Traveling Cheap as a College Student

Melina Wilcox
Major: Sculpture
Minor: Art History
Book Arts in Europe, Summer I 2017

It’s pretty well known that college students are short in cash, and that traveling tends to be expensive. But traveling abroad is still possible, and there are ways to do it on a tight budget.

A friend and I are going to several countries in Europe for our study abroad course, and we have to make it to Florence, Italy by ourselves to start. Months ago, we spent hours online looking for the cheapest flights to get us where we needed to go, by the date we needed to be in Italy. We found that the trick is to search through as many departure airports as possible. Look outside the US too – we found the cheapest way to get to Europe was by flying out of Toronto, Canada (even factoring in travel costs to either drive, train, or bus into Toronto).

We decided to take a Greyhound from Kalamazoo to Toronto because it was the cheapest option. That brings me to my next point though: while traveling on a tight budget is definitely possible, there are trade offs in doing so. The bus ride was eight hours, and left the station at 3 am. When we first boarded, we had to find dead among the half-filled and half-passed out bus. There was one guy with multiple teardrops and the words “thrill ride” tattooed under his eyes, who kept insisting either my friend or I sit with him. We ended up finding seats next to each other where I sat in someone else’s Doritos dust until we switched buses in Detroit three hours later.

But we made it here to Toronto, with enough time for me to write this before boarding the plane. Today consists of twenty-six hours of travel to get us from Kalamazoo to Florence. But I can’t complain – I’m about to spend six weeks in Europe and I was able to pay for it all myself.

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