Want to feed your wanderlust, but you’re a college student or just someone working with limited resources? Here are some tips that have helped me with traveling on a budget:

1. Bring an adventure buddy

Bringing a friend along allows you to split the expenses. For example, I am heading to Colorado in a month to spend a week hiking and camping. Ordinarily, this trip would have cost me well over $1,000 if I were to go solo, but because I’m going with a friend, I am looking at about $500 round trip. Plus, traveling with someone makes it a lot more fun.

2. Save your pennies

Literally, save every penny: Gather all of the loose change from your car, bags, and house and put it in a jar. When it’s the week of your trip, cash it in, and that amount can be money toward gas or food.

So you remember, put your jar someplace where you’ll see it every day. This way, it serves as a reminder to throw your change in, and will also be seen by whomever you live with. Maybe they’ll also throw a few dollars in!

[Credit: Marissa Fredette]
[Credit: Marissa Fredette]

3. Budget your money

Figure out how much money you’re going to need. For example, make a list of estimated gas, a place to stay, food, activities, gear, and emergency money. Then, ask yourself, “How many weeks until I leave?” Break it down and set aside some money every week, so when it’s time for your trip, you’re not short on cash.

4. Camp out

Staying in a nice hotel is great, but camping out is far cheaper and more fun, in my opinion. In Colorado, we will be staying at a KOA campground for six days, and it comes out to about $120 for my half.

5. Try Airbnb.com

Not into camping? No worries. Download Airbnb, a great app where people list affordable rooms, apartments, and entire homes, onto your phone. During a recent trip to Montreal, I rented a studio apartment for an entire weekend with all amenities, and my half came to only $70.

6. Get the right gear

Plan out what you might need for your trip, and then take advantage of your birthday and holidays to gradually build up your stash of essential gear.

Further, as another long-term strategy, make sure to sign up for EMS’ reward system, which gives you points that go toward $10 reward cash and coupons. Scope out the deals, read the emails, and wait for things to go on sale. Most importantly, tell people your plan!

People also may have tents and gear that they may not use anymore or are willing to let you borrow for your adventure. So, to fill in any gaps, ask other outdoor enthusiasts if they can lend you any basics.

7. Eat well without paying well

Eating out and having drinks should definitely be on your agenda, especially if you’re a foodie like me, but it can get expensive. So, to save money, make a list and head to the grocery store before your trip. Some things I bring along are sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, and plenty of snacks.

8. Get there

Road trip! Driving to your destination might take longer, but is significantly cheaper. A round-trip plane ticket from New York to Colorado is roughly $500 per person, but driving the same distance is only about $400 round trip. If you’re traveling with someone, then, that amount is cut in half. Plus, you’ll be able to hit some cool stops on the way!


So, get out there, and embrace your inner adventurer without breaking the bank!