30 Essential Travel Hacks for College Students

By: Miriam Bribiesca

Traveling as a college student can be exhilarating, especially when thinking about all the social media worthy places, experiences and people you’ll meet! But let’s be real, traveling often comes with its own set of challenges, especially when on a budget. But fear not! For we have assembled a list of 30 essential travel hacks that will make your journey smoother, more affordable, and definitely more enjoyable.

Ready, set, let’s travel the world!

A white plane preparing to land in a tropical location.

Hacks for Booking Flights:

1. Search in Incognito: Go lowkey when searching for flights, we recommend using the incognito mode on your browser. Airline and booking websites might track your searches and inflate prices based on your search history. But if you don’t want to go undercover we also have great deals exclusively for students like you on our Travel Deals page!

2. Embrace Flexibility: Traveling during off-peak times, like mid-week or outside holiday seasons means you’ll score cheaper fares and probably experience popular destinations with less crowds.

3. Seek Out Student Discounts: Most places offer student discounts and because we pride ourselves in doing just that, for instance, take a look at our current Flight Deals and find some of the most affordable flight fares that can be as low as $50 round trip!

4. Early Bird Gets the Worm: Although last-minute deals can be tempting, it’s generally more cost-effective to book your flights several months in advance. So save the go with the flow mentality for once you’re at your destination and try booking your flights a couple of weeks in advance.

5. Stay Alert with Price Alerts: Utilize apps like Google Flight Tracker to set up price alerts. This way, you’ll be notified when the flight prices for your desired destination drop. BUT if you would rather have peace of mind and lock in low prices on your international flight then take advantage of our Airfare Deposit Program with deposits as low as $300! You’re welcome.

A young adult that is packing his suitcase carefully, he is trying to save as much space as possible in order to pack more items.

Hacks for Packing:

6. Opt for Rolling: Instead of folding your clothes, roll them! This method not only saves space but also minimizes wrinkles and can allow you to take even more wardrobe options for your next adventure. Although, we strongly advise to leave some extra space for possible souvenirs you might buy along the way.

7. Choose Multi-functional Items: The goal when packing for a trip should always be versatility. For instance, a large scarf can function as a blanket, towel, or even a makeshift dress. Less is more and you can always use this as an opportunity to be resourceful and creative. Now THOSE are great qualities a traveler like you must have!

8. Limit Your Footwear: Shoes can be bulky. Ideally, pack the comfiest walking pair you own, a dressier versatile pair, and perhaps sandals for the beach or hostel showers. 3 pairs of shoes should be your ultimate maximum! 

9. Miniaturize Your Toiletries: When it comes to packing your suitcase, use the 3-1-1 liquid rule. Which means, each liquid container should be 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or smaller. You can pack liquids larger than 3.4 ounces in CHECKED LUGGAGE. Next all your liquid containers should fit in a 1-quart (about 1 liter) clear, resealable plastic bag. This will prevent any potential leaks from damaging your clothes and make it a lot easier for you to find your items) and lastly, you’re allowed one plastic bag per passenger. 3-1-1 easy! Another tip we have is considering switching to solid toiletries as they would not fall under this rule. But either way, only take the essentials.

10. Organize with Packing Cubes: These nifty tools help categorize and condense your items, making packing and unpacking a breeze. Because when everyone else is scrambling to find their items all over the room, you’ll realize you made the right decision to spend a couple of bucks to stay as organized as possible. Look at you!

Two young women socializing in a train station while traveling. One woman is showing the other something on her phone and they are smiling.

Hacks While on the Flight

11. Hydrate Economically: This one is for seasoned flight veterans. Carry an empty water bottle with you and refill it after passing security. This avoids the need to purchase overpriced bottled water at the airport or waiting on flight attendants to make their rounds on the plane. 

12. Entertain Yourself: Ensure you download a selection of movies, shows, or podcasts on your device in case the in-flight entertainment system falls short which it often does. If movies are not your thing, bring along a book, journal or mind games to keep you alert on your flight. Of course, sleeping is ALWAYS a good idea. 

13. Prioritize Circulation: If your flight is longer than 6 hours, we recommend wearing compression socks as they can greatly reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and keep your legs from getting too stiff.

