Seeing the World on a Shoestring Budget

A group of people discussing travel opportunities for college grads at a coffee shop /

The life of a college student with wanderlust is a struggle. Study rooms give these students claustrophobia. Summer classes are a ball and chain. They spend their days in the classroom, doodling on their desks and dreaming of all the awe-inspiring places outside of those four walls. They learn better from the experience of an open-air market in Peru than they ever will from the tutoring center at a university. And so they must go.

For young, wide-eyed world travelers, there are a ton of ways to venture that fit a budget. These days, the most common way that students see the outer edges of the earth is through a study abroad experience. Colleges now promote these programs so that their students can earn credits, become more cultured, and see the world on a shoestring budget. Perhaps that is the route that works for you, perhaps not. Either way, it’s time to fly!


Peace Corps

Serving in the Peace Corps is at least a two-year commitment to a cross-cultural exchange that promotes international development. Since its creation in 1961 by President Kennedy, the organization has grown into one of the most well-known volunteer programs, providing assignments in more than 60 countries. For students graduating with debt, the Peace Corps may provide partial student loan forgiveness. There are pros and cons to joining. Research the requirements, study the country to which you are assigned, and feel confident in your decision to go before committing.

Guided tours are some of many travel opportunities for college students.


GoEco was founded by experienced volunteers who provide their customers with programs that contribute to the community, wildlife, and environment of the volunteer location. They hope to encourage a model of tourism in which visitors leave the destination better than it was before. Each year, this volunteer tourism company sends over 1,000 individuals to destinations worldwide; these life-changing experiences range between two and 12 weeks.


For the love of the environment! World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) connects volunteers with organic farmers who are looking for workers. The basic idea is, farmers provide a form of housing on their land in exchange for your work. Some sites pay a small stipend, and many allow you to choose how many hours you work and how long you stay. To search the database of farms, membership to the organization is required (and not free). You pay based on the number of countries (and their networks) that you want to subscribe to, so if you are interested in multiple countries, narrow down your search before signing up.


EF College Break

Founded in 1965, Education First Tours is committed to exposing students to new ways of learning. Now, with teachers and volunteers working in over 112 countries and more than 43,500 employees, EF offers trips to all corners of the world. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 28 is welcome to use the services provided by tour directors, local guides, and a team of travel extraordinaires. Your travel arrangements can be made with a large group or solo. EF will find great places for you to stay at low costs and plan your sightseeing, but you do have the freedom to go off the beaten path at any time.

Student Universe

The Student Universe team believes that traveling during college allows students to learn, grow, and return to school inspired. A tour group that launched in 2000, the business is now owned by Flight Centre Travel Group. Members sign up for free and have flight options with 70 different airlines. Its services allow you to search for the cheapest flights, hotels, and hostels and organize an entire trip with a group of travelers. Make the experience your own.

WSA Europe

Weekend Student Adventures was launched in 2010 by founder Andy Steves who was an avid traveler growing up. Adventuring with his dad taught him how to tour the world and do it well. His experience compelled him to share advice with fellow college students in his Notre Dame dorm room, where in the spring of 2008, he began to compile his business plan. Today, students and backpackers can use WSA to connect with local tour guides or find the hidden gems of the cities they visit. Operated tours include hostel or hotel arrangements at specific destinations. Flights and other transportation are not included.

Enrich Your Adventure

Students making travel plans on their computer /

Go Overseas

Make sure that you are getting your money’s worth. This site offers reviews on international programs, internships, gap years, and volunteer, teaching, and study abroad opportunities. Explore various programs and create a wish list to receive more information about your favorite options. Then, connect with travelers, ask them questions, and learn everything you need to know to make a wise decision before applying.


Many locals hope to learn English from a native speaker. Go to the library in your new city and search for flyers posted requesting these services. While you are there, print out some signs of your own with your contact information.

Run a Travel Blog

Many students hone their writing and photography skills as they venture out in unique places, then share their work on the internet. If your site is designed in such a way that it permits the sale of ads, you can make some cash through marketing advertisements. That, of course, means that you first need to have followers and a high amount of daily views. Programs like the College Tourist offer opportunities for travel bloggers to join their network and connect with sponsors. If you are studying hospitality, writing, photography, tourism, or recreation in college and you are looking to be discovered, think of your blog as an online portfolio.


Sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter were created to help individuals achieve goals that they cannot afford alone. If you have searched for the cheapest flight and are still shortchanged, consider seeking help from friends and family by creating a crowdfunding page.

Study Abroad Office

Perhaps your study abroad office hopes to expand its offerings or better advertise its programs; you can help! Similar to the way some students build their résumés and portfolios while abroad, study abroad offices want to promote what they have to offer. They are often interested in student stories and photographs that can help students who are thinking about going abroad in the future. Some schools may even publish blog posts or newspaper articles about student adventures. This could be a great way to get your art or writing out there.

Exploring the world is an enlightening experience, and it grants students a well-deserved break from their tedious commitments on campus. Traveling also allows you to attain a cultural understanding, social confidence, and academic advancement. Buy the ticket, take the ride. What do you have to lose?

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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