10 Summer Travel Tips for Students on a Budget

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At the end of the school year, many students hit the road looking for adventure. Fledgling scholars can use their summer break to acquire new skills, learn a foreign language, volunteer to help others, or simply enjoy life while seeing new things in new places. But for most students, money is a challenge. Cheapism.com dug up 10 tips for students seeking affordable travel this summer.

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Two of the most popular travel websites that cater to college students are STA Travel and Student Universe. Other sites include Travelosophy, Travel Cuts, Adventure Student Travel, and Cheapoair. Verification of college enrollment is generally required to qualify for student travel deals. Some airlines, including American Airlines, AirTran, and Lufthansa, also offer student travel discounts. When searching for deals it pays to be flexible about dates, times, and even destinations. A few airlines offer exclusive deals for college students with one critical catch: schedule flexibility is a must, as travel dates are heavily dependent on standby seats. Discounts, though, can be up to 50 percent.

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Once a mainstay of student travel, hostels have lost some of their luster. Today's budget travelers use websites like Couch Surfing to find free rooms and new friends. Global Free Loaders and Hospitality Club are two other hospitality exchange sites worth exploring. While there is typically no cost for a couch to sleep on, it's nice to buy a gift for your host. You'll also need to make sure you have some way to communicate with potential hosts, such as a cell phone that works on the local network.

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College and high school students are eligible for Amtrak's Student Advantage card, which provides a 15 percent discount on rail and bus tickets, plus discounts on retail purchases, food, and more. A one-year membership costs $20.

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An International Student Identity Card provides discounts on travel and services at home and abroad. The industry standard for student travelers, the card covers students ages 12 to 26 with a valid student ID or some other proof of enrollment. ISIC has special offers listed on their website for many cities, offering discounted lodging, museum discounts, activities, and food. International Student Exchange also offers a student ID card, with no upper age limit.

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If you are an outdoorsy type looking for some work in the sun, consider ecological volunteering. Many of these programs cover the cost of living, including food, in exchange for working on a farm or ecological site. WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) offers programs in more than 50 countries.

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The cheapest way to travel around Europe is by train. Students under 26 years old qualify for a 35 percent discount on travel. There are different types of passes, including one that covers 28 countries and another that limits travel to just one country. Prices vary depending on itineraries. For example, for a trip to four countries on five trains spread out over eight days, the average cost per trip would be $78, much cheaper than most flights.

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From Honolulu to Paris, many cities are installing bike sharing programs. For just a few dollars a day, travelers can roam all over a city, taking in the sites at their own pace. Biking is also a good way to work up an appetite, making room for more of the local cuisine.

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Keep costs low by choosing destinations that offer plenty of free activities. Any place with a beach is usually a good pick. Some cities, like Washington, D.C., offer free entry to museums; others, like New York City, offer free concerts and events in local parks. The architecture and streetscape in cities such as Barcelona and Venice are well worth exploring, and there's no charge for walking around while taking in the sights.

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Taking in the local food culture while traveling is half the fun for many people, but this doesn't mean you have to eat out for every meal. If your accommodation offers kitchen space, take advantage of the seasonal ingredients from a local market and cook at home for one or two meals a day. You will be able to explore the building blocks of the local cuisine and save a lot of money to boot. Cooking at home is usually half the cost of eating out.

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GoFundMe is one of the most popular crowdsourcing websites for raising money. If you have a great idea for a trip or project abroad, consider creating a fundraising page and open it up for anyone to donate. The user-friendly platform is free to join and doesn't require a minimum amount collected in order to keep your donations; you keep every dollar sent, less a 5 percent fee. If you can convince 100 people to donate $5 to fund your trip, you will receive $475, which just might pay for a plane ticket to wherever you want to go.