14. Snack Smart: Instead of relying on pricey and often limited airline food, pack some of your favorite healthy snacks. We recommend making a snack goodie bag the day before your trip and keeping it close by in case hunger strikes. Oh and don’t forget your gum or candy to chew on to help with the ear pressure!

15. Invest in Comfort: A good neck pillow, eye mask and a set of earplugs can make a world of difference when trying to rest on a noisy or crowded flight. Don’t cheap out on this one for it could be the difference between arriving in a good mood or a bad one! Let’s start your trip on a good note, shall we?

Hacks on Planning a Trip:

16. Harness the Power of Tiktok and Other Social Media Apps: Many platforms like TikTok and Pinterest are a great resource for travel itineraries, tips, and destination-specific advice. In fact, you would benefit from taking a look at ScholarTrip’s Tiktok before your next trip. Plus, we know you probably have an entire folder filled with bookmarked travel videos so why not put them into use?

17. Engage in Travel Forums: Engage with fellow travelers on platforms like TripAdvisor or the Lonely Planet forums for firsthand experiences and recommendations.

18. Sync with Local Calendars: Always check the local calendar of where you are visiting for events, festivals, or local happenings that can enhance your travel experience. This is especially fun when studying abroad or simply visiting a well known location. And don’t forget to take weather into account as well! Plan accordingly depending on the weather. For instance, if it’s raining and temperatures are low, planning something indoors might be best, but if it’s warmer weather an outdoor excursion is ideal. 

19. Consider Public Tours: As a student, group tours can be both affordable and incredibly social. Get out of your comfort zone and think of activities other students would be interested in. Who knows, you might make new friendships with people from all over the world!

20. Never Underestimate Travel Insurance: The saying “better safe than sorry” truly applies when it comes to traveling with life insurance! And because we know that anything can happen when abroad, what better way to have a softer landing than by being prepared? Which is why we recommend looking into travel insurance when traveling outside of the states. We’ve partnered with Battleface for insurance options that includes Cancel For Any Reason coverage, which essentially assures that if a program is cancelled you can recover the full cost! Hooray!

A couple who is looking at a brochure in the streets of Downtown Brooklyn, exploring the city.

Hacks on How to Explore a City:

21. Invest in City Passes: Numerous cities offer tourist passes which grant you access to multiple attractions at a discounted price, check at the airport for such passes or ask around to make sure you don’t miss out. And as we’ve mentioned before, students can have access to discounted public services!

22. Join Free Walking Tours: Offered in many cities, these tours are an insightful way to familiarize yourself with a new place. Just be courteous and if you have the means tip your guide!

23. Navigate Like a Local: Buses, trams, and trains offer an authentic and cheaper mode of transportation compared to tourist-targeted options. Uber who? We don’t know him because as we already know, walking trumps hopping on a car while on vacation!

24. Chat with the Locals: Interacting with local residents can provide insights no travel guide will offer, from hidden gems to the best local eateries this is probably the best time to step outside of your comfort zone and make friends wherever you go.

25. Tech Up Your Exploration: Use popular local apps for reviews and recommendations you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

26. Feast on Street Food: Often cheaper than restaurants, street food stalls offer a genuine taste of local cuisine and genuine interactions. Just make sure that everything you consume is fully cooked to avoid food poisoning.

27. Location is Key: Depending on the kind of trip you wish to have, look closely at where you are booking your accommodations as choosing a central location might sometimes be pricier but can save on transportation costs in the long run. So ask yourself if you want to be a city girl or a nature boy.

28. Rent a Bike: If public forms of transportation are not your thing, many modern cities offer affordable bike rentals, making for a fun, and eco-friendly way to explore the city. 

29. Discover University Campuses: Even if you’re not studying abroad, looking at events happening for students can be a good place that often has hubs of activities, beautiful architecture, and affordable eating options.

30. Stay Safe: Always travel with someone else or let someone know your plans for the day, be wary of poorly lit areas during the night, and trust your gut instincts. Be okay with getting FOMO and listen to your body because at the end of the day you know what is best for YOU.

Oooh we are out of breath! If you’ve made it this far, you are a real one. We hope these thirty tips and tricks make your college travel adventures memorable for all the right reasons. So, gear up, venture out, and let the world be your classroom.

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