How to Travel as a Poor College Student

I’m sure you know plenty of college students, or maybe you are one. Whether you are or not is beside the point because everyone knows that college kids are dirt poor.

So how do I manage to travel as a college kid? Simple, work in the travel industry!

Years before I was born, my mom began working in the travel industry for an airline that no longer exists. My dad also worked for a different airline that, you guessed it, no longer exists. But that’s not where my affiliation with the airlines end. My aunts and uncles on both sides of the family work or have worked for an airline.

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That brings me to tip #1, take advantage of family members that work for airlines. This will cut a major expense out of the equation. Not having to buy a ticket frees up a couple hundred dollars at the very least.

There is a downside to traveling on passes though, you may or may not get a seat. It’s great when you get a seat, but when you get stuck somewhere overnight it sucks! I’ve only gotten stuck once that I can remember. But I have gone all over the country just to get home.

Recently I had a class trip to Las Vegas/Death Valley. Getting there was a nightmare and a half. Let’s just say that the Salt Lake City airport and I are not friends and never will be. Coming back from there was fun, I guess. I went from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City on a plane from the future (more on that in a coming post), Salt Lake City to Kansas City (I’ve never been there before so why not), Kansas City to Minneapolis and finally Minneapolis to Fargo. That’s four planes in one day!

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On approach into Minneapolis, Minnesota

I have the best job in the world for a college kid! I work for a car rental company at the airport location. The great thing about my airport is it’s not a hub, it’s a destination. That just means it’s a small airport with about five gates total for six airlines.

I have a couple rentals initially when I go to work and then a couple at the end of the night, seven or so hours later. What do I do during that time? Homework. The best part is I’m not sneaking homework in, I’m allowed to do it and still get paid.

That’s not even the best part though. Because I work at the airport location I am given a parking pass that allows me to park there for free while I’m at work and while I’m traveling. That could save you $30 or more depending on how long your trip is.

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And to even one up that, because I work for the company, I am allowed to rent cars wherever I go even though I am technically under car renting age.

That’s three ways to save you money and make your trip more affordable! But don’t click on a different article yet, I still have a couple more to save you money!

You spend money in your day to day life, right? Why use a debit card or a credit card that doesn’t provide you with travel rewards? It took me a couple years before I felt that I was ready and responsible enough to handle a credit card, but I am glad that I did it!

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Choice Hotel in Henderson, Nevada

My credit card is through Choice Hotels. It allows me to earn points towards stays at a hotel (I think I have enough for two nights now). If I were to go on a trip tomorrow and stay for two nights, that would save me around $200!

Don’t just sign up for one willy nilly though. Make sure that you are responsible enough to handle a credit card or else you will get into major trouble. If you feel that you can handle it be sure to sign up for one where you can earn the most in points, you’ll thank me later when you have enough points for one night versus only enough for 1/4 of the night.

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The delicious burrito from Cafe Rio in the Salt Lake City Airport

To save money on food, I always go to a grocery store. Why pay extra for that hot meal when you can have a ham sandwich or a can of cold soup.

Take every opportunity you can to save money on travel while you’re in college.

How do you save money while you travel?

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