still be fine 🙂 but this summer i’m going to put my budget aside and enjoy the best time in Kenya 😀 finally out of Europe 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You have some amazing travel plans Helca! Kenya will be such a great experience for you. Kudos to you for making it happen during your studies, you’re a great role model the rest of us 😀

      Reply
  7. Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)

    I think you definitely have to make it a priority and it can definitely depend on where you study. In my school (a teeny tiny private school in Virginia), we had 3 weeks in January-between fall and spring semester-when some CREDITED trips were offered. You bet I took advantage. I went to Los Angeles for 2 weeks my freshman year (LOVED the weather in January) and 2 weeks to Europe my sophomore year. I gained 3 credits from each class as it was a school trip and we did a lot of things together.

    One of my husband’s friends did Semester at Sea. I’ve always been jealous of that. But depending on your school, sometimes financial aid can be applied to studying abroad. It’s worth asking about. And in the U.S. the government is encouraging students to study abroad, so maybe soon it will be easier for those who want to do it. Some schools make it a priority. At a university I worked at, if you were a student in the Business school, you could complete a mandatory group of classes in another country if you prefer. So, take a look at universities before you pick one to see if they make it a priority. It could change everything! My tiny school had agreements with collages around the world, so you just never know!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That sounds like an awesome opportunity Jessica, I’m so glad you took advantage of it! A few weeks in LA and Europe would have been great experiences for your studies. The semester at sea idea is an interesting one – I’ve never heard of that. Sounds like students in the USA get way more encouragement for studying abroad than they do here in Australia!

      Reply
  8. Erika

    I think this is so odd, because when I began my bachelor’s degree studying abroad was something I planned for from the very beginning. It was an absolute must for me! None of my school’s study abroad programs fit into my degree plan, so I just held off on some of my general courses, like chemistry and english, and took those while I studied in the UK. I think saying “oh, I can’t travel until I’ve finished my studying” is just another one of those excuses people tell themselves when they’re afraid. But you shouldn’t be afraid, you should take the opportunity when you can! If you can’t travel while you’re studying, do you really think it will be easier when you’re finished with your studies and looking for work?

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It’s great that you were able to make your own plans for travel around your studies Erika! I couldn’t agree more about it being just as difficult after studying, there will always be something in the way, so why not embrace travel now rather than later? 🙂

      Reply
  9. Alexandria

    I think participating in a study abroad program is one of the best things that you can do. not only are you traveling but you get to meet so many other people and form solid friendships with them. On top of that you become closer with your professors which is a great tool for networking in the future. I met my best friend on a study abroad and to this day she is still so important to me and we always plan trips to go on together. It’s an amazing experience.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You’re absolutely right Alexandria, studying abroad has so many more benefits than just travel! I think many people don’t realise that it can have such a positive affect on themselves and their studies 😀

      Reply

